November 22, 2012

“Neighborhood” the new buzzword for online travel sites

Everyone has a favorite neighborhood tucked away in the corner a major metropolitan area. It might be the art district or alleys of quiet cafes, but usually what makes them special is a sense of exclusivity. Now a few of online travel sites are about to blow their cover.

In the past week, Hipmunk and Airbnb both launched features that attempt to give travelers from around the world an inside look at a city’s secret and not-so-secret nooks and crannies, before ever boarding a plane.

Airbnb launched Neighborhoods last Tuesday, which allows potential bookers to filter through neighborhoods based on shopping, dining, nightlife, and transportation options. Airbnb started working on the new feature after finding that location was the top priority for guests when looking in a new city.

The very next day Hipmunk announced it had updated its hotel search by breaking neighborhoods up into categories based on whether their ambience was best for family trips, LGBT couples, romantic getaways, business outings, or adventure. The categories were chosen based on travelers’ inquiries when determining where to book a hotel.

Couchsurfing, which has been around longer than Airbnb or Hipmunk, is also looking to get into the business of travel content. Tony Espinoza, Couchsurfing’s CEO, revealed that the company will be announcing a series of new pages in the coming weeks that will crowdsource local travel recommendations from its user base of nearly five million travelers and couch owners around the world.

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