This new threat to the hotel industry is not just about price because the accommodation app also touts authentic experiences in its host cities. So much so, the platform launched its own brand of local tours, Airbnb Experiences, in 2016. At the Buy Tourism Online conference in Florence, in November 2017, Airbnb reported more than 8,000 bookings per week as well as receiving over 1,200 requests a week from hosts for new Experiences.
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Thailand is one of the world’s premier holiday destinations, thanks to its abundance of attractions, and its tourism industry contributes over 1 7 per cent of national GDP, and generates 2.5 trillion baht (HK$588 billion) for the domestic economy.According to Krungsri Research’s December 2017 hotel industry outlook for 2018 to 2020, Airbnb has proliferated and accounts for 10 per cent of total keys in the nation’s five main tourist destinations, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. However, its impact has not been significant, the research says, although it notes that this is subject to change as customer preferences shift to more authentic, local experiences.
In an age where an accommodation sharing app can take a significant chunk of hotel industry revenues, hotel operators therefore have learned the importance of providing an authentic experience to guests. Large brands are striving to strike a balance between their well-established but uniform image and the authenticity of their properties’ locations. Small and local brands are also improving their competitiveness.
Chalisa Charoensantisuk, sales coordinator of Samujana, a 27-villa property on Koh Samui, says: “There are a lot of individual villas available on Airbnb that also offer amazing views, but we have the advantage of being organised with full- service staff. [If] something breaks down in the individually operated properties, it might take a while to get fixed, but we have maintenance people on site to respond to these requests immediately.”