Swiss-Belhotel International’s Laurent A. Voivenel discusses vitality of Airbnb at HSMAI Middle East Conference

HSMAI Middle East Conference

Swiss-Belhotel International’s senior vice president, operations and development – Middle East, Africa and India, Laurent A. Voivenel recently gave a speech at HSMAI Middle East Conference in Dubai, discussing ‘Convergence and Synergies’ between hotels, serviced apartments and Airbnb.

Since its launch, the impact of Airbnb on hotels, OTAs and house rents has been remarkable, specifically in gateway cities and other popular holiday destinations.

Voivenel elaborated: “Globally, one third of all accommodation bookings are made online. Every transaction on Airbnb means a loss of revenue for hotels or OTAs. “However, Airbnb is not an enemy, they have only been smart to create something that we hoteliers should have thought of. We are simply in an era of shared economy where in the last 20 years we have seen many disruptions in our industry by a number of non-traditional hotel players and Airbnb is one of them,” he stressed.

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Voivenel expressed his belief that Airbnb and hotels complement each other, helping to grow and diversify tourism in a destination, in addition to giving more choice to travellers.

Airbnb has also made a significant impact on the business travel sector. Voivenel explained: “Today, over 250,000 companies use Airbnb for business, when in 2015 only 250 companies travelled with Airbnb. Now, Airbnb lets you search for properties that are ‘Business Travel Ready’ and equipped with essentials like internet, workspace with laptop, 24/7 self-check-in, fitness facilities, etc. So it is definitely another area where Airbnb is going to grow fast in addition to new developments such as Airbnb Trips and the recently announced Airbnb’s home-hotel hybrid in Florida.”

In conclusion, Voivenel said: “There are lot of areas such as safety, quality and service standards where hotels score over products on Airbnb or even serviced apartments run by small local independent operators. Also, an advantage we hoteliers have is we see the clients and have a direct relation with them which Airbnb or OTAs don’t since their business is virtual and they don’t have people on the ground. Let’s embrace those guests if we are to keep them by offering them great value for money and building relations.”