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 January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.