Happy Christmas (is war over)

And so that was Christmas, and what have we done? Well, if you’re Brian Chesky at Airbnb you’ve gone onto Twitter and asked for ideas (and really, crowd-finding strategy is just what investors were hoping for when they backed that IPO) and decided that what people really want is to pay for stays using crypto.

And haven’t we all run that sort of process? Possibly over Christmas? You want another mince pie, you put it to the suggestions box and rummage around until you find the answer you want? More sensible solutions – an apple, going for a brisk walk, maybe sorting out the disputes function so it doesn’t feel like failed guests are screaming into the wind – just aren’t as tasty.

To be fair to Chesky, crypto was followed by votes for clear pricing displays, guest loyalty programme, updated cleaning fees, more long-term stays and discounts and better customer service. He tweeted that they were “already working on most, will look into others now!”. It wasn’t clear which ones they were working on, but we can take a guess.

So before Chesky leaps onto the NFT platform – although some would say we’ve all had Airbnb stays which were’t really there – back to the rest of the sector and what it’s been up to.

For those looking to stray in and out of Europeland, the festive season came with a side of tests every 12 minutes and the threat of having holidays snatched away at the last minute (Italy, if you were wondering, but Italy via France and therein lies the issue) which gave many of us cancelled-holiday fatigue.

This fatigue, which is typified by the loss of money, followed by a loss of will to book more holidays, is, we hope, something which affects the few and not the many, although it will only serve to fuel domestic bookings, which has provided an essential boost for many hotels and looks likely to enter into a third year. As for the business traveller, answers on Chesky’s postcards please. 

The news from HotStats was that hotels are getting better at coping with the ebbs and lateral flows and, we observe, key to this is flexibility, both of bookings and operations. 

The bookings end is where the OTAs are likely to march all over the book direct argument, as we have discussed before. Show a fatigued guest a chance not to lose all their cash and we will show you someone suddenly loyal to a booking method. This is a USP which the OTAs will trade off if they can and it is worth hotels looking hard at their own booking strategies to see how they can accommodate flexibility. 

In operations, it’s all about when a hotel cannot be a hotel what can a hotel be – see the same for ballrooms, gyms and those restaurants where you eat in the dark by feeling everything up. Hotels have become more nimble and this is great for revenue per square foot, something investors really do like.

So this year expect more Airbnb leaping on trends from a while ago like they’re new, more flexibility from hotels and, could it be? The Quarter of Reckoning? Tom Oakden is looking to the 2022’s critical 60 days for clues. 

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