Can Airbnb and Google Disrupt the Hotel Distribution Industry?

Airbnb and Google logos
Can Airbnb and Google Disrupt the Hotel Distribution Industry?

Two online heavyweights are introducing additions to their platforms that might turn the industry upside down, ultimately causing a disruption of leading OTAs and other travel distribution companies. The news from Airbnb can’t be a surprise. Google, however, might expand beyond our expectations.

Here’s how they plan to change hotel distribution.

Airbnb’s Leap into Hotel Distribution

The unstoppable growth of Airbnb’s inventory has recently been reinforced with hotel rooms. For hoteliers, this is some great news. For OTAs and other hotel distribution channels, not so much. Be it as it may, Airbnb’s executive decision to leap into hotel distribution seems like a long-due logical step.

Unfortunately, not every hotelier is welcome to add rooms to this new Airbnb inventory. If your business has outgrown its early days of independence, this distribution channel won’t be a part of your hotel software for some time in the future, as Airbnb declines all mass-produced hospitality providers.

For the time being, the only hotels that are allowed to list their rooms on Airbnb belong to the independent and boutique categories. If you fall under this bracket, reach out to your hotel channel manager immediately, and have them add the world’s leading accommodation platform to their list.

What This Means for the Industry

If you are a hotelier, your only potential problem with Airbnb’s leap into hotel distribution could be in regard to keeping your prices consistent across different channels. This is something that your hotel channel manager must be informed about too, as it means that your rooms may cost more on Airbnb.

The inconsistency in pricing may happen because of the platform’s distribution fee. Even though Airbnb doesn’t charge as much in comparison to OTAs, the service it now provides to hoteliers might still suffer from guests refusing to pay anything more than the actual room price. So take that into account.

If you run an OTA, things might change for you very soon. Chances are that your distribution fee is higher than Airbnb’s, which is currently 3% to 5%, therefore making you a more expensive alternative to this industry giant. It might be wise to keep track with what Airbnb does and to adjust accordingly.

Google’s Move into Travel Landscape

When it comes to a little thing called customer experience, Google is a tough rival to beat. Staying focused on mobile UX, the engine has introduced a brand new navigation bar and accompanying functionalities for travel search that may revolutionize how travelers plan and book accommodation.

Google will never be your typical hotel distribution provider, but that certainly won’t stop it from empowering its users with convenient tools and options for finding the best and cheapest hotel rooms. At the end of the day, that’s everything that hospitality customers need – a fast, user-friendly solution.

What This Means for the Industry 

As with Airbnb, this opens a world of possibilities for hoteliers. There should be a place for Google hotel ads in all hotel software systems aimed at online marketing, as its mobile-driven travel search guarantees organic visibility. As long as your online presence is SEO-friendly, Google will reward you with traffic.

According to Sojern Global Travel Insights, nearly half of all travel searches conducted in Europe are mobile-based, and these numbers keep increasing throughout the world. Since OTAs can hardly compete with Google in terms of mobile UX, it’s only a matter of when the engine will take the reign.

Does this mean that hoteliers might be able to bypass OTAs and their fees altogether? Unfortunately, this will hardly happen anytime soon. OTAs still have a visibility advantage in search engine’s SERPs, according to a PhocusWire research, thus rendering organic search ineffective for hotels on Google’s metasearch.

Also, let’s not forget that a nice portion of Google’s revenue comes from its paid relationships with travel distribution channels such as Bookings. With this new move, Google is basically going against its largest clients! The engine may choose to thread slowly for now, which gives OTAs the advantage.

Whether or not Airbnb and Google will revolutionize hotel distribution remains to be seen.

They’ve certainly made things easier for a lot of hoteliers by diversifying their options. Anyone except for chain hotels can now list their rooms on the world’s biggest accommodation platform, and anyone with some marketing savvy can try their luck with unpaid reach on the world’s largest search engine. 

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About the Author

Deepak Chauhan – VP (Cloud Solutions)

Deepak is responsible for marketing and positioning of “mycloud” platform and is a veteran in the hotel software industry with over 25 years’ experience giving him a strong understanding of the product requirements in the industry. He has very rare mix of working in operations of various hotels and chains for over 10 years and then co-founding a software product and service company, servicing 5 star hotels and chains for 14 years.

Deepak has led the development and marketing of cloud based hospitality systems to meet the specific, business objectives of small and mid-size properties across the globe and has worked closely with a diverse group of hoteliers and hotel technology vendors.

About mycloud Hospitality

mycloud (award-winning hotel software) has been developed by Prologic First, an independent, private company with over a decade and half’s experience delivering end to end technology solutions to the hospitality industry across the UK, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Prologic First’s “WISH” brand is used across 30 plus countries by over 1,600 clients representing the “who’s who” of the industry. Some of our most popular and most adopted solutions like “WISH”, “Touché” & Web Prol’IFIC. Our technological leaders and best in class solutions in the market place, offering some of the most advanced features to hospitality professionals.