Welcoming HotelTonight to Airbnb—your questions answered

Administrator

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 Hi everyone,

 

Today we announced that Airbnb is acquiring HotelTonight. HotelTonight is a hotel-booking service that specializes in boutique and independent hotels, and focuses on making last-minute trips easy and fun. We’ve sent out a press announcement, and we want to connect here with you, our hosts, to address some questions we thought you might have.

 

The core of Airbnb has always been—and will continue to be—our extraordinary hosts who invite guests into their homes. Your personalized hospitality has set a new standard for guests all around the world. Last year, we introduced the idea of ‘Airbnb for Everyone'—the vision of ensuring that anyone in the world can find an amazing place to stay. Since then, we have welcomed more options for guests, including boutique hotels run by people who offer personalized hospitality and are connected to their local communities. The acquisition of HotelTonight helps fulfil this vision.

 

Why did you acquire HotelTonight?

Traditionally, last-minute trips can be harder for guests to book on Airbnb. Homes are often booked far in advance, and we’ve heard from many of you that it is hard to accept same day bookings from guests because you need time to clean and prepare your space. HotelTonight will help us connect these last-minute travelers with boutique hotels. In addition, HotelTonight has a strong and loyal customer base, and now we have the opportunity to introduce them to Airbnb and home sharing.


Will HotelTonight bring more guests to me?

Yes. Since we’ve started to welcome boutique hotels to Airbnb, we have seen a positive impact on home hosts. HotelTonight will accelerate that positive benefit. Here’s how it works: Boutique hotels help bring new kinds of guests to Airbnb, growing the entire ecosystem. Once these guests come to Airbnb, they’re more open to booking a home. In fact, nearly 90 percent of guests who first used Airbnb to book a hotel room and returned to our platform for a second trip booked in a home. We are delighted to see that the boutique hotels on Airbnb are helping to mainstream home sharing for new guests around the world.

 

Will all of HotelTonight’s hotels now be bookable on Airbnb?

No. The HotelTonight app and website will continue to operate separately as they do today. Over time,  you’ll notice that Airbnb will start bringing a select set of boutique and independent hotels onto the platform, if they meet our high standards for personal hospitality. Also, some guests may be invited to search for accommodations on HotelTonight if they can’t find a place to stay on Airbnb for their trip.

Don’t HotelTonight’s hotels take away from the ‘personalized hospitality’ that Airbnb is all about?

The hotels that we welcome on Airbnb aren’t the big, impersonal spaces you might be imagining. These are boutique and independent hotels, similar to those started by Airbnb advisor Chip Conley, when he founded one of the first boutique hotel companies in the U.S. In fact, Chip has helped us understand that the gap between boutique hoteliers and home hosts is not as far apart as people might think. Boutique hotels are run by people who live in and are connected to their local communities and who want to offer truly personal hospitality. The boutique hotels on Airbnb are typically at a higher price point than our homes, and we hold them to high standards for personal hospitality.

 

Specifically, boutique hotels on Airbnb need to feel personalized, with qualities such as guest rooms that reflect the local culture. And we expect the hoteliers to provide personal hospitality to guests by offering things like unique recommendations and an owner or manager available on the property full time. A great example is Surfhouse Boutique Motel, an eight-room inn run by Sander, a former home host, and his brother, Nikki, in their hometown of Encinitas, California.

On HotelTonight, you might see some global chain hotels when HotelTonight is filling specific guest demand needs. These hotels do not meet the Airbnb standards for personal hospitality, and we do not plan to add them to Airbnb.

 

Will you prioritize boutique hotels over homes listings in search? Will more hotels on the site limit my bookings?

No. Our search ranking algorithm is based on providing the best options for a guest, and there won’t be any special benefits for hotels.

 

In terms of impact on your bookings, it’s totally reasonable to wonder whether having more listings of any type (including boutique hotels) reduces bookings for existing hosts. However, as we mentioned above, having more choices for travelers brings new guests to Airbnb, so the overall pie is growing (and home hosts are benefiting). In addition, when we do bring on boutique hotels, we’re focusing on regions where we need more options for last-minute travelers.

 

As more boutique hotels come to Airbnb, won’t guests get confused and start expecting hotel-level service from all Airbnb hosts? What are you doing to differentiate home hosts from hotels?

 

Setting guest expectations is critical. Guests need to be able to find the space that’s right for them, and expectations must be clearly set so that they can be happily met. We know it’s incredibly important that we highlight what’s special about each type of stay.

