As we enter the second quarter of 2016 I want to address a real very threat that I know many of us has on our minds- namely Airbnb and its impact on the industry. With 2 million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, Airbnb can no longer be overlooked. Airbnb is valued at $25.5b billion and it's changing how people travel. You may be asking yourself how this will affect you and how you can stop their forward progress. Especially when a recent Goldman Sachs survey found that people who use Airbnb don't want to go back to booking traditional hotels. That's a troubling trend to say the least. So, what's the silver lining?
An in-depth analysis by Smith Travel Research (STR) regarding Airbnb bookings in New York City found that the increased supply brought by Airbnb did not affect demand and occupancy rates like we feared but there was less ability to charge premium rates by hotel managers. With more competition, hotels that were able to push rates in the past on premium nights had less ability to do so. Overall though, STR's analysis summarized that traditional hotels and Airbnb target different customers and can co-exist.
Plus, Airbnb may have its own troubles on the horizon. A big concern is regulations since Airbnb doesn't have the same regulations as hotels and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) is lobbying for greater government regulation. AHLA is also suggesting Airbnb should have to pay the same taxes and follow the same health and safety standard as hotels. In my opinion, that makes a lot of sense and helps me sleep better at night. It's only right that the consumer has safe, clean lodging whether they stay at a hotel or an Airbnb property.
So, what's next? The new "sharing economy" that's prevalent today will continue to affect traditional hotels and it's more critical than ever to focus on a holistic Revenue Strategy. Patrick Bosworth, President and CEO of Duetto Research, believes to safeguard your occupancy and market share from any competitor - be it another hotel, an OTA and perhaps now an Airbnb host - hotels should communicate effectively with guests before they arrive, provide the ideal on-property experience and use all available data to market to those guests in a personalized way after they stay. That's always been the game plan for turning customers into longtime loyal guests, and it's more important than ever in light of the sharing economy's growing popularity.
In additional, hotels could and should partner with "P2P" sites an additional customer acquisition channel and learn from guests who may have turned away from the traditional hotel experience. Learn as much as you can from these guests and channels so you can best figure out how to partner and eventually combat them. Ignoring them won't make them go away but engaging with them mitigates the damage.