Competition from Airbnb 'unfair' on regulated hotels, event hears

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
3 March 2015

Traditional hotels are not competing on a “level playing field” with property-sharing website Airbnb, a business travel event was told.

Olivia Byrne, owner of the Eccleston Square Hotel in London, said she faced regulation from numerous bodies that the tech company, which enables people to rent private properties, did not.

Speaking at a media event about the future of business travel organised by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Byrne said: “The playing field is not level. I am regulated by government and the council. As a hotel we find it quite unfair that we are competing with an industry that is not as regulated as us. It needs to be more regulated. I think the government needs to make people more aware of what they are buying on Airbnb.”

Marc McCabe, business development lead at Airbnb, responded: “We welcome regulation” adding that “people should have choice”. He said: “We see our place within a travel policy rather than out of it.”

The event was told personalisation would be a key trend in business travel. Nigel Pickford, director of marketing operations and market insight at IT and communications firm SITA, said: “The future is going to be personal. With 97 per cent of passengers carrying mobile devices they want information on the fly while they are travelling.”

However, he said personalisation required data sharing. “Unless industry works collaboratively so data flows where it needs to flow, then this aspiration for a seamless passenger experience will be a challenge,” he said.

Guy Snelgar, head of sales and consulting at Amadeus IT Group, said the biggest challenge the industry faced was the conflict between keeping people within travel policies, while also keeping them happy with the level of personalisation.

The event was also told personalisation required travellers to give up a certain amount of privacy. “There will always be the option not to share data. If you don’t tell us anything about you, we can’t personalise the service,” said Snelgar.

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