There’s no denying that since its launch in 2007, Airbnb has disrupted the travel and hospitality industry drastically.
By offering travelers the unique experience of “living like locals” via stays in private apartments and homes, the company has seen enormous success. Today, it operates in 220 countries and has more than 4 million hosts and 6.6 million active listings.
With more and more people choosing Airbnb over hotels, hoteliers must find ways to prove their competitive advantage and use it to convince guests to stay with them. 84% of travelers who’ve had a less-than-ideal home share or vacation rental experience are more likely to choose a hotel on their next trip. This is incentive enough for hoteliers to raise their game.
In this article, we’ll explore some reasons the hospitality industry can give guests to encourage them to choose hotels over Airbnb for their next stay.
1. Consistent quality
Hotels provide a certain consistent level of service quality that most Airbnb rentals really can’t match. For example, you can expect standardized amenities and services (cleanliness, hygiene, concierge, room service, etc.) from hotels regardless of their location. Essentially, what you see online — room size, amenities, food and drink options, etc. — is exactly what you get.
However, with Airbnb, the quality of accommodation and services can vary greatly depending on the host and location. As such, uncleanliness is often the most common reason for guests giving them a bad review.
On Trustpilot, one guest writes, “The “clean…quiet…secure” apartment we rented for a week and a half in Santa Barbara, CA., turned out to be a pigsty (filthy carpets, moldering food left by a regular part-time resident, mystery stains all over the bed covers) with unlockable windows and children running overhead. We went in, stayed forty minutes, abandoned the place and immediately called Airbnb to report the grotesque misrepresentation of the property by the “host”.”
Also, Airbnb rentals are often unpredictable and don’t match the pictures or descriptions advertised in their listings — as Laura McCamy reports to Business Insider.
“My last Airbnb stay, at a small apartment in Chicago, was advertised as work-friendly, but there was no desk and the only table was outside, on the balcony. The kitchen was so narrow that the fridge door couldn’t completely open. The furniture looked like it had come from the dumpster behind a Goodwill. And the air conditioner sounded like a freight train. A hotel — any hotel — would have been better,” she says.
2. Easy check-in
Checking in is also a lot easier in hotels. Guests are free to arrive at any time and get their room keys from the front desk. In case they arrive earlier than the check-in time or want to leave later than the check-out time, they can leave their bags safely with the concierge.
In contrast, guests may need to meet someone at a particular time to get their keys or retrieve them from a lock box. There’s no place to stash their luggage if they arrive early or leave late, and if the host isn’t responsive enough, they’re left to deal with any rental-related issues by themselves.
3. Safety and security
Hotels have strict security protocols and 24/7 staff on hand to ensure your safety. There are cameras everywhere and lock boxes at your disposal so you can store your valuables.
In contrast, with Airbnb, you are often renting a private residence without the same level of security. A short-term rental is essentially a stranger’s apartment or home and while most of them may be completely fine, there could always be a bad egg in there somewhere.
One guest notes, “Airbnb does not support the guest when something goes wrong. They actually tried to gaslight me into submission. The hosts room had bed bugs that bit us. I told the host and he quickly moved us to another room before I could take any pictures. I did have pictures of the bites taken later that day. Airbnb said they wanted pictures of the bug that bit us. Are you kidding me?”
4. Convenience and amenities
For most people, a vacation means an escape from routine. They’re looking for a place to rest and relax — away from the grind of daily life — and feel pampered. In fact, 50% of respondents in a Hilton survey want their 2023 travels to address their physical and mental wellness needs.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can typically expect from Airbnb as most hosts will require you to do “chores” like taking out the trash, cooking your own meals, loading the dishwasher, etc.
Hotels, on the other hand, typically offer amenities such as room service, housekeeping, laundry services, and onsite restaurants — making your stay much more convenient. Many of them also have fitness centers, spas, pools, etc. while Airbnb may not offer such amenities.
Makarand Mody, associate professor of hospitality marketing at Boston University, was conflicted while choosing a hotel or Airbnb for his upcoming summer trip to India post-COVID. Finally, he decided on a hotel saying, “This is my one vacation in three years, find me a hotel: I just want to unwind, I want the service, I don’t want to do things myself.”
What’s more, hotels often have the space and facilities to host special events and gatherings such as weddings, conferences, and meetings. They also provide services such as printing, faxing, and mailing, which can be useful for business travelers. However, most Airbnb rentals do not offer such services or have the same level of space and amenities for these events.
Hotels are often located in prime areas and are easily accessible, whereas, with Airbnb, you may have to travel to more remote areas to find accommodations. There’s no saying whether these neighborhoods might be safe or how much you may need to travel to reach the nearest convenience store.
An Airbnb user on Trustpilot reports, “This also made me incur additional money for daily taxis and trains roundtrip of minimum GBP 60 per day (fam of four, taxi min GBP 24 roundtrip and train roundtrip of GBP 26) because of the location being so rubbish (very far from stations) let alone the distance itself from the city centre.. so additional expense of GBP 200 + GBP 240 = GBP 440 in total for 3 nights and 4 days and such a waste of time going back and forth and the sheer amount of stress that me and my family had to go through…!”
Hotels offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, while with Airbnb, you may have to share common spaces such as bathrooms or kitchens (unless you book an entire apartment or house). All this to say, you may have to compromise on privacy if you choose to share a space on Airbnb instead of choosing a hotel for your next vacation.
7. Legal protection
In most countries, hotels are regulated and must meet certain safety and quality standards. Airbnb, on the other hand, operates in a legal gray area in many locations, which may leave guests vulnerable.
For example, hotels are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by law and offer accommodations for individuals with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair-accessible elevators and bathrooms, etc.). However, this can’t be said for most Airbnb accommodations.
8. Loyalty programs
Many hotel chains offer loyalty programs that reward frequent guests with perks such as free nights, room upgrades, and discounts. Airbnb, however, lags behind in this area.
Source: screenshot from a Marriott email to Francesca
This is a significant source of competitive advantage as it offers hotel guests more value for their money. Points redeemed for upgrades, free meals, free nights, or discounts all translate to greater comfort at no additional cost for guests, and are, therefore, a great strategy for increasing retention.
What’s clear from the above discussion is that running a hotel is both demanding and intricate, with consistent service quality and guest satisfaction being of utmost importance. Hotel owners and managers, therefore, need a robust inspection and audit system in place to manage staff, maintain operating standards, and streamline hotel management.
With Bindy, this doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Easily create customizable workflows, verify housekeeping and room or bathroom conditions, enforce checklists for regular maintenance, or execute brand standards — all from a single platform. To learn more, contact us today.
OTHER HOTEL AND HOSPITALITY RESOURCES
Refer to the Hotels and Hospitality category for checklists, how-tos and best practices for hotels and hospitality.
About the author:
Francesca Nicasio is retail expert, B2B content strategist, and LinkedIn TopVoice. She writes about trends, tips, and best practices that enable retailers to increase sales and serve customers better. She’s also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores.