Come one, come all this summer 

Here’s the issue with peer-to-peer lodging and the hotel sector: there’s loads of it consuming guests who might otherwise stay in hotels, but when hotels do it, it doesn’t make them money.

‘Arghhh’ as one might say while screaming into a pillow. Not to put screams into the mouth of Marriott International, but we heard last week from the group’s CEO, Anthony Capuano, that pre-pandemic, the group’s Homes & Villas business was at 2,000 to 3,000 listings, but rose to 57,000 listings at the end of the first quarter.

No screaming yet, but CFO Leeny Oberg added: “This has been a really important part of our overall ecosystem, and when we think about it, 90% of the bookings are from Bonvoy members, and that is just great recognition of the extra strength that it gives our overall system. But from an overall perspective to Marriott, I would not expect for you to see it be a meaningful part of our earnings stream in the near-term.”

So far, so you read it here last week. And even if it’s not making screeds of cash, at least it’s burning off loyalty points which might irritate owners if redeemed in hotels. 

But the test for the sector, as ever with Airbnb, is whether it loses business via the platform. While it isn’t making much money, Marriott is eager to keep those guests who seek whole-home fun close and provide for them. Accor has OneFineStay. Neither of them look to the Airbnber who is seeking a sober price. But they do look to the person who wants to holiday with friends and family and not have to do their hanging out in a corridor.

Airbnb continues to roar on, with its latest results continuing the better-than-ever theme we’ve seen since governments’ approaches to the pandemic started to become less restrictive. CEO Brian Chesky described a guest coming back to cities after their rural retreats and continue to bang the drum about the digital nomad – one in five nights booked were for stays of a month or longer.

At the company’s earnings call, one enterprising analyst asked whether inflation was having an impact on consumer behaviour “maybe, for example, consumer trading down from hotels to home accommodation”.

Sadly for everyone, the question was side stepped to chat about diversity of portfolio in a slick manner that made one wonder whether Chesky was planning to jump ship at some point and head up a global hotel operator, or maybe just buy one.

Past experience and basic economics tells us that when people  – and businesses – have less money to spend, they spend less money. This week Barclays’ economists (UK branch) talked about how there were limits to how far savings could support consumption. This is not great news for those who like to talk about how the apparently huge volume of savings we all built up because we weren’t off down the cinema during lockdown will now be spent in the Maldives. 

So where does this leave the hotel sector, other than hoping that a return to corporate travel will ease its reliance on leisure? Losing guests to Airbnb? 

Perhaps not. Earlier this month Accor announced that it was accelerating its expansion in the all-inclusive market with the launch of its multi-branded All-Inclusive Collection – building upon the success of the Rixos brand. 

Gaurav Bhushan, CEO Accor Lifestyle & Entertainment, Co-CEO Ennismore, said: “The post-Covid travel market is witnessing a renewed desire for leisure stays. Accor’s strategic decision to double down on the all-inclusive segment, the fastest -rowing sector in this market and build upon its success with Rixos, capitalises on this opportunity. The new luxury and premium All-Inclusive Collection, reinforces our business model while increasing our exposure and value proposition for hotel owners.”

All inclusive is one of the trends which were everyone’s cheap thrill pre-pandemic, but about which we haven’t heard too much since, possibly because they’re not, as yet, infested by digital nomads. But they offer that which we all want and don’t tend to get from our electricity bills at the moment: the reassurance of predictability. Even at the luxury end, it’s good to know at the start how much you’re spending at the end. 

The ability to budget, even when things aren’t Budget, is what most of us (those of us who’ve had yachts impounded aside) – need to help us breathe  – and book – more easily. And hey, you don’t have to go to the supermarket and then cook for yourself like those pesky home rentals. It could be this, not aping Airbnb, which heads off a drain in guests this summer.

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