Archives for category: General information

Ascott has opened its first serviced apartments in Hamburg and Hangzhou, as well as a second Ascott-branded property in Jakarta.

The serviced apartment provider will also be launching its first property in Macau at the end of this year, while its second serviced residence offering in Dubai is slated to open in 2017.

It has also spent US$70 million rebranding The Mercer as Citadines Mercer Hong Kong.

Hangzhou

Citadines Intime City Hangzhou

Citadines Intime City Hangzhou is located close to the city’s major business districts and attractions including the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Hangzhou railway station is nearby, while Hangzhou East railway station is a 30-minute drive away and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International airport is an hour by car.

The 104-room property has apartments ranging from studios to two-bedrooms. It also offers amenities such as a gym, café, billiards room, self-service laundry, mini-cinema, children’s play area and breakfast lounge. Free wifi service is available in all rooms.

Citadines Michel Hamburg

Citadines Michel Hamburg

Citadines Michel Hamburg is situated in the city’s business district, a five-minute walk from the Rödingsmarkt metro station. Hamburg airport is a half-hour drive.

The property has 127 rooms, including studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, all with complimentary internet access. Each kitchen is equipped with modern appliances such as microwave oven, refrigerator and dishwasher.

Additional facilities range from breakfast lounge with free refreshments to a fitness room, business corner and meeting room.

Ascott opened its third Citadines Apart’hotel in Germany earlier this year (see news, February 14).

Ascott-Kuningan-Jakarta

Ascott Kuningan Jakarta

Ascott Kuningan Jakarta is located in the city’s central business district, and is a part of Ciputra World 1, a large integrated development consisting of a Lotte Shopping Avenue, an Artpreneur Centre (a museum and art gallery cum theatre) and an office tower.

It takes about 45 minutes to reach the property by car from Soekama-Hatta International airport.

The 185 rooms are a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. There is a kitchen and separate living and dining area, LED TV, bathroom with bathtub and rain shower, and complimentary wifi service.

Facilities include a swimming pool, tennis, basketball and badminton courts, a gym, aerobics room, children’s playground, wading pool, garden terrace, café, resident’s lounge and meeting facilities.

Ascott purchased The Mercer in Hong Kong for US$70 million (HK$545 million), and rebranded the serviced apartment as Citadines Mercer Hong Kong. The revamped property offers 55 rooms ranging from 37 sqm to 63 sqm.

Ascott Macau will open at the end of this year and will be located in the centre of the city, a few minutes away from the Macau Ferry Terminal, Macau International airport and Taipa Island.

1.SR_China_Macau_Ascott-Macau_Facade---HR

Ascott Macau

There will be 110 guest rooms, ranging from 30 sqm to 75 sqm. The kitchens in each room will be equipped with a capsule coffee machine, electric kettle, cutlery, microwave oven and refrigerator.

There will also be a gym, indoor heated and outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna room, resident’s lounge, and three restaurants serving Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisines.

The property will have scheduled shuttle bus services to the Macau Ferry Terminal, and resident programmes for guests

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Ascott Culture Village Dubai will open in 2017 within the Dubai Culture Village along the shoreline of Dubai Creek.

The apartments will be near to retail and commercial developments including schools, art galleries, performing arts centres and restaurants. It will also be close to the city’s key business and leisure attractions.

There will be 117 rooms, ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, with facilities including a swimming pool, gym and restaurant.

Ascott-Culture-Village-Dubai

Ascott Culture Village Dubai

Lee Chee Koon, chief executive of the Ascott group, said: “In Dubai, there is a growing demand for luxury serviced residences.

“As our first property in the city, Ascott Park Place, has been achieving occupancies of over 80 per cent, having another premier Ascott-branded serviced residence will allow us to cater to the need for luxury serviced apartments and increase our presence in this cosmopolitan city.”

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The world’s leading accommodation website, booking.com, is expanding beyond hotels with villas.com.

The new website was announced at the 2014 Booking.com Global Summit at the company’s Amsterdam headquarters on Tuesday local time.villa in Mauritius

Villas.com is aimed at travellers who are after long-term stays in accommodation that is self-catered and suitable for large groups.
Its main point of difference to similar websites is that travellers are given instant confirmation via email after they’ve made a booking.
It also guarantees availability at a booked property, sparing any headaches with double bookings.

“This is not just another start-up creating more fragmentation in the vacation rental space,” Megan Anderson, Global Head of Villas.com, told media.