 

We plan to further distinguish what makes your home and hospitality unique, and we’ve begun to address this challenge. For example, starting last year each listing now has a category tag that clearly identifies it (e.g. ‘room in boutique hotel’ or ‘entire home’), and we highlight that tag to guests. Previously, hotel rooms were displayed as ‘private rooms,’ which led to guest confusion.

 

Also, before the end of the year, you’ll see additional changes to your listing page that will further clarify for guests what type of space you have (and associated expectations) and help showcase what makes your hospitality unique. For example, a home host listing might feature that guests can use their book of amazing family recipes while a boutique hotel listing page might highlight that they source food in their restaurant from local farms. We have a few ideas that we’re working on, and will partner with hosts throughout the year to test these ideas out. We will keep you updated here on the Community Center.

 

So, what’s next?

We’ll be following your feedback and comments here on the Community Center, and will be happy to discuss more at the upcoming Host Q&A in April (alongside an update on several things we’re working on specifically for home hosts).

Airbnb has always been differentiated by the personal connections between hosts and guests. That’s why people love Airbnb, and supporting and celebrating these magical experiences continues to be our top priority, even as we grow and welcome new categories. We’re tremendously committed to your success and to helping you thrive on Airbnb. Thank you!

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24 Replies
Paul in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Airbnb  Certainly interesting news, and interesting wording.

 

looking forward to sitting down with this and processing properly.

 

Paul :) 

Donna in
San Francisco, CA
Level 10

Since Airbnb will be inheriting hotel properties from HotelTonight will they be able to merge calendars if they belong to any other sites like Booking.com, TripAdvisor, or Trivago, so they don’t get double booked? I’ve been curious about how differently it must be to work with corporations as opposed to individuals. Congratulations, as I believe the more assets a company has, the better their IPO does. I believe this is a very good  strategic move for the company.

 

Branka & Silvia in
Zagreb, Croatia
Level 10

lol @Paul :D

Cathie in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

I’m with you @Paul  & feel a bit like @Branka & Silvia ! The wording is everything, and would have passed many individuals before being published.

I’m  not sure, as an on site host within my home, that I see any benefit coming my way from guests wanting last minute bookings - hotel style.....

I’m watching.. this... space.

 

the minute the multilisters and hotels appear ahead in your search engines, I’m afraid that will turn off the original hosts.

Rebecca in
Florence, OR
Level 10

Still waiting to see evidence from Airbnb Corporate that we traditional, home-owning, home-sharing hosts are as valued as they say we are - because based on the many new and/or revised policies, practices, and procedures being rolled out this past year that are increasingly (and blatantly) 'guest-centric', I'm not seeing or experiencing it. Best of luck with your latest, commercial venture.

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

It seems to me that trying to draw in new users by offering boutique hotel rooms as their first Airbnb experience would lead them to have unrealistic expectations of what constitutes a 5* experience when they subsequently go on to book "traditional" home share, or entire home listings. New users already often have unrealistic expectations- I don't think the differentiations in search proposed here would serve to address that.

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Airbnb  Creating a new category for "Traditional Home-Shares" or whatever you want to call it would be a very simple way for Airbnb to stop offending and damaging the business of hosts like us with all the glutting of the website with hotels and giant property-managed operations.

Quite honestly, this sort of thing just feels like a kick in the teeth, and no amount of glossy placating explanations about how this will be good for us will ever change that reality. 

You are doing a huge disservice to those who built your platform in the first place.

Ben in
Wellington, New Zealand
Level 10

Yikes at this... just yikes...

Rick in
Vernon, Canada
Level 2

While I read this forum regularly I don't comment often.  I am not at all comfortable with this news yet.  As a host that caters mostly to last minute or short stay bookings, of course it will impact me.  The first thing that came to mind was now this is just another Travelocity or Expedia.  I even notice in the small community I live in that one of our hotels (hardly boutique, just one that is struggling) is now on Airbnb and competing with me.  While I get this is a great money-making opportunity for Airbnb as a company, I think it takes away from the initial purpose of the whole program and those of us who buy into the founding philosophy.  Disappointment for sure, feeling that there is nothing to be done about it.

 

Kim in
Tasmania, Australia
Level 3

So... it's a benefit to us because Airbnb have listened to us regarding it 'being too hard to take same day bookings because we don't have time to clean up'???

Umm, tad patronising Airbnb.

Sounding more like Woolworths every day.

Susan in
Dublin, Ireland
Level 10

Will the real  Airbnb please stand up? 

