There are signs the hotel industry could be taking a different approach to alternative accommodations, maybe even warming up to them. This would open up so many possibilities for hoteliers.
Competition is often a great source of inspiration for new ideas and innovative solutions to problems. At the same time, so is collaboration.
I’m referring to signs that the hotel industry might be warming up to alternative-accommodations companies, such as Airbnb. I’ve heard directly from hoteliers during various conferences that they have stayed at an Airbnb to try it out and generally liked the experience. Some companies, like AccorHotels, have invested in alternative accommodations. There are hotels who are now listing their inventory on Airbnb’s website just like they would through an online travel agency.
This is great.
I hope this is the start of more collaboration between the industry and alternative accommodations, because moving away from this adversarial relationship could really make both parties create better experiences for guests.
Let’s look at what the competitive relationship has done so far. Companies like Airbnb have gone from offering up single rooms and couches to expanding their inventory to include a wide variety of options for travelers. They’re trying to take a more professional approach with their rental units and guaranteeing a standard level of cleanliness and security. Some even are exploring hotel-like services and amenities.
For the hotel industry, hotel brand companies have been exploring newer designs that reject the cookie-cutter look. They recognize the value of a more localized look and feel that independent, boutique hotels and alternative accommodations offer guests, so they created soft-brand collections and introduced localized elements into their hotel designs and food-and-beverage offerings.
In other words, each side in this battle has actually tried to emulate the other to attract guests. That approach has paid off overall for both.
It is time, however, to try to move on and figure out ways to actually work together. To do that, each side will need to make some attempts at reconciliation. The hotel industry has put a lot of effort into trying to regulate companies like Airbnb away, or at least to put them at a disadvantage. That’s not to say companies like Airbnb shouldn’t operate under many of the same laws hotels do; after all, if a rental unit is operating like a hotel, the company providing this platform should pay taxes as well as have some safety standards to protect the guests staying there, especially if the owner of the rental unit is operating it like a business as opposed to a homeowner trying to earn a little extra income every now and then. However, pushing to put legislative pressure on companies like Airbnb is a stick when a carrot might be better.
There’s a lot of common ground here that is a good starting point for the hotel industry and alternative accommodations to work together. Some have already taken these steps and are leading by example. There’s so much more the two can do by working together, pairing together the best minds from each side to create a guest experience no one has ever seen before.
Alternative accommodations aren’t going anywhere. Most hoteliers have accepted this by now and have been doing their best to adapt to the disruption. It’s time to move beyond acceptance. Take that step forward and work together. Be part of what could drive the evolution of the hotel industry.
Will it work? What do you think collaboration between the hotel industry and alternative-accommodations companies could create? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me at email@example.com and @HNN_Bryan.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.