The success of Airbnb threatens to disrupt the hotel industry. But is it time to fight back? Lisa Allen asked some leading operators
Overnight sensation: facing up to the Airbnb challenge; Andrew Baxter explains how luxury brands have joined the mass market
Paul Fischmann Founder, 8Hotels
I like the concept of Airbnb but I wish we didn’t have it. Having said that, I spent four days with my family at a house near Auckland’s Bay of Islands complete with seven bedrooms, a gym and an infinity pool, costing $1800 a night booked on Airbnb. I would never have got a hotel for that price in that location. So Airbnb is promoting travel for people who don’t always want to stay in hotels. And I am going to try it myself. I have a new hotel in Surry Hills and I will try selling some of its rooms on Airbnb – we will use it as another online travel agency like we use Wotif and Bookings.com. We will see how that goes.”
Harry Triguboff Managing director, Meriton Apartments
I don’t think I have to combat Airbnb. It is like comparing Tiffany to a shop that sells things for one dollar. Or like asking someone who lives in Darling Point (prestige inner-Sydney suburb) what is happening in Toowoomba (a regional township on Queensland’s Darling Downs). There’s always room for an operator like Airbnb, but it’s quite a different thing to my serviced apartments. Airbnb is a different market – it has nothing to do with me. We looked into and tested the Airbnb website and found the inquiries generated were at price points substantially lower than the market is prepared to pay us directly. It was clear that there were no real synergies between the level of our offering and what Airbnb clientele is looking for.”
Bob East Chief executive, Mantra
We don’t have a strategy for Airbnb. But we are designing strategies to cater for our customers and give them the products and services they are looking for. Our customers want to be right on the beach or in the heart of the city. The reality is Airbnb is not going to get the room stock in the heart of the action.
Simon McGrath Chief operating officer, Accor Asia Pacific
Our strategy is not to worry about Airbnb, but to continue on our strategic path of great brand, emotionally connected customer service and a loyalty program that recognises the Accor guest. Having said that, Airbnb is a natural disruption that many industries have sustained in terms of the internet. It’s positive in terms of its activity, because it increases activity in tourism. It satisfies a need for a certain type of consumer and the consumer decides if they want to use this model. That is good. The downside of it is (questionable) safety, security and levels of service. The consumer will decide if that is a material issue which will change their purchasing behaviour.