Nowadays Airbnb, the platform that connects travelers with people who want to rent a room or their whole house, with its 25 million users and over 1 million accommodation all over the world, represents one of the most frightening competitors of the traditional accommodation facilities.
That is the reason why hotels are afraid of its great expansion, since this new type of hospitality can be encountered within the broader context of the shared experiences, which are supported by the sharing economy model.
In order to answer this question – why hotels are afraid of Airbnb – we need to understand which its strengths are, compared to the different forms of tourist hospitality.
Hotelbrand has carried out this analysis by using the marketing 4+1 Ps, that is to say Price, Product, Place and Promotion together with the fifth P that stands for People.
Airbnb has lots of advantages over traditional hotels as leases are much lower.
For instance, you can stay in a double room in Rome in December for just € 31 per night or you could spend a weekend in Venice in an apartment for € 72.
In addition hosts, so those who rent their studio or their home, are mostly private citizens who keep their income undeclared and illegal.
According to some associations, this can lead to the spread of the abusiveism, which affects the performance of hotels that are unequally competing with those who make this kind of black business on this platform.
Airbnb offers a great variety of solutions to suit all tastes and all pockets: on the website you can find several offers relating to single or double rooms, studios , apartments, villas and even castles and mansions.
In addition, Airbnb’s success is basically based on a promise, which is offering the traveler a new way of experiencing the travel experience, where he/she will no longer have to feel like a guest but like a true resident.
The real difference between the “product” offered by hotels (the rooms) and the one offered by Airbnb is just that: it does not just offer overnight stays, but real travel experiences that are much more engaging, so that you will be exploring the place as a local resident.
The success of your holiday will also be determined by the landlord, as he/she will always be at your disposal to provide you with information and advice on things to do in the place you are staying.
But there is more: choosing an accommodation on Airbnb allows you to join a community of travelers who, just like you, want to do a different travel experience, with which the platform gives you the opportunity to communicate and exchange experiences.
Airbnb uses the web as its channel of distribution. It does not take that much to understand the reason why this is a winning strategy, not only because much of the travel bookings are made via the internet but also because the network encourages the exchange of experiences.
In order to understand how Airbnb hit the mark, we analyzed on Google Trends the interest shown over time by internet users: from 2007 to now the curve shows a steady growth, similar in some extent to that of some OTAs such as Booking.
Undoubtedly, the creators of this portal have been able to capture one of the major transformations in the world of tourism (the growth of online bookings).
This is the aspect that hotels need to improve, as not everybody still knows how to make good use of the opportunities offered by the web in generating new reservations, first of all by optimizing their website to make it mobile-friendly.
Airbnb has been growing steadily over time, thanks to huge investments in events and advertising aimed at spreading its brand.
The massive presence on social channels has generated a giant buzz on the media fueled not only by positive news but also by negative arguments.
Additionally, by googling “renting and destination homes” ,Airbnb turns out to be the first in terms of sponsored ads (especially for destinations where shared rental is not that spread, for example, in Naples and Palermo) and it is always among the first positions also for what concerns organic results.
The last element we have analyzed is the fifth “P” of the marketing mix, namely people, recognized today as the main element that can determine the positioning of a brand within the market, not only with their choices, habits and preferences, but also with their sharing of a given message.
The Sharing Economy, the philosophy which has inspired Airbnb, is a consumption model based on the centrality of people, where, in fact, there is no pyramid organization, but where all parties interact with each other horizontally, contributing to the development of the initiative and the project.
This centrality of the people is underlined not only by the logo of Airbnb (a person with raised arms), but also by the videos and images on the site where, besides showing the accommodation and destinations, they show people and their stories. Indeed, the aim is offering not only accommodation but a unique and unrepeatable travel experience.
With the “Create Airbn” feature, for example, users can customize the Airbnb logo to place it on the pictures of their own home (for hosts) or their holiday (for guests), thus promoting their sense of belonging.
The centrality of people and their stories is the secret of Airbnb’s success.
This form of hospitality based on people and, above all, on the desire to give its guests a unique and unrepeatable experience is, in our opinion, a model that hotels should not fear or criticize, but they should try imitate and take as an example to improve their communication through the wesite and social media.
Offering something unique (the experience) just as Airbnb does, hotels can effectively differentiate their brand from everyone else, adding value to their services and structure. They will be also able to boost their brand reputation and to improve interaction and generate a higher number of bookings.