When Airbnb takes action, the hospitality industry takes notice. In 2018, the disruptor made waves with Airbnb Plus, higher-end offerings that directly compete with hotels. Luxury hotel brands were stepping into the homeshare arena to compete with Airbnb, and are now making strides in one of Airbnb’s most successful arenas: experiences.
When Airbnb launched its Experiences program in 2016, it was a gamble, but one that seems to be paying off as it has resulted in seven times more bookings year-over-year since 2018. Gartner has observed luxury hotels responding to shifting customer expectations by implementing their own curated experiences and destination guides on site, according to a Gartner L2 report on the topic.
Between 2018 and 2019, Gartner observed a 43% increase in the number of hotels making destination guides accessible from the homepage, and a 31% increase in brands doing the same for curated experiences. These large changes signify a shift in how luxury hotels view the importance of destination guides and experiences to their guests’ overall stay. No longer is it enough to leave a mint on the pillow—hotels must keep guests engaged and entertained in and out of room to keep them coming back.
The experiences landscape becomes particularly muddied for hotels when online travel agencies (OTAs) get in the mix. OTAs have also added experiences and destination guides to their sites, aiming to become a one-stop-shop for travelers to book everything they need for their upcoming trip. TripAdvisor even redesigned its website in 2018 to put more of a focus on experiences and travel content, rather than hotel bookings. Hotel brands are also trying to weave in experiences throughout the booking process, as Gartner observed luxury hotels integrating destination guides and experiences not only on the homepage, but on property pages and room results.
As user’s expectations for experiences grow, luxury hotel brands’ integration of such resources gives users the option to build their itinerary and keep luxury hotel sites competitive with OTAs and Airbnb.