The Future of Airbnb: Impact on The Hotel Industry And on Our Cities

25 October, 2015
  • 5 min read
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What are the consequences of the success of peer-to-peer travel for our industry? What will be the impact on our cities? And how does this phenomenon change the behaviour of our guests? These questions are addressed in a scenario study by Albert Boswijk (European Centre for the Experience Economy) and Jeroen Oskam (Hotelschool The Hague). Together with industry stakeholders and tourism experts they seek to explore plausible developments in the area of Airbnb and other peer-to-peer travel for the next five years.

Airbnb is usually categorised, along with initiatives as small jobs marketplace Taskrabbit, ridesharing platform Lyft or with Couchsurfing, as an example of the ‘Sharing Economy’. But is that appropriate for a company that offers more accommodation than the established hotel chains and with an expected number of 80 million bookings (booked nights) in 2015?

It seems safe to assume that peer-to-peer travel will have a lasting impact on our industry, especially now that Airbnb has started to target the business market. In this latest research project, under the title “Beyond Airbnb”, the opinions and insights of innovators and industry leaders from the Dutch hotel industry were discussed as the starting point for scenario planning: about what has changed already, which further shifts are imminent and what uncertainties lie ahead.

The conclusions drawn in these first discussions were that, whereas everyone until now pretended to do so, hotels are now obliged to really focus on the guest experience. Business and real estate values may be partly determined in the future by the evaluation of guest experiences. If Airbnb shows how tourists seek authenticity, hotels too may want to get a more “local” profile and seek to facilitate the contact between guests and between guests and others. This will mean that the hotel room becomes less important, while public spaces deserve more attention.

According to the participants, hotel companies will turn into technology businesses that allow more space for culture and creativity. Existing buildings will be preferred over specific hotel installations. As a countertrend, it was also recognised that there will always be a market for low-cost matrass storages.

As for the consumer side, the first expectation is that numbers will grow. Lower rates will lead to increased visitor numbers. This will be true especially for visitors from emerging markets, who will have their own specific expectations for the offer. Generation Y visitors will contribute to a blend of work and private lives; they may not want to stay in hotel meeting rooms. Also the senior hotel guest may have different expectations, and some may even become technology averse.

Airbnb and other peer-to-peer sites will diversify the accommodation offer in our cities. Tourism will also increasingly concentrate on city destinations, while the differences between cities become more diffuse. In cities, tourist spend will be spread also towards the peripheral, non-tourist neighbourhoods. At the same time, social differences in cities may increase; if residences become a source of income, it will become more attractive to invest in popular locations.

At this moment, the research is being extended to a broader panel. The following questions are being submitted to the participants:

  1. How do you believe Airbnb will develop in the next five years?

  2. Do you see new players enter this market?

  3. Which regulatory measures do you expect to become generalised in the next five years?

  4. What will be the main disruptive force in hospitality in the next five years?

  5. Which strategic reaction do you expect in the next five years in the hotel industry?

The research outcomes, including recommendations for business strategies, policy decisions in cities and other public bodies as well as forms of regulation, will be published shortly.

Are you interested in participating in this study or in sharing your views and opinions? Please contact us at

Find the Dutch version of this article in Hospitality Management.


About the author

Jeroen Oskam

From March 2015, Jeroen Oskam is appointed as the Director of the Research Centre. In this role, he is responsible for the further advancement of research at Hotelschool The Hague. Hotelschool The Hague’s ambition is to bridge the gap between what is being researched in the academic world and how hotel companies, professionals and students can benefit from these insights. In addition, the Research Centre will concentrate on a small number of lines of research, key strategic issues within the hospitality sector for the next five years. Hotelschool The Hague will conduct research on these lines on an international level.

Jeroen has many years of experience in hotel management as well as research. He worked as Director of MBA Hotel and Tourism Management at Hotelschool Maastricht and he continued his way to Spain, where he established Zaragoza Hotel Management School. In recent years Jeroen had set up the European Tourism Futures Institute for Stenden University. He was part of the Management Team of CELTH (Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism and hosptality), a collaboration between NHTV Breda, Hogeschool Zeeland and Stenden. He is also a lecturer at the EADA Business School in Barcelona.

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