Pitfalls of a home-sharing strategy

Despite hotel owners’ fears, the hotel players involved in homeshare tend to dismiss sceptics’ concerns about cannibalization. The audience for vacation rentals, they argue, seeks a different product than the business traveller staying a night or two in a city or the young single looking for adventure on a budget. Hotel companies are eyeing potential vacation destinations that wouldn’t necessarily support a full-blown hotel development. Length of stay is probably the biggest factor that separates demand for hotel rooms versus vacation rentals — hotels average less than two nights; vacation rentals tend to stretch out for seven or more nights.

Hotel companies will be weighing their ability to scale and the potential revenues that homeshare affiliations will yield. Airbnb has already set the bar low, so potential fees from renting out a single home or apartment pale versus the management or franchising fees associated with hotels.

For many companies, it’s hard to justify the economics of investing in the marketing and infrastructure to support something that represents a very small share or revenue for the foreseeable future. One way to mitigate the smaller profit is to focus on the upper reaches of the market and destinations where higher daily rates will yield higher income.

Homeshare owners need some love, too. To be competitive and continue to grow the platform, marketshare and units, companies need to make their products more attractive from the top to the bottom for all constituents, both travellers and owners.

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