As social media-aware hoteliers, we have been watching Airbnb since it came to Britain a couple of years ago. We watched and listened as others in the hospitality industry said the disruptive technology was going to be the end of hotels and we would all be closing down within a decade. We knew it wasn’t true then and we know it isn’t true now.
Both from listening to our guests and from watching the news, we know that while Airbnb is successful and will continue to be, hotels won’t unduly suffer. Why? Because hotels and Airbnb cater for a different market. Airbnb is cool and certainly is disruptive, but it aims at a different audience than The North Ocean Hotel.
Airbnb aims for the young, cutting-edge guest who doesn’t mind where they stay and are ambivalent about exactly where it is, who it’s with and whether the homeowner lives there or not. Hotel guests don’t want any of that.
If you’re happy getting an Uber instead of a taxi, ordering your takeaway through a phone app and paying without touching, Airbnb is going to have an appeal. If you’re more connected with more traditional holidays, it may not. As well as a diverse audience for each sector, there will be one that crosses over too.
The majority of our hotel guests want the traditional hotel experience. They want to be greeted when they arrive, shown to their private room which they can lock. They want to have breakfast cooked, be waited on, have their bed made and enjoy some of the social aspects of staying in a hotel. Many of the people who stay here are not looking for a B and B otherwise they would stay in one.
To reinforce this, Hotel News Now recently published a piece on how Airbnb is affecting hotels and how it is performing compared to some of the big hotel chains. None of which is much of a surprise. Except about how Airbnb is more seasonal than hotels. That did surprise me. I guess as we are open all year round and busy throughout the year, it isn’t something that occurred to be.
However, the death of the hotel has been greatly exaggerated. I am obviously glad of that and so are many of our guests. While Airbnb will inevitably take some of our trade, there is enough to go round. Especially as more and more people are electing for ‘staycations’ and making more of the UK instead of going abroad. That helps everyone.