Since the early 1990s, hotels have been learning to contend with the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs). But when Airbnb arrived on the scene in 2008, hotels suddenly found themselves facing a new type of foe. Seemingly overnight, they were forced to compete with millions of unique rentals in popular destinations, many of which boasted a very affordable price point. There’s no denying that Airbnb has radically disrupted the hospitality industry over the past decade. Luckily, this isn’t the end of the story—there are a number of novel ways that hotels can fight back.
Emphasize Your Unique Amenities
If Airbnb offers all the comforts of home, hotels offer all the luxuries of travel. There are a number of unique amenities that are common in hotels but rare in rentals—daily housekeeping, room service, fitness centers, pool facilities and many more. For business travellers, families or anyone that enjoys a seamless travel experience, these amenities offer a lot of value. Highlighting them makes a traveller think twice about choosing a premium service before booking on Airbnb.
Provide Stellar Service
Guests are largely left to their own devices once they arrive at an Airbnb. That self-reliance may be appealing some of the time, but when they need information or assistance it can make travel harder than it should be. Most hotels have staff on site 24 hours a day to clean up messes, offer recommendations and connect travellers with resources. When every aspect of guest services is handled through one platform, it becomes easy to exceed guest expectations. That gives them little incentive to consider a rental on their next trip.
Adjust the Marketing Message
Much of Airbnb’s appeal is that it offers “authentic” experiences at “local” properties. These features are particularly important to millennial travellers, but they haven’t traditionally been the focus of hotel marketing. Rather than emphasizing corporate consistency, hotels should make their property feel distinct, historic or trendy—part of the fabric of the city. Spotlighting local events and attractions is a great start. These efforts help hotels feel less anonymous and more personalized as travellers seek out increasingly customized experiences.
Leverage Guest Data
Airbnb conducts everything from discovery to booking to trip reviewing on one site. As a result, the company has massive amounts of data on both guests and renters that it utilizes to make the platform that much more engaging. Hotels are also getting serious about data, but many lack a centralized, data-driven platform on par with Airbnb. If hotels hope to remain competitive they will need to collect more data from more touchpoints and translate it into insightful guest profiles. This has the added benefit of making it easier to deliver excellent guest services and relevant amenities.
Optimize the Booking Process
Airbnb excels at helping travellers discover the right property and seamlessly make a reservation. They are also transparent about costs, amenities and policies. The booking process for many hotels, by contrast, is confusing and cumbersome, which contributes to high rates of abandoned bookings. The reservation process is the least exciting aspect of travel, so hotels need to make it easier for guests to find everything they want and book without hesitation.
The hotel industry is forecast to grow 5-6% through 2018. Clearly, it’s still a relevant industry, but continued growth is never guaranteed. By directly competing with Airbnb—highlighting how they are the superior option—hotels can preserve their bottom line and remain the first choice for tomorrow’s travellers.
With tools that are as advanced as they are accessible, RoomKeyPMS makes it possible for hotels to engage every guest on every trip. Contact our team to learn more about our property management system and extensive array of integrations.
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