Airbnb users spent $2.4Bn on lodging from October 2014 to September 2015, according to a study by CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research. This figure may only represent 1.7% of the $141 billion hotels made in the same period overall, but it is a significant figure for a single company that doesn’t technically own any hotels, and also represents an impressive year-on-year increase. At the moment, the company has two million rooms listed in over 34,000 cities across the globe, so this figure isn’t a surprise.
However, what is clear is that Airbnb is a threat to many hotels, whether they want to admit it or not. The company has taken an entirely new approach to accommodation and they are taking full advantage of the sharing economy we live in.
So, how can hotels compete against Airbnb?
Is Your Hotel Taking Full Advantage of Technology?
Hotels still offer better amenities, services and standards that Airbnb can’t compare with. And that’s a good thing because a TrustYou study revealed that guests are willing to pay more for a better experience.
However, many hotels are slow to adopt innovative technologies that will help improve the guest experience and their operations. Because for guests now, it’s all about the experience.
Furthermore, 70 percent of travelers are affected in their decision to book a stay by a hotel’s website, apps and any other digital tools on offer, according to a Mangani Caruso Dutton study. This makes it even more surprising that so many hotels are slow to adopt new technologies
Airbnb Users Enjoy Independence but Like Being Able to Communicate with Their Hosts
Airbnb guests like the fact that they are independent to a certain degree so they can feel as if they are part of the area they are visiting, rather than feeling like a tourist. However, they also enjoy that they can easily communicate with their hosts and build a relationship.
To compete, convert to self-service where possible, such as offering digital check-in and check-out. At the same time, always make sure your staff are there for the guest, creating an amazing experience. And don’t just communicate while your guest is there. Connect with them before and after their trip as well. Remember, it’s all about building strong relationships.
Airbnb Goes Local and So Should You
Until recently, Airbnb was targeting a younger demographic, mainly millennials. But now they’ve shifted their focus to families, pushing the idea of an immersive, local experience being more enjoyable than the traditional tourist oriented trip.
Just like Airbnb, your hotel needs to focus on promoting the idea that guests can experience your destination like a local. There are a number of ways you can approach this.
Create a Video of Your Local Area
People love watching content online. In fact, 66% of potential travelers watch travel content while considering going on a trip. So, post a video of your local area, showcasing all the attractions, on your homepage to engage your audience and inspire them to become your guests.
And remember, 55% of visitors spend no more than 15 seconds on a website, so make sure you are selling the “local” concept right on your homepage. Show them exactly why they will have a memorable and “local” experience if they stay at your hotel.
Use Your Blog Effectively
There’s no better way to engage your audience than by blogging about your local area. Talk about local events, great places to visit and amazing, out-of-the-way restaurants to eat at. And blog about all these things as a local and not with a focus towards tourist activities. People want to experience the area like a local, so you have to help envision doing just that through your blog.
Take Advantage of Your Staff
Airbnb offers guidebooks created by the hosts to the local neighborhood. Of course, these guides offer information on great attractions but also things like the host’s favorite coffee shop that might not be so well known or mundane amenities like directions to the closest 24/7 pharmacy.
Your hotel can offer similar information. Take advantage of your staff and don’t just ask them about places they are already know but send them out to do research. Encourage them to explore the area where your hotel is so they can offer recommendations, with a focus on places that are off the beaten track.
Airbnb is getting bigger by the day, but hotels can easily compete as long as you focus on what’s important, namely offering a delightful guest experience. Adopt a guest-centric attitude and focus on offering a “local” experience, and you’ll find it much easier to compete with Airbnb.