Initially, the Airbnb concept was puzzling. The idea that a person would lease a spare bed in their house to a perfect stranger and that guest would be comfortable sleeping in this stranger's house, seemed highly unlikely. A recipe for theft, assault, and disaster. The concept was so off-putting that top venture capitalists turned down the opportunity to invest $150k to own 10% of the startup back in 2008. In 2014, Airbnb became the biggest lodging partner on earth - that's more lodging than Hilton or IHG - and in 2016, Airbnb was valued at $30 billion.
Airbnb Takes The Lead
Here are six reasons why Airbnb is outperforming hotels.
- Airbnb Provides Personalized Service
Many hotels provide a neighborhood map and recommendations that haven't changed in years, while Airbnb hosts curate personal favorites, including new restaurants, where to find free parking, and the best studio for a yoga class. The former takes a one-size-fits-all-approach, the latter caters to a small pool of like-minded guests. Airbnb hosts often add personal touches to welcome their guests into their home, such as a bottle of wine, while hotels reserve these exclusive extras for VIPs. Savvy hosts have built the cost of these amenities into their nightly rate, delighting the guest without incurring additional costs.
- Airbnb Works To Build Trust
From the host's perspective, exchanging a few emails and allowing a stranger into your home can be a stretch. Likewise, from the guest's perspective, staying in a residence a host still has access to can make for many a sleepless night. The moment the online transaction becomes a knock at the door is a turning point. Who will be on the other side of the door? Airbnb describes this as an "experience delta" - the moment of pleasant surprise when your host isn't a murder at all. In contrast, he's friendly, warm and replete with suggestions. The host welcomes you in, shows you around the house or maybe even the neighborhood, and everything changes. Not only do you trust this person, but you want to do right by them.
- Airbnb Offers A 24/7 Concierge
Airbnb hosts open themselves up to be contacted at all hours, should any problems arise. Whether its a slow wifi connection or calling a cab in an Uber-less city, Airbnb hosts are there for you. As a guest dealing directly with the host, there's no need to explain the basics to a front desk agent or repeat what you'd just said to the phone operator a moment ago. Communication is direct and response is immediate.
- Airbnb Shares Real Reviews
It's hard to imagine a world where hotels could review their guests (I am sure some hoteliers would jump on the opportunity), but it does exist. It's called Airbnb, and it allows for greater transparency on both sides. The guest and the host review each other, which works well to ensures honesty and integrity with the community.
- Airbnb Provides A Better User Experience
User experience matters now more than ever. As in quick pay with a credit card on file and an auto-populated form. As in search from anywhere, on any device. As in writing a review in a few simple steps. As in receiving reminders of upcoming stays. Airbnb invested millions into research and development of their ecommerce site and it shows. The site is well ahead of other vacation rental sites and hotel booking engines, featuring high quality visuals, easy to navigate search functionality, and the ability to respond via text message. Text message! It really couldn't be easier.
- Airbnb Offers Lower Prices
In cities in which hotel rooms and rates are both sky high, Airbnb offers a city-center stay at a fraction of the price. As an added incentive, business travelers with a hotel-sized budget can often book an entire luxury home for the same price as a hotel room.
Airbnb has found its place in a saturated hotel market. Amidst rising rents, Airbnb has helped tenants offset astronomical rent increases in cities like Seattle and San Francisco, allowing them to stay put by sharing their space.
What's A Hotel To Do?
Smart hoteliers realize the climate is shifting. Airbnb has carved out much needed space for travelers and has breathed new life into the hotel industry. Certainly, hotels offer levels of service not available in most Airbnbs, most notably daily cleaning, consistency, and safety and security. Here are six reasons hotels are better than Airbnb. The trouble is, the modern traveler wants more, and is often searching for the off-the-beaten path experiences. Couple this desire with the unique housing options and personalized service, and well, you know how the story ends.
Are you a hotel lover who has recently made the switch to Airbnb? Comment below with your reasons for choosing Airbnb over hotels.