The hotel industry has always had competition from alternative accommodations—from guesthouses to timeshares to cruise ships. In recent years, however, the Internet-fueled growth of the sharing economy has led to the meteoric rise of peer-to-peer rental sites like Airbnb. On the heels on the news that Airbnb is valued at ten billion dollars, more than Hyatt and other leading hotel brands, we wanted to share some valuable lessons in how to adapt to the shifting tastes of travelers.
1. Offer authentic local experiences.
Alternative accommodation websites like Airbnb appeal to travelers looking for authentic and unique experiences. Instead of sticking to popular attractions and guide book-endorsed restaurants, these travelers seek out neighborhood eateries and sights off the typical tourist trail. Many seek hosts who can provide them with a taste of local life.
Hotels also have an opportunity to provide a glimpse into living like a local. Staff can be encouraged to offer up neighborhood knowledge and give guests advice on popular hotspots. Little touches like local microbrews and wines in the minibar or rotating exhibits of local artwork in the lobby can add to a distinctive and immersive experience.
2. Know which amenities are actually necessities.
Guests increasingly expect fast, reliable, and preferably free Wi-Fi. A high price for what many consider a necessity can leave travelers disgruntled, especially when Internet access is free at most peer-to-peer rentals. Some of these properties even offer additional connectivity by providing local phones or portable mobile hotspots to guests.
To cater to today’s plugged-in travelers, hotels should offer similar amenities, whether through loyalty programs or for free to all guests. For more on the importance of Wi-Fi to travelers, download “Why Wi-Fi is Keeping Hotels from Receiving 5 Star Reviews.”
3. Human connection is powerful.
Airbnb isn’t just a booking engine; it’s a travel community. To mitigate traveler concerns about safety and quality, the service has focused on building trust and establishing personal connections. Hosts and their guests communicate frequently—during the research phase, once a booking is confirmed, before arrival and throughout the stay. Hosts can even send former guests holiday cards through the Airbnb website.
Online reputation management solutions, like Revinate, can help hotels stay connected with their guests and build trust. Features like Social Media Monitoring and Review Response Assistant make it easy for hoteliers to interact with travelers and increase meaningful connections.
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