Over the course of just a few years, Airbnb has grown from a resource for couch surfers to a small website listing short-term rentals, and now to a global, multi-billion dollar company. Travelers and industry experts debate whether short-term rentals or hotels are a better option. While Airbnb has advantages, traditional hotels aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Airbnb simply is not right for every traveler every time, and booking hotels offers the perks and benefits of hotel loyalty programs. Airbnb often cannot compare to bonus nights, free breakfasts, and other amenities. Hotel loyalty programs and reward points offer a wide range of benefits to their members, from infrequent travelers who take one vacation a year to business travelers out of town every week.
Here’s are the top four reasons that hotels are still worth considering for your next vacation.
Travelers want to unwind on vacation or after a long day of meetings during business travel. To make your trip even more relaxing, you can opt to your turn hotel stay into a VIP experience using loyalty points. These can be redeemed to access VIP lounges, receive free drinks or meals, and indulge in complimentary spa services, such as massages and facials. The Trident Privilege rewards program enables members to instantly redeem points and use them as payment for gourmet dining and therapeutic spa packages, to name a few perks.
For the most frequent travelers who accrue a lot of points, some loyalty programs take the VIP experience even a step further by offering, quite literally, experiences. In March 2016, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) posted a “Premiere Fashion Week in New York or London” experience, and Hilton HHonors offered a variety of unique concert experiences and meet-and-greets with artists, all made possible by redeeming loyalty points. Airbnb doesn’t have such loyalty programs in place and individual rentals rarely have the amenities on hand to treat guests like VIPs with free spa packages and gourmet meals.
More Room for Families
Family vacations with Airbnb can be wonderful, but hotels offer benefits to families as well. With loyalty points, you can create a more comfortable hotel stay for your family without shelling out the extra cash. Hotels often offer upgrade options as a loyalty reward, including suites and villas, to give your family more room to spread out. For example, a family of four can upgrade to a multi-room suite, rather than crowding into a small room with two beds. Depending on the rewards level, La Quinta Returns offers two free upgrades per year in some cases, and, in other situations, it offers automatic free upgrades based on availability at the time of check-in.
Consistency and Reliability
While some travelers like to live on the edge, a top reason many travelers are loyal to a specific hotel brand is that they know each time they stay at the hotel, no matter the location, they’ll have a consistent experience. Whether you’re staying at a Hilton in San Francisco or Dublin, while the hotel might have some local flair, you’ll appreciate consistency when it comes to staff knowledge, cleanliness, room size, and more. Hotels also employ trusted concierges, whom you can call at a moment’s notice if your TV is broken, you forgot your phone charger, or need recommendations for dinner.
Airbnb rentals have independent owners, who oftentimes can also provide recommendations for that true local experience. However, since they’re independent, your experience will vary with each host you choose.
Convenient Last-Minute Travel
Some travelers plan trips months in advance, while others prefer to take spontaneous vacations. Say you take a road trip and don’t know where you’ll end up at the end of the day. As a loyalty program member, you’ll find it fairly simple to book a nearby hotel once you reach your final destination (pending there’s one nearby and it’s not booked solid). For example, the IHG Rewards Club has guaranteed room availability for select tiers of its loyalty program. With Airbnb, the business model isn’t set up for last-minute travel, as the hosts often have to know bookings ahead of time to prepare for your stay.
Even the most loyal hotel customers will consider opting for an Airbnb rental every now and then. You might be visiting Paris and want to experience the atmosphere of a classic Parisian apartment. However, the millions of travelers enrolled in loyalty programs worldwide recognize the benefits of continuing to earn points and redeem perks and upgrades, meaning traditional hotels will be around for the long run.