“When you book with villas, you’re booking with the world’s largest accommodation provider,” Anderson said, referring to booking.com.
The site is supported by booking.com’s 24-hour customer support team, and travellers won’t be charged credit card or booking fees.
“We see many sites that want to charge you to use the site,” said Anderson. “That’s never going to be the case on villas.com.”

More than 146,600 holiday rentals across 176 countries are listed on villas.com.

The majority of those rentals are in Europe, but Anderson said that will change as they expand.

There are currently 2547 properties available in Australia, in places such as Port Douglas, Byron Bay and Esperance.
There are 330 New Zealand properties listed, in, for example, Wanaka, Napier and Dunedin.

Anderson said the introduction of villas.com was not in response to a fad among travellers to stay in apartment-style accommodation but rather a desire by booking.com to “serve that customer and that segment of the market in a better way”.

Villas.com has a focus on sub-regions, meaning travellers can easily find accommodation outside major city and tourist centres.
Country-specific experts have also provided suggestions on where visitors can go, and the site features holiday ideas as well as a range of search filters, such as pet-friendly accommodation.

source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Though Tripping, a one-time social travel site, has begun to make a name for itself in metasearch for vacation rentals, the start-up has bigger ambitions.Tripping vacation rental

Now it will get a boost with the help of venture capital.

Tripping revealed via a Facebook post last night that it has received a Series A round of financing. The round closed on May 9.

A source told Business Insider that the round was more than $5 million, though the start-up would not confirm the sum.

Tripping, which launched in 2010 [see our TLabs profile], said the investment was co-led by an existing investor, Quest Venture Partners, and a new one, Recruit Holdings.

The later investment was by the RGIP Fund, whose existence Recruit Holdings revealed today. It’s a 4.5 billion yen venture capital fund in Japan.

RGIP says it plans to make additional investments in other travel companies to add to its existing ones in Jalan (one of Japan’s largest travel websites), PegiPegi (Indonesia), Mytour.vn (Vietnam), and TravelBook.ph (Philippines).

A number of other new investors, including former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, Qunar founder Fritz Demopoulos, and NFL athlete Shawntae Spencer, also participated.

Succesful pivot

Tripping has 16 suppliers, such as HomeAway, HouseTrip, Flipkey, Interhome, and Booking.com, and it says this coverage gives its users access to 1 million properties worldwide.

CEO and founder Jen O’Neal said in an interview that the company has a queue of about 40 suppliers that it wants to add to the system.

“There are a ton of regional players in holiday home and short-term rental that don’t have the resources to get distribution visibility, and we’d love to send traffic to them and also deepen our global coverage.”

Until last month, Tripping was a five-person team, though it has now added three more staffers to its offices at 111 New Montgomery in San Francisco.
O’Neal also plans to use the funding to boost marketing spend, to drive more traffic to the site. She says that, up until now, the company hasn’t done more than $1,000-a-month worth of marketing.

She declined to share her company’s traffic or revenue numbers.

Founder’s story

Tripping launched in 2010 as a social travel site connecting local hosts with travelers, a la Couchsurfing. It gained users in 150 countries within 30 days, but it never found a viable revenue model.

O’Neal decided to take her team to Lake Tahoe for an off-site brainstorming session. They tried to rent a place on Airbnb or VRBO. But the research phase was so painful that they gave up and opted for camping in Big Sur instead.

As O’Neal tells it, around a campfire, they realized that bringing the aggregator model to vacation rentals was a potential opportunity. Within 30 days they launched that as their new business plan.
In 2011, they received a seed funding round of $1 million, in a round that included Launch Capital and Tim Draper of DFJ Venture.

This month’s funding comes on the heels of Booking.com’s launch last week of Villas.com, a standalone brand in the market.

O’Neal says that the deepening market work by global brands has a halo effect for the vacation rental industry by helping to build consumer confidence in the concept, which boosts transactions for smaller players indirectly.

Now the big dream for Tripping is to scale. It estimates that the vacation rental market is $85 billion in the USA and Europe alone. Says O’Neal:
“The vacation rental industry is at least 10 years behind the hotel industry when it comes to online distribution.

It still takes an average of nine days to complete the typical vacation rental transaction, outside of metasearch. As one of our interns pointed out, we put a man on the moon in only eight days back in 1969.”

Source: : http://www.tnooz.com

Home-rental start-up Airbnb, recently valued at $10bn, is trying to expand from enabling people to let out their flats or holiday homes to helping their visitors buy and pay for everything from event tickets to travel.

