March 26, 2019 | Hospitality News | 4 min read

A recent survey by The GO Group identifies two key reasons travellers are booking short-term rental accommodations through HomeAway, VRBO and AirBnB

As if the hospitality sector weren’t competitive enough, this survey shows traditional short-term rental venue offerings are now under pressure from new competitors.

Even as hotel properties are looking to diversify their guest offerings, travellers are increasingly voting with their wallets for a more welcoming home-like environment for their vacation stays.

Corporate Is Losing Out to Home Comforts

A high-ceilinged Airbnb living room with exposed walls and a firepalce. Source: /u/Agent_Oranged

Thanks to the emergence of the pioneering AirBnB model, there is a growing preference amongst holidaying guests for comfortable home environments. The appeal of an anonymous corporate hotel room with limited amenities is waning as more and more guests gain first-hand experience with AirBnB-type accommodation.

The survey consisted of 343 travelers. It revealed 31 per cent of travellers surveyed had used short-term rentals at least once. Of those travellers, 16 per cent perceived the accommodations as being more spacious, while a further 15 per cent saw the short-term rentals as generally being more comfortable than conventional hotel or motel room alternatives.

A further 34 per cent based their decision to opt for AirBnB -type accommodation on lower prices compared to more traditional hotel or motel room experiences.

Only 3 per cent said they chose a short-term rental due to lack of availability of hotel or motel rooms.

Guests That Travel Together Prefer To Stay Together

One of the clear motivating factors emerging from the study is space. Short-term rentals can be a single room, an apartment or even a large spacious house.

This space factor is a major attraction behind the emergence of the AirBnB model particularly if a large group of people or an extended family is travelling together.

Rather than the high cost of booking a hotel suite, an AirBnB property provides them with more flexible options. Consider it for a moment; instead of breaking up the group into separate hotel rooms, everyone can stay under one roof in a house or an apartment.

A bright, airy Airbnb bedroom

Source: /u/joelpricesd

Even if space is not a significant issue, an AirBnB property provides many of the familiar comforts of home, giving guests a sense of staying in a home away from home.

Emerging Trend Or Long Term Threat?

The survey identified two reasons people are choosing to abandon traditional hotels for their holidays and it is not because hotel rooms are in short supply.

While the survey results indicate only a small portion of travellers are presently regularly staying at short-term rentals, the potential is there for this trend to eat into already hard-pressed hotel occupancy rates.

In the last two years, only 5.5 per cent of all the survey participants indicated they stayed at a short-term rental five times or more. Based on these numbers, the hotel industry needn’t be hitting the panic button just yet.

However, of those survey respondents who had experienced a short-term rental, 69 per cent said they were likely to do so again. It is this potential high repeat frequency that should give hoteliers cause to pause and reflect.

A colourful Airbnb kitchen with timber cupboards

Source: /u/morrisonismydog

With only 6 per cent of short-term stay guest indicating they would not try it again, the potential impact of this trend is significant over the medium to long-term.

Other factors nominated by survey participants about their experience indicated the importance convenience played in choosing a venue, both in terms of the booking process and in the rental location. Many AirBnB properties are often are in areas where hotel or motel accommodation is unavailable.

One underrated aspect of the AirBnB model is it prompts you to be more adventurous. That sense of adventure was what initially made travel the phenomenon it is today and is sadly lacking in most of today’s hotel experiences.

Final Observation

Short-term rentals are becoming increasingly popular as people become more comfortable with the concept and opt to bypass the often dull, uninspired soulless corporate hotel rooms in place of opting for more space, greater home-style comforts and all at a cheaper price point. If you have ever stayed in an AirBnB, you will know many of them are fabulously delightful. However, just like other aspects of real life, when booking an AirBnB property, you have to do your homework, conduct your research diligently, take the time to read the reviews and check out the pictures. This extra level of work required on the front-end is why the hotel model isn’t going away any time soon, but hoteliers can still take plenty of learnings from the success of short-term rentals.