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On Demand Businesses 101

Hotels Going Airbnb-ish!

Airbnb has not only inspired communication, it has ‘made a room for itself’ in the hearts of many.

While the early initiatives in “social travel” revolved around virtually offering people a place to stay and sharing experiences, networked hospitality businesses turned the exciting concept of having people from different countries, castes, and religions stay at your place into a for-profit model. Moreover, technological advancement, social innovation, and economic dematerialization i.e.  the relative reduction in the amount of physical materials required in order to perform economic functions (Herman et al., 1990) has led to  the Networked Economy becoming highly customer-centric.

High rents, short term rentals, hassles with youth hostels, and chronically overcrowded housing have all led to people choosing room sharing services over other alternatives, hence, adding to the popularity of Airbnb which also provides its customers with a compelling experience of being able to “live like a local”.

Also, according to a study, millennial travellers will account for half the spending on business flights by 2020. Accustomed to the accelerating pace of social media, these youngsters embrace community building and continuously look out for unique adventures. Airbnb, thus, focuses on renting “unique places to stay from local hosts” anywhere. And we’re talking about Art Apartments in Palermo, Cave Houses in OIA, Private Villas in Bali and many more- thus, making each stay an unforgettable affair.

Airbnb is valued at $30 billion based on the company’s latest round of funding, serving over 3 million listings in more than 65,000 cities in close to 200 countries. The additional supply created by Airbnb has affected the distribution of power in the market. Airbnb is a not temporary
solution anymore. Hotel Chains look at them as established competitors with the largest number of listed beds and an incredible market evaluation, enabling them to take away loyal customers and thereby, increasing the customer churn for these hotel chains. Airbnb is a disruptive business model, revolutionizing the traditional hospitality industry.

Studies have also reported that about 60 million people have used Airbnb to find an alternative to a hotel. HVS, a consulting firm based out of New York, estimated that hotels lose approximately $450 million in direct revenues per year to AirBnb.

HOW HOTEL CHAINS ARE HOLDING UP

The Hyatt Story-

Hyatt Hotels announced its investment in Oasis, an international room-sharing service that offers private members clubs and a network of local employees available to guests 24/7,in August 2017. They looked at this as a bid to offer a more upscale Airbnb alternative to their customers. Oasis, which now has more than 2,000 properties in 22 cities all around the world, is categorised under Hyatt’s Unbound Collection.  

The Marriott International Story-

The Marriott International, at a Los Angeles Conference, unveiled a concept for a hotel room as an attack against short-term rental firms. Under a row of tents on a city street, the hotel chain displayed models of some ideas it is considering. The most interesting being a four-bedroom apartment concept. The Los Angeles Times reported Toni Stoeckl, a Marriott vice-president, saying that the new layout could become part of its Element Hotel brand. They wish to start small by inculcating these apartment-style suites on each floor in Element hotels, with the rest of the rooms sticking to the traditional format.

Marriott is also trying to make their boutique Aloft brand more lucrative by offering things such as customisable healthy meals that can be ordered and paid for at digital kiosks. But the credibility of these gimmicks, as far as the ‘where to stay’ question is concerned, is yet to be figured.

“For many of the hotel companies, it’s about an investment in not missing out on an opportunity, and seeing if these companies can grow into a newer, stronger form of competition.” says, Bjorn Hanson, a New York University professor who studies the hotel and hospitality industry.

HOTEL LISTINGS ON AIRBNB– AN INITIATIVE TO FILL UP ROOMS

The Box House Hotel in North Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which offers apartment-style suites, lists at least five of nine rooms on Airbnb. The Riffin Manhattan, which recently converted from a hostel to a hotel, lists one private room in a “hipster hotel/hostel”. The Union Hotel in Gowanus, Brooklyn ; The Guesthouse Hotel in Chicago- named one of Chicago’s best new hotels of 2014; The Sea Rock Inn, a budget hotel in Los Angeles; and The Lumber Baron Inn, a mystery theater and wedding venue in Denver, also list on Airbnb.

Airbnb permits listings for rooms in hotels as long as they’re clearly portrayed as such.

SOME QUICK TIPS FOR ESTABLISHED HOTEL CHAINS

Doing what Airbnb is doing is a potentially attractive opportunity for a lot of Hotels. Here are some quick tips on how hotels can be a little more Airbnb-ish!

  •    Help guests find authentic, local experiences- make their experiences as exquisite as possible
  •    Make your online booking procedure seamless
  •    Work on building a community- connect souls and journeys
  •    Leverage all your systems to bring a consistent experience to customers
  •    Emphasise on your USP. Highlight your best features and gain yourself a strong market position.

THE COLLABORATION

Collaborations that foster growth on both ends are the best ones.

If hotels make their accommodations less of a commodity and more of an experience, they could take advantage of Airbnb’s growing user-base by featuring on top of their search results. Airbnb could also leverage the professionalism portrayed at Hotels and ensure its customers the sense of security that they derive from booking a hotel over staying at someone’s house.  

The outcomes of strong alliances can never be predicted, just saying!

If you’re a Hotel Chain looking out for some tech know-how to start or scale up your business, reach out to us- [email protected] Looking Forward to hearing from you!

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