The “collaborative accommodation” site is hot in the conversation of hoteliers, but also worries other commercial tourist accommodation. And for good reason. It is a phenomenal success. But as always in new threats, Airbnb gives substance to all kinds of misinterpretations and condemnations, most of them gratuitous.  

Airbnb has become a juggernaut among tourism operators … no one doubts it, but also, no one had seen it coming either . In a previous fundraiser, which brought its total valuation to more than $ 20 billion, Airbnb had equaled in value that of the Marriott hotel group ($ 20.90 billion – before the next merger with Starwood) and largely exceeded that of the Accor group (10.75 billion).

Timidly created in its beginnings in 2008 in San Francisco, Airbnb today claims – barely 7 years after its creation – more than 35 million travelers who have already used its services, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

If Airbnb, with its catchphrase “Welcome home” , is paradoxically not yet profitable in terms of operations, its turnover has more than tripled in the space of two years: from 250 million to 850 million dollars, according to unofficial figures.

Airbnb takes “only” 3% of the amount of transactions from owners and between 6 and 12% from renters, much less than what online travel agencies (OTAs) take from hoteliers. It is sure that annoys.

For France, the economic impact of Airbnb sales would induce 13,000 jobs, linked to the income of the hosts and the expenses of the site’s travelers, says the firm, for 3.9 million travelers. She points out that the number of homes available on Airbnb in France now stands at 200,000 , including 60,000 in Paris and Ile-de-France.

If the principle of short-stay rental of apartments and furnished houses from private to private is anything but new and if Airbnb is far from being alone in this market, it has become the “fridge” of the sector (the reference brand ), even though other operators are older or better adopted in other countries (House Trip, Wimdu, HomeAway, Abritel, etc.).

In 7 points , here is what we can learn from our own analyzes about Airbnb, while remaining as objective as possible (it is not a question of being for or against it):

1) – Airbnb, new scapegoat and Turkish head? It is undeniable that its formula is very popular with the public and of course with the owners (the “hosts” as they are called at Airbnb) to help them put butter in the spinach, or even more. This success puts the other commercial accommodation providers in turmoil: hoteliers first and foremost who have decided, with their professional organizations, that Airbnb should become their fat target of the moment… to be cut down.

The operator is also the (somewhat easy) pretext to justify all the misfortunes of the hotel sector. When we see the slightest drop in occupancy rates, we accuse it of being the cause. After Booking, here is Airbnb designated as public enemy N ° 1.

The operators of tourist residences, holiday villages and even hotel-clubs are also very worried about the phenomenon; right or wrong. What is successful, especially coming from unexpected or disdained outsiders, always worries. Since we do not understand why and by what keys to success this feat was so rapid.

And even more so when you do n’t know how to imitate it for want of knowing the limit r. In short, Airbnb is the one of the day that we love to hate.

2) – Why such a success? It is quite easy to understand. Airbnb’s Internet offer model is attractive, surrounded by numerous guarantees and commercial security for owners and customers. Its popularity is legitimate. Its site is reassuring, practical and lively. And the traveling clientele really likes to discover new and sometimes original types of accommodation. The “at home” convinces.

Old dusty tourist furnished apartments, like grandpa, are outdated. Airbnb and its colleagues swept it away in a sneeze. They brought everything up to date, conquered a new audience, with little slippage in terms of quality in the end.

There is even very often much more modern and better thought-out equipment than in hotels, at the initiative of the owner-hosts and for a reasonable price: powerful WiFi (at all times), good television offer, exceptional bedding, decor warm, cozy comfort and sometimes an attractive view from a balcony where you can dine.

Moreover, the “like at home” is already copied by many hoteliers and chains. When it is not in their rooms (lack of time and funding), it is in the lobby, with food corners, small cozy lounges and decorative antique objects placed here and there.

3) – Professionalization? Initially, it was a question of providing tourists with a nice property for a cumulative maximum of a few weeks of rentals per year. It is done like an art of living, with a collaborative and warm spirit, almost militant between “people having the same values”.

The increase in the number of multi-owner rental companies (with at least 2 homes in ads) somewhat undermines this initial spirit of good-natured concept, even if they still remain in the minority.

Mutli-owners are only 7% in France, according to Airbnb, and around 20% more especially in Paris, according to an independent analyst, Tom Slee. In any case much less numerous than what the hotel unions want to believe to accuse the operator of unfair competition. This case will have to be dealt with under pressure from the public authorities; the sites will have to clean up to “deprofessionalize” the offer, according to the legislation on this register in the different countries.

But, this does not fundamentally change the reality of the service and its good conformity with customer expectations.

4) – Unfair competition? Hotel unions in various countries are crying foul and denouncing Airbnb as a competitor earning its money on their backs, without undergoing the same operating conditions, the same regulations, the same charges and the same fiscal constraints as hoteliers.

We can only agree with them if we remember that when we employ staff (which is rarely necessary in furnished rentals), we must declare it and pay the charges that go with it. The same goes for income taxes (on condition that you can also deduct from your income the costs related to rentals), collection of tourist taxes (when they exist in the municipalities) and mandatory declaration of the property / of activity in town hall (French law).

However, we do not see how and why we should impose on “guests” other regulations specific to the hotel industry (same fire safety standards, for example).

The approach of hotel unions here and there can be understood so that rules are openly imposed on rental companies. But to want other competitors to have the same regulatory constraints as the hotel industry is nonsense. Hoteliers would do better to seek relief from theirs.

