DIP 010: Where are we going?

PLUS: Glossier is staying dewy, a scoop of Oatly, and open Haus

👋 Hi. It’s been a few weeks since I last sent one of these. When I started this newsletter, I didn’t want to hold myself to any sort of regular cadence. I’ve worked in media and I know that publishing to meet a quota sucks the fun out of writing. I don’t want that, and I don’t think you do, either. But today I’m bringing you your chips with the dips. As always, reply with questions, comments, or thoughts about anything you read here.

The Chips 🍿

The Dip 🏹

Airbnb already offers places to stay and recommends things to do, so it was only a matter of time before it bundled its services into one offering. With the launch of Airbnb Adventures, the brand is positioning itself as a full-service travel agency — one that’s tailored to what people seek from travel today.

What No One Has Done Before

That we prefer experiences to “stuff” isn’t new. In the context of travel, I’ve noticed that more and more friends, acquaintances, and random people I follow on Instagram are gravitating toward smaller cities rather than large tourist hubs.

I think there are a number of reasons for this, but it ultimately comes down to the desire for a unique, more personal, less touristy experience. Rome is a special city, but touring the Colosseum among the selfie stick-toting masses? Not so much…

Instead, people are choosing itineraries that wouldn’t appear in a Fodor’s guidebook: hopping between small towns in the south of France, backpacking through the German countryside, or camping in the desert of Oman, as Airbnb showcased in launch content for Adventures.

The New River Cruise

Airbnb Adventures aligns with another niche travel trend: group tours. Cool group tours, though; not something that involves lanyards, name tags, or pinwheel-carrying guides.

There’s Modern Adventure, which partners with chefs to curate food-focused, off-the-beaten-path trips (like eating your way through Vietnam with Alison Roman), and there’s Sailing Collective, the extremely Instagrammable anti-cruise.

Like many things in today’s digital-first age, the new wave of group travel is built around community and authenticity: connecting people who share similar interests, but may have vastly different backgrounds.

Living The Lifestyle

Fans advocate for a brand organically by posting pictures to Instagram and telling friends and family about it. That’s the baseline, and it’s often more than sufficient.

But at a certain point, a brand can choose to catalyze engagement.

Lately, that has come in the form of opportunities to truly live a brand’s lifestyle. In recent years, Man Repeller (see: Camp Man Repeller, Hotel Man Repeller), The Wing (see: Camp No Man’s Land), The Morning Toast (see: Camp Toast), and Sky Ting Yoga have organized ticketed, all-inclusive weekend getaways. Access is always limited, it’s always optimized for Instagram, and it always positions attendees as elite superfans.

What Airbnb lacks in community, it makes up for in brand affinity. For many people, Airbnb is already the first place they go when looking for a place to stay. With Adventures, the brand is owning not only where you stay, but also where you go, what you do when you’re there, and how you travel, period.

Whither Away?

DIP 004 looked at the ways that brands have made themselves omnipresent. In the case of Away, I noted that it could benefit from launching a travel service or group tours. I still believe that, especially if the brand is to stand up to its billion dollar valuation.

Away’s products facilitate travel, and the brand itself is in a position to enrich the act of traveling. Maybe it won’t be in the same vein as Airbnb Adventures, but it could still offer tailored experiences.

With Here, Away generates content about chefs and restaurants, shops and neighborhoods. Why not turn that content into an experience? Think: exclusive menus at restaurants and audio-based tours of neighborhoods narrated by Away’s team. It can test into experiences by bringing editorial content to life and grow from there.

While Airbnb and Away are both travel brands, the former is a service while the latter is a product. Airbnb Adventures, while exciting, is still within the realm of travel services. I believe that Away has more to gain from a brand equity standpoint by introducing experiences. We’ve seen that brands can win by merging products with services (as in the case of Nike, Apple, Amazon, and Warby Parker). It perpetuates the flywheel and would enable Away to take flight.

Real Dip 🌮

Jammy zucchini.

Shred two pounds of zucchini using a box grater or food processor. Put it in a colander and dump a few pinches of salt on it. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then squeeze as much water from it as you can.

Heat a large glug of olive oil (or a spoonful of ghee or thick slice of butter) in a nonstick pan, add a chopped shallot, two minced cloves of garlic, and cook until they’re soft and golden. Add the grated zucchini (optional: for a good time, sprinkle in some za’atar, curry powder, or herbes de Provence) and stir occasionally until everything has dissolved into a happy mess, about 15 minutes.

Pair it with toast, pita chips, eggs, burgers, hummus, and peak-season tomatoes (are we there yet?).

Thanks for snacking,

— Emily 🧀