How are Airbnb owners competing with hotel brands to engage & retain travelers?
— 5 experts shared their view
Now that hotels are coming back strong with leisure travel, how will property owners using Airbnb and similar platforms compete for rentals? We know that big players like Marriott and other large brand names see value with property homes and rentals, as they have started to make moves to compete in this market. What will we see in the next year or so in the hotel segment and among individual property owners like those working with Airbnb and Vrbo to connect with guests and create meaningful experiences?
Managing Director Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited
While the question is a little bit confusing, perhaps I can simplify this: How are 'traditional' accommodation vendors using their game to compete with the sharing economy? Think of the pandemic as an 18-24 month intermission on the never-ending battle with Airbnb (and their cohort). The challenge is relevancy to the more youthful target audience. Airbnb wins on uniqueness, variety, location (imbedded in the community) and often on price as well. Hotels make money delivering consistency, which is exactly what this generation is NOT looking for. Hotel owners/brands need to re-tool to meet the markets' needs. Airbnb 'Act Two' (i.e. post pandemic) is going to be a mighty competitor.
National Director of Business Development
As a guest, I mostly stay at hotels for business and short-term personal travel. There are occasions where I like to use Air BnB over a hotel stay; especially if there are no good hotel brands in my area of travel. I also like Airbnb when traveling with friends and family and we want to share space in a house. There's more room to spread out and yet feel connected versus two rooms at a hotel.
There is definitely a different feel staying at each. When I'm visiting family or friends for an extended period of time, I like Air BnB because it's a house that feels more like home with many rooms and a yard to relax in. I prefer its solitude to decompress from the day. When I travel for business, I like the convenience and amenities of a hotel.
Marriott's offering of house properties has grown nicely, though the ones I've seen are very high-end (at least, the cities I have looked into). The homes are magnificent and very comparable to Air BnB prices. I haven't seen any condos/apartments by Marriott, but that may just be me not finding them. If given the choice, I'd stay at a Marriott for the points and rewards over Air BnB.
Both options provide a meaningful experience for me, depending on the type of travel. I don't feel that one should try to compete with the other. That is like an Italian restaurant competing with a French restaurant. Both are great, but one is what you're in the mood for versus the other. Both great choices!
Hospitality Leader and Guest Experience Expert
Despite competing efforts, Airbnb offers a different type of experience than hotels. Each property is different, which is its own source of demand. Travelers also travel for different reasons, which will influence where they choose to stay as a guest. Sometimes, a hotel makes more sense. Other times, that traveler may want an Airbnb type of stay. As operating groups increase their shared lodging portfolios, they will continue to try and compete on a portfolio of different properties by providing “sameness” in terms of service level expectations. This is where hotel companies are looking to compete because they already exceed at this. The value proposition at a hotel is the service itself, whereas at an Airbnb or Vrbo property it can be a number of things related to location, amenities, and particulars that only an independent lodging owner can provide. In the next year or so, we'll be seeing more hotels working to connect with guests and create those kinds of experiences that come effortlessly with Airbnb and Vrbo bookings, and independent lodging owners working to compete with hotels by obtaining the portfolio-level of service expertise that hotels are already very good at.
Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University
Homestay providers, have ample opportunity to capitalise on the provision of innovation and personalisation within and throughout their product and service. Many Airbnb hosts, for example, offer an 'open home' policy and that, can serve to be a huge advantage when attracting new guests to their stay. The uptake on guests seeking out rural v's urban locations, has also meant that 'off the beaten track' Airbnb's - are in high demand. Additionally, guests who are more inclined to book entire homes – can also do so. This flexible option maximises a guest's privacy, freedom and in most instances - space.
As consumers gain confidence from Airbnb's recent introduction of their 'Enhanced Clean' certification, it is clear to observe that Airbnb are not only listening to consumers' concerns, but they are also acting on them. This speaks volumes, given the difficult restrictions and trying times the service sector is currently navigating its way through.
As I recall many of my own homestay experiences: 'fresh off the tree' mango wedges at Casa Isis, Varadero, Cuba; listening to stories of wild surfing days at Clifftop Town House, Cornwall, UK; sampling Irish soda bread with host Petrina, Galway, Ireland and wakening up to the scent and sight of lemon trees while staying at Cube By The Beach, Ibiza, Spain - all awaken fond held memories created, for me, by homestay hosts. Without doubt, this offer of alternative accommodation – has succeeded in adding value, flavour, curiosity, and bespoke individuality to my travel repertoire. Isn't that what hospitality is all about?
Homestays offer so much variety; there is something for everyone. Companies, like Airbnb, are working diligently on inclusivity and accessibility; with dedicated teams and research being constantly engaged with. As restrictions are eased across many continents, the future of homestays will continue to gain traction and popularity: thus, furthering the need for innovation and personalisation of stay to remain a top priority.
Travel Expert & Content Creator at Ask A Concierge
Property owners are really going to have to focus on consistency, strong reviews, and unique experiences. Travelers want to know that they're going to have a great experience, every time. They should also look into increasing their amenities as well.
As far as looking ahead… leisure and family travel will still remain king. Whole home rentals will continue to be popular. So maybe we see more of a cross section of these offering? Stay at a hole but have access to hotel amenities? Things of this nature. Time will surely tell!