What hotels can learn from the growth of the sharing economy

shutterstock_385759633The rise of the peer to peer economy has come at a rate of growth that few could have predicted. PwC research shows a 54% increase in Airbnb listings in London in July 2016 compared to the same day in 2015. And this growth is here to stay. It is estimated that nearly £3bn of commerce was generated across these platforms in the UK alone in 2015 – and this could rise to nearly £30bn by 2025.

This rate of expansion has naturally led to much reflection as to the impact on hotels, what can be learnt, and what measures can be taken to adapt in in this changing landscape so as not to lose out. Both hotels and Airbnb style accommodation offer very different experiences in a sophisticated market where the savvy traveller seeks so much more than ‘just a bed’. So, faced continued with expansion of the sharing economy, what can hotels learn and how can they be best prepared to compete in a market that has seen extraordinary change over the last few years.

Play on your strengths

While there are many seeking the individuality of Airbnb style accommodation, the consistency and familiarity offered by a hotel should not be taken for granted. Many are still looking for the peace of mind that a hotel stay can offer. Here service is key. Recognise and promote what your hotel can offer -the luxury of having your room cleaned every day, safe and secure rooms, access to 24-hour staff, presence of a concierge to provide information in an unknown area, room service. These ‘basics’ have been the foundations of the hotel experience and their importance should not be overlooked.

Promote the amenities of your hotel – the luxurious spa, health club, dining facilities, in room technology . Highlight the key differentiators and how this will enhance the overall guest experience. Don’t forget the importance of your communal spaces that are very much desired by the millennial traveller.  These are very much an integral part of the offering of Moxy Hotels, Marriott’s experiential hotel brand.

Listen, learn and adapt from Airbnb

While there are always those who will favour the familiarity and consistency of a hotel, it is imperative that traditional accommodation offerings learn from the Airbnb model and adapt accordingly. For many, the attraction of Airbnb style accommodation is the option to experience your stay as if you were a local as opposed to within the sometimes uninspiring confines of a hotel room. Hotels can adapt their service to react to this shift towards the desire for a more localised experience by using your key differentiator – your staff. Support this shift in consumer mindset with staff who understand what the surrounding area can offer and are enthusiastically prepared to share this.

Provide personality within your hotel, so you are creating a ’home from home’ while offering all the benefits of service and facilities that an Airbnb style property cannot offer, a concept embraced by Mama Shelter, Accor’s design-led chain of boutique hotels.

Embrace Technology

Technology is evolving so rapidly within the hotel sector, the positive impact on the guest experience cannot be overlooked. This can be seen with advances both in how hotels market to guests through personalised offerings and also, once in the hotel, on the service level offered.  Smartphone technology can simplify and enhance the whole hotel experience. Whether this is on check-in, ordering a drink from the pool or making a complaint, continuing strides in technology should be embraced to develop this point of differentiation.

While the presence and impact of the sharing economy is only set to increase, hotels need to reflect on their offering and marketing efforts. It is important to recognise and promote strengths and points of differentiation that ‘traditional’ hotel accommodation brings, while learning from and adapting to the shifts in customer mindset that the rise of the sharing economy has generated.

To hear more about how you can be prepared for 2017, join us for ‘Seize Opportunity in Disruption’, a lively and educational one day conference for general managers and revenue managers, on Tuesday 21st February, 2017 at the Park Plaza Riverbank, London, SE1 7TJ.

Join industry leaders from Expedia, Booking.com, Duetto, IDeaS, Voyat, Infor EzRMS and Starwood Hotels among others to find out how you can turn disruption to your advantage. Click here http://bit.ly/2hAsL7T to find out more or contact Michelle Casey on michelle@revenuebydesign.co.uk or on 07718650349 for more information.

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