AccommodationNZ general manager, Rachael Shadbolt encourages accom operators to focus on their unique offerings this summer, and forget about Airbnb comparisons.
As we head into another strong summer season I hear a lot of sage comments like, ‘if you can’t make money in this environment you are doing something wrong’ or ‘make hay while the sun shines, for it will surely end soon’.
Both comments have some merit, as we all know that when the industry is up, in general, the majority enjoy the increased business. We also know that everything comes in cycles and at the moment we are on the positive side of that cycle.
Increased visitors and tourism spend aside, there are still a lot of players in the accommodation market wanting a piece of the visitor pie including those that we categorise as non-commercial operators aka, holiday houses and the relatively new disruptor on the block, Airbnb. With over 1,000 commercial accommodation members including hotels, motels, apartments and such, you will appreciate that opinion on how best to handle the issue of commercial vs non-commercial accommodation is wide and varied.
What we all agree on, some rather begrudgingly, is that holiday houses and Airbnb are here to stay and they are an important part of the visitor product offering.
In fact if we are really honest, holiday houses and couch surfing has always been part of the kiwi holiday offering. The internet has simply made this sort of accommodation offering much easier to access, particularly for the international visitors.
From a commercial accommodation perspective, what the industry wants is a fair playing field. Especially so when it comes to local rates and the levels of compliance, to ensure guest safety, that non-commercial accommodation providers currently don’t have to abide by.
Talking at a member forum recently, one of our members lamented that the industry has been talking about this issue for years, so why haven’t we fixed it yet? As we all know, advocating for anything at a local and central government level is a long game, but we have stamina and we are slowly chipping away at the issue.
In the meantime, rather than looking at all the things a holiday house offers that your product might not, look at what your unique point of difference is. What is it that attracts people to your property?
Not everyone wants to stay in a holiday house nor do they want to sleep in someone’s spare room. Motels offer the convenience of cooking facilities and a park at the front door in some of the best locations in the country while hotels offer that little bit of luxury – who doesn’t love room service.
A hotel, motel or holiday park that offers a pool or a playground for the kids wins brownie points with me every time. So rather than looking at what the non-commercial neighbour up the road is doing, focus on what truly matters – looking after your business and providing the best possible service to visitors so that you are their first choice next time they visit.