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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.