Hotel Or Airbnb

Stephen V. Mooney

August 12, 2022

As a hotel development professional, people often ask me how hotels and Airbnb can peacefully coexist, especially after the Covid pandemic. The hotel industry is slowly recovering, but still below 2019 numbers. Airbnb is up 52% in the first quarter of 2022. So which is the better value/experience for consumers? There are a lot of factors to consider and personal preferences to take into account.
Business travelers overwhelmingly prefer hotels, as the amenities are designed for the short term business traveler, especially during the off season. It’s important that a traveler in this case knows exactly what he/she is getting. When the traveler books at Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton for example, they can rest assured knowing what their hotel will be like. The locations are generally great as well.
Airbnb appeals mainly to vacation and holiday travelers staying in excess of 4 – 5 days. Airbnb also appeals to those travelers looking for a bargain and those who want to stay out of the commercial areas. So for the traveler who wants to experience the ‘true ambiance’ of a city, beach or destination location, Airbnb offers a wide variety of options. Additionally Airbnb is clearly less expensive than a similar booking in a hotel.
Here is where the comparison gets a little fuzzy. When staying at a hotel, the traveler has a pretty good idea beforehand what he/she is going to get. Airbnb can range from outstanding to downright bad. Stories of hosts publishing misleading photos, size of the booking and amenities are just a few of the problems. Airbnb has policies in place but it is hard to police from 5,000 miles away. I have friends who loved their experience, and others who say their vacations were ruined. Some are still disputing the cost of their stay months after their stay.
As an example, I recently took a trip to Nice, France. I stayed in two Airbnbs. The first was as advertised, on the promenade looking at the ocean. So that experience was nice. I will say that I missed some of the hotel feel and amenities, but the Airbnb cost 1/3 of the hotels. However, the second stay was a nightmare. A few of the problems; it advertised central air conditioning while in actuality only one room was air conditioned. The AC didn’t work. The ad said ‘steps from the beach’, when in reality it was 3/4 of a mile. On the last day there was no water. I was on the phone and emailing the host and Airbnb constantly. I got little help from Airbnb, and none from the host. So, a good and very bad experience.
My take away is if you are going to use Airbnb, use a Superhost, and read every review. Ask questions before you book. I personally, don’t think I will use Airbnb again unless someone I know has stayed before. I prefer paying extra to know what I am getting.