Airbnb Officially Becomes Direct Competition

by Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor | March 05, 2018

Seven trending hotel news stories that will have an impact on your hotel Revenue Strategy.

1. AIRBNB LAUNCHES ALL-OUT ASSAULT ON OTAS, HOTELS

At a press conference, Airbnb launched a salvo of new products and programs that could scare executives at both online travel agencies and hotel companies. The initiatives move the sharing-economy site into a new realm of potential dominance in all aspects of the accommodations industry. Among the announcements:

  • The company introduced Airbnb Plus, a curated list of generally more upscale properties that have met a 100-point quality checklist.
  • The company's online platform has been reorganized to enable potential guests to more easily find the type of accommodations that suit their trips.
  • Beyond by Airbnb is a new collection of luxury rentals that should compete with AccorHotels’ Onefinestay.
  • A loyalty program was announced and will be rolled out later this year.

Full story at Skift.

2. BLOCKCHAIN COULD CHANGE THE GAME, BUT IT’S NOT EASY

A lot of hotel executives understand the promise of blockchain technology—lower distribution costs, increased data security, improved transparency and more—but like all good things, the real advantages come through understanding the details, a task the author tries to accomplish.

Challenges also exist before hotels can employ blockchain as a viable, and less-expensive, distribution channel. As he says, it starts with expertise: hiring the right people and companies and investing in the tools and training to make it a success. If done properly, blockchain could be a home run for hotel distribution strategy.

Full story at HospitalityNet.

3. LOYALTY CLUB MEMBERS AREN’T THAT LOYAL

From the category of two sides to every story, here's one about hotel loyalty programs. While it's true that hotel company have made progress in luring travelers into loyalty programs through the promise of lower rates. They're not as successful in keeping them loyal. As always, it comes down to money.

According to new research, a vast majority of loyalty club members shop and book hotels and booking channels outside of their loyalty programs if they find slightly better deals or locations. The calculus changes as members gain status with half of members with elite status tending to stick with their brands.

Full story at Phocuswright. 

4. USE DATA TO IMPROVE THE VALUE OF YOUR MOBILE TRAFFIC

On the surface, it doesn't seem as though mobile traffic is of much value to hotels. Consumers use their mobile devices for quick answers and, when it comes to travel, for 'up in the funnel' research about hotels. A study shows 50% of visits to hotel websites come from smartphones, but those visits only yield about 20% of total bookings.

The author tries to explain the discrepancies—people use phones for quick answers, not complicated transactions is the main one—but he has a harder time showing hoteliers how to change this dynamic.  He does recommend revenue and marketing managers look at the data associated with mobile visits for clues on how to improve mobile conversions.

Full story at Mirai.

5. HOW AIRBNB WILL—AND WON’T—WORK WITH HOTELIERS

There's been a lot of buzz recently about Airbnb's forays into more traditional sectors of the travel business, including the hotel business. New deals with SiteMinder and other groups opened the site up to thousands of boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. But what about the rest of the hotel industry?

In this interview, the site's hotel point person says Airbnb intends to follow this tentative path and at present has no plans to extend its reach to 'mass-produced,' branded hotels or to build a chain of its own hotel-like properties. But the key caveat she presented in answer to nearly every question is that these decisions could change … at any time.

Full story at Skift.

6. BYE-BYE PRICELINE GROUP

Priceline Group last week made official what has been a reality for a long time: The company's association with the name Priceline was outdated. As a result, company officials changed the name to Booking Holdings, Inc. to reflect the fact that its Bookings.com unit accounts for “a significant majority” of its gross bookings and operating profit.

Booking.com operates in more than 220 countries, lists 1.5 million hotel, apartments and vacation rental properties, and crunches more than 1 million bookings per day on average, the company said. While the Booking.com unit is based in Amsterdam, the parent company's headquarters will remain in Connecticut.

Full story at Skift.

7. BOOKING.COM POACHES AIRBNB EXECUTIVE

A former Airbnb executive jumped ship to join Booking.com as a vice president of its Home Division.

In that role, Olivier Grémillon will shepherd the OTA's further foray into home sharing. Booking.com currently has 975,000 rental properties in 220 countries.

Full story at PhocusWire.

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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.

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