The company’s valuation has quadrupled in the past two years as it brought to life the so-called sharing economy, the linking up of individuals who want to temporarily lend what they own to others willing to pay for it.

The popularity of sharing economy start-ups – including Lyft, the ride-sharing app, and TaskRabbit, a platform for hiring casual labour – has exploded in recent years, as has the venture capital flowing into them.

Lyft

But now, said Nate Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief technical officer, the start-up was looking beyond its roots.

The focus is figuring out how to use the service to sell other products to its millions of users in nearly 200 countries.

“Bottom line, it could eventually be anything, whether you want to book a dinner reservation or plane tickets or whatever we can take your money . . . and we can route it appropriately,” said Mr Blecharczyk. “It’s definitely something we’re actively working on.”

Ultimately, said Mr Blecharczyk, it wanted to offer those who used its service to rent strangers’ homes, or flats, or in some cases igloos, “the convenience that you might expect of a hotel”.

The move into value-added services also comes as the company is fighting legal challenges to its core business, from landlords evicting renters whose leases or zoning codes bar them from sublets and from cities who argue the company should be taxed as are traditional hotels.

Jon Steinberg, BuzzFeed president & COO, weighs in on Airbnb’s $10 billion valuation and the company’s recent $500 million round of funding.
Amid those changes, he said, Airbnb users had taken the initiative to get creative in building on the site’s core business model. One developer in Philadelphia was constructing a block of flats with a unit specifically permitted for short-term vacation rentals.

“There’s probably a lot more opportunity for stuff like that in the future, but we don’t necessarily have to be the driving force behind that,” said Mr Blecharczyk. “There’s a lot of different models you could image even if we don’t do it.”

Behind the company’s move beyond flat-sharing and towards more standard travel services is the ecommerce platform that the site runs on. It can handle nearly 70 currencies – far more than most ecommerce sites – and has credit card or bank information for all of its users.

The growth of ecommerce has spurred companies from Apple to Google to look at ways to take advantage of the banking details they hold for their tens of millions of users. Airbnb, Mr Blecharczyk argued, had an advantage in using its user data to expand the service because it knew when a person was travelling and – because tourists were predictable – what they were likely to want.

While the company had not yet settled on how it would expand its offering, Mr Blecharczyk said, ultimately the expansion itself would help the company figure out where to go next.

“The more stuff that we handle, the more data we’re able to collect about what it is that you are in the market for,” he said.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/

Yesterday news reports revealed that Airbnb was raising $400-$500 million dollars from TPG Capital Management LP at a $10 billion valuation.Airbnb

Unlike many darlings of the startup scene, Airbnb has plenty of revenue coming in. But is there enough to justify a value that puts it above the market caps of Hyatt, Accor, Wyndham, InterContinental Hotel Group, and Choice Hotels, not to mention the public and profitable HomeAway?

A few years ago comparing a vacation or short-term rental company to a hotel brand would have been downright silly. At their extremes, rental sites were electronic bulletin boards while hotels were brick and mortar establishments with lots of employees and dependencies.

But as hotels have moved towards asset-light, brand-centric models where they eschew real estate holdings in favor of managing properties for owners, and companies like Airbnb are eyeing a suite of services that encompass the entire travel experience, the comparison is not so insane.

In an asset-light strategy, hotel brands make money from management contracts and a double-digit share of gross revenues. Airbnb collects fees from the host and the user, and HomeAway offers a mix of plans, from the more traditional subscription to a percentage of each booking. In the end, they all offer the promise of a night’s sleep with a varying array of comforts and amenities. And users discover and book them in much the same way.

What’s a Room or a Listing Worth?

Brand Number of rooms/listings valuation Value of room
Hyatt 147,388   $8.42 billion                            $57,128
Starwood 346,063   $14.97 billion                 $43,258
Hilton 678,630   $21.86 billion                        $32,211
Airbnb(adj)330,000   $10 billion                   $30,303
Marriott 675,623   $16.15 billion                    $23,903
Accor 455,985   $8.55 billion                           $18,759
Airbnb 550,000   $10 billion                            $18,181
Wyndham 600,000   $9.3 billion                    $15,500
InterCont 686,873   $7.93 billion                   $11,545
Choice 500,000   $2.71 billion                        $5,420
HomeAway 890,000   $3.87 billion              $4,348

Who’s on Top

Using some third-grade math, we put a value on each room and listing for the major public hotel companies, as well as Airbnb and competitor HomeAway. Admittedly, there is a bit of comparing apples to oranges here. But understanding which fruit is what helps explain the transition that’s happening.

