How Airbnb is Changing the Travel Industry

March 1, 2017 by Jessica Jacobs

Battle of the Bookings: How Airbnb is Changing the Hospitality Industry
It’s no secret that Airbnb has been one of, if not the largest, disruptors in the travel and hospitality industry of the 21st century. Ever since Airbnb stepped into the game in 2008, the credible accommodation site has continuously optimized their platform to be user-friendly & transparent. From their easy-to-use interface to the trustworthy reviews of accommodations, it makes one think – how has Airbnb gotten to be the lodging giant that it is today?

With Airbnb, personalization is their bread and butter. You have your own account to which you can add a photo, description and even payment information. You can view host profiles, message hosts directly and ask questions – all prior to booking. You can get as personal with your host as you wish (or your budget allows you to). You can rent a room for a day and have breakfast with your host, or stay at their house without ever seeing their face. Rather than staying at a cookie-cutter hotel with familiar surroundings, you can ‘live like a local’ and experience travel personalized to be your own perfect adventure.


Variety of Accommodation

Airbnb offers a unique balance of accommodations. Whether you are traveling with a group or all by yourself, the possibilities are endless. Want to stay at a penthouse apartment in the heart of London? No problem. Going for a ski trip and want the perfect log cabin in the snowy hills of Vermont? Airbnb has it all.

User Interface

One of the most important features of travel sites is the booking experience. Airbnb has made this a priority for their site. Booking a room has never been easier – both for the host and the guest. Whether you are on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone – you can search by price, location, number of guests, room type or amenity. Just select your dates and click ‘Book Now’ – just like that, you are ready for your next adventure.

If Airbnb is to keep growing at its current rate—its listings are doubling every year—the hospitality industry is in for a tough 2017. So, how can Hotels keep up?


If personalization is Airbnb’s bread and butter than concierge is hotel’s king. Combating the ability to live like a local, the hotel industry is ramping up their concierge services. Rather than just being the friendly face you see when checking in/checking out, hotels like the Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan, Puerto Rico are going above and beyond. At the Vanderbilt, you are assigned your very own butler – who will bring you a smoothie in the morning and dry clean your dress shirt before a night on the town. Concierge isn’t just the holder of the key cards anymore, they are the gatekeepers of your adventure, and can help you plan your entire trip – from booking a day excursion of zip lining to making dinner reservations at your favorite seafood restaurant.

Room Variety

Forget the ordinary. Part of Airbnb’s rise to success is attributed to the offering of unique accommodations. With that, it’s no surprise that the counter movement of ‘boutique hotels’ has emerged, hotels made with the idea to evoke the soul & charm of each city they are built in. The accommodation term of King or Double Queen has never been less relevant in today’s traveler’s mind. Instead, boutique hotels are popping up all over the world, and changing the room variety game. At the Hoxton (with current locations in London & Amsterdam), you can choose a room based on size. Your selection of rooms begins with the smallest sized room – ‘The Shoebox’ (perfect for solo travelers) and ends with a uniquely designed collection of ‘Roomy Rooms’ (ideal for longer stays).  



If there is one thing that Hotels have a leg up on, it is their amenities. You can spend your entire vacation at the hotel without ever leaving it. At hotels like La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you can wake up, go to the gym, spend the day at the private beach, and at night hit the casino – all without stepping foot off property. Hotels need to play up their assets when it comes to the battle of bookings – as the saying goes: “if ya got it, flaunt it”.

Digital Optimization

The world of technology is ever-changing, and hotels need to make digital a priority in 2017. The term ‘instant-gratification’ has never been made more clear. Users do not want a tedious booking process; they want to find what they are looking for, give as little information as possible and book their stay. Not to mention (no surprise here) the big player in technology today is mobile. Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%)*. From the home page to the contact page – hotels need to be sure to optimize every page of their websites. In 2017, hotels need to think of digital is a way of life – not just as their website.

In the ‘battle of bookings’ one thing is quite clear: the consumer has many options when planning travel. It’s just a matter of what type of travel they prefer: the rent-a-room or book-a-room type of travel. Hotels vs Airbnb’s: which do you prefer?