The current pandemic has had a serious effect on the tourism industry and the question is not whether hotels will survive, but whether the competitive Airbnb and OTA’s will ever be the same.
The hotel market will be among the great survivors, although the guest profile will change, perhaps for the better and more profitably.
But the rise and perhaps the fall of the Airbnb is the big question. The rise over the past couple of years has been quite spectacular and the fall following the Covid-19 pandemic may to equally as sharp. It is going to be difficult for travellers to accept going into homes - and just as difficult for homeowners to accept travellers from places unknown.
This could well be a bonus for lower starred hotels and motels who are the main protagonists in this market. And right now is the time to build attractive websites and promote for the next phase after the international lockdown.
After all this class of accommodation has a great story to tell on safety, cleanliness and keeping to the social distancing protocols that will last for some time.
Take the best of what an Airbnb experience offered guests and incorporate it into the hotel or motel experience. It’s a chance to be bold, reinvent your offering to the local market in the short term and overseas visitors in the long term.
For the more senior players in the hotel market at the top end, the pandemic may be hurting right now, but it also offers opportunities to bypass the troubled travel agent industry and OTA’s with direct bookings. But only if this market class improves websites, offering better guest experiences, promotions and direct marketing efforts. The chances are there to pull their way out of this current downturn, but it needs clever attention to detail.
Certainly, the pandemic has put a hold on many existing plans to develop new properties and the chances of meeting industry forecasts over the next few years are now remote. The country’s critical reliance on the tourism industry – in which of course hotels play a major role - has been rocked to the core and it will take time to recover.
What is certain is that we cannot let standards slip and reducing staff and margins is a step down that road.
Getting back to a previous life without Airbnb’s and OTA’s might just be the shot in the arm the industry needs.