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.
I saw this sign near the Bywater in NO and as an immigrant it put a lot things in perspective for me as a tourist in America. Airbnb was ‘cool’ cus it gave that badge to not look like a tourist, but beyond that there is no “after care” from the brand to bridge tourist to locals. pic.twitter.com/qTZ5kUlEYp— Tai Koga (@tai_koga) March 13, 2022
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:— Adrian C. Jackson (@AdrianCJax) March 13, 2022
Why are y’all still choosing AirBnB over hotels?
-Prices are no longer as reasonable as before; they cost just as much as hotels
-Hotels provide housekeeping, room service, fresh towels, & better service
-No cleanup fees
-No surprise guests
“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).
My last AirBnB had 2 cameras, one in bdrm & one in living rm in front of sleep sofa where my son slept & dressed. Once discovered after 2 days I nicely blocked lens. Very chilling to know someone was likely watching us undress/sleep/sex. I don’t know if I’ll ever use one again.— Britered66 (@britered66) March 13, 2022
And hotels are legally prohibited from pulling Jim Crow stunts unlike airbnb hosts.— Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) March 13, 2022
So whenever I think about AirBnB, I’m reminded of this thread (for good or ill)https://t.co/d2kifh44zW— CMj ya later, alligator (@CMjohnson77) March 13, 2022
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.”
I thought the same & only used AirBnB once solo. But it worked out great for my family all in a 6 bedroom home with a playroom for the kids. It did end up being much cheaper than booking hotels, 7 adults, 4 kids. Granted, it was in Idaho so cheap already. https://t.co/qy8nolOsol— KD (@Fly_Sistah) March 13, 2022
I’m a travel nurse so a monthly rate at a hotel is usually crazy no matter the city. COVID has started a request-only for housekeeping. Idk what u mean by “surprise guests”. My spots come with washer/dryer and I save $ cooking for myself. FurnishedFinder is cheaper. Same spots.— NurseWriter (@Poetif76) March 13, 2022
Swings and roundabouts, we guess.