Since launching in 2008, Airbnb, the home sharing service, has disrupted and challenged the hotel industry on a global scale. By providing a community for renter-friendly property owners and adventurous travelers, Airbnb has caused hoteliers to rethink how they operate, who they target and how they will remain competitive in the future. Of particular concern to hoteliers is the impact Airbnb will have on Millennials, the massive generation born between the early 1980s and mid-2000s. Airbnb’s appeal to Millennial travelers is a legitimate threat to traditional lodging, so operators must figure out how to navigate the potentially bumpy road ahead.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s time for independent hotels take a few pages from the Airbnb playbook and apply the lessons to their operations. Here are 3 ideas independent hotels should borrow from Airbnb:
The concept for Airbnb was born from its founders selling sleeping space on air mattresses to attendees of a sold-out trade show. Their idea was unconventional, but simple and clever enough to catch on quickly with travelers. Independent hoteliers don’t have to drastically change their operations, but they should work to think differently and incorporate fresh ideas into daily tasks. For example, when is the last time you monitored your team’s phone greetings? Are they consistently mentioning your independent hotel by name to improve brand recognition? Are they using these opportunities to sell rooms or upsell confirmed reservations? By taking a fresh look at routine activities, operators can unlock value from even the most unlikely of places.
Promote your local community
When you visit the Airbnb website, you quickly notice the co-promotion of rentals and the local communities where the properties are located. “Explore local” is a major travel trend and independent hotels are perfectly positioned to share the intimate details of what their communities have to offer. By enhancing hotel websites with eye-catching neighborhood photography and engaging descriptions of popular attractions, dining and entertainment options, operators can provide travelers with more reasons to visit and even more incentive to click “Book Now.”
Embrace social media
Like most new, successful businesses, Airbnb relies on social media to promote its brand, share stories, and, most importantly, engage with travelers. As we’ve discussed, if independent hoteliers want to continue attracting new guests, especially millennials, they must embrace social media much sooner than later. Travelers are turning to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube to discover new destinations and activities, so by not having a social media presence, independent hoteliers are voluntarily leaving themselves out of the conversation. The travel industry is changing quickly, so if independent hotels want to compete over the long-term, a critical first step is learning to embrace social media now.