I would say do both.
- Airbnb isn’t going away.
- They are getting and probably will get, a lot more funding in the future.
- Airbnb renters are basically stealing guests from lodging facilities that are paying rooms & meals taxes, other lodging associated fees and are inspected. (Although realistically if your room rates are over $150 a night, the people that stay in Airbnb rentals are not your target market anyway, they would probably stay in a motel if at all, and they may not be the best guests in the first place.)
- Even if all the lodging associations, hotel, motel, B&B etc. banded together to combat the growth and growing market share, it (sadly) realistically probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
- If towns/cities and Airbnb get laws passed that renters are supposed to pay taxes (and enforce it) then it does indeed become even great competition, I forsee that that’s going to happen, so better wiser and prepare now for it.
In a twisty sort of way, competition is good, it causes people to analyze their own marketing and up their game. Yes time is always an issue, especially for innkeepers, but business and business marketing is always changing, and if you volunteered to own your own business, you signed up for it.
What innkeepers can do:
Get into the Frenemy camp
I am not saying if you can’t beat them join them, but more take advantage, instead of letting them take advantage of you.
List your rooms on Airbnb (it is free)
Observations and Suggestions:
You have to list rooms as separate listings, you can do that under one account.
Many B&Bs are choosing to not list every room, just the ones that are on the lower end of their room rate spectrum.
Just like on your website, good pictures are VERY important. (Including the photo of your selves as hosts, I have heard from people that scary/unprofessional host photos are a detraction for getting bookings and a good bio is very helpful.)
You can get a Airbnb photographer to come and take good pictures for you. (Disclosure, I (shamefully) did a brief stent as a Airbnb photographer a few years ago before they became such a threat to the industry) so I know two things, one, there is generally a waiting list for photographers and it can take a LONG time to get the pictures online, and two (more importantly), the pictures are owned by Airbnb, you can NOT use them for your own purposes off the site in other places. So I’d recommend using your own or your photographers.
Just like on your website, list ALL your amenities and make (BIG) mention of delicious breakfast being included.
The best listings I have found, from B&Bs and the (ahem illegal renters) are ones that have a fairly extensive list of area activities. Think of the content here as what you would put on a good directory.
Examples of inn listings
It’s difficult to find other B&B listings within Airbnb for comparison, but once your listing is in the system, it will give you a list (down to the right) of other local B&Bs listed.
As people find other B&B listings I’d appreciate it if people could send me the links as I am still doing information gathering for what are best practices to put in text wise. I tend to think Airbnb is doing this deliberately (not making search easy).
- Find out your local laws and keep on the lookout for illegal renters and report.
- Keep an eye out for news that dings Airbnb, this morning was a perfect example of over 20 news outlets reporting on rentals being used for nefarious purposes. If I was an inn I’d have a lot of fun with this one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/14/prostitutes-renting-airbnb-apartments_n_5147910.html Imagine if all the B&Bs just in America posted this (or similar) on their social media sites? Granted it’s not going to make much of a dent in Airbnbs market, but even if a few people read the articles and go “Ewwww” like I did this morning, that’s a few more people that are more likely to stay in an inspected and honest tax paying facility.
- If you post on social media, highlight what makes an inn better then an Airbnb rental, and post often, I can think of hundreds of reasons and it’s not even a stretch. #1 high on the list of course is your fabulous breakfasts (from inspected kitchens BTW). If people want cheerios at an Airbnb rental, again probably not your target guest anyway.
One final thing, I’d love to see enough B&Bs jump all over Airbnbs listing service and beat them at their own game. Think about hijacking (so to speak) a free (as opposed to paying $500+ a year to B&B.com) for our own use. Things to muse on, no?