02 SEPTEMBER 2014 7:19 AM
At a hotel industry conference in New York City several years ago, a panel of leading hotel executives was asked whether plucky startup Airbnb was a threat to demand. After some quizzical looks and an awkward silence, one panelist spoke up and admitted he had never heard of the peer-to-peer booking network. His fellow panelists agreed, and the conversation turned elsewhere.
The difference three years can make.
The sharing economy is thriving in the travel industry today, with apartment dwellers or home owners using a variety of distribution channels to rent out their unused units or spare bedrooms to travelers seeking alternatives to traditional hotel stays.
Whether it is millennials with their different cultural tastes or long-time road warriors with a need for destination authenticity or simply a cheap room, new vendors of alternative transient accommodations have emerged to meet the demand: Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey, Roomorama, CyberRentals.com and others.
Market segment leader Airbnb is perhaps most well-known, its rise fueled by a seamless online booking experience and passionate community of users that’s sparked exponential annual growth.
In this special report, Hotel News Now examines how that platform and others are impacting hotel demand, with analyses of San Francisco and New York City as illustrative case studies. We also poll hoteliers around the globe to see how this disruptive travel segment is affecting demand and operations at the property level. The global outlook continues with a piece that examines hot spots where litigation (and anxiety) is beginning to boil over. And finally we present an op-ed from Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality and strategy (and hotelier), who shares some perspective on the sharing economy and discusses how Airbnb is working to even the playing field with hoteliers.
The resulting package will raise some questions. It aims to answer even more, preparing readers to respond more confidently to enquiries on Airbnb—whether pontificating on a conference panel, sitting at the boardroom table or walking the floors of one of the countless hotels feeling the effects of the alternative-accommodations segment in this evolving sharing economy.
The HNN editorial staff