Hoteliers may widely denounce (and lobby against) sharing platforms' excesses, but some also take advantage of it and sell their rooms through AirBnB... This phenomenon affects all hotel profiles, from independent owners to world-renowned groups. Can the future be 'collaborative' between hoteliers and these private rental platforms?
Since it was launched in 2008, AirBnB has experienced tremendous growth: today, it has properties listed in 65,000 cities and more than 190 countries. Its worldwide footprint has provoked hoteliers' outcry since they have witnessed their own market shares vanish to the advantage of the private rental platforms.
Following its powerful entry into the leisure travelers market, AirBnB is now seducing a customer base that was previously the core business of 'classic' hospitality: business travelers. For them, AirBnB introduced the 'Business Travel Ready' label to identify listings that provide the essentials of business travel: WiFi, laptop-working space, quickly-responding hosts...
The platform's growth has happened at the expense of hoteliers who denounce the lack of regulations regarding AirBnB's activities (the latter is said to benefit from tax loopholes, or not to meet safety norms). Others have decided to make the most of the growth of the sharing economy, as illustrated by AccorHotels which acquired OneFineStay, a private rental website that focuses on the upscale range, for €148 million in April 2016.
However, the rise of AirBnB could be perceived by some hoteliers as an opportunity, and more specifically, as a new distribution channel. After all, with OTAs (Booking.com, Expedia...), hoteliers have long lost the distribution channel battle. So why not turn to this new actor?
The rise of online collaborative distribution platforms, less than 10-years old, could provide some food for thought. "Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen," Socrates said. Yet some hoteliers do not hesitate to jump on the bandwagon and entrust AirBnB, a new digital giant, with the distribution of their properties, the experience of the stay as well as the management of the customer community, without giving it a second thought...
One also needs to consider that in a context of platforms relying more and more on a professional renters' ecosystem, it is logical that in the long run, AirBnB would be welcomed as a partner and competitor rather than a rogue player. Commercial hospitality universes, consisting of hotels and private rentals, are thus bound to overlap. But is it time just yet?
Whatever their motivations may be, increasing numbers of hoteliers are already putting their eggs in the AirBnB basket, as they list their properties' rooms.
This is for instance the case for Novotel Paris La Défense, that one may find under the name "Suite spacieuse avec vue sur Paris" (Spacious suite with Paris view) on AirBnB. But if the listing clearly shows that the property is a hotel, others seem unwilling to give these details. One AirBnB user writing in one of the websites' community forums regrets that her cottage is outshined by dozens of cabins provided by the nearby Christmas Mountain Village Resort, a 3-star property located in Wisconsin.
In America, one may indeed find numerous properties that sell themselves through AirBnB. Examples include the Westgate Blue Tree Resort, The Box House Hotel (Brooklyn), the Sea Rock Inn (L.A.) or the Sheraton Vistana Villa (Florida) which is operated by the leading hotel group worldwide, Marriott International. It is not surprising to see some owners 'double-hatting' and the professional nature of the accommodations offered is sometimes revealed by high-definition pictures or high-quality services.
In Europe as well, more and more hoteliers turn to AirBnB. They come from various profiles, from the budget-economy range (like the Campanile Valenciennes Sud) to luxury independent boutique hotels (as l'Hôtel de Castiglione, in Paris), from the office hotel (Hôtel le Printemps, Paris) to the franchised and time-share properties (such as Green Hotels).
A Danish hotelier has also taken the opportunity to make the most of both worlds: the Brøchner Danmark Hotel, in Copenhagen, offers private rooms and comfy suites. But for customers who pay attention to the amount they spend, part of the property is made up common dormitories featuring bunk beds. And these are listed on AirBnB since this is where the price-sensitive customer segment is likely to look for a room...
The sharing economy is on the rise. AirBnB has still not celebrated its 10th birthday, while big hotel groups have more than a century-long history. Relationships between them are thus just starting. Will they work together or tear one another apart? The future holds in store the answer.
- The decree obliging renters using AirBnB and other platforms to register in the town hall has been published!
- Considerations regarding the European Commission's Agenda for the collaborative economy
- Record valuation for Airbnb
- Amsterdam regulates short term private rentals
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