The Future Of Airbnb’s Empire Is Under Threat

Some travellers are waking up and smelling the roses...

The Future Of Airbnb’s Empire Is Under Threat

Image Credit: Delicious

Airbnb came at the hotel industry with a mallet when it went from a startup (in 2008) to a booming global business (it really started to blow up in the late 2010s). The philosophy? Live like a local. Discover quirky joints. Have a unique stay. It was even cheaper (in many cases), too.

But like how Instagram used to be quiet and quirky and is now a mainstream 21st-century artery we’re all addicted to shooting up, could travellers now be waking up and stopping guzzling the marketing when it comes to Airbnb? The pandemic hit the entire travel industry hard.

During the tightest pinch, when people were (particularly here in Australia) unable to travel overseas (or in many cases even interstate) Airbnb was popular – rather than risk staying in a hotel where you could catch COVID from 100s of other people, travellers would book self-contained Airbnbs for themselves and their families and significantly reduce their chances of contracting the spicy cough.

But now that the news cycle has swung away from COVID and towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and now that many people have now either been fully vaccinated against COVID (or had COVID and recovered from it), it might be time for travellers to rediscover an old flame: hotels.

Not only did the pandemic provide a silver lining for hotel restaurants (by scaring people off venturing out into the street to find ‘unique’ food), but, as we come out of the pandemic, some frequent American travellers are recalling the benefits of hotels, and questioning the benefits of Airbnb (given its prices, in many cases, now rival hotels’).

Though this is unlikely to crash Airbnb’s empire in 2022, it’s interesting to think about how travel demographics (ad consumer choices) could shift this year.

Case in point: the following Tweet, from a Houston based man called Adrian C. Jackson. Jackson took to Twitter yesterday to ask his followers why anyone would choose Airbnb over a hotel.

“I’m being sincere when I ask this,” Jackson wrote. “Why are y’all still choosing AirBnB over hotels? Prices are no longer as reasonable as before; they cost just as much as hotels.”

He also pointed out that hotels provide housekeeping, room service, fresh towels and (in his view) better service, as well as “no cleanup fees” and no “surprise guests.”

He also shared a story of the night he had a surprise guest in his Airbnb.

“‘Surprise guests’ means exactly that…” he responded to one Twitter user. “Like what happened to me during my first (and ONLY) Airbnb stay I had the house to myself; a friend of the owner had access to his home & just casually strolled through while I was there I told the owner & Airbnb…nothing was done about it.”

Commenters on his Tweet added that further benefits of hotels are that you are less likely to find creepy things like cameras or experience racism (or racist objects).

Another said: “Also, hotels don’t contribute to the increased homeless problem the way Airbnb’s do” (a problem we are seeing over here in Australia too, particularly in hotspots like Byron Bay).

Another included a horror story of the time a host forgot to tell their husband that he was staying in the basement of the house.

They wrote: “I stopped using them after a few uncomfortable experiences, including one room being in a heinously overcrowded house (about 10 guests, one bathroom) and one host who didn’t bother to tell her husband I was allowed to be sleeping in their basement suite.”

Not everyone thought it was so simple. Some sang Airbnb’s praises (saying they can be cheaper than hotels for long term stays or FIFO workers).

One Twitter user said hotels can be pretty grim too, writing: “After staying in a Holiday Inn Express about 7 years ago, I swore I was done with hotels. The room was less than clean and reeked of stale cigarettes even though it was non-smoking. The carpet was old and worn. No kitchen, a cramped bathroom, non-working wall hair dryer.”

Swings and roundabouts, we guess.

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