How Hotels Can Compete in the Airbnb Landscape

By Mia A. Mackman President & Owner, Mackman ES | August 05, 2018

Airbnb came on the scene in 2008, amidst corporate scandal, economic downturn and instability. Initially people were skeptical, but Airbnb has gained remarkable momentum building its platform with transparency and trust, at a time people were greatly seeking both. In the early years, Aribnb's inclusive and diverse model provided low-cost travel options with uncommon flexibility, which became an enticing alternative to the traditional big-name hotel booking systems.

The social component and owner-intimacy of Airbnb also intrigued adventurous solo travelers, seeking more local and organic destination experiences. The notion of exploring beautiful places "off the beaten path" always holds distinct appeal. These systems produced bookings based on realistic travel and stay expectations and a digest of genuine, host and guest reviews. This created an alternative to staying at expensive hotels and made travel experiences more accessible and adventurous for a wider variety of people, incomes and lifestyles.

Another upside of Airbnb is that it is widely perceived as a people's platform. It has empowered an enormous volume of people to earn money by hosting guests in their homes, rooms or by sharing travel and tour experiences. These features in addition to a foundation of honesty and process transparency have made Airbnb a game changer for the travel market.

Sustainability and Health

The popularity of Airbnb has generated not only new views on style and stays, but they have moved into the experiential and event market, promoting local attractions, events, and various travel experiences. In April, Airbnb expanded its programming yet again to include a new Global Office of Healthy Tourism and announced the formation of its new Tourism Advisory Board. These new dynamics support local resources, sustainable tourism, rural regeneration and ecological impact.

Airbnb released new data highlighting their strides and support of healthy tourism. Some of these include, "88% of Airbnb hosts around the world incorporate green practices into hosting, 79% of guests said they decided to use Airbnb because they wanted to live like a local, and 66% of guests said the environmental benefits of home sharing were important in their choice of Airbnb."

There's no question, forming alliances and collaborating with other companies is a magnificent thing. We are experiencing an era of soft and dramatic and change across multiple industries. A part of that change, is increasing the propensity to work together in bigger ways. While this is true, hotels and resorts have traditionally maintained their autonomy within their singular locations or the boundaries of their respective brands.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.