In the world of accommodation, it seems as if Airbnb gets all the attention.
In just one week, hundreds of articles published on Airbnb covered everything from the founder’s San Francisco Airbnb unit, the Airbnb Apple TV app, business traveler’s usage of Airbnb, and Airbnb tax controversy.
While Airbnb is certainly newsworthy, the conversation varies. Some articles attribute a decline in hotel revenue to Airbnb, touching on how this signals the demise of hotels while other outlets frequently discuss Airbnb as if it was one of today’s largest hotel brands.
With Airbnb being both compared to hotels and framed as the disruptor of the hotel industry, it seems that Airbnb is both destroying and recreating the hotel industry. With this logic in mind, it becomes no surprise that the company has a reported valuation in excess of $25 billion.
But what is Airbnb really doing? Is Airbnb killing hotels? Or is it becoming one?
While this is often the question that is asked, it’s not the right one. With the clear disruption of the hotel industry taking place, it’s time to stop defining Airbnb and other brands in terms of what the companies are doing or what they want to do; it’s time to define them in terms of what travelers and guests demand.
From this perspective, the difference between hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and Airbnbs becomes diminutive. For the traveler, all that matters is that he or she is spending a night away from home and needs a place to sleep.
The nuances of the expectations and demands are defined by the individual and the context of the night away. For example, a baby boomer will have different needs when on an overnight business trip compared with a week-long vacation with extended family. A millennial consultant traveling to a client-site Monday through Thursday will again have different needs than when he or she is attending a wedding with a group of friends.
NB This is a guest article by Andrew McConnell, founder and CEO of rented.com.
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