Airbnb’s presence spurs innovation in luxury hotel segment
Friday, June 23, 2017
There is no doubt that Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality sector in a huge way. With the dust settling, we now see that it has also been responsible for spurring a round of innovation and luxury into hotel competition.
Airbnb likenesses have blossomed all over the world, some continuing as small players and some integrating with larger brands.
Companies like Onefinestay set themselves apart by creating a niche, high-end service. Before every booking, the company staff would visit a property and give it a luxury makeover, which led to its nickname "the posh Airbnb."
But it is not just in the realm of alternative accommodations that we see innovation happening. Hospitality innovation can be found in different options from brands at specific luxury price points.
This has prevented larger brands from missing out on "slices" of the market. In some cases, innovation has even generated new demands and created new niches, like mid-level luxury hotels alike Aloft.
For traditional brands, innovation is like oil in their engine, one that will enable them to remain vibrant and active, fight obsolescence and continue intense competition. The advent of Airbnb and its lookalikes, however, means that the term luxury is redefined.
As a Skift report pointed out, luxury in the hospitality sector will be smarter and leaner from 2017 onwards. Travelers will want the opulence, but it will now be combined with a more authentic experience and personalized service.
Major luxury hotels are already rebranding themselves as experiential brands and positioning themselves as the smart hotels of the future. Some, like the Wynn Las Vegas, have equipped each room with an Amazon Echo speaker device.
Others are looking at equipping their properties with robots that will perform all administrative and guest-related tasks seamlessly. The new generation of guests have come to expect smart luxury, and hotels have no choice but to keep up.
As they slowly innovate and change, luxury brands are keeping a wary eye on what Airbnb comes up with next.
High-end luxury hotel the Four Seasons, for example, is particularly worried after Airbnb’s recent acquisition of Montreal-based Luxury Retreats. This move has catapulted the disruptor from the affordable and personalized market right into the luxury rental segment.
Then, there is a super-high end of luxury that is hard to beat. Planet Ocean Underwater Hotels' daring and innovative approach to hospitality may be a new kind of disruptor. It isn’t merely about making a statement or winning the hotel wars.
The underwater luxury boutique hotel range will offer an unparalleled luxury experience, with each pod available for $2,500 a night. This is not just a new frontier in tourism but an effort to save the planet.
The brand plans to invest 5 percent of the construction cost into marine conservation and 10 percent of profits in coral reef restoration — a strategic idea that will attract the new generation of guests who can afford the luxury.
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