It is as if a motor handicapped person wants all healthy people to move like him with crutches or a wheelchair! Do we ask a bicycle to be as secure as a car?

In addition, even if they deny it, professional organizations give the impression that they would like to kill Airbnb and company (as before tourist residences, guest houses, etc.). Finally, it is their fantasy.

Here is a corporatist action (one more) which stains the image of hoteliers with the media and the general public, and which classifies the sector as a backward-looking one, incapable of seeing the world change …

The hoteliers’ problems first come from themselves. The Committee never ceases to point out that they are first and foremost the artisans of their own misfortune (poor or non-existent marketing, aging of the offer, inability to find financing and insufficient equity capital, etc.).

Even the Parisian palaces, without laughing, accuse Airbnb of taking clients from them when we can see that the luxury offer is quantitatively insignificant in this sector of collaborative accommodation. The hotel industry needs to be questioned , if only to make customers want to continue to choose it. And it is not by eliminating competitors and para-competitors – as long as this is possible – that customers will return en masse to hotels (assuming they have deserted them – see below).

In any case, the public wants and demands diversified accommodation according to their reasons for staying. He now enjoys diversity and the Internet effectively shows him everything that exists.

5) – Misappropriation of hotel customers? The assumption – which has become a peremptory assertion – that Airbnb (and company) takes clients from hotels is for the momentcompletely unfounded. No offense to those who have built an argument on this subterfuge.

No study has been done here or there with customers to demonstrate this. For the moment, there is only a very questionable analysis on the city of New York (paid for by the hotel association, therefore not at all impartial) which only presents the rise of Airbnb in the city without addressing any quantified a possible fall in the activity of the New York hotel industry, while asserting without proof and without demonstration that Airbnb would have taken customers.

However, a press release dated January 2016 from the mayor of New York City fully thwarts this study of convenience: “With nearly 6,000 additional rooms since 2014, hotel demand in New York recorded 4% growth reaching a record total. of 33.7 million overnight stays in 2015, or 1.26 million more hotel nights sold compared to 2014 “. So all is well for New York hoteliers, and Airbnb apparently isn’t eating their noses. Disinformation always ends up being unmasked.

On the Place de Paris, despite the strong growth of Airbnb in recent years (from 35,000 to 50,000 units available depending on the time of year in Intra-Muros), the volume of demand towards the Parisian hotel industry is still maintained to around 37 million overnight stays per year , for an occupancy rate which flirts continuously and insolently with 80% (source Insee, the only reliable one).

So, we cannot say without lying or without being mistaken that para-competitors (Airbnb and others) would have had a negative impact on the frequentation of the Parisian hotel industry, nor that the latter would go badly (except the one-off period). after the attacks of January and November 2015).

The same is true with the French hotel industry (all regions combined) which has been steadfast in recent years with around 198 million overnight stays (source Insee). The industry has even seen an increase of 3.3% of overnight stays in accumulated at the end of 3 th quarter 2015.

The 200,000 homes available at Airbnb should however cause mayhem compared to the 600,000 rooms in the hotel industry. It is not so. The hotel industry, overall, is not losing overnight stays. 

We can therefore think legitimately and logically from this quantified observation that collaborative accommodation produces an additional tourist clientele in destinations , without withdrawing any from others.  

6) – Additional and new clientele? In fact, it seems that a lot of people are opting for a homestay rental (via Airbnb and others) deciding on a destinationthey would not have come otherwise. The online offer arouses envy and the type of accommodation is part of the choice.

By analogy, whoever wants to visit the Florida Everglades by Airboat, will only do so if he finds this type of Hovercraft machine at his disposal. He will not trade it for a canoe, even if it means not going there. Anyone who intends to go to Amsterdam and only stay at home on a “like at home” basis will only do so if they can find this type of accommodation there. The destination is then to be associated with the type of accommodation, which will often not be interchangeable with hotels, for example.

It would appear that the public who chooses these types of tourist accommodation are not natural customers of the hotel industry or they are through other reasons and occasions of stay (business trips, for example). In the meantime, speculations and assumptions are rife on the subject.

It remains clear that Airbnb does not take clients from the hotel industry.

7) – What is the government doing? The government is uncomfortable with Airbnb and its colleagues because it is aware that this isan influx of additional customers, as we estimate and as Airbnb asserts. And not a diversion of customers to professional hosts. He also knows that the formula appeals and does not generally deceive tourists.

And then, we will have to reach the 100 million foreign tourists wanted for 2020 ! And all is good for that.

The public authorities will mainly have to settle the declarative and fiscal aspects (including tax evasion). The complaints of neighbors seeing tourists parade day after day in their building will also be an issue to be addressed. But, it is obvious that there is no need to go in the outrageous direction of what the professional hotel organizations claim. The government is therefore seeking to protect the goat and the cabbage.

The aim is not to discourage homeowners and to avoid reducing the supply of apartments and houses for individuals. Especially, if we consider that it is mainly of quality and, once again, that it is suitable for tourists in a particular spirit of the art of living.

As for the hoteliers, they will have to find other faces of Turkish – but they will not miss it. Questioning themselves and modernizing their offer and their commercial practices, that would already be that.

In the meantime, no one knows anything about Airbnb, about its customers, about the reality of its activity. So we misinform, we lie, we interpret what should not be and we invent. This is not how the economy progresses.

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