Airbnb not only for tourists on a budget

IT ISN’T only the budget conscious market that patronizes Airbnb.

Even those who can afford to pay more are also taking advantage of low-priced accommodations listed on the home-sharing website.

Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos) president Alice Queblatin said they are seeing a remarkable shift in travel preferences, with guests now willing to let go of comforts offered by hotels.

Airbnb’s listing, which covers low- to high-priced properties and has a wider coverage, makes booking rooms easier. The home-sharing site offers units for short- and long-term stays across market segments.

“Guests have discovered that there are other options for accommodation,” she said.

But Queblatin noted that hotel rooms priced P3,000 and below are the ones affected by Airbnb.

Specifically, the Airbnb market competes head-on with the two- and three-star hotel segments in capturing the millennial and “staycation” market, according to Colliers International Philippines.

Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu president Carlo Suarez earlier said a condominium unit listed on Airbnb located at the Cebu IT Park in Cebu City offers a daily rate of P1,500 compared to an average city hotel rate of P3,000.

“Airbnb is eating the market of the hotels,” said Suarez, who is also the general manager of Cebu Grand Hotel.

To remain competitive amid the presence of Airbnb, hotels will have to step up the level of service they provide to guests.

Queblatin encouraged hotel owners to invest more in aspects that Airbnb can’t fully provide such as in the areas of safety and security, credibility and sophistication in customer service.

“Hotels have to shape up and improve their value-added services, highlighting their exemplary services in order to lure guests,” said Queblatin, who owns Southwind Travel and Tours.

While travel and tour agencies continue to sell hotel rooms as part of their services, Queblatin said they cannot force their guests if they opt to stay in Airbnb properties.

Founded 11 years ago, Airbnb has dramatically altered the tourist accommodation industry.

It has disrupted the global hotel business by providing alternative options for guests to stay like in penthouses, vacation homes, vacant rooms, condominium units and villas, among others.

Airbnb currently lists 60,000 properties in the Philippines alone. Globally, it has six million listings in 191 countries.

Airbnb’s proliferation, among other disruptions, has pushed industry stakeholders to think of ways to innovate the accommodation sector.

Queblatin, who is the chairperson of the upcoming Tourism Innovation Forum, said one of the discussions will zero in on how Cebu can increase its competitive edge in the midst of digitalization without losing its heart and true character.

The forum slated on June 18, 2019 at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu will also tackle current concerns and at the same time gather stakeholders to address pressing issues.

The committee has tapped Tourism Undersecretary Art Bongcato Jr. as the keynote speaker.


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