Airbnb is not against the hotels, it is the new distribution channel.

Airbnb is not against the hotels, it is the new distribution channel.

Independent hotels which fit in the Airbnb ethos are very likely to go this route. With the distribution power of Airbnb, who can blame them?

Hospitality analysts have been talking about the negative impact of Airbnb’s alternative solution of lodging to the hotel industry,but maybe they are missing the point.

Airbnb is having an impact to the hotel market.Boutique hotels are feeling the pressure,and chain-scale brands are revisiting the amenities wars of the past (responsible for increasing the operating costs in the industry over the past two decades).Even so,it is clear that the “spare room” lodging alternative will never be an appropriate solution to many of the stay occasions/reasons for travel which drive hotel revenues today.There is a market for this offering, but it is not a universal one.

Retail websites' designers no longer try to build a better shopping process.It could be done, but the effort would be wasted because taught us all how to shop online.Today, winning digital retailers work from the process diagram & flows used by and try to differentiate with product selection, content, service, or pricing.Building an entirely new “add to cart/checkout” process simply causes confusion.

Airbnb is doing the same thing with millions of travelers each day.They are teaching people how to shop for lodging and what services to expect in a democratized environment that creates comfort with a very uncomfortable concept, like sleeping in a stranger’s home.Adding traditional hotel inventory into this process will be simple and is a logical extension of their service offering just as Amazon was able to extend their offering to more and more adjacent categories in rapid fashion over their 20 year history.

It is no longer a question of whether hotel rooms will be sold on this new channel,it is a question of who will be first. Independent hotels, seeking more affordable sources of demand and alternatives to high-cost and low-margin OTAs, will begin testing the channel within the next few months. Smaller chains should follow soon after.Within 18 months, one of the major chains will announce a partnership that includes listing significant inventory for sale on the site.

While this will not drive any new long-term share gains for hotels, the first movers will be able to capitalize on travelers who are intrigued by what they’ve heard about the core Airbnb service but simply can’t pull the trigger and run away to the safety of the tried and true bed-bath-TV combo of a traditional hotel room.