Industry Update
Opinion Article 3 June 2019

8 Things Hotels Can Learn from Airbnb

By Kacey Bradley, Lifestyle Blogger for The Drifter Collective

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Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a world where people wanted to stay in a stranger's home over a hotel room, but technology changed the game.

Airbnb created an online space for people to rent out rooms to travelers, which made many people turn away from the old practice of staying at hotels.

What is it exactly that Airbnb did to do this? Here are eight things hotels can learn from Airbnb and implement in their own hotels to increase their average number of guests.

Always Be Transparent

Hotels have always been transparent about what they offer. There are specific pages on websites dedicated to the in-house gyms, restaurants and other amenities that draw guests in.

The transparency on Airbnb differs because it's much less business-like. Renters describe their rental space in detail, even down to the things that don't work. That kind of honesty is appealing, and hotels can get in on it.

On your website, find space to describe how you heard feedback from previous guests about what didn't work or what they didn't like. Then show how you fixed it and why new guests will get a different experience.

Potential guests will feel a more human connection between themselves and the hotel, since management has tried to say that they're listening to both the good and bad features that guests experience and want to be progressive.

Make Reviews Convenient

Anyone can book a place to stay on Airbnb through their website, but their app is where people really go. In 2017, their app was downloaded over 420,000 times. This number grows every year, with projected site visitors reaching 1 billion annual guests by 2028.

All of these app downloads make it simple for guests to review where they stayed. They can do it any time from their phone, but they may not be tempted to do the same with a hotel.

Many hotel guests are looking for a one time stay, so they may not care to download a membership app with that specific brand. However, hotels can compete with app convenience by taking guest surveys at the front desk.

Make these surveys just a few short yes or no questions and any guest will have time to respond as their check out is processing.

Make Every Visit Personalized

Guests have many reasons for needing hotel rooms, and many Airbnb hosts will ask guests why they're traveling. It's another way to get personal with your guests and make them feel more valued.

Update your website to create a space where guests can enter why they're traveling. Then have a few welcome bag gift ideas in mind for various guests:

  • Beach bags: put a container of sunscreen or two with a few bottled waters for families traveling to your beach location.
  • Wedding gifts: provide a mini bottle of champagne or wine with a note celebrating a couple's recent wedding or upcoming vow renewal.
  • Family bags: get coloring books and a few fresh packs of markers for families. Kids will love having something to while they're in their hotel room besides watch TV.

Consider where your hotel is placed and why guests visit. Is your business located near a popular theme park or college? Get creative when you put gift bag ideas together so guests can be pleasantly surprised when they arrive to their rooms.

Look for Ways to Upgrade

Airbnb renters are quick to list the improvements they've made to their property, which is another factor that pulls guests in. A home may have been built in the 70s, but if it's been renovated to look like a modern, chic home on the inside, it'll have extra appeal.

The renovation techniques that Airbnb renters use can apply to hotels as well. Consider putting in new flooring, adding storage space in rooms or adding interesting lighting fixtures.

Balance Hospitality with Humanity

Everything is done online through Airbnb, but that remote activity is balanced out with all of the in-person communication once a guest arrives. Most of the time, they'll meet the hosts themselves and remain in contact throughout their stay.

This creates a much more personal experience, and hotels can reflect that. Instead of upgrading all hotel tech, make specific interactions all about people. Keep front desk attendants instead of replacing them with tablets or computers. Hire servers for complementary meals and always have a manager out in the lobby.

More interaction with hotel staff will make guests feel just as at home as they do when they meet hosts.

Create a Home, Not a Hotel

Perhaps the biggest appeal of Airbnb is that it most often feels more like home. Guests can rent actual homes instead of staying in a room that lacks personal touch.

Change this up by making your hotel more of a home. Leave complimentary slippers in each room for guests to use. Have a 24-hour snack bar so they can grab their late-night snacks just like they do when they're at home.

Offer free laundry service for their clothing as well as bathroom towels. Even adding a small library nook with plenty of books to read will transform your hotel from a place to stay into a place to relax.

Provide High Quality Photos

Airbnb users get to enjoy browsing through photos that show every aspect of where they might stay. They see different angles of the bathroom, bedroom and even the exterior of the rental properties they consider.

Standard hotel websites may only show one or two pictures of a room when guests try to book space for a trip. That's not as warm and welcoming. Try to provide high quality photos of each room that guests can book, offering multiple angles in the best lighting of the entire space.

Be a Proactive Listener

All people want is to be heard. They want to know that the hotel they stay with will care about them, not just for them. Even if your guests don't always leave reviews with recommendations on what could have been better or what they enjoyed the most, proactive listening means you do your research.

Learning about competitors like Airbnb provides you with powerful tools. You're still listening to travelers, but you learn about what they want without there being negative guest experiences first. Take on some of these tips to make your hotel a better option for guests to book than the Airbnbs around you.

Kacey Bradley

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