Is Airbnb Millenials’ strategy at a turning point?

 

According to a new detailed study on US Millennials travel (Source: Resonance Consultancy, issued Jan.2018), I was surprised to learn that in spite of Airbnb’s millennial targeted strategy, “Millennial travelers prefer upscale and luxury hotels/resorts (35%), followed by camping (33%) and apartment and/or condo (23%)”. Only 23% of them said a condo/apartment rental is their preferred type of accommodation.

“Findings are contrary to the prevailing belief that hotels are in trouble with younger travelers who prefer home sharing,” said Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy”. Why?

 

Millennials are mostly searching for 1: Security and 2: Cost.

 

Safety has been for a long time a nightmare for the company, due to terrible stories of trashed houses, fake rentals…, and even if these issues are not 100% solved, there has been a tremendous improvement in the security aspects over time. Cost “is the second-most important factor when deciding on a vacation, at 52%”.

In spite of security issues, Airbnb succeeded in understanding the sharing economy and also the needs of Millennials to travel more and live new experiences.

“As of late August 2017, more than 700 bookable experiences were listed on the platform.” There is still a gap between Airbnb practice and hotels’ practice in terms of new experience driver for Millennials.

Airbnb strategy is to capture THE WHOLE Millennial spectrum, from backpackers looking for a room at 10$ to posh Millennials keen on booking in a luxury hotel or resort. Opening AirBnB to hotels provides a new platform able to cut market shares from the big OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia.

However, the ability of Airbnb to offer a adequate booking platform for hotels is being currently questioned by hoteliers around the world. Here is the standpoint of Troy Flanagan, Vice President of State & Local Government Affairs at American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), in regards to Airbnb’s announcement about its new Airbnb Plus and Boutique programs.

“Whether it’s called Plus or Boutique program, Airbnb’s latest scheme is just further proof the company is trying to play in the hoteling space while evading industry regulations. If Airbnb wants to enter the hoteling business, then it needs to be regulated, taxed and subject to the same safety compliances and oversight that law-abiding hotel companies adhere to each and every day.”

“The question that cities and neighborhoods should be asking – will these ‘Plus’ or ‘Boutique’ listings include commercial operators exploiting Airbnb’s platform to run illegal hoteling schemes that have fractured our communities, raised serious safety concerns and increased the price of rent while depleting affordable housing options?”

Here we can anticipate that Airbnb will have to fight hard to enter the hotel market, and overcome competition with the big OTAs.

 

Furthermore, in the battle for direct bookings, hoteliers are more and more involved in monitoring actively their customer base thanks to multiple innovations in the Tech travel world.

 

According to the same study, 47% of Millennials are reported to prefer booking through specific hotel, resort and airline websites. Therefore, hotels need more than ever to concentrate on managing their image, their differentiation, their offer and their prices in order to fit their Millennial clients’ needs. They are supported in this process by new technologies in many areas.

Just to mention a few of them, allowing a more efficient and personalized service: chatbots to help guests book on hotel websites, direct bidding engines -like PrivateDeal’s one- to boost direct bookings, check-in on apps and self-check-in to save time and money, smartphone apps allowing hotels to open rooms without physical keys, concierge apps to provide additional services and travel information to guests, yield management and so many others.

We will soon assist in huge changes in the way travelers book their trip as well as in the way hotels are providing their offer on the market.

 

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