I wanted to share some thoughts on the recent New York Times article, Airbnb Tries to Behave More Like a Hotel, which highlights a challenge that faces everyone in our industry. According to the article, Airbnb’s guests want more predictability, so the company is encouraging its homeowners to offer a more consistent—and by some measures—hotel-like experience. Owners are pushing back.
Airbnb’s push for owners to ‘hotel-ify’ their homes has been controversial, with homeowners divided into two camps over a familiar challenge that we’ve faced for years here at Vacasa: How can we work together to guarantee a consistent guest experience across thousands of privately owned homes?
Different than Airbnb, Vacasa was founded on the belief that guests want to stay in privately owned vacation homes. Our guests engage only with Vacasa, never with owners. In theory, this means it’s simpler for us to create a consistent experience across our portfolio. But defining what that experience looks like has and will continue to be anything but simple.
In a terrifying, fully hotel-ified world, the Vacasa experience could be a guest-focused guarantee that every home, no matter where in the world, features the same furniture, same pieces of art, the same books, and the same movies.
We never want that. Nobody wants that.
Managing someone else’s home requires a great deal of trust, communication and sensitivity. While we’re still cracking the consistency code, we’ve made some progress and learned a few things along the way. We’ve found that when it comes to striking the balance between homeowner preference and the Vacasa experience, the best North Star is trust.
We actively seek homeowners who we trust want to develop a relationship with us. We build their trust in us by delivering the best rates technology, the most bookings, and the best service. This is their home, and we honor that above all else. We generate the most revenue and deliver them the highest quality guests. Every decision we make comes down to the question: Will this help us build trust with this homeowner?
You can’t build and maintain trust without communication. We manage nearly 6,000 vacation homes around the world. Establishing local teams in each market helps us maintain lines of communication between homeowners, guests, and headquarters. If we inspire a publication to write a story about an owner’s house, our local team can personally deliver a framed copy. If a guest breaks something, our team can be on-site to fix or replace it for them.
The short-term accommodation industry is in its infancy. The future will inevitably bring higher demand for greater predictability and standards across a brand’s portfolio of rental homes. Airbnb is right in pushing homeowners to offer a more consistent guest experience. We have the same goal in the property management space. What we all need to keep top of mind is the importance of not pushing too hard and losing the individuality that makes this space so much more interesting for guests than staying at a hotel.
By Kyle Cassidy, our Senior Editor of Contributed Content