You may have already read my blog post, 6 Reasons Why Airbnb is Better Than Hotels post, and today I offer the opposite perspective. Although Airbnb has saturated many markets with vacation rentals, hotels are continuing to see steady growth, with demand outpacing supply. According to a 2017 forecast by STR, luxury hotels are expected to grow the most, with a 3% increase in ADR predicted this year. Airbnb has taken note: last month, The New York Times reported that Airbnb is trying to behave more like a hotel - and with good reason. Here are six reasons why hotels are still better than Airbnb.
1. Hotels Are Consistent
Whereas Airbnbs are celebrated for their differences, hotels offer consistency. Travelers who don't find quirks cute, or mismatched towels charming, appreciate the consistency of hotels. White linens, white towels, space to set luggage, a small desk, consistent channel line up, wifi (hopefully free by now), heating and cooling - I could go on. The point is, despite an image gallery and user reviews, Airbnb does not offer consistency or even a set of standards within its collection.
2. Hotels Offer Housekeeping
There's a reason hotels use bleach. Although I personally avoid harsh cleaning products at home, when it comes to sleeping away from home, I rest easier knowing the sheets are chemically treated (hotelier's note: I cannot say the same about decorative pillows or blankets and I recommend shoving them off of the bed immediately upon arrival).
Let's be clear: Airbnb does not have the same strict standards as hotels. While ratings and reviews keep hosts in-check, hotel cleaning policies offer far more comfort. Have you ever stayed in a hotel that asks you to clean dishes, take out the trash, strip the bed, or start a load of towels in the washing machine before you leave? This is the norm in Airbnbs. Do you trust that the person who stayed before you used soap to clean those adorable coffee mugs? How long has the towel on the bottom shelf been sitting there? And from the guest's perspective, who wants to spend the last hour of their vacation cleaning someone else's home?
3. Safety & Security in Hotels
Hotels tend to be well-lit, staffed at all hours of the night, and available should problems arise. Hotels offer parking (albeit pricy if staying city-center), double locks on rooms, and most hotel rooms are off of street level.
When it comes to Airbnbs, often a key is left in a lock box and instructions are provided as to how to enter, with parking rarely included. Despite the cleanliness of a listing, the apartment building may not uphold the same standard, and the location may not be in the safest neighborhood (wondering why it's such a great deal? See those homeless people congregating on the stoop? Now you know). There are also the inevitable problems that arise during the stay, with no front desk to intervene. Things like scorching hot water, a fire alarm beeping every 30 seconds, lack of towels, and the aforementioned homeless people screaming loud enough to wake you at 4:00am. Suddenly, that noisy couple in the hotel room across the hall isn't so bad.
4. Hotel Room Service
And then there are the creature comforts, starting with room service. When arriving late at night or when you have someplace to be bright and early, room service saves the day (and night). One of the best things about hotel stays is having a hot meal delivered to your room at the exact hour specified. It's the definition of luxury. Breakfast in bed is a reality here. Hotel room service is there when you need it. In an Airbnb, guests enjoy the convenience of a kitchen and can cook their own food - provided they've remembered to bring it along (just don't forget to start the dishwasher on your way out).
5. Hotel Amenities
I'd be remiss not to mention other hotel amenities. Depending on the class of hotel and location, hotels may feature resort pools, fitness centers and sports courts, complimentary bicycles, spa services, in-room mini bars, and on-site restaurants. These conveniences are yours to enjoy as a hotel guest, and many are free of charge (with a small resort fee). In an Airbnb, you're typically paying for the room (albeit a larger one that may include a living room and kitchen), but you don't get the same resort-style amenities found in hotels. Instead, Airbnb guests need to seek out entertainment elsewhere, often complicating itineraries and forcing vacationers to spend more time in transit. Hotel guests have plenty of options right at their fingertips.
6. Hotel Discounts
And then there's the deals. Have you noticed that hotels are now offering "book direct" offers to help ward off bookings from sites like Expedia and Booking.com? These sites, also known as online travel agencies (OTAs), charge commissions upwards of 20% or more, and hotels pay the price. To combat this, many hotels now offer book direct rates that match or are below the OTA rates (often bookable by phone), which creates a win-win for the guest and the hotel. Hotels also tend to market themselves via email. Joining an email list is a great way to receive offers from hotels - including major discounts around Black Friday and other major holidays. Hotels offer deals to fill in their need periods, including last minute room nights and shoulder season stays. Airbnbs simply do not offer the same deals or savings based on need periods, so if you're planning a trip in the off-season or a last minute stay, hotels are the way to go.
Where To Go From Here
Certainly, there are two sides to this travel story, and there's no denying the record growth of Airbnb since its inception in 2008. But Airbnbs still have a long way to go when it comes to guest amenities, quality standards, and cleanliness. The trouble is, if Airbnb attempts to implement some of these consistency standards, they risk compromising the individuality and cool-factor which many travelers have come to expect.
Conde Nast Traveler's writers are on both sides of the fence when it comes to which is better, hotels or Airbnb. I've shared why hotels are still better than Airbnb, and why Airbnb is better than hotels. So where do you stand? Are you #teamairbnb or #teamhotels? Comment below with your thoughts.