This year’s Hotel Distribution Event in London saw discussion of the rising role of Airbnb as a distributor, which included positive reaction from a number of representatives of the traditional hotel industry, including Apex Hotels and Starwood Capital Group. They described Airbnb as cheaper than using OTAs when they experimented with the platform to sell their own properties, although the lack of control over pricing and complexity of the tool were mentioned.

The cost of the OTAs was debated hotly, especially value for money offered and the fact that the OTAs were focused on just delivering rooms, but not offering other revenue sources.

OTAs were described as offering 5.6% of global hotel room revenues this year, up from around 2.2% six years ago, and as a potential cost challenge, whereas Airbnb in contrast presents a revenue challenge. Airbnb is described as accounting for around 9% of global hotel room count with the advantage of bringing into the hotel market new customers.

The variety of rooms offered by Airbnb make it easier to travel with friends and family, and for extended stay – requirements the serviced apartment and aparthotel sector can also fulfil.

The conclusion of this article is that Airbnb is disrupting the OTAs probably more than hotel brands themselves, while Amazon, Alibaba and maybe Apple are still to show their own colours.

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