While the hotel industry is still experiencing strong growth, the rise in alternative accommodation like Airbnb and HomeAway cannot be ignored. The trend for alternative accommodation can only rise with the new generation of travellers. Alternative accommodation along with low-cost airlines expanding their transatlantic flights, means there are greater expectations from the consumer in regards to the choice, price, and convenience they expect. So how can hotels and more traditional forms of accommodation remain competitive in this sharing economy?
There have been two schools of thought when it comes to whether the likes of Airbnb and HomeAway are threats to the hotel industry. Some are in denial that vacation rentals are a threat, as they think they serve a different market to hotels. The ones who do see vacation rentals as a threat to hotels have called for more regulation in that industry. While regulations can take years to be formalised and enacted, what can hotels do now to compete?
A very important factor when people choose accommodation. Most travellers will be looking to stay in a central location. This helps in the ease of access to attractions and public transport or tours. A central location will be important for guests wanting to walk to nearby attractions or catch city tour busses. This is where hotels have the advantage, while vacation rentals are mostly on the city fringe or in more residential areas, hotels can be located in the heart of the city.
Having a spa, onsite restaurant, bar, or lounge is a huge asset for a hotel. Vacation rentals lack this hub of activity for guests to gather and utilise throughout their stay. In-room amenities can also set a hotel apart from vacation rentals. Laundry services, room service, and business centres can help guests have a more convenient stay, and give them time to explore the city.
This is the hotel industry’s greatest strength. Having staff to be on hand to deal with any queries, problems or requests is a point that really sets hotels apart from vacation rentals. Vacation rentals don’t have the ability to move guests’ to a new room should something stop working, or when the air conditioning/heater is too noisy, but hotels do. They make traveling convenient and worry-free, and you know someone will always be on hand to help.
As an industry we need to continue to remind ourselves that travel is about the people. Airbnb brought the human element back into travel, in their live like a local campaign and also through providing the option for people to share a space to stay together. It’s time for hotels to adapt to this changing industry. An easy way for hotels to do this is through utilising their staff. Providing an exceptional level of service is an easy way to gain repeat customers through customer satisfaction.