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Do lifestyle hotels have a hedge against the impact of Airbnb?
At the Skift Global Forum in New York City in September, Amar Lalvani, CEO and managing partner of The Standard Hotels, and Liz Lambert, owner of the Austin-based Bunkhouse Group, said their properties are somewhat more protected from Airbnb’s gains than larger hotels because the properties have evolved into neighborhood gathering places that attract a strong community of locals and visitors.
“There are things that we do collectively, and happen to be very good at, that just isn’t what Airbnb does, or can do,” said Lalvani. “And a big part of that is bringing people together, and bringing the community together.”
The two companies merged last year, with Standard taking a 51 percent interest in the combined enterprise, to help the New York-based company expand into second-tier markets across the U.S.
As an example of community, Lalvani discussed the packed crowds that gathered at the Standards in New York for the presidential debates. Guests were debating among themselves and engaging with each other. That’s something that could never happen in scattered apartments or rooms rented through Airbnb.
“With a hotel you can actually curate an experience,” added Lambert. “Airbnb can’t control what every one of their hosts does.”
I then discussed how the Standard and Bunkhouse properties are complete one-offs, unique to their specific neighborhoods, where every design nuance has developed over time. That’s an expensive way to build a hospitality brand, versus developing hotels within a prescribed model.
How, then, do owners like Lalvani and Lambert create value over the long term if so much time and investment goes into building each individual property?
“Another way to build value is scarcity value,” Lalvani answered. “Scarce things are usually hard to do, whether it’s a piece of art or whether it’s a fabulous hotel. Those things become valuable not because of how fast they grow, or how replicable they are, but how scarce they are, and how much people love them.”
You can watch the full interview, below.
Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2016.
At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.