The concept of a hotel has been around since the dawn of time. In early civilizations there were many establishments that offered varying degrees of hospitality to weary travellers and that tradition has continued and grown into a massive global industry with hotel chains offering the best in comfort and hospitality and all trying to outdo each other in attracting the customers.
However, has this once mighty and unassailable business about to meet its end? Are places such as the Hilton, Four Seasons and Park Hyatt going under? Well, they’re not in too much trouble at the moment but they may actually be seeing a decline in their fortunes due to the number of ways that people can secure accommodation in other countries now.
Hotels today are in the position of having to compete with several other sites such as AirBnB, Couchsurfing and StayMyPlace. These are websites who offer something different for the discerning traveller. Travellers today aren’t generally as picky as they used to be, especially about accommodation, the phrase “Just need a place to get my head down” is so often heard when people are thinking about travelling to another country. These travellers need just the bare minimum in accommodation so they can spend their money on other things in their desired location.
Sites like Stay my Place offer travellers the chance to rent accommodation directly from the renter and at an extremely low rate too. These places range from the typical granny flat to a penthouse apartment overlooking somewhere like Sydney Harbour. This has many of the hotel chains in an uproar about the quality of such an arrangement but for the low budget traveller this is exactly the sort of thing they’ve been looking for. These sites just act as a listing for the person wishing to seek or rent accommodation and they can choose to accept payment in many forms.
This convenient solution is costing these global hotel chains a lot of business each year but there’s not much they can do about it and many of them choose to ignore it as they rely heavily on people with higher standards when it comes to where they rest and many of these people want to be pampered in a luxury hotel.
Hotels such as the Hilton have been established so long that they can weather the storm of these sites so their losses have to be taken on the chin and shrugged off in board meetings as an acceptable fact. These hotels rely on the rich and the big business corporations for their profits anyway and it’s highly unlikely that a company such as Apple will suggest their senior staff search the web for a couch to sleep on if they have to make a business trip out of the country.
The global hotel chains are fine for now but that could all change if something drastic happens. The hotels that are suffering are the independent hotels, they’re losing a huge chunk of business to these websites and some are even being forced to close. Many keep on top of things by offering discounted room rates and special offers such as two for one and things like that. There’s also business being lost to the furnished property market, which is essentially the same thing as couchsurfing and AirBnB.
If the hotel chains are suffering, they’re doing it quietly as to not scare off any potential customers but many tourists today are not as fussy as they used to be, they don’t mind sleeping on the sofa of a complete stranger, that’s been properly reviewed first, of course. Of course, many people may find the prospect of staying with a complete stranger quite daunting, what if they turn out to be mad or dangerous? The same could be said about these global hotel chains, in fact, many people will say their prices are mad but that soon could change.