I recently attended the CLIA Expo that was held at LAX. The guest speaker was Chip Conley, head of global hospitality with Airbnb. Before Airbnb, Chip started and built the boutique hotel group called Joie de Vivre. For 25 years Chip was a serious hotelier. Then he sold his majority interest in the group. But he still is a minority owner not only in JdV but also in Commune Hotels and Resorts.
I bring up Chips past because to many hoteliers it appears that Chip has gone to the dark side. And from some of his comments during his talk is obvious that even if he does not believe he went to the dark side he knows that a lot of his past compatriots in the hotel industry may feel the this way.
Because of issues with the weather, San Francisco and Delta airlines, Chip could not attend personally so Skype to the rescue. There were probably a couple of hundred people there - mostly hoteliers. The first comment that Chip said after apologizing for not being able to be there because of the flight cancellation that morning was that he wanted to assure all of us it was not because he thought we would throw tomatoes at him. Obviously, he is well aware of hoteliers' feelings about Airbnb.
The rest of the talk was basically surrounding two topics. The first topic when into great detail with statistics about how Airbnb is not taking room nights away from hotels. I am not even sure how that makes sense even with the statistics. Of course it is taking nights away. They've had over 25 billion guest in over 34,000 cities in 190 countries. Chip's basic premise is that the people that use Airbnb reservation services would not be staying in a hotel. They are looking for an immersive experience that is cheap. My point is that everyone that stays in a hotel is looking for an immersive experience for cheap.
One of the other points they got my attention was that next year Chip says that Airbnb will make it even more difficult for any lodging company to participate with Airbnb. This includes cabins, small inns, guest houses and small properties. They don't want you on their site. They want a guest bedroom or a living room floor or maybe an occasional condo. They are limiting the number of rental days allowed per year so even if you do list you will be limited to how many nights you can book. On the other hand, they are also working with the taxing authorities to make sure that everyone is collecting correct sales and bed tax. This rates a big thumbs up.
Chip is obviously a very smart gentleman. And a great businessman. If you have not read his book PEAK you should. But I do believe he is off-base when he states that emerging websites like Airbnb do not affect the hotel industry's bottom line.