Do alternative accommodations affect hotels?
13 FEBRUARY 2014 7:58 AM
Alternative accommodations can have a synergistic relationship with the hotel industry, sources said, but where a prospective guest books can depend on the traveling activity.
UPDATE: This article was updated 13 February.
GLOBAL REPORT—It’s unclear whether alternative accommodation options affect hotel demand, with some sources reporting that the relationship can even be synergistic.
Alternative types of accommodations, such as timeshares or vacation rentals, more than likely have a synergistic relationship with hotels in their respective markets and often give referrals to one another, said Howard C. Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association.
“Hotels and timeshares are not in competition,” he said. “Most people who stay in timeshares would have probably rented a beach house or a condo. If anyone is feeling the competition, it might be condominiums.”
Co-founder and CEO of HomeAway, Brian Sharples, shared a similar response when asked whether his online vacation rental marketplace cuts into hotel demand.
“In some cases, yes, but remember that vacation rentals have been around a long time,” Sharples said in an email. “As renting vacation rental homes gets easier, certainly more families and groups will choose this option; however, many rentals are located within existing hotel resorts and will benefit those operators with higher average daily rates.
“Many families and groups prefer the value, space and comfort of vacation rentals. Our research indicates vacation rental travelers, predominantly families and groups, are seeking togetherness with the ones they love, and having a kitchen and living room to return to after the day’s activities is often preferred over retiring to separate hotel rooms,” he said.
And some travelers simply want a low-cost place to rest their heads, which is one reason hostel development is gaining steam, pulling demand away from nearby limited-service hotels. For example, the United States has seen increased interest in developing hostels as the ability to measure performance metrics has evolved, according to a report from HNN contributor Brendan Manley.
But there are regulations in place that have not created much competition between hostels and hotels outside of major city centers, according to the report.
Booking based on activity
Booking a hotel room has always been a routine part of the travel-planning process, but prospective guests might choose an alternative accommodation depending on their traveling activities, sources said.
Differentiating guests based on what their trip entails is nothing new to the hotel industry, Nusbaum said.
For example, if a traveler is on a business trip or looking for somewhere to stop along the interstate, he or she is going to choose a hotel, he said.
“When they’re going to a resort destination and they are traveling in a large party, they’ll want to have some comforts of home but the wanderlust that comes with travel,” he said.
Serviced apartments have long been competing with hotels for traveler demand outside of the U.S.
Staycity, a Dublin-based serviced apartment operator, is on target for 30% growth over the next 12 months with new properties opening in Venice; Lyon, France; and Greenwich, London, according to a news release. The company currently operates more than 1,000 apartments across eight European cities: Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin; and Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London, England.
Travelers might choose to stay at serviced apartments because of their value proposition, according to Sean Worker, CEO of BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, a global hospitality company that offers more than 50,000 serviced apartments in more than 60 countries.
“Our guest would get a guarantee and an experience that you would if you're staying at a suite at a hotel,” he said. “We don't offer food and beverage with packages typically, but we position our buildings and experiences much the same as a hotel.”
Worker added that in some of BridgeStreet’s major metropolitan markets, such as London and New York, the company is seeing an increase in “discerning travelers who want to have an authentic experience without being confined in a hotel.”
Cruises can impact hotel demand
It’s a different story in the Caribbean, where Sir Royston O. Hopkin, KCMG, chairman and managing director of Spice Island Beach Resort in St. George, Grenada, said cruises have eaten away at hotel demand.
“The cruise ship sector has been our biggest competitor,” he said. “They are our biggest competitor because the Caribbean has had tremendous growth (in the cruise sector) over the last 20 years.
“These days there are cruise ships with 2,500 rooms. When you have something of that scale in a 100% tax-free environment, it makes it more difficult for the run-of-the-mill 3- to 4-star hotel to compete,” he said.
In addition, cruise ships often hire non-unionized labor from the Philippines and the Caribbean, who work 12 to 15 hours a day, Hopkin said.
“In the Caribbean, we can’t make them work those kind of hours,” he said.
One thing hotel and resort owners can do to stay competitive is position their properties well in the market and invest in the property, Hopkin said. For example, Spice Island Beach Resort recently spent $2 million upgrading its public areas and 32 beachfront suites to ensure the boutique resort remains at the forefront of the luxury tourism market in the Caribbean, he said.