Leveling the Playing Field to Attract the Airbnb Customer

By Dana Kravetz Firm Managing Partner, Michelman & Robinson, LLP | July 29, 2018

This year marks Airbnb's 10th anniversary. That's right, for a decade now, the hospitality industry maverick has been eating away at something that hoteliers hold dear – market share of lodging worldwide. And it has done so with abandon, finding a seat at the table amongst hotels and resorts in a space that was clearly ripe for disruption in the age of the sharing economy.

Since Airbnb's arrival on the scene, headlines have suggested real trouble for traditional hospitality players, big and small – couching the company as a significant threat and maybe even spelling doom for the hotel business. For those hoteliers who may have drank the "sky is falling" Kool-Aid, breathe easy.

Unlike the taxi industry, which has been devastated by the likes of Uber and Lyft, hotels and resorts continue to flourish – this despite Airbnb nipping at their heels. The proof: 2017 was yet another record-breaking year for the hotel industry here in the U.S., with the key performance metrics – occupancy, average daily rate (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR) – higher than ever before measured by STR, the leading provider of information services to the hospitality segment.

The upshot: as Airbnb embarks on its second decade, the conversation amongst hoteliers should shift, and instead of overstated concern and worry, the emphasis must be on leveling the playing field by way of ongoing governmental regulation and proactive innovation by hotels and resorts to better attract the Airbnb customer.

A Booming Economy and Recession, All at the Same Time

You read that right; the economy is humming along, which is great news across sectors, including hospitality. With unemployment numbers at historic lows and given the uptick in household after-tax earnings, tourism and a resulting demand for hotel rooms are expected to rise well into next year.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.