Remaining competitive in the sharing economy
Worldwide: In this guest article, Book4Time founder and CEO, Roger Sholanki, speaks about how short-term rentals and hotels can remain competitive in the travel accommodation market.
“The sharing economy, which introduced companies like Airbnb, has been a major disruptor in the lodging industry.
“Millions of rentals – Airbnb alone has grown to include five million listings – have intensified how competitive the market is for guests. As hotels and short-term rentals look to compete in this environment, they will need to implement strategies including using experiences, amenities and technology to provide a superior guest experience that cannot be found anywhere else.
“To remain competitive, hotels and short-term rentals will need to provide the immersive localised experiences guests crave.
“Hotels can implement localisation strategies that expose guests to the food, attractions and culture of the surrounding community. Activities could include performances by local bands, artwork displays by local artists and hotel restaurant menus that offer farm-to-table local seasonal produce, meat and/or seafood.
“Short-term rentals, many having the advantage of already being immersed in a community by virtue of their locations, should further localise guest experience by making sure to provide them with information on local happenings, restaurants and places of interest.
“Showcasing amenities has always been a component of the hotel industry’s marketing toolkit and has become even more important as a key differentiator. Going beyond simply providing a place to sleep, hoteliers can win the business and loyalty of travellers by offering and promoting a range of amenities that appeal to guests.
“Hotels provide many amenities that guests want, including daily housekeeping, room service, complimentary breakfast, spas and fitness centres, and on-site restaurants and bars to name a few. All of these amenities contribute to an enjoyable travel experience for guests and are a valuable differentiator for hotel brands.
“To win the battle for guests, short-term rental hosts should promote their advantage of offering all the comforts of home. Some of the home-grown amenities that short-term rental hosts should be highlighting to help their property stand out include the kitchen, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, patio, porch or balcony, laundry facilities and hot tub or private pool.
“One strategy employed by both hotels and short-term rentals is the leveraging of hotel amenities for non-guests in the form of day passes. With a day pass, a non-guest can have full access to the hotel’s spa, fitness centre and other amenities, without the price tag of a full stay.
“Using this strategy, hotels can retain some of the business lost to short-term rentals, and short-term rentals can promote the amenities of the nearby hotel.
“With the ability to easily find and compare accommodations on the internet, travellers are more discerning than ever. Hoteliers and short-term rental hosts need to provide and promote quality amenities and services if they want to get ahead of the competition and give guests a reason to stay.
“Embracing technology is essential to offering the customised, frictionless experience travellers want. In fact, guests expect that technology will be seamlessly integrated into the entire customer experience, from booking a stay to receiving the post-visit thank you email.
“Technology solutions can help the hotel and short-term rental industries make it easy for travelers to search for the right property and seamlessly make a reservation. Using booking technology can eliminate cumbersome and confusing booking processes that lead to abandoned bookings and decreased revenues.
“Hotels can also catch up to meeting traveller expectations for convenience by using mobile technology.
“Tablet apps allow guests to check in to their spa and wellness experiences without visiting the front desk, helping them avoid potential long lines that could negatively impact their overall experience. These apps can also be used to help guests easily book other hotel services such as spa services from anywhere on-property.
“Understanding and tracking digital reputation is another area where technology can help the competitive lodging industry.
“Review websites are increasingly influencing how people make booking decisions. In fact, research from TripAdvisor found that 77 per cent of people usually or always reference reviews before booking a hotel, and 80 per cent of those travellers read at least six to 12 comments before booking.
“Technology available today can simplify the tracking of a property’s digital reputation and centrally manage reviews across sites such as TripAdvisor, Facebook and Yelp. These monitoring and tracking capabilities can help hotels and short-term rentals take control of their reputation management, identify strengths and weaknesses and gain insights to elevate and enhance guest experience which will improve reviews and positively impact the bottom line.
“To thrive in the fiercely competitive environment today, hotels and short-term rentals will need to reinvent themselves using experiences, amenities, and technology strategies to maintain and grow market share in the sharing economy.”
Roger Sholanki is the founder and CEO of Book4Time, a cloud-based booking business management platform used by spa and wellness businesses in more than 70 countries.