The number of available rooms held by the hotel chains are disclosed publicly, and they tend to range from single rooms to suites and even to some vacation rentals (at Wyndham and Marriott in particular).

What the Sharing Economy Means to the Future of Travel
Read more about what Airbnb and the sharing economy mean to the future of travel.
A “listing” on a rental website could be for a multi-room house or a bed in a shared room (although that is incredibly rare). They also are not constant. The volume of listings fluctuate by season (summer rentals), opportunity (a big event in town), and need (the host needs to make some extra cash). They may also only be available a few days a week — and can disappear overnight. This is changing, though, as HomeAway and Airbnb are more about professional landlords than one-off hosts.

HomeAway’s number of listings is revealed in public disclosures. The number of Airbnb’s rooms is somewhat of a mystery.The latest number it has shared with media is 550,000 listings. When Skift looked at the New York market, we saw a wide discrepancy — our numbers were 40% less than Airbnb’s numbers — between what it stated on the website and what our data dive revealed. Because of that, we’ve provided both an adjusted number based on a ‘Skift discount’ and one based on Airbnb’s numbers.homeAway

HomeAway has more overnight options than anyone else has rooms or listings, but it’s at the bottom of the pile when it comes to the value of these listings in comparison to its market cap. As HomeAway moves more property managers from a subscription model to a per-night transaction fee, expect this value to increase.

On the flip side, Hyatt does not have the largest market cap (it’s smaller than the Airbnb valuation), but its rooms are worth more than any of its competitors. Starwood and Hilton also appear at the top, with Marriott and Accor sandwiched between the two Airbnb values. Choice Hotels, with its voluminous yet low-budget offerings like Days Inn, brings up the bottom for hotel brands.

 

Source skift.com

Tripping, the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals, just announced a partnership with leading European provider Interhome (it’s not the sole!)

The deal will make Interhome’s 33,000 vacation properties immediately available on Tripping.

The addition of Interhome is a boost for the already massive vacation rental platform, which hosts over 1 million listings across 50,000 cities worldwide.

Tripping currently aggregates properties from major rental sites including Homeaway, Flipkey, Wimdu, Housetrip…

Founded in 1965, Switzerland-based Interhome is the operator of 15 regional subsidiaries and is one of Europe’s premier providers of professionally managed vacation rentals worldwide, with a concentration of listings in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

“Partnering with Interhome allows us to expand the properties offered on Tripping, particularly within the growing European market,” said Tripping CEO Jen O’Neal. “Travelers now have thousands of beautiful new properties to stay in, all from a trusted source with decades of industry experience.”

Interhome COO, Jörg Herrmann said the deal will greatly expand its global reach.

“We’re excited to start distributing our listings on Tripping. Our properties will have greater visibility on an international platform, which is a good thing for travelers and hosts alike,” he said.

“By joining forces with the leading aggregator in the vacation rentals space, we’ll also be able to heighten Interhome’s global brand and remain competitive both in Europe and overseas.”

About Tripping

Tripping is a metasearch site for vacation homes and short-term rentals offering over 1 million rentals across 50,000 cities worldwide.

Travelers can use Tripping to easily compare the world’s best home rentals by price, reviews, ratings and location. Based in San Francisco, the company was founded by tech industry veterans from Expedia, Travelzoo and StubHub. You can search, compare and save on your ideal home rental at http://www.tripping.com.

Holiday Lettings, the vacation rental brand owned by TripAdvisor, has struck off more 2,100 properties from its system this year for bad service.holiday letting

The company says 1% of its total portfolio of rental properties have been “deactivated” for a number of reasons, including those that try to take a booking with a customer away from the Holiday Lettings website.

Property owners that do not engage with potential customers and other activities deemed to be offering a “poor service” are also under scrutiny and could find themselves turfed off the site as a result.

Holiday Lettings also says it will be rewarding the “most responsive” property owners with better rankings in search results, also to those that consistently offer online payment to guests.
Whilst the move (Holiday Lettings calls it a “campaign”) is in-part designed to protect guests by offering financial protection if bookings and payments are made on the site, behind the scenes it also solves an ongoing problem for listing services across the travel sector.

Many travel service providers use a directory to capture potential customers and then secure bookings privately to avoid paying a commission to the intermediary.

Holiday Lettings says customer reviews left against properties on the site (similar to those on the mothership brand, TripAdvisor) are not taken into consideration as part of the deactivation project.

