Understand the aspects of this market that are so attractive to travelers, says Greg Sheppard, SVP, Business Intelligence & Data Products, TravelClick, an Amadeus company
Hospitality is one of the world’s oldest industries, evolving over thousands of years and civilizations. Today, travelers have more options available to them than ever before and increasingly look to non-traditional lodging in search of a more authentic or flexible experience. Three out of four travelers now consider short-term rentals over hotels and this figure reaches as high as 85% in some European markets such as the UK and Italy.
It’s clear that the hospitality industry has been fundamentally changed by the rise of the sharing economy. It’s estimated that, in Europe, the alternative accommodations market (accommodation offered outside of the traditional hospitality sector) is currently growing around 1.7 times faster than the hotel market. At the same time, this market only represents about 13% of the entire accommodations ecosystem. Yes, home sharing platforms have disrupted the market but they haven’t replaced the need for hotels. There is room for both.
Championing the Difference
Hotels shouldn’t ignore the alternative accommodations market. Instead, they need to understand what aspects of this market are so attractive to travelers. The ‘authentic’ experience, perceived lower cost, family-friendly set-up and privacy offered by alternative accommodations are all features that hoteliers need to consider carefully.
Hotels don’t need to replicate these services, but they do need to be aware that this is a growing market and one where they need to offer an appealing alternative. Traveler expectations have changed as alternative accommodations become more prevalent, and the hotel industry has an opportunity to leverage their reputation for predictability, quality, services, and security in response to this changing landscape.
There is also the opportunity for hotels to take inspiration from the alternative accommodations sector to drive change and innovation. While they don’t need to imitate short-term rentals, hotels can implement some of their benefits such as personalization and unique surroundings. The challenges countered by this emerging market should be seen by the hotel industry as an opportunity for growth and transformation.
The Strength of Hotels
The evolution of the hospitality industry should be cause for hotels to celebrate their strengths. Amid disruption caused by home sharing, it’s the consistency, reliability, and commitment to quality hotels provide that enhances the guest experience and ultimately encourages loyalty and repeat bookings.
Alternative accommodation providers have been successful at appealing to the traveler’s desire to feel immersed in the local culture, however, this addresses a single phase of the customer journey – the trip itself. Hotels, on the other hand, can offer guests a more discreet end-to-end experience. With Amadeus solutions, hoteliers can deliver an immersive experience throughout the travel lifecycle – from inspiration to shopping, booking, in-stay, and post-stay. This enables properties to offer unique experiences through core services including a straightforward booking process, a clean room, personalized service, and a feedback cycle once the stay is completed.
The opportunity is here for hotels to capitalize on their ability to offer exceptional service, from beginning to end of the customer journey – something that alternative accommodations cannot yet match.
Data-driven Strategies to Increase Hotel Visibility
To compete in this dynamic industry, hoteliers must be at the forefront of innovation, constantly pushing for better, faster, smarter technology to enable even greater personalization. The rapid growth of home-sharing presents hotels of all sizes with a new reality that they must be able to respond to in real-time.
To effectively challenge alternative accommodations, hoteliers should adopt tools to remain competitive and improve their overall revenue strategy. For example, hoteliers can use business intelligence solutions from TravelClick, an Amadeus company, to understand how they are performing against their local competitive set. Does their property need to adjust their pricing based on competitor availability and rates? Would a promotion make their hotel’s offer stand out from short-term rentals in the area? Building a data-driven strategy will ensure your hotel remains top of mind for travelers and keeps guest rooms full.
We can all agree the alternative accommodations market shows no sign of slowing down. The hotel industry will have to adapt to ensure it’s offering the best features of the home-sharing market (a unique and local experience) whilst remembering to demonstrate what it is they do better (security and consistency of quality), at the right price. Competition is critical to driving forward innovation in hospitality, and both home-sharing platforms and the more established hotel industry have opportunities to transform the guest experience in a peaceful co-existence.