By Keith Bateman on September 21, 2017
Tags: Data Collection
In the battle of hotels vs. Airbnb, hotels can gain a competitive advantage by using mobile inspection apps to deliver 3 benefits that rentals often lack.
For some travelers, Airbnb and other short-term rentals provide benefits that hotels can’t always offer — like lower rates, eclectic accommodations, and amenities like full kitchens and living rooms.
When you look at the data, Airbnb rentals seem to be steadily gaining ground. Airbnb revenue increased 89 percent in July 2016 compared to the same month in 2015, while hotels only saw an average of 19 percent growth in the same timeframe. And this “sharing economy” model seems to especially appeal to the millennial generation, with almost half of Airbnb patrons between the ages of 18 and 34, while only 28 percent of guests who booked through Marriott.com fell in that category.
With more and more guests booking rental properties, what can hotels do to come out ahead of Airbnb? The key is successfully delivering some of the benefits that Airbnb rentals often lack — including service, consistency, and safety. Here’s how.
When travelers arrive at a hotel, they know they can expect a certain level of service: Someone will be at the front desk to check them in and hand them a room key. If they forgot their toothbrush, want more pillows, or start craving a cheeseburger, all they have to do is pick up the phone, and the hotel staff will bring them whatever they need. And travelers can be sure that every day, housekeeping will stop by and leave the room — and bathroom — sparkling clean.
Individual rental properties can’t guarantee any standard level of service — and it tends to vary widely depending on the host. Guests can message or call their host, but they’re not guaranteed a response — or that the response will helpful, let alone friendly. If they find the sheets missing (or dirty!), there is no guarantee that anyone will come to their aid at 11 p.m. While there are many positive reviews about Airbnb stays, there are plenty of stories online about uncommunicative or completely unavailable hosts.
Hotels have the opportunity to come out ahead of rental properties by offering friendly, consistent service that puts guests first. By using mobile inspection apps, hotel management can collect real-time data about maintenance and guest issues — which means you can address those concerns immediately, rather than keeping guests waiting. And that kind of service can make your hotel stand out from less service-oriented accommodations.
In general, guests know what to expect when they walk into a hotel room. They know there will be someone at reception, a clean bathroom stocked with travel-size toiletries, a neatly made bed, TV, phone, closet with hangers, and maybe a couple of extras — like a microwave or mini fridge.
Airbnb rentals are anything but consistent. Sure, some offer extras like toiletries or an in-room coffee maker. But sometimes they don’t — or sometimes, it’s unclear. Since Airbnb hosts often rent out their own homes, they may have half-empty toiletries and no hand soap in the bathrooms, or food in the fridge that may or may not be meant for guests’ use.
And cleanliness isn’t guaranteed. Even if a home rental site offers pictures of properties, the images may be deceiving. One guest reported booking an apartment that looked clean and bright in the photos — only to arrive to space that was cluttered, dark, stuffy, and had a distinct aroma of mildew.
Hotels that prioritize consistency offer guests peace of mind — so they know exactly what to expect when they walk into the room. Mobile inspection apps provide staff with easy-to-follow checklists that can be used in every room, every day to help keep your facilities consistently clean and guest satisfaction high. And with the data you collect, you can understand where the recurring problem areas are and decide how to address them.
Every Airbnb is different — which can be appealing to some travelers. But the lack of safety standards has led to traumatic guest experiences. For example, one traveler recalls discovering an infestation of bed bugs in his Airbnb. He eventually rebooked his stay at a nearby hotel, but first had to seek medical attention and sanitize all his clothes and personal belongings. Another traveler discovered the condo he booked through Airbnb was one of only a handful of units that were still occupied — the rest of the complex was completely abandoned and overgrown with weeds.
Hotels have much more control over these situations and, with regular inspections, can help ensure guest safety. Mobile inspection apps make it easier for hotel staff to inspect rooms for hazards including bed bugs, damaged furniture, burned-out light bulbs, etc., and can guide staff members through checklists to ensure the rooms are all free from dangers that could put guests at risk.
For any travel accommodations, guest perceptions are key. One bad online review can significantly impact future business. Learn more about using mobile inspection apps to keep your guests coming back in our eBook, “Fresh and Clean: How Mobile Inspections Save Hospitality Industry Reputations.”