Airbnb: Another step deeper into hotelier territory
Airbnb: Another step deeper into hotelier territory
26 JUNE 2017 7:29 AM

Rumors are circulating that Airbnb is about to step into tiered segments, brand standards and upscale and villa rentals. Is this another cry to hoteliers to up their games, or to regulators to further analyze the rulebooks?

Rumors last week hinted that our friends at Airbnb are planning to launch a new platform, of home, apartment and villa rentals that will sit above its regular stock in that Airbnb-led inspections will guarantee levels of quality and amenities. You can read more details here in an article from the Independent.

In other words, Airbnb has moved both into the tiered-product and brand-standards game.

Those units passing Airbnb’s culture means testing will have their standings moved into some form of top-tier section on its websites and apps.

Will there be a section next to that where customers can see coverage in terms of insurance and fire- and-safety protection?

The Airbnb platform, if it does transpire, will offer something along the lines of AccorHotels’ Onefinestay platform of upscale and luxury home and villa rentals. But AccorHotels does, I imagine, have all manner of regulatory safeguards in place, being that it is a publicly traded company that is the host, not millions and millions of individuals.

This is not Airbnb’s first step into traditional hotelier territory.

The company has long encouraged its hosts to act more like hoteliers in areas such as revenue management, and there are more than a handful of independent companies that offer hosts business-oriented advice or to drive revenue on their behalf.

Another call to hoteliers to either campaign more virulently against Airbnb and its ilk, or to further take their heads out of the sand and concentrate more on value add, service and marketing?

Would such an idea bring an as-yet-untapped customer segment to Airbnb? Possibly. Would it add even billions more to its market capitalization (which already stands at a pretty remarkable $31 billion, according to sources quoted by Market Watch in March)?

Several jurisdictions have or are in the process of trying to limit Airbnb’s clean sweep, or to put the onus on hosts to ensure regulatory and tax compliance and client welfare. But Airbnb just grows larger and larger and comes up with even further initiatives—initiatives likely to please its clients, I should add. One rather feels nothing can stop it as it becomes too big to curtail.

Peckham a go go
This month, newspapers in the United Kingdom experienced headline joy when the London suburb of Peckham announced it would not allow would-be entrepreneurs living in its social housing to be hosts for firms such as Airbnb.

Good news for hoteliers, perhaps, although to my knowledge there is only one branded hotel in Peckham.

Headlines went along the lines of “New York. Barcelona. Peckham.”

This is funny to us Brits as it is a nod towards one of our most-loved sitcoms, “Only Fools and Horses,” in which Derek “Del Boy” Trotter and his younger brother Rodney “Rodders” Trotter every week appeared to be one step from being millionaires, albeit from their humble everyday “job” of flogging dodgy gear from the back of their three-wheeled Reliant Regal car.

On the side of this car, which was incapacitated more than it was active, was a slogan that said “Trotters Independent Trading Co: New York. Paris. Peckham.”

When the comedy first started in 1981, and likewise when it ended in 2003, Peckham was an area most people avoided. Peckham Rye has always been nice, but Peckham was an area most might describe as “gritty” and “interesting” if they were trying not to be rude.

Peckham saw severe rioting in 2011, but today—and I’ve run through it every working day for four years on my way to my office—it is subject to that double-edged sword of a word, regeneration, with open-air cinema clubs, craft breweries, multicultural restaurants, rising rents and the like.

But mention the word Peckham to many Londoners, and they will smile, thinking instantly of “Only Fools and Horses.”

Chances are Airbnb will get the last laugh.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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