In Airbnb's fight for legalization and acceptance, the apartment-sharing website's biggest adversary has been a wary and hostile (and booming) hotel industry. But, as a piece in the Times today lays out, perhaps there is room for both to happily coexist. "Our belief is that lodging rental websites are stimulating demand, rather than displacing existing demand," the president of development for the Hilton hotel chain told the paper. Indeed, business is better than ever for hotels, even as Airbnb's popularity continues to rise.
There are indications, however, that while Airbnb doesn't pose a significant threat to hotels currently, it could in the future. For one thing, the Times cites "the ingrained habits of travelers, particularly older ones and business travelers on expense accounts, who see no reason to change their ways" as one of the hotel industry's strengths. But business travelers are a growing market for Airbnb, with the site currently reporting that just under 10 percent of its guests are traveling on business. In addition, studies indicate that hotel prices have been restrained in markets where Airbnb has a significant presence.
Of course, if you can't beat 'em, it's best to join 'em. A few small hotels have taken to just listing their rooms on Airbnb, which does have its benefits. "We don't need a front desk or even a credit card machine," said the owner of a eight-room hotel in Mexico.
· Airbnb Grows to a Million Rooms, and Hotel Rivals Are Quiet, for Now [NYT]
· Airbnb coverage [Curbed]