A number of boutique hotel leaders recently gathered at a Boutique Lifestyle and Lodging Association conference to discuss how Airbnb was not a significant threat to their businesses.
The key theme was that Airbnb cannot match their services, and that “big box,” versus the boutique hoteliers, are more at risk of losing business in this new “sharing economy” model.
However, some of the panelists acknowledged the business threat.
“[Airbnb] is going to take a chunk and they are going to take a piece of the pie and be part of our lives,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels + Resorts, in this Skift article. “We have to recognize that and we have to be nimble and respond to that which I think our segment has a better ability to do.”
One of the key considerations of the discussion was that boutiques are now offering experience-focused models that cater to more affluent guests. The typical Airbnb guest is more influenced by price and geography. It is clearly cheaper to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C. through Airbnb, than it is to stay at The Donovan, for example.
The big takeaway was that now is the time to stop comparing the boutique hotels to Airbnb, and focus on delivering value to the guest. While many hoteliers pride themselves on their services, they should keep pushing the boundaries when it comes to pleasing guests.
By having the right analytical insights on guest preferences, boutiques can drive the concept of personalized services to a whole new level. Boutiques can stay one-step ahead of Airbnb if they make the effort to provide for the guest before, during and after their stays.
Of course, the most important audience benefits from all of this, which is the guest.