Why hotels are finding their advantage over Airbnb in today’s Covid-world

Ever since Airbnb launched its peer-to-peer accommodation platform, hotels have been watching their market share shrink. In March 2019, Vox reported that Airbnb owns about 20 percent of the entire US consumer lodging market and American consumers spent more on Airbnb than on Hilton in 2018. The travel company has over 150 million users worldwide and, as of March 2020, it was worth $38B. But Covid-19 is likely to give hoteliers a leg-up in the war against Airbnb.

How do we know? We surveyed 10,477 travelers in 10 countries to uncover their expectations of their future travel plans.

According to the results of our largest ever global survey, 74.1 percent or travelers indicated they would want to stay at a hotel on their next trip, while 25.9 percent said they would prefer a short-term rental, such as Airbnb.

We surmise that health and safety, which is a top concern during the pandemic, is largely to credit for the hotel advantage. In fact, our data shows that 40 percent of travelers cite Covid-19 as their top consideration for their next accommodation choice.

Why do we think travelers will prefer hotels? As the pandemic began sweeping the world and closing hotels, hotel associations got busy preparing for recovery. One of the first things they did was develop cleaning and sanitation policies. For example, the AHLA developed Safe Stay guidelines to operationalize cleaning. The plan is endorsed by all major U.S. hotel brands, hospitality associations in 50 states and Canada and thousands of hotel properties across the country. 

Airbnb also launched its own program but it relies on hosts to educate themselves, take a short, ten question quiz and follow the guidelines. With no one to check the work, some hosts might choose to cut corners or interpret the instructions in their own way.

Hotels have a huge advantage over private hosts when it comes to operationalizing procedures because they have stringent training programs and checks and balances in place. Hotel managers check to ensure that work is done properly and according to standards. Airbnb, on the other hand, can advise hosts how to clean and sanitize but there is no way to police them or ensure that corners aren’t cut.

Hotels also might be more appealing to guests who are looking to be pampered a bit. In a recent industry recovery webinar hosted by Cornell, the topic of room service came up. While many experts predicted that guests would likely not want housekeeping to enter the room during the stay, Raymond Martz, Executive VP and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust shared that many guests of his Florida property surprised him by saying that they did, in fact, want their rooms cleaned. When asked why, they said they were looking for someone to take care of them. It’s a great reminder that people have been taking care of themselves for months and are looking for some pampering. No one can spoil a guest like a hotelier. 

Looking for more ideas to win bookings when travel returns? Check out our strategies in our Covid-19 Recovery Guide. And, if you’re looking for more insights about traveler motivation, or to see our survey data broken down by region and country, visit https://www.covid19hotel.info/survey/.

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