Skift Take

Want to fight back against Airbnb as a hotelier? Create a hotel that people actually want to hang out at. Airbnb, as a networking company between hosts and users, has largely abdicated this space-- so far.

There’s no doubt that Airbnb is an ascending travel industry giant that is changing how many people, especially those who are younger and willing to take risks, travel.

How exactly are boutique hoteliers dealing with the challenge of competing against the sharing economy for bookings, especially among younger travelers? Hoteliers, especially those running properties with creative public spaces, restaurants, bars, and clubs, are realizing that creating a community around your property and products is a sustainable way to draw in customers.

“No one’s immune to Airbnb, it’s an amazing product,” said Amar Lalvani, CEO and managing partner of Standard International, Tuesday at the Skift Global Forum 2016 in New York City. “What I do think is that it makes what we do that much different, because there are things we do collectively that just aren’t what Airbnb does and can do. Things like bringing the community together.”

Lalvani characterized this community aspect as a challenge for homesharing services like Airbnb, since living in someone’s house sacrifices the social aspect that smart hotels curate for both guests and locals.

He said that Airbnb’s quest for scale, adding hundreds or thousands of new listings every day, doesn’t really threaten the boutique hotel space. Standard Hotels, according to Lalvani, is strategically expanding only in cities it thinks that the Standard concept will flourish.

“Scarce things are usually hard to do, those things become valuable not because of how fast they grow,” said Lalvani about the Standard Hotels Brand.

Lalvani also explained the rationale behind launching a same-day booking app that is also open to independent hotels run by other brands.

“From noon to 3 p.m. there were a lot of bookings, and after that it was obsolete inventory,” said Lalvani. “What if we could do something with that inventory? People want stuff on demand, but they’ve never booked a hotel room that way. We think that thought process will change [eventually].”


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Tags: bunkhouse group, sgf2016, skift global forum, standard hotels

Photo credit: Standard International CEO and managing partner Amar Lalvani, left, with Bunkhouse Hotels owner Liz Lambert, center, at Skift Global Forum 2016 on September 27. Skift

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