If you asked me, I would consider myself a frequent traveler. Over the past few years, I’ve had the great privilege of going to Europe three times with the fourth trip already booked. When I’m not busy, I often find myself online checking out affordable flights and perusing through travel blogs looking for the next must-see sights. However, during my trips, it’s been hard not to notice how much the world of travel has really changed, specifically in regards to what I call home base when abroad.
For example, I can count on one hand the number of hotels I’ve stayed in while traveling, but I don’t have enough fingers to count the amount of Airbnb’s I’ve been to. Between the price difference and the convenience, Airbnb has been my go to when it comes to finding a place to stay, and it’s let me see the world in ways I don’t think I would have in a normal hotel. I’m not alone. This is just one of the many reasons some large staples of the hospitality world like Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt have begun to feel the change of the tide — and why some are working to stay ahead of it.
The Unexpected Underdog
It was 2007 and Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had just moved to New York City. Struggling to pay rent, they laid out air mattresses on to their living room floor and thus created Air Bed and Breakfast, a website travelers could use to stay the night for $80. At that time, it was almost impossible to imagine what Airbnb would become. Now, by 2019, the company has sky-rocketed. According to their website, Airbnb has found their way into over 100,000 different cities around the world, offering over 7 million listings. Airbnb also touts that with their huge number of listings offered, they now have “more listings than the eight largest hotel groups have rooms, combined.”
A large part of the company’s success comes from how they have revamped the world of hospitality. Instead of travelers being placed in a standard room, Airbnb prides itself on a customer’s overall experience. Their website says they strive to “create a world where people can belong through healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.” This meant offering rental listings to travelers worldwide in hopes of providing a greater at-home and authentically-local experience for customers.
A Changing Landscape
With Airbnb moving the momentum of the future of the hospitality business into a new direction, some of the big-name players are adjusting their strategy. In May, Marriott announced a new business venture, Homes & Villas by Marriott International. In this new venture, Marriott introduced “a home-rental initiative” where they would begin to offer 2,000 premium and luxury homes in over 100 cities. Marriott International’s Global Chief Commercial Officer, Stephanie Linnartz, said that the company’s new endeavor “reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travel needs evolve.”
Other companies who have tried to move into this new territory haven’t seen the same spontaneous success that Airbnb has enjoyed. An article from the Wall Street Journal explained that Hyatt recently tried to throw their hat in the ring when they bought a stake in Oasis Collections. But when it was bought out in 2018 by another company, Hyatt announced it was ending its affiliation with Oasis. Since then, Hyatt hasn’t attempted to gain any new ground on the home-rentals front.
Meanwhile, other major players aren’t even attempting to change their ways. In an interview with ABC News in February, Hilton CEO Christopher J. Nassetta says they’re not afraid of this new changing of the tides. “No, I’m not worried about them. There’s plenty of room for both of us to do really well,” he said.
However, Johnson & Wales College of Hospitality Management Professor Katie Davin believes differently. She says that she urges both her students at the Providence campus and online to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to what’s next for hospitality. ”Students studying hospitality should recognize that home-sharing is part of the lodging industry now. If they plan to work in the hotel business, they should recognize that Airbnb is a real competitor to traditional hotels,” Davin says.
She even believes that although the landscape of hospitality is indeed changing, it doesn’t spell doom for students looking to break their way into the industry. Instead, it offers a new opportunity. “Marriott’s plan to work with property management companies for its home-sharing segment could open up even more opportunities for graduates of our BS – Residential Hospitality Management degree.”
Want to learn more about earning your online BS – Residential Hospitality Management degree from Johnson & Wales University? Complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.