At least since 2 years I hear how much hoteliers suffer because of Airbnb. Some say, the Airbnb offerers take the business away from hotels, they are recently the most dangerous competitors for hotels, they sell cheaper, don’t pay taxes, don’t obey the same strict rules, and soon will take over all segments of hotel Guests…
I mean, seriously?
Some hoteliers, when accidentaly asked if they have ever tried to use Airbnb, said that it was not a product for them. It means there are still people in the world, which are not in a target group of “sharing” economy, and may remain the hotel Guests in future. Is it a good sign? Well yes, because there is a hope that Airbnb will not control the whole world. And no, because it means that hoteliers have a huge problem in definition of their own Guest target group and their real competitiors.
Let’s look at this from the users point of view. I had great pleasure to visit 4 different Airbnb hosts in 3 different countries, meet them, spent time with them and experience the difference. Any of them had nothing to do with hotels-like service and vice-versa, I havent seen yet a hotel which could offer me such.
First there was a just retired Belgian couple. Their vacation house was located 500 km away from their home – in Alsace, France. They shared the place only when also they could join and be there with their Guests. We were offered as much privacy as we needed, but as much service as we wanted. We could have local food for dinner, prepared with so much passion by the hostess, and then drink Alsace wines together and talk until very late hours. The best tips for sightseeing came from our hosts. When we wanted to see the closest village, our host simply invited us for a walk with his dog, and showed us the best views and told us the most interesting stories. We still keep in touch.
During the same trip we visited fantastic villa in South of France. Our hostess, French-American, busy and active lady, was fully involved to make us happy to be there. She had a huge farm, she could give us a small “safari” ride arround it. She delivered us fresh eggs and milk from her farm for our breakfast. When our car was broken, she took us to the garage of her friend to help us. On the way back home, she called us to check if we were fine.
Other time we spent 2 weeks “under the Tuscan sun” – exactly. As we were told, author of the book visited this place many times. No doubts, there was a story behind the villa and the familly who owned it. Their roots were reaching Hugo “the Great” Margrave of Tuscany (X – XI century). When the hosts invited us for farewell evening, we saw original fresques aged several hundred years on the walls of their villa. We walked through one of their olive plantations around.
To change the atmosphere, this year we booked a place in Brickell, one the most posh business districts of Miami. We stayed with 2 guys, of which one was a fashion designer, the other was a finance manager of some well know and wealthy family. Their tips saved us of making tipical Miami tourists misstakes:) First time we had a chance to watch the Oscars Gala in real time, having a drink with locals and discussing the costumes on the red carpet, instead of movies. Anyway, Madmax took everything, so there was not much left to comment. We played with their dogs and enjoyed the breakfast togehter with our new friends and the view of south Miami.
All of this places were chosen to meet the real people. Every time we wanted to know how do they really live like. Personal experience is the key. If we (hoteliers) want to be safe on the market, first we need to define in what we are the best. We need to precisely target the group of clients, which will appreciate it. Then make our offer, and consequently keep being the best in our field. Not only price matters. But yes, still we need to remember that there will always be a group of travellers who cannot yet afford a hotel. In this case a cheaper accommodation solution like hostels or sharing places, might be the only way to visit our destination. Maybe they will see our hotel just passing by, and dream to come back as a hotel Guest in future?
In the matter of taxes, none of the hosts shared their places, because they realy needed money, but all of them could give us a receipt or invoice if we need it. We knew they are declaring the income, because these are the rules. Breaching the rules is not about Airbnb, but about Polish mentality.
Last but not least, Airbnb is not the only one. I bet most of our colleagues never heard the names of at least the 2 other largest alternative accommodation platforms. Or maybe you can imagine how much more alternative accommodation offers there are in other places? Happy seeing a comparison list of companies and graph including Airbnb vs. Booking.com hotels and apartments availability in chosen destinations.
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