How to Compete with Airbnb (and Win)

Airbnb got its start helping people rent underutilized rooms in their homes to budget conscious travelers. It quickly evolved into the hotel industry’s fiercest competitor.

Many hotel chains are trying to combat this unexpected competition with legislation. Others are reworking their product offerings to attempt to offer what Airbnb provides. Those going head to head with Airbnb are looking at what attracts people, primarily millennials, to Airbnb. What they are focusing on is as follows:  


Ehotelier put it best, “Every Airbnb experience always feels both unique and authentic. [While] hotels were traditionally built for consistency.” Adapting consumer demands for authenticity is not logistically or financially easy, there are however options.

As Ehotelier suggests, “understanding your neighborhood and supporting it with everything from design and exceptional service offerings, to having staff who know what is around them and have actually experienced it firsthand, is paramount to making a guest’s experience today.”

Budget Friendly and Not Nickel and Dimed

Many hotels were considering what new amenities they could add to attract wealthier guests, while an entire generation was seeking the opposite. Today, the hotel industry is responding. Both Hilton Worldwide with Tru by Hilton, and Marriott with their Moxy brand, are responding to millennials desire for, as Fortune describes it, advanced technology (better check-in, keying, tvs, social interactivity), an energetic environment and an easy way to connect with other guests and the community.

Considering the Experience Online and Off

The Airbnb online user experience is a model for the hospitality industry. It is technologically savvy. It is seamless and it reflects a brand that celebrates human connection. It not only provides every property type conceivable but of equal importance - it puts a human face to properties. Hotels can compete with Airbnb by updating their online presence to include the names, faces and anecdotal stories behind the employees guests will interact with. They can go even a bit further by sharing the favorite local places of their staff – providing not only texture to their people but highly sought-after information from potential guests.

Amenities, Amenities, Amenities

With the prior definition of a hotel room, you were provided a bed, a bathroom, a tv, and maybe a sitting area. With today’s Airbnb room you can get all of that plus a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a washer and dryer, maybe even a backyard and a dog to pet. It may seem impossible for hotels to compete but they are. Consider Virgin Hotels approach to not only responding to millennial needs but communicating they understand them.

Making it Local

It used to be location, location, location – and now it is local, local, local. Airbnb accommodations, even if not in the ideal area, are still providing millennials the local flavor they demand. With Airbnb you are not getting the corporate lobby coffee shop, you are getting the coffee shop recommended from the person living in the area.  The standard hotel is learning to compete with this via leveraging one of their most underused assets – their employees. These employees are encouraged to chat with and provide guests their own share of local know-how. In other words, today, hotels are not using one employee as the concierge – they are using all of them.  


The standard hotel room tends to feel intentionally isolated. This is quite different from the community experience Airbnb provides. To compete with Airbnb, hotels are re-working and looking at new marketing techniques for their restaurants, bars and common spaces. The goal - to not only provide an atmosphere that appeals to guests but to plan events, festivals, musical guests and speakers who pique the interest of locals as well.

Looking for your own unique way to compete with Airbnb? Let’s brainstorm.  Contact Touristy, your travel marketing agency.