6 Tips for Hoteliers to Compete in the Post COVID Hotel Market: The Airbnb Effect

Parsa Mazaheri
September 11, 2021

Statistically speaking, even at a glimpse, it's pretty much apparent how the hotel market has been changing in 2020 and beyond. The change in our behaviors and the trends in the travel industry has a significant impact on how hoteliers compete in the post-COVID hotel market. Amidst all this, Airbnb is also attracting lots of travelers. In 2019, Airbnb captured 11% of the market, and afterward, the ratio gradually increased to a bashing 18% of U.S lodging revenue. The numbers manifest how confident the pink-logoed company is sitting at the very peak of the hotel market mount.

We already covered the battle between Airbnb and the traditional hotel market; there are opposing standpoints on whether Airbnb is a threat or an opportunity for small business owners and even bigger companies and corporations. Now the question evolves into this: as a hotelier, how do we survive the post-COVID hotel market? Most people already anticipate a big jump in the number of travelers in 2021 and 2022 compared to the COVID era (2019 - 2021). But the challenge is renewed here; if the travelers are going to increase in number, how do we guarantee whether their accommodation type will be a bnb or a hotel room? Well, that's a valid question. Let's take a look at the travel industry trends first:

Get to Know the Guest Behavior

The COVID era was quite a journey; everyone's glad COVID is done for. Nevertheless, we also learned a thing or two from the plague-devil. Firstly, we humans can change. Our behaviors and interests change over time and according to what we see and what we believe in. We evidently saw a significant change in guests' behavior as we studied the market in the past two years. For instance, the average traveler seems to be more "solo" nowadays. The average traveler happens to be more interested in "sustainable travel" nowadays. Generally speaking, travelers are more interested in the digitalization and gamification of hospitality properties, no matter the accommodation type.

Now, many experts believe understanding guest behavior is key to success. After all, your property has to be more than a space for travelers to sleep the nights at. You'll need more tools to keep the guest sentiment up from the very beginning, to the end of a journey. Firstly, we suggest any hotelier do two things: listen closely to your customers; make sure everything you do is on par with what they have to say. Secondly, there are hundreds of good travel blogs and travel podcasts, so you can know what the market trends are no matter where you are in the world!

Guest behavior in the pre COVID Era

Consider Digitalization

Referring to the very first part of this very blog, understanding guest behavior is vital. Evidently, the average traveler has a thirst for digitalization. Many guests have already tasted digitalization. The convenience of pressing a button on your phone on the Airbnb app and suddenly thousands of accommodations are listed for you is nothing to overlook. This level of convenience is simply incomparable to what the travel industry used to be. Understandably, no one wants to go back to a world where there's no online booking, no PMS, or no easy access! Therefore, if there's one thing we desperately want you to consider, is going contactless with digitalization.

We understand that many hoteliers and business owners are afraid of digitalization because they simply think it's necessarily costly. We assure you, not only is it 100% worth it, but it's also not as expensive as you might think it is! Luckily we've already covered the comparison of various property management systems, Smart Locks, and even Travel Apps you and your travelers can use to make traveling a piece of cake!

Find Convenience in Technology

We talked about digitalization, but that's just from a "install an app, fire staff" standpoint, ~sorry staff!~ another side of technology is the usage of more advanced IoT technologies to bring more convenience for your staff members and your travelers. We're talking about next-level stuff! The reason these technologies attract more travelers is that these technologies make your brand unique. You can find technologies in a variety of room furniture to IoT applications. We categorize these technologies in two different parts: Traveler side technologies and hotelier-side technologies. After all, as a business owner or as a hotelier, it's your job to both keep your co-workers motivated and your guests happy.

Traveler Side

Surely, the ultimate goal here is to make travelers' stay better. All the technology you use for the travelers' have to ensure convenience. That's all. We already talked about this in the hotel design tips article, if you haven't checked it out already, make sure you do. Sometimes a little simple gadget brings a whole new world of consistency and convenience to a traveler. Make sure you think of all the things that simplifies a travelers' journey.

Hotelier Side

For hoteliers the goal is to make every aspect of your workplace professional. Everything has to be organized and well-placed. The receptionist(s) might need to call or email a traveler every once in a while. It's much more easier to have a spreadsheet or a CRM service rather than having an old-fashioned ragged phonebook. All and all, the idea is to streamline the services, speed-run your property management! Many PMS and Guest Management services provide these conveniences to hoteliers around the globe. Including our very own all-in-one solution, Goki.

Technology for Hotel Owners

Grab the Hands of Online Marketing Strategies

Suppose you create an excellent, godlike, irresistible property but no one is showing up. Despite all your efforts, even following all the trends and despite being up to date with all the hospitality and travel trends, no one seems to be interested. What might be the issue you might ask. Well, if there's no visibility, there's no sentiment. Imagine you're looking for your ideal car, if you can't find it online then what good is the money you put aside for the car?

The idea here is to learn to make your business visible to the public. Online marketing strategies have proven to work for any kind of business nowadays. As millennials and the younger generation appears to search almost anything online. It's best to keep your business on the front page of the internet. We've already gathered some strategies and tips to help you hit the marketing milestone of appearing on the first pages of booking services. You should check it out if you haven't already.

Keep an Open Mind, Think Outside the Box

Keeping your brand unique is a very significant tool to rise above the competition. It's crazy how many business owners overlook this fact. Take Airbnb for example. (We keep pointing out Airbnb because we simply think it's the most successful hospitality brand in the universe!), Airbnb is a brand that always looks fresh and full of new things for anyone to explore. How do they do this? Well they just keep thinking of new things no one has thought of before!

Is it an easy task to deliver? Probably not. What you can do about it is quite simple though. As a hotelier you already understand the hardships and the struggles of the average traveler, or at least you are meant to. Think of solutions for the hardships. Can you deliver features or actual solutions for the raised issues? If so, what will it cost you?

The idea here is to keep your property's head above the water, if a guest is looking for a flexibility, deliver flexibility. If you already have the tools for it!

Think outside the box to compete in the post COVID hotel market

Bonus Tip: Keep Yourself Updated on the Hospitality Trends

We already covered ground on how important it is to be on par with the travel industry trends. Know your guests and know the market. But that's not all there is to it. There's also hospitality trends you'll need to keep an eye out for. Usually, in our imperialistic world, small business don't have a say in what's coming next in their industries. In comparison, the bigger chains and bigger businesses shape the industries around their ideas. For example, Airbnb, which is technically the biggest hotel chain in the world at the moment, changed the whole concept of long term rentals once. Well, they can change anything if they wanted to. It's extremely important to keep yourself updated with the hospitality trends. Especially considering the pace of today's technology; how it's always changing and evolving. With all that being said, good luck!

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Parsa Mazaheri
Marketing/CS Specialist