As Airbnb is set to make its presence felt, Editor of Hotel News ME, Sophia Soltani weighs up if holiday homes really do pose a threat to establishments and how your hotel can compete against the giant.
According to Airbnb, users spent $2.4bn on lodgings from October 2014 to September 2015. This figure may only represent 1.7% of the $141bn hotels made in the same period overall, but it is a significant figure for a single company that doesn’t technically own any hotels, and also represents an impressive Y-o-Y increase. However, what is clear is that Airbnb could be seen as a threat to many hotels, whether they want to admit it or not. The company has taken an entirely new approach to accommodation and they are taking full advantage of the sharing economy we live in. So, how can hotels compete against Airbnb?
Hotels still offer better amenities, services and standards that Airbnb can’t compete with. And that’s a good thing because a TrustYou study revealed that guests are willing to pay more for a better experience. However, many hotels are slow to adopt innovative technologies that will help improve the guest experience and their operations.
70% of travellers are swayed in their decision making process by the competitiveness of a hotels website according to a Mangani Caruso Dutton study. This makes it even more surprising that so many hotels are slow to adopt new technologies. Airbnb guests like the fact that they are independent to a certain degree so they can feel as if they are part of the area they are visiting, rather than feeling like a tourist. However, they also enjoy that they can easily communicate with their hosts and build a relationship.
To compete, convert to self-service where possible, such as offering digital check-in and check-out. At the same time, always make sure your staff are there for the guests, creating an amazing experience – and don’t just communicate while your guest is there. Connect with them before and after their trip as well. Remember, it’s all about building strong relationships.
Until recently, Airbnb was targeting a younger demographic, mainly millennials. But now they’ve shifted their focus to families, pushing the idea of an immersive, local experience being more enjoyable than the traditional tourist oriented trip. Just like Airbnb, your hotel needs to focus on promoting the idea that guests can experience your destination like a local. There are a number of ways you can approach this. Create a video of your local area – people love watching content online. In fact, 66% of potential travellers watch travel content while considering going on a trip. So, post a video of your local area, showcasing all the attractions, on your homepage to engage your audience and inspire them to become your guests. And remember, 55% of visitors spend no more than 15 seconds on a website, so make sure you are selling the “local” concept right on your homepage. Show them exactly why they will have a memorable and “local” experience if they stay at your hotel.