When It Comes to Personalized Travel, Big Hotels Could Learn From Their Online Competitors

Yes, the pillow menus might be a nice touch, but is that really all the big hotels can do to personalize their services when competitors like Airbnb and Detour are offering travelers a growing array of customized options?

In a word, “no,” said Gray Shealy, executive director of the Master of Professional Studies in Hospitality Management program at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. In an interview with Greg Oates of the industry website Skift.com, Shealy said that instead of feeling threatened by these new travel platforms, the big hotel companies should be embracing them and creating partnerships that take experiential travel to a new level.

“What Airbnb allows a user to do is really have an accessible localized experience, something that gets rated and reviewed, and something that they can be comfortable with, and maybe a little less price prohibitive,” said Shealy, the former Global Design Director for W Hotels. “People are looking to relate to people in integrative neighborhoods and get away from the touristed restaurant establishments and things like that.”

Airbnb offers travelers ratings and reviews of people they might stay with around the world, sometimes in neighborhoods that are miles from the usual tourist zones.

“It allows people to go into something that they might not normally have done before,” Shealy said. “It allows them to take that leap. Then all of a sudden, they are staying in a neighborhood that hasn’t been previously inhabited by short-term residents like tourists. Suddenly, you have cities adapting the way they’re thinking about how neighborhoods are run, how neighborhoods are laid out, just the way that local small restaurants market to different clientele. I think what’s happening is Airbnb will start to change the fabric of cities in general and the way that small businesses approach authenticity.”

Read the full Skift Article.