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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.