A lot of things I learned about business, I learned while traveling

Quick-stop travel through a new region is a unique time to see many different kinds of business transactions go down very quickly in a very short period of time.

What an interesting way to learn about entrepreneurship!

Many connections are still forming for me, but here are some of my mixing takeaways so far.

  1. Referring out business is sometimes a bigger cash generator than your main gig. Airbnbs and hostels on this adventure have cost a variety of price points. But many of them also offer airport transfer arrangements, which is a godsend when you’re traveling many places with language barrier, new currency, lots of bags, short time horizon, and the deep wanting wish to just relax and get “home” to your new place. It’s not a ploy or a money suck, it’s a humongous creator of value to offer weary travelers airport transit service — there’s relief, delight, and instant affinity/friendship in the eyes of travelers when they see a trustable face holding a sign with their name, exactly at the exit point, before ever having to worry about how or whether or how safely or without getting ripped off to make it between point A and point B.
  2. Transportation to and from a hostel constitutes an “urgent problem,” in the way I think about sales. The “where to stay” question is important (often), but not urgent (at least sometimes). Here it’s easy, as a shopper, to get into unlimited optimize mode. It’s like lodging in the Airbnb market is a luxury commodity: marginal value matters to the consumer, both on the cost side (comparing price A to B) and on the “how it looks” side, where the upside actually may be quite different and amorphous (wicked) to any given customer. I notice I’m booking based on the “magical feel” of a place (though certainly I am not representative of every customer). I’ve definitely spent a week making experientially serious-feeling tradeoffs between lodging options with a $10-15 per night price difference between “clean, views from corridor, kinda boring, male hygenic sensible” and “quaint courtyard treasures, romantic downstairs, harsh/assuming room.” And I still can’t make them.
  3. So, lodging itself is a low percentage of spend (perhaps in many places), a loss leader for the big, urgent add-on of transportation where travelers are delighted to purchase and spend.

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