 

Seriously, stop taking us for fools. You must think we're all witless, clueless morons who'll swallow any old bullsh*t, as long as you pour enough sugar on it. Your duplicity and dishonesty knows no bounds. Reprehensible. 176774.jpg

 

Wende in
Church Creek, MD
Level 4

It's amazing to me how people...aka Admin...thinks we'll think this is a good thing for us, frankly I find it insulting they think we're that gullible.

 

Is it new on this platform that we can't reply to someones comment.

 

 

 

Susan in
Oregon, United States
Level 10

@PaulI’m with you and I concur with the rest of the concerns shared.

 

 There are no “unique boutique” hotels in our area, so chains like La Quinta, Motel 6 and seedier condos and indie places are listing thier rooms on airbnb just as they do knbooking.com, travelocity, exp, etc., so what criteria are actually being used to screen this additional “boutique” competition that often offers nothing more than a room with bedbugs to flop in?

 

Yes, this IS impacting my business negatively.  I went from 85-90% occupancy (even in the off season) down to 20% right after this initiative was launched.

 

Maybe it works in urban areas where there actually are “boutique hotels,”

but you can’t tell me that a fleabag like the $49/night “money saver” offers any local culture other than that of meth heads and dealers.

 

This kind of “double-speak” doesn’t fly in the face of facts. It’s “Fake News.”

 

My business has suffered. I can’t even break even competing with $49/night fleabags, and other local hosts are saying the same.

 

“One size” doesn’t fit all, including The Emperor.

 

If airbnb is going to continue become just another megaconclomerate wholesaler, the ONLY solutions I can see to saving it’s soul and making it profitable to list our business here is to:

1- stay true to the ‘schpeil’ stated about ONLY allowing actual “boutiques” that meet specific openly stated criteria that goes beyond “local flavor.”

2- create a search category for “traditional airbnb’s” as @Sarah and others have been suggesting for months.  All kinds of other changes have been implemented including other new search categories and bulk competition, Why not this?

 

Many of us have already listed on other platforms due to previous management issues limiting our autonomy as business owners and poor platform customer service that have compromised the original ideals and our profits. Respected loyal hosts have flown this coop already to maintain thier integrity and independence.

 

If airbnb continues to suffocate us with the same low ball chains and fleabags everyone else is selling, the core group of guests and hosts will rightfully continue to migrate, and will create/seek out a new platform that does priotitize the millions of indie home stay-ers and hosts that built this company...and based on the continued movements of airbnb away from our roots, maybe it’s time for that new platform to happen.

Helen in
Charlotte, NC
Level 1

I love this idea. I have a 14 bedroom guest house (https://www.brooklynlodge.co.za) 

and access to over 20 other boutique guest houses in  Pretoria - South Africa. I am very excited to list them. Most  guest houses are struggling with low occupancy as the American trend of Loyalty program hotels has hit SA and not many folk are chosing Boutique Hotels anymore. 

Rebecca in
Florence, OR
Level 10

@Airbnb  Can you please find out for us why Airbnb Corporate will not make a dedicated website for traditional, home-sharing hosts? At the very least, it might at least serve as a (virtual) space that will allow us all to die with some shred of dignity - versus being turned into what amounts to road kill via the commerical direction you are obviously now taking (and have been for some time).

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Airbnb  So not only is it glaringly apparent that you don't care if traditional home sharing hosts who built the reputation of your platform lose their business (if you cared, you would have created a traditional home sharing cetegory before  starting to list hotels), you also don't care about guests, of which there are many, who don't want a hotel room- they want a traditional home share. You will be losing the business of all the guests who can't find a host-on-site, home share type situation buried under all the hotel, giant property-managed listings. Not very smart. You had a good thing going- alternatives to hotels. Why do you think your site did so well from the get-go? I repeat, not very smart, losing all your great hosts and guests.

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Wende  Replying to someone's comment on this updates section isn't possible, there's no reply bottom. However, you can tag, like I just did to you.

Wende in
Church Creek, MD
Level 4

@Sarah  Thanks......sure would like to reply in the comment.

Huma in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

There are already quite a few valid responses to this announcement, so rather than repeat what has already been said, I'd first like to comment on this statement:

 

"Airbnb will start bringing a select set of boutique and independent hotels onto the platform, if they meet our high standards for personal hospitality."

