Since the creation of AirBnb in 2008, this new type of home-sharing has put pressure on hotel rates as well as occupancy levels, seriously disrupting the industry. However, with the coronavirus pandemic, the huge wave of cancellations around the world has changed the game, as travelers became aware or the wide range of terms in booking liability.
Clearly, along the years, Airbnb stole quite an amount of market shares from the hotel industry, industry that had to find all kinds of ways to survive. With the pandemic, Airbnb has had to lay off a quarter of its workforce, proof of the financial strain the company is under.
THE ADVANTAGE OF HOTELS
With a whole new lifestyle emerging, due to the pandemic, hotels may indeed have the advantage on hygiene and standardized social-distancing policies. As the industry is trying to recover, hotels and home shares (Airbnb) will both be struggling to convince the public that their rooms are virus-free, their offerings are social-distancing appropriate, and their terms of bookings are fair. And that may be the new game changers. Indeed, most hotels have quite generous cancellation policies without penalty, and are quite graceful even on non-refundable rates.
RULE NUMBER 1 POST-PANDEMIC: KINDNESS
Given the public crisis, the job number one for the travel industry is going to be “to show kindness”. Expert believe that the industry’s recovery begins with being as lenient as possible with the customer regarding rates and refunds, then followed by providing more incentives and upgrades, to push people to book.
Indeed, vacation-home renters have learned at a high price the importance of reading the fine print before you rent a house… Anything but standard here, as most of their cancellation policies are draconian.
And if there is one thing customers do not forget, it is the way they are treated whenever there is an issue.
THE NEW LUXURY : THE CONTACTLESS HOTEL STAY
Everybody has been working hard on integrating social distancing requirements. Luxury hotels are even talking about suspending turndown, and some hotels announced guests may be able to wheel their own room-service carts into their rooms… From now on, expect to see hotels take their cues from highly-automated hotel concepts where guests check in at a lobby terminal that dispenses a key card and a robot carries the luggage.
Which also means that some of the amenities that distinguish hotels and often draw a crowd, like lively bars, will be a lot less convivial.
Home-sharing may therefore have an advantage regarding the privacy issue.
LONG-TERM STAYS MAY BECOME A STANDARD
After the pandemic crisis, the lifestyle is prone to change, and mobile work will be accepted as normal. Which may promote a boom in global nomads who have a steady paycheck, as well as business travelers and family relocation. Most of those might then be looking at long-term rentals, and to improve their residential qualities, they’ll be looking at more space and kitchens, especially in as urban options, so home-sharing could have the advantage here.
Or will apartment hotels become the new competitor ?