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Would you distribute on AirBnB?

Last week AirBnb made the announcement that as of March 2018, they will officially open their platform to allow hotels & B&B’s to distribute and sell through their sales platform.  We know that some hotels already use AirBnB as a means to distribute but now it is official and the partnership starts with global partner, SiteMinder.

Would you be tempted?

The rise of AirBnB has been phenomenal and most of this growth is built on the back of changes in customer needs and buying behaviour – a change that we as hotels did not pre-empt.

AirBnB predicted that customers wanted more of an ‘experience’ and less of a ‘product’ and that tactic has won them millions of customers. Our industry is slow to predict and often slower to react.  We now know that we have a whole wave of customers who want something more than a bed for the night and really strive for that experiential vacation.

AirBnB have openly said that are now taking on the OTA’s and by opening up their platform to hotels, should we as an industry stop treating them as the enemy and more as a partner?  As that old saying goes, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’, so maybe it is time to embrace and not attack? Let’s look at the facts of this new announcement:

AirBnb have said that they will allow hotels and B&B’s access to their distribution platform for between 3-5% commission, so much less than the expensive OTA’s.  They already have a vast network of customers and this network grows daily.  Basically this is not a new ‘book your room tonight.com’ type distributor trying to jump on the bandwagon, AirBnB are giants in the industry so traction for you as a hotelier will be instant.

However, they have put strict conditions on board which I have to say I agree and support and that is that providers must fit with their brand alignment and their sales strategy.  That is to say, the hotels that they allow on their platform must offer something different – something experiential.  They need to have certain design characteristics, great photography and access to activities and most definitely offering something ‘local’. Having access to local activities and local produce is important – shouldn’t we as hoteliers even be learning from this lesson? this is what our customers want…

They are aiming this firmly at the boutique or ‘something different’  type of property (and I might go back to a favourite disruptive term of mine – quirky), so would your property fit the bill?

Another huge plus is that they are working with another global player – SiteMinder, so any barriers to sale through difficulty of set-up or the management of another channel is instantly removed. With over 28,000 hotels already on the SiteMinder platform, this ease of on-boarding is a great opportunity for all sides. Clever!

AirBnB already targets business travellers and its entry into flight search is much rumoured, so let’s face it, this is where the industry is going. I have long since said that in a few short years, the giants that we know now such as Priceline and Expedia will have new and perhaps even more powerful disruptors in the market, so is AirBnB one of them?  And if they are, are you ready to embrace the change?

(and for all things revenue, just ask@rightrevenue.wpengine.com)