Source: http://www.tnooz.com/

TripAdvisor-owned Holiday Lettings is to delist properties that “consistently provide poor” service to travellers.

The holiday home website announced that 1% of its 215,000 listings have already been deactivated this year from holidaylettings.co.uk.

holiday Lettings

The company is targeting property owners using the free listing service who “fail to engage with traveller enquiries” and in some instances where they attempt to deviate guests from the secure Holiday Lettings payment platform.

Spokeswoman Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies said: “As a TripAdvisor company, we’re committed to providing travellers with a positive search and book experience that results in a secure and easy booking.

“Not only are we the sole British vacation rental site to offer free payment protection to travellers, but we’re now also taking steps to protect the entire experience.”

Holiday Lettings rewards owners who have the most ‘bookable’ homes. These are properties with the most responsive owners offering online payment to expedite the booking, with higher positions in its search results.

Travellers can refine their search many ways to find the most suitable homes for their trip, including sorting by homes with the most TripAdvisor reviews for additional peace of mind.

Holiday Lettings’ payment platform ensures that holidaymakers are protected as long as bookings and payments are made through the site.

If a property does not exist or travellers are denied access to it upon arrival, Holiday Lettings provides a payment protection policy and claim process to protect holidaymakers.

Source: http://www.travolution.co.uk

The serviced apartment sector, although present throughout the global accommodation markets, has different degrees of expansion and development, which are dependent on regional standardisations, the supply and demand dichotomy, and the legislation in place. However, regardless of the fragmented nature of the sector, “the global serviced apartment industry is continuing to mature, albeit at different rates in different places across the regions” writes Mark Harris from the Travel Intelligence Network inthe latest Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report (GSAIR) 2013-14.

North America and Asia

Although it is generally acknowledged that the origin of serviced apartments lies in the US, both North America and Asia have had an operational sector for over 30 years. The maturity of the market in North America has been driven by several factors. It boils down to the demand for the accommodation – executives travel longer distances, stay away from home for longer periods, and require a home away from home; supply of space for the accommodation – larger scale short-stay accommodation can be offered cost-effectively, and brands which can develop on nationwide referral business,” says Richard Majewski from Essa Consultancy for Serviced Apartments.

In South America the serviced apartment sector only started developing about 5-7 years ago, so it still in its infancy. However, given the encouraging overview of the business climate, corporate demand for the sector is expected to see a rapid increase, and countries like Brazil, with a booming economy, will drive the movement forward.

Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia, and accounts for 8.4% of its GDP. According to the GSAIR, there are 49,480 serviced apartments in 419 locations across the region, and they range from branded and independently operated serviced apartments, to local furnished accommodations, and villas. This type of accommodation is the preferred choice for longer stays, as opposed to the rental market, and represents 7.54% of the global serviced apartment sector. Hong Kong, which registered a 90% occupancy rate in 2011, also leads the way in terms of units per business visitors, with a 5.3/1,000 ratio.

Europe

When placed against the background of established serviced apartment sectors, Europe can be regarded as being immature. However, recent developments in the market are pointing to a rapid expansion in the major European cities.

There is a general tendency for large operators to build aparthotels, a model which closely resembles the hotel stay. This necessity is prompted by the mobility of corporate travellers throughout Europe, who either relocate or have to spend more than one month in a different city.

Although some standard hotel services are provided, often there is no restaurant in site, cleaning occurs weekly, and laundry facilities are available on site but predominantly for a fee. This accommodation model is preferred as it caters for the need to reduce travel costs in the climate of the ongoing economic crisis. The pricing for longer stays tends to be reduced depending on the length of stay, which makes serviced apartments and aparthotels a cost-effective solution.

According to the HVS report, An overview of the European Serviced Apartment Sector (2013), over the past ten years there has been significant movement in the aparthotel industry. Large international brands such as Residence Inn by Marriott, Accor, Ascott, Fraser, or Adina, have been operating in Europe and there is scope for growth. “A slight different model may develop in each local market. However, I believe it will be the global extended stay brands which will ultimately determine the development of each market,” says Majewski from Essa.

Adding to the existing number, aparthotel supply is predicted to increase by 50%, according to a recent Savills report, European Serviced Apartment Market (2014). “Europe’s gateway cities continue to offer expansion opportunities for operators pursuing branded development” writes Tim Stoyle from Savills Hotels.

