Top hotels are taking action to compete with the popularity of home sharing platforms.
The explosion of home sharing over the past decade, facilitated by platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway, has ushered in a new era for the hospitality industry.
No longer confined to traditional hotel choices, travelers today can rent individual rooms, apartments, or entire homes directly from the homeowner – and often for a fraction of the price of a standard hotel room. From frugal travelers looking to save a buck, to luxury vacationers seeking a true “local perspective,” home sharing is increasingly drawing from the pool of consumers traditionally available to hoteliers.
To combat the impact of home sharing, hospitality companies are investing in innovative new concepts to ensure that they stay attractive to modern travelers.
Big investments from big companies
One need look no further than industry giants like Hyatt and Marriott to see how traditional hotels are responding to the shift in consumer habits.
In 2017, Hyatt first dipped its toe in the home sharing market by investing in Oasis Collections, a platform specializing in providing a home sharing experience with the amenities of traditional hotels, like luxe linens and concierge service. The deal didn’t stick, and Hyatt sold Oasis off a year later.
Homes and Villas by Marriott
Seemingly hoping to compete with the disruptive force of home sharing startups, Marriott International’s expansion offers access to over 2,000 luxury properties worldwide, at a variety of price points. Guests can take advantage of modest options like a single bedroom home in the city, to a dream-like stay in an 18th century Irish castle.
Marriott Bonvoy, the company’s reward program, will be included in Homes & Villas – guests will have the option to earn points and book stays with their reward points.
While Marriott’s “home-sharing” expansion with Homes & Villas isn’t, strictly speaking, home sharing– the properties are managed by third-party management companies, not individual owners – there is a unique and personal touch offered to guests that goes beyond a traditional hotel stay.
Home sharing appeals to a different kind of traveler
This unique and somewhat esoteric component of home sharing is what big hotel chains are trying to capture with their expansions into this new market.
People stay at hotels for a variety of different purposes; business, a weekend getaway, a school sports trip, etc. These types of travelers are commonly looking for a predictable, traditional hotel experience.
The rise of home sharing appeals to a new type of traveler, one who is looking for hospitality offerings that go beyond a good mattress and continental breakfast. Whereas some high-end amenities are fading out of vogue (think bell-hops) others are becoming more popular. Today's travelers relish unique food and beverage offerings, social time in communal spaces, and experience-based hospitality.
Successful hotels are recognizing this new attitude towards travel and hospitality, and there are some great examples of hotels that are crafting a thoughtful and engaging guest experience that goes beyond cookie-cutter accommodations.
The Four Seasons Hotel in LA has its very own art gallery on campus, giving guests a chance to experience the local art scene during their stay. Some hotels are offering trendy coworking spaces instead of stuffy conference rooms, and the 2019 five best bars in the world are located in hotels.
These innovations show the importance of offering a guest experience that transcends the traditional and predictable creature comforts of hotels. The hospitality industry is meeting the new expectations of today’s travelers by venturing out into new offerings for guests.
Airbnb doesn’t have to be the death knell for hospitality
As these examples show, the popularity of home sharing doesn’t mean that traditional hotels are no longer relevant. Rather, the new desires and preferences of hotel guests reflect a fundamental need for authentic connection, and the hospitality industry is rising to the occasion.
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