With the growth of home-sharing platform Airbnb, traditional hotel chains have had to take a step back and rediscover what makes them unique, this was the topic of conversation at GBTA Convention 2017’s Lodging Panel, moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest.
Representing hoteliers was AccorHotels’ Senior VP of Global Sales, Markus Keller, and NH Hotel Groups CCO, Fernando Vives. David Holyoke, Head of Business Travel for Airbnb spoke for the rapidly expanding home-sharing industry. The panel began with all parties saying that there is room for everyone in the hospitality industry. “The customer is going to decide where they spend the night,” Vives said.
However, Quest quickly brought things into perspective as he compared Airbnb’s three-and-a-half million listings to NH Hotel Groups 379 properties and the 99 owned by Accorhotels.
Turning to the audience, Quest posed the question, “How many of you here would put a business traveler in an Airbnb?” Met by a hesitant response he told Holyoke, “Well, now you don’t have enough people because of the duty-of- care argument.” Duty-of-care is certainly a large concern for travel managers and a primary reason that they choose to book stays at well-known chain hotels.
Holyoke sees home-sharing as a compliment to traditional accommodations, not a replacement. He cites their recent collaboration with cities in order to follow the rules and “be a good corporate citizen”.
Especially now that the line between business and leisure is blurring, there is more demand for extended stay options and Airbnb has no problem letting the guests “label it what they want”. And according to Keller, “all competition is healthy,” musing that this tension could propel hotels to update and make needed changes.
At the end of the discussion, Quest asked for final thoughts on the future and how they were each going to coexist in the marketplace. Vives pointed out the importance of staying up-to-date on how new outlets impact the industry and developing products that meet these new needs.
Keller pointed out that their differences shouldn’t be ignored and that “collaborative conversations” between home-sharing platforms and hotels would ultimately benefit the customer. Holyoke finished by saying that they too would welcome collaborative conversations.
“It boils down to the fact that there are different types of business travel that will drive different subsets to different accommodations,” he said. If used strategically, these differences can be their biggest strengths.
Looking for more? View the full panel session on our YouTube channel.
Colleen Lerro Gallagher is GBTA's Director of Communications. She'll be reporting the latest news and happenings from GBTA events and also publishes a weekly wrap-up post highlighting the latest business travel news.