I <3 Air BnB

by Susan on July 15, 2013

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This is so strange.  I’m in love with AirBnB.  I’m a hotelier.

I should be all about luxury hotels and in-room dining and the concierge desk.  But instead, all I want to do is stay at a stranger’s house.

What is up with that?

When I read about the New York case against an AirBnB host, my first reaction was sour grapes.  According to a TechCrunch article, “Legislation was recently introduced in the NY State Assembly, for instance, that would exempt people renting their own homes — like, you know, Airbnb hosts.”  Really, y’all?  I don’t always hate regulation, but this seems absurd.

The more I thought about it, the more I could understand why hotels might be interested in seeing that kind of legislation through.  I travel a lot (30 out of the next 60 days will be on the road, for example), and my head is being turned by AirBnB.  It’s cheaper and often more charming.  You meet new people, get to know the destination from a local person, and take a peek into the lives of other people – what’s not to love?

If AirBnB is disrupting the hotel business as we know it – which it is, based on the degree to which people want to shut it down – should hotels try to be more like AirBnB?  If so, how could they do it?

I spent a lot of time thinking about the answer to that question.  I came up with some good, although expensive, ideas, like giving each arriving guest a host for the duration of her stay that would be equipped to answer questions via text.  The host would have to know where a guest could walk to get Band-Aids and what the hours are of a really great thrift store, in addition to everything a concierge already knows about dinner reservations and fun bars.

But when I asked my husband for his take, he had the best answer.  He said, “Hotels shouldn’t try to be more like AirBnB.  They should try to be less like AirBnB.”  His point was that hotels should do what they do best – make it easy to get anything you need without going to a whole lot of trouble.  Have a great bar and delicious food.  Be really, really clean.  Bend over backwards to make their guests feel special.  He said, “On some trips, we want to go on adventures and cook our own breakfast and explore.  But on others, we just want everything to be taken care of for us.”

I immediately felt like a dork for not having come up with this on my own.  The answer is “Be who you are.”

What do you think?  Should hotels try to win back the portion of their business that is being siphoned by AirBnB?  Is it just about price, or does AirBnB offer something else that travelers are looking for?  Should AirBnB hosts be regulated like hotels?

Tell me everything!

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