 

I clicked on the link to see what these high standards are, and the first thing that came up was:

 

  • Access to common gathering spaces and/or events
  • Guest rooms with personal touches that are individually unique and/or local in design
  • Guest rooms and common spaces that incorporate local influences
  • Unique design characteristics which set the property apart from others
  • High-quality photography

Apart from the first point, the criteria in this section seems uncannily similar to what Airbnb said it would require from Plus properties. However, it's clear from browsing Plus properties, that most of them are not "individually unique", but cookie cutter, clinical white spaces with the odd bit of 'trendy' art chucked on the wall. It doesn't seem to me that Airbnb has been particularly strict when sticking to this criteria with Plus, so why should we believe they will be with boutique hotels?

 

Secondly, RE the statement, "We plan to further distinguish what makes your home and hospitality unique, and we’ve begun to address this challenge," I have actually found lately that more guests than before are confused about the space they are getting, e.g. think they are getting a whole house, not a private room, or don't expect me to be living here, even though it's all stated clearly on my listng.

 

I don't think that highlighting things like a book of family recipes is going to be much help here. There needs to be clearer indicators to guests about the space they are booking, e.g. @Sarah's suggestion of a separate category for traditional home-stay hosts, and a LOT more done to educate guests about what that actually means. That will be more crucial than ever once the supposed 90% of hotel booking guests choose a traditional airbnb for their next trip.

 

Of course the guest will be paying more for that first stay in a boutique hotel, but that won't stop them making unfair comparisons when they arrive at the much cheaper homestay, especially as this type of guest didn't come to Airbnb because they were looking for a homestay, but have been 'convinced' by their experience in a boutique hotel. I can just imagine the expectations: daily housekeeping and fresh towels, buffet breakfasts where they pile up their plates and then leave half of it uneaten and no evidence of a host's belongings in sight.

Ero in
Athens, Greece
Level 2

Hello from Greece. I will try to give you facts to see what happens with hotels in Airbnb search.

 

My listing is a "private room" on a popular Greek island, operating just for 4-5 months. Up to last summer there were very few hotel rooms listed, and my occupancy rate was around 80%, always showing in the 1st or 2nd page in search. When hotels were allowed to list every "private room" they have, my occupancy rate dropped to 30%, my listing is pushed to 14th-17th page, views dropped to half or one third of whay they used to be. With Instant Book on, I don't have a single inquiry the last 2 months - how can someone book when they don't see it! What surprises me is that when I search for it by putting filters with everything I offer, it's the ONLY one in Greece.

 

Researching it further, I noticed that 85-100% of "private rooms" on every page are hotel rooms. Despite the fact that there is "Hotel Room" category in search, hotels are given twice or three times the opportunity to get booked, as they also appear in "private room" and "entire place" categories too.

 

I guess I gave you an idea of what will happen in the very near future and as @Sarah mentioned, a special category "traditional airbnb's" would be a good idea.

Zappa in
Key West, FL
Level 10

If Airbnb would have a limit to how many same-day requests a guest can send out id be more inclined to host them. As it stands they mass blast every host in town and we write back to them to see of it is serious and wait and wait for a response. Our time is valuable. 

 

A boutique hotel is still someone manni g a desk. This is going to blur the lines even more for those of us who don't have self check in. More and more guests not communicating arrival and showing up expecting me ro be waiting all day. @Sarah I agree higher expectationa as well. Hard to say "It's not a hotel" when you're tossed in the mix with hotels. 

Zappa in
Key West, FL
Level 10

Not only that I live on a island that is LOADED with b&bs. Not sure how that wont effect my placements

Zappa in
Key West, FL
Level 10

This is the final nail. Airbnb started with something different and thay's why it worked. Aggregating hotels is not a new concept! It's deluding your brand and will be the beginning of the end. 

Susan in
Dublin, Ireland
Level 10

@Ero 

What you are seeing in Greece - traditional homesharers and small entire home hosts being deliberately pushed out of the market as a result of Airbnb flooding the searches with the vast inventories of "professional" operators and commercial entities - is happening all over the world.

 

Not only is Airbnb unfairly (and illegally, under EU laws) advantaging the Pros over the small hosts with hugely increased visibility and promotion, the Pros are also being favoured with a range of preferential  policies, practices and tools that are denied to the rest of us. Yet at the same time, the company is using its regular hosts as a "front", in its attempts to convince lawmakers and local authorities worldwide that Airbnb is still all about the little guy trying to feed his family and pay his bills. Which of course, we all know by now, is a bare-faced lie. 

 

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Multiple-hotel-rooms-showing-up-in-a-search-for-private-roo...

 

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Host-Circle/Wow-Hundreds-of-new-ABBs-just-flooded-my-market/td-p...

 

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Hosting/Demand-down-29-in-London/td-p/910027

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