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The Impending Danger That Could Wipe out Independent Hotel Industry Forever

At a $30 billion valuation, AirBnB surpasses some of the world’s largest hotels. It is the single biggest threat that could wipe out independent hotels forever.

Whether in India, Canada, or any other part of the world, Uber has become my choice of transport when I’m travelling. The riding service has created a painful disruption for traditional car companies, upending their business models. If you think hoteliers do not face a similar nightmare from AirBnB, here’s a wake-up call for you. Without the financial clout of a big chain, they are already forced to rely on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). They lack the reservation systems, global sales force and visibility of chain hotels.

Another reason chains are relatively safe from the onslaught is their suitability for corporate travel – estimated to be 30% of total travel. You cannot beat the conference halls, business centers and Wi-Fi facilities (YET).

It’s the millennials who dominate the skies and the seas now. And they are more interested in experiencing the city they visit, not your pool and gym facilities. For that, they have the chain hotels. You can book a castle when you visit Edinburgh, stay in a yacht on your trip to Maldives, or share a condo with a French person for that ‘authentic’ experience.

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Whenever I go to a city, I find someplace that deeply resonates with me. In Toronto, it has to be Danforth Avenue. And now when I look for a place to stay near my favourite Korean BBQ places, these are my options –

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Some of the managers I’ve spoken to feel it is not a direct threat; that it is different business model. But this is the kind of ignorance that leads to downfall.

This change in the industry demands a swift and unique response, and I’m here to help you with it. So what are your options?

DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY

A quick prediction – in the not too distant future, you’ll be able to check-in, pick your room, order drinks by the poolside, book a spa treatment, and eventually check out, all by using just your smartphone. Another prediction, mobile check-ins will be the norm in 2017. Invest in technology! Whether a boutique hotel or a big chain, it is all about making the experience simple and hassle-free for your guests. And you can score over platform services in this regard.

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM

I fail to understand why any hotel, that needs to fill rooms won’t make use of this marketing weapon. Here’s an idea – use AirBnB as OTAs and find new customers! Take inspiration from The Guesthouse Hotel in Chicago, it offers more than half of its apartment like suites on AirBnB.

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Utilize the platform’s visibility and popularity to promote your brand by appearing in its search results.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR STAFF

Your hotel has a full time staff working round-the-clock to make your guests experience a memorable one. When someone books a hotel, they have no idea who their concierge is. The concierge role is similar to the hosts, so why not give them recognition and promote the individuals you are paying to be the local host?

Any guest will love the attention and courtesy that a concierge extends, or if he remembers details like their favourite beer or wine. Give them some personalized attention, and be sure they will come back to you.

Being the son of an hotelier and a digital marketing expert in hospitality, I love hotels and want the industry to thrive and survive. What doesn’t help is my beloved hotel industry’s stubbornness in embracing the same disruptive ethos that drove AirBnB to where it is today.

So start being more proactive, and do share this blog with an independent hotel owner. It has been fun writing on this challenging trend in hospitality, and I’ll be back with more topics. Meanwhile, watch this video of the #AskAviArya show where I talk about some secrets to master the art of meeting the guest’s high expectations!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oq6Mpq00t8