The continued growth of Airbnb and other short-term vacation rental suppliers continues to be a hot topic for hotels. Among the questions that hoteliers are asking are: How should a hotel compete with the Airbnb property located nearby? How do we fight Airbnb? Can we stop this industry disruptor?
Interestingly though, the debate now seems to be taking a different direction, along the lines of that ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, then why not join forces’. Indeed, numerous executives seem to be coming round to the idea that working together may be the way forward, in the way that William Beckler, founder of Alltherooms.com, suggested they should in an EyeforTravel interview late last year. Beckler told EyeforTravel that: “The sooner hoteliers recognise that one customer can buy into more than one concept, the more successful they will be”.
The main point here is that very often short-term rental companies and the hotel industry offer different products. In other words, they are not always perfect substitutes for each other; just because you’re an Airbnb aficionada, doesn’t mean you’ll never stay in a hotel. Airbnb may be great for families who need more space and cooking facilities, but the adults in that same family may also be business travellers who prefer the consistency, predictability and facilities of a hotel for their work-travel needs.
Competing with each other is a stretch at best, and for hotels, to truly compete in the quirky, multi-room, space, is almost unthinkable.
Hello 21st century lodging
Nobody is disputing that demand for hotels, especially in certain locations, has been impacted dramatically by new short-term rental alternatives. Nevertheless, there is a growing recognition of the need to objectively review the strengths and weaknesses of each business model to determine if there are opportunities for collaboration. That has to be a good thing.