Business Strategy

The danger of being comfortable: Hospitality

When it comes to the hotel and hospitality industry, the concept of business security is at best a temporary state, and more likely an illusion. If you are fortunate enough to achieve success, the only way to keep it is to stay one step ahead of the game. How will your business change in one month, one year, one decade? If you aren’t thinking about these things, someone else is.

Perfect case in point – the hotel and lodging industry in Georgia vs. short-term rental companies. As we’ve seen in other places such as New York City, the tech disruptor and unicorn known as Airbnb has completely changed the way people book short-term stays. Conventional business models have taken a huge hit as their target markets opt for more unconventional choices. However, Airbnb and others aren’t in the hotel business much like Uber and Lyft aren’t in the taxi business. They’ve created their own niche, which just so happens to be stealing the hotel industry’s audience. Here are a few of the stars in this new space.

Airbnb was founded in 2008 out of San Francisco, California, and has since accrued over 40 million guests in 34,000 cities as part of 1.5 million listings worldwide. As of March 2015, Airbnb was raising a new round of funding that will place the company at a $20 billion valuation. They differentiate themselves by offering easy-to-use technology that offers a positive experience time and time again. Airbnb knows that the booking and reservation process is the bread and butter of their service, so they pay special attention to keeping their technologies current and engaging. When you use their applications as a renter or a host, it feels comfortable and welcoming.

FlipKey began as a startup and was acquired in July of 2008 by TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is the biggest vacation website in the world with 60 million members and more than 150 million reviews and opinions. FlipKey features 300,000 vacation homes located in over 11,000 cities throughout the world. They boast the largest collection of authentic guest reviews and photos in the industry. Their marketing differs from the rest they take a specific focus on the vacationing customer with imagery of high-profile destination locales.

HomeAway was founded in 2004 as CEH Holdings. The company acquired several sites and consolidated them into a single vacation marketplace, launching in June 2006. Their marketing can be perfectly summed up with their tagline “let’s stay together,” targeting groups and families. They take pride in including kids as part of the decision making process in finding the perfect rental. The biggest stress when traveling with a large group is usually accommodation price and convenience. HomeAway disrupted the market by offering a family and group experience in a home-like atmosphere, away from home. They are able to solve this problem by securing properties that are able to house a larger number of people.

Tech disruption isn’t news. It happens every day to many unsuspecting, comfortable people. The question is, how do you keep up?

First, think technology. Examine how your business fits in the web and mobile space. How can you utilize these tools to increase your bottom line? Think outside of the box. Be innovative. Think like your customer in five or more years. The answers lie beyond what you are currently experiencing as a typical day-to-day.

Second, what are your competitors doing? Maybe even more important, what are your competitors not doing? Don’t just look at similar business models on a statewide level; examine the most successful businesses around the country in your field. Once you find a few that you admire, examine how they could be even better.

Third, invest in your ideas. After you’ve spent adequate time researching and planning, take action. This is the only way to truly move forward. The most exciting part is that when one idea takes life, more inevitably follow. These are good modern-day business habits and practices. The more educated risks you take, the better you become at finding the future of your business.

Don’t become another hotel losing business to the charming house down the street. Embrace change and take on a pioneer role in your industry. Instead of becoming disrupted, become a disruptor. If you have a technology idea that could change your business, we would love to help you explore your concept.

By Jen West