The hotel industry remained a powerhouse for decades. There was little competition beyond hotels because it was challenging to get in touch with rental owners and easier to book a room at a place guests had already visited. That all changed when Airbnb became a household app around the world.
At first, the app’s alternative business model may have only affected specific audiences that wouldn’t have preferred a hotel room anyway. Major brands weren’t concerned. Now, Airbnb is one of the most popular apps in the world. People reach for it whenever they daydream about their next vacation. So how can hotels compete?
Read on to learn how Airbnb inspired digital transformation in hotels. A new focus on quality and messaging has changed the hotel industry and modernized it for people who prefer finding information and help online.
1. Invest in an app
When people need to book a hotel room, they often perform a quick internet search and browse rooms in different tabs. An app centralizes their options and makes them easy to access. Every hotel needs to give their guests an app and add options that aren’t available through Airbnb.
Some hotels allow guests to check in, unlock their door and order room service through their app. Guests can also contact the front desk with a quick in-app message rather than calling from the phone in their room. It’s easy and fast and allows guests a digital method to address their needs.
2. Upgrade room tech
One of the first issues many hotel management teams focus on is a lack of quality. Small rental owners can pay more attention to the little details of their property because they aren’t maintaining a hundred rooms at a time.
Airbnb renters may upgrade the tech in their property to attract new guests. They don’t need to fill a building with expensive gadgets when they only have one or two living spaces. Hotel management can learn from this and upgrade available room tech to make each visit more personal.
Set up smart TVs so guests can watch streaming services through their online accounts. Smart thermostats will tailor the temperature regulation schedule to a person’s specific needs and make them feel more comfortable.
3. Improve rewards programs
Most hotel brands have a reward program, which already gives them a unique advantage over Airbnb listers. Strengthen this advantage by improving an existing rewards program. Allow guests to earn more points online that they can redeem for free visits. They may post a review or share a social media post.
Guests can also answer feedback surveys for points or redeem exclusive digital offers only available through a newsletter link or an app. This will all result in more digital interaction and create more of a personal connection between guests and the hotel they prefer.
4. Focus on online promotions
Hoteliers saw the rising success of Airbnb and realized they couldn’t compete with the low prices. Instead, they focused on their messaging. How could guests learn more about a hotel so they’re more interested in spending a bit more money for a better experience?
A simple approach is to promote recent upgrades and improvements like Airbnb renters do. Whenever a crew installs new flooring, repaints each room or installs a new decor statement piece, guests should see it online. Every upgrade, from a change in lighting to the addition of marble coasters in rooms, will make guests feel catered to and more excited to experience hotel luxury.
5. Provide direct access
People also appreciate that they have direct access to renters through Airbnb. If they have a question, they send a quick message and get an answer. Hotels traditionally have guests call a helpline, where they may sit on hold for extended periods and never get the help they need.
Through the hotel app or website, give people a line of communication with the hotel manager or approved staff members. They should know how to answer common questions, assist in-house guests and be the first point of contact for anyone interested in booking a room. More accessibility makes people feel more valued.
6. Post more pictures
Traditionally, hotel websites post a picture or two of a standard room and the bathroom that comes with it. Airbnb users can peruse 10 or 20 pictures or more per rental. In addition to posting more pictures of available hotel rooms, management can design aesthetically pleasing rooms that draw the eye more than any individual Airbnb post. It’s an easy way to add luxury without expensive renovations.
Look for change
Digital transformation requires constant change. Hotel management should assess opportunities for online improvement by looking at the quality of website photos, available promotions and even in-room technology. Tips like these make guests feel welcomed and cared for, making their visit worth the potential price difference.