The rise of Airbnb has seemed unstoppable. Seemingly out of nowhere, it appeared on the scene and within a few years had made such a large impact, profits of doom started talking about the death of the hotel industry. In 2016, 19% of leisure travellers claim they used Airbnb and OTAs (including Booking.com) are now listing apartment rentals.
These days, hotels are trying their best to create more curated and authentic experiences whether through partnering with local distilleries or marrying regional vendors’ wares with hyperlocal experiences, to better entice their valuable guests. WIth the advent of Airbnb and its ilk, they are snapping up the market share which was previously reserved for global hotel chains, and the proof is in the numbers. So, let’s have a look- On November 2017, Airbnb’s worth was calculated and it was estimated to be a whopping $31 billion, trailing only behind hotelier Marriott International. (By the way of comparison, Hilton Worldwide’s market cap is an estimated $27.4 billion, while Intercontinental Hotel Group’s is approximately $12.2 billion.)
Also, a study by the eminent Morgan Stanley Group found that in 2017 almost 42% to 45% of the Airbnb guests switched to the company’s homestay offerings from traditional hotel accommodations, and Airbnb itself suggests that at least 15% of its current bookings are business travelers which also includes entrepreneurs who falls under the category of millennial travelers. Concur, one of the world’s topmost travel platforms used by more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies, proposes to display Airbnb’s listings on its search and bookings tool.
We can’t deny the fact that hotels are reacting! Some brands, like AccorHotels, Wyndham, and Hyatt, are acquiring and investing in home-sharing companies which are nothing special but typically includes upscale websites in the “home meets hotel” corner of the market – to give the vacation rental industry a run for its money. Similarly, other brands are trifling with the idea of clustering guest rooms around a communal living space to mimic the experience of renting a house on Airbnb (which is really cool). According to a Forbes, Hyatt’s Centric brand is testing a new service that would allow guests to order GrubHub meals and charge it to their stay. Marriott’s boutique Moxy brand offers smaller and compact rooms in urban societies, intimate setting (via keyless entry with a smartphone app, to boot). New York’s Arlo Hotels highlights its partnerships with local purveyors to entice customers, and its compact rooms are accompanied by large communal and social spaces including living rooms, libraries, and courtyards. Hotels create more curated and authentic experiences whether through partnering with local distilleries or marrying regional vendors’ wares with hyperlocal experiences, to entice the guests in a better way. To be successful, a hotel will need to provide better value with a more nuanced and enhanced stay. How strongly the industry ramps up this response will depend on how much more runway Airbnb proves to have, but ultimately, major brands must reexamine what they offer their guests to compete in this corner of the sharing economy!
What hotels can do to compete with Airbnb
Airbnb is preferred and revered by melange of travelers for its instant availability and homestay options so that the guests can explore more about a particular city without the expense of a tourist guide. So, before we unveil the secrets for a hotel to compete with Airbnb, we have to see and know what those guys are doing right and then we have to apply reverse engineering to reach to its roots so the hotels and Airbnb can be in the same league. So, let’s start the quest!
1.Know your consumer: The saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." How bad would it be for a potential customer's or guests’ first impression of your hotel's brand and value to be tarnished by an unresponsive, frustrating attempt at shopping for the perfect room from a mobile device? For obvious reasons we don’t want such issues to concoct and to resolve the issue there is no other option than KNOWING YOUR CUSTOMER!
Hotels first need to understand why people are choosing this new way to travel. What’s the appeal of this lodging type? The most obvious reason is that it is a cost-effective alternative. A new consumer reports survey reports that 70% of people who have used Airbnb chose it to save money. More than 50% cited “unique accommodations” or “availability of kitchens” as an influencing factor in their decision. Almost all respondents, 90% in fact, rated their experience either “good” or “very good.” Hotels can benefit from conducting their own customer analysis, surveying what amenities guests value the most and then plan to work towards actioning.
2.Hyper-personal touch & all-star service: Outstanding service and personalised touches are a great way to stand out from other establishments. Airbnb have a reputation for being responsive to queries or issues, but hotels have the face-to-face advantage. Hence, it’s essential that hotel staff are consistently committed to exceptional customer service and standards of quality.
3. Available 24*7: Traditionally, the travellers sought out consistency and home comforts while travelling to new places. They knew that a Hilton in Sydney would be very similar to a Hilton in Hong Kong. Nowadays, travellers want to discover the local culture and be immersed in the exciting experience. Feeling like you’re ‘living’ in a new city, even for just a few days, is far easier when you have the amenities you would expect at home. Hotels can replicate this experience by changing up the room options available to guests. Differentiating the decor of the rooms, providing a stocked kitchen and offering alternative amenities can draw the attention of the changing needs of travellers.
4.Localisation: Airbnb hosts are often homeowners who have chosen to live in this location. They come equipped to share their love and knowledge of the area with guests. There’s no reason your staff can’t hold the same knowledge or enthusiasm for local happenings. Hire locals to work your front desk, or have team outings to get to really know the area your hotel is surrounded by. Guests are looking for a unique experience and any hidden gems you can help them discover, with reflect favourably on your team.
5.Free amenities: All guests love amenities – breakfast, robes, free WiFi, and more – and can really appreciate those at your property when you localize your offerings. Include resource guides or partner with local vendors to give coupons or discounts to your guests to help them experience your city better and more affordably. It may also be beneficial to offer transportation like free bikes and maps to your guests so they can explore the city on their own.
6.Restobar at sites: If you have an on-site restaurant, you’re already a step ahead. Yes, Airbnb rentals come with kitchens but how many of your guests would really want to cook while on vacation? Showcase a menu that includes local dishes or regional ingredients to appeal to guests wanting a local dining experience or point them in the right direction of restaurants that are favorites with people that live in your city.
7.KISS (Keep It Social, Silly): Another way to show off how guests can live in your city by staying at your property is by sharing photos by your guests from around town or around your property on your social media channels. You can also share other local vendors’ photos, like restaurants or a cool snap from the local whitewater rafting company. Another way to help out is when a guest checks in on a site like Facebook, like their post and comment with, “Welcome to My Property! If you need any suggestions for the things to do or places to visit & dine, kindly, do not hesitate to reach out to our front desk and ask as we love helping our guests find the best things to do in our city.”
So, now you know how can you compete with Airbnb! Pick a slot now to unveil more guest experience related secrets from the industry pundits and you could come to know how can you boost your customer engagement on the go! By scheduling a demo with us you can expect to know how ML and AI-enabled chatbots can boost your hotel occupancy on the go!