All Is Not Lost: How to Compete With Airbnb as an Independent Hotelier

May 29th, 2018 Mark Ellis General, Hospitality Trends

During late 2017, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky described how the company’s new bookable excursions feature (known as “Experiences”) had earned the travel industry disruptor “about a half a million dollars.”

Forming part of its Trips platform, Airbnb’s Experiences are another example of its innovative approach to online booking in the hospitality sector. It’s also a reminder that, far from being satisfied with its current status, Airbnb is continuing to forge ahead with new ideas that offer travelers fascinating alternatives to traditional hotel stays.

Is that competition too stiff for independent hoteliers? Of course not! In fact, as with any form of industry disruption, Airbnb’s continued dominance of the hospitality headlines offers fabulous opportunities for hoteliers to grab their share of an evolving market.

Like OTAs, Airbnb shouldn’t be seen as the enemy

Online travel agencies (OTAs) are still a viable force in the industry. While it might be tempting to view them as “foes,” if you ended your OTA relationships today, then what would be the condition of your occupancy tomorrow? Embracing OTA partnerships is an important strategy in modern hospitality, as it is for Airbnb. Only, it is not a partner – it’s a competitor from whom you can learn and be inspired.

Here’s how to put some of Airbnb’s tactics to work in your hotel:

Emphasize what makes your hotel unique

Every independent hotel has unique features and amenities – they distinguish you from the big chains. One of Airbnb’s strengths is the properties it offers are inherently unique since they’re often homes or holiday rentals.

While you might not be offering the same home-away-from-home experience as the Airbnb property on your street, your gym, your themed restaurant and/or your partnership with local attractions will equally indicate your uniqueness. Make a big noise about it on your promotional material and Website.

Offer swift, mobile-ready online booking

Airbnb is great at offering a quick, online booking experience. Much like Booking.com, it has clearly invested significant time and expense to create an online experience that is just right. While your pockets might not be quite as deep, nothing is stopping you from improving your own online booking game.

Pick the right hotel PMS vendor, and it will supply an online booking system fully linked to inventory, is mobile-ready and offers a simple guest journey. It’ll be cost effective, too. Develop and promote this element incorrectly, and you might as well acquiesce to a business like Airbnb!

Promote “local” and “authenticity”

Airbnb focuses much of its promotional efforts on offering authentic experiences. It couples this with the promise of local properties to appeal to a wide demographic.

“Local” and “authenticity” are words particularly important to the Millennial generation. If you can promote your hotel with the same words and themes, then you’ll attract Millennials’ attention during the research phase of their trip. Clearly show and explain your property’s distinctiveness, rather than simply a bed for the night. Emphasize what makes it trendy and highlight your love and knowledge of the local area. It makes a huge difference in the current market.

Use guest data to your advantage

You’ll be collecting a wealth of data about guests, but are you just accumulating it or using it to your advantage? With the European Union’s GDPR rules now in place, there’s greater scrutiny of how personal data is collected. Play by the rules, though, and you’ll start to harvest data that will enable you to deliver personalized offers and experiences.

Guest data drives Airbnb’s platform. It enables Airbnb to create insightful guest profiles and deliver services that are relevant and memorable. You can do the same if you invest more time learning the intricacies of your PMS and investigate the marketing and reporting functionality it offers.

In conclusion

There are no signs Airbnb is slowing its pace of innovation or the way in which it is disrupting the market. You have two choices: Lean forward like Airbnb or wallow in self-pity, doubt and inaction. Which seems to be the right strategy for your business?

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InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today at 1.813.288.4900, or email us at sales@innquest.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.