City Supply Relative to Potential Demand

In 2014 alone, Ascott, Accor, Frasers, and Staycity will open eight new properties, in major European cities, the focus being primarily on London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam. At present, the later has one of the most constrained supply with 0.2 units per 1,000 visitors, closely followed by Paris and London with 0.3 and 0.6 units, while the supply in Frankfurt is slightly better with 1.1 units.

graph-europe

However, compared to the American or Asian markets, the European serviced apartment sector still accounts for a relatively small percentage when compared to hotel supply, and has yet to face some challenges that affects directly the dissemination of the model. Global providers are confronted with a lack of understanding of this operational concept in Europe, which makes it all the harder to secure financing for further investment and expansion, while at the same time facing barriers entering the market as planning issues tend to vary from country to country.

Australia

The most striking aspect of the Australian serviced apartment sector is the contrast between the high demand and short supply, and according to the GSAIR report this sector is expected to outperform hotel accommodation in the next three years. One of the main reasons that lead to this tendency is the high concentration of hotels in the main cities, whereas most business centres are located outside these hubs, generating an ever-growing demand for extended stay accommodation.

Sydney alone accounts for the third largest accommodation supply globally with 2.8 units per 1,000 visitors. According to a CBRE report on the Australian serviced apartment sector, The Formation of an Industry (2010), serviced apartments seem to be the main driving-force behind supply in recent years, attracting 25% of market demand, a lot stronger than other sectors.

Africa

The serviced apartment landscape in Africa resembles to some extent the one in South America, where fast economic growth drives business, and impacts the number of international arrivals. According to the GSAIR report, the total number of serviced apartments in Africa stands at 4,634 in 76 locations, which accounts for a small percentage of 0.714% of the global market. Despite this, serviced apartments seem to cost less on average than anywhere in the world.

Source : http://www.ipinglobal.com/

Light regulation of flat-sharing websites is giving upstarts an unfair advantage in the hospitality industry, hotel owners said during a session at ITB Berlin.

While executives from European flat-sharing websites said their websites bring untapped business to cities and are not directly competing with hotels, representatives of large European hotels said they disagreed adding that flat-sharing websites should be regulated in the same way as mainline hotels.

Apartment-sharing websites generate over $60 billion a year in revenues globally. But although many cities around the world have cracked down on what had been a previously unregulated field, primarily by levying taxes on the websites, hotel owners say it is not enough when compared with more heavily taxed and regulated traditional hotels.

“Until now, we were ok with the way that vacation homes operated,” Thomas Allemann, a member of the management board of Switzerland’s hotel lobbying group, Hotelleriesuisse. “They paid local and city taxes and were regulated. What we see now is new rooms coming online that aren’t regulated, and that’s a problem.”

He said 85% of all hotel stays in Switzerland are in his members’ hotels, and are of similar length to apartment-share website rentals. He said the hotels at all price levels had seen their business drop due to apartment-share websites.

In Zurich, 1.2% of all overnight stays in 2013 were booked over Airbnb. Allemann said his group was worried that this figure could double or triple in the coming year.

Ramon Estalella Halffter, of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels, said he was worried that flat-sharing websites were operating, essentially, as travel agencies, but calling themselves “social platforms” in order to reduce their tax and hospitality responsibilities.

“Their rates are lower because they are not always in the hotel business, so they don’t have the expenses of full-time hotels,” Halffter said.

The hoteliers want apartment-sharing websites to levy city and overnight stay taxes on the rooms they sell. Mainline hotel operators collect this tax and pass it on to their guests.

Still, Roman Bach of 9flats.com, a German apartment-share website, disagreed.

“There have been vacation homes for ages,” Bach said. “All we are doing is making the process more efficient.”

Christopher Oster, co-founder of Wimdu, a German home-sharing website, said his customers want to experience new cities that they visit on vacation “like locals do and that sets them apart from hotel guests.”

wimdu

“Also, most of our guests stay longer than usual hotel guests,” Oster added. “But like hotels, we try to have high quality standards. We send photographers to take pictures of the rooms and we have reviews by our customers.”

Bach cited data from Airbnb, whose representatives declined an invitation to attend the panel, to support his argument that flat-sharing websites like his have actually led to an increase in visits to cities, and enticed visitors who would otherwise not have traveled or booked hotel rooms.

Arnaud Bertrand of HouseTrip, a French flat-share website, seconded this. Sites like his, he said, offer value over competitors, “especially in pricey cities like Paris, where average room rates are about 120 EUR a night.”

All of the panelists cited proprietary data. It is unclear if any of that data – all of which tended to support each side’s respective position – was independently audited.

Source : http://www.4hoteliers.com/