Airbnb has given traditional lodging options a run for their money since the company landed on the travel scene 10 years ago. Today, Airbnb has grown into a company offering more than five million lodging listings in 191 countries and 81,000 cities. HX: The Newsletter Editor Laura Koss-Feder spoke with Chris Green, principal and chief operating officer for 34-property, Greenbelt, Md.-based Chesapeake Hospitality, about this hospitality "disrupter" and innovator and its impact on business throughout the industry.
Q. How is Airbnb affecting traditional hotel companies nationwide?
A. The industry is doing very well, and is at an all-time high for occupancy and ADR. So, we are already in a very strong position. I know people will disagree with me, but Airbnb has opened up a whole new segment of business and is not really hurting the industry. If I look at my branded hotels, I don't see a reduction in business. Frankly, there is enough travel to go around for traditional hotels and Airbnb.
Q. That being said, is there more of a regional impact in certain markets?
A. You do see some impact in high ADR markets, like San Francisco and New York, especially during high demand periods.
Q. What can hotels do to compete?
A. We must continue to do what we have always done, and offer a consistent guest experience and great service. Travelers still want sureity of performance, and they know what they are getting when they stay with a branded hotel or a well-known hotel. The bulk of the hotel world is transient travel, and the guest who is on the road 150 days a year needs to know what they are getting in a hotel. But, in some markets you are seeing traditional hotels provide more residential type of amenities to compete, like mini-kitchens, for example.
Q. Which type of guest does Airbnb appeal to the most?
A. The under-35 traveler will more likely be attracted to these type of alternative properties. First, they are less expensive. They can be anywhere from 30-50 percent below market hotel rates, and you can rent a whole house versus a hotel room. Second, these millennials are willing to take a chance on something and are more likely to be thrill seekers. They may see staying at an Airbnb property as being cool.
Q. Have you ever booked through Airbnb?
A. Yes. Twice. Once I was in a market where there were just no available hotel rooms, and another time I rented a house for 11 people.
Q. In which type of scenario would you find travelers most likely to stay at a mainstream hotel?
A. If a guest is unfamiliar with a market, they would be more inclined to stay with a hotel brand that they know and trust, with features that they know they will have, such as interior corridors, restaurants, etc.
Q. Where do you see Airbnb headed in the next five years or so?
A. You will continue to see growth, although there has been some softening of supply on the hotel side of the business. I still don't think long term that Airbnb will hurt the industry. You will see new and unusual locations continue to develop for travel, like houseboats, permanent tents, treehouses. That is its own special kind of market.