Since Airbnb launched in 2008, the business has grown exponentially. Currently, the organisation has over six million listings in one hundred thousand cities and over one hundred and ninety-one countries. Despite not owning one hotel, they are the largest hotel group in the world.
So, what can hoteliers learn from the success of Airbnb?
The first key lesson is the importance of style and aesthetic when it comes to quick bookings in a competitive market. In the twenty-first century, where Instagram rules, we live in an image-driven society; and consumers’ choices are heavily influenced by how a place looks over all else. Thus, in order to secure their custom, your hotel must be appealing to the eye. This means creating a clean and modern aesthetic that still has a comforting and inviting feel.
The importance of style and aesthetic is also emphasised by the importance of quality, accurate and thorough photos. According to Airbnb, hosts with professional photos can achieve a 40% increase in earnings, attain 24% more bookings and raise their nightly prices by 26%. As a result, Airbnb offers to match hosts with a local, professional photographer. It couldn’t be clearer that photos exert a great amount of influence over travellers’ final choice, so it’s absolutely paramount that hotels invest in a professional photographer to take the best photos they can. Bad photos can do a beautiful hotel a huge injustice, whilst good photos are proven to increase the popularity of an establishment.
In addition, the success of Airbnb teaches hoteliers the importance of well-worded and informative descriptions. The information provided on each listing is written by the host and is specifically tailored to the listing in question. Therefore, the description is detailed and personalised, with a target guest in mind.
Separation from home and the comforts that come with it can also be an anxiety inducing experience for many people, so some potential guests will like to know exactly what they’re getting before they arrive, as this allows them to mentally prepare. It’s therefore essential that hotels provide guests with the relevant information necessary for their pre-departure, in multiple languages if necessary. This will reduce the possibility of any surprises (and potential complaints).
A further lesson that can be taken from the success of Airbnb, is the importance of personalisation. Direct correspondents between the host and guest before, during and after their stay, means that any special requests and allowances can be met. This comes in a variety of forms, from check-in and check-out times, to key handovers and luggage storage. Adapting to the demands of your guests shows that you value their priorities, needs and concerns. Ensuring that their needs are being taken into consideration will have a positive impact on their overall experience; which in turn will translate into positive reviews, recommendations and repeat visits for you.
Another takeaway is the importance of reviews. Airbnb has set up a review system that allows guests to review their hosts, and hosts to review their guests. This places everyone on an equal footing and encourages mutual respect between both parties. In addition, reviews provide potential consumers with invaluable information. Learning about the listings from someone with first-hand experience is absolutely crucial. They possess an unbiased perspective and therefore can provide an honest and thorough account of the listing in question. This allows potential guests to know what to expect.
Finally, the success of Airbnb can teach hoteliers that consumers are looking for attractive and comfortable properties, in a convenient location, that won’t break the bank. It’s essential that hotels meet the needs of their customers in order to achieve success. And of course, humans are fickle in nature and their priorities are always changing. Therefore, you cannot shy away from change. In order to survive, you must be adaptable.
Airbnb is dictating the landscape of the hotel industry, but rather than lamenting their success, we must learn from it. Taking into consideration the now world-famous brand, the importance of style and aesthetic, photos, descriptions, personalisation, reviews and adaptability are evident. Bearing these in mind is sure to have a positive impact on your business.
By Simon Botto, CEO of DayBreakHotels