The impact of the ‘sharing economy’ on the hotel sector has been a hot topic over the past couple of years and was thoroughly debated at the recent International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) held in Berlin.

The topic was met with much contention. Some minimised the effect of web-based apartment rental platforms like Airbnb, maintaining that peer-to-peer networks are actually expanding the tourism market, allowing individuals and groups to travel who wouldn’t have done so otherwise. While others point to the capping of hotel rates, particularly in major cities such as London and New York where Airbnb is heavily present. And still others criticised the lack of a ‘level playing field’ with respect to the regulation and taxation of Airbnb-type accommodations.

Hotel services for rental apartments

Rather than choosing one or the other, two operators who were present at IHIF are currently attempting to combine the best features of both hotels and rental accommodation. Be Mate, a unit of the small Madrid-based hotel chain, Room Mate, offer guests the alternative of renting an apartment in the immediate vicinity of some of Room Mate’s hotel properties. On the other side onefinestay, a luxury accommodation rental platform, offers some hotel services. Below we highlight some of their main features:

Be Mate

Be Mate’s apartment selection is based on 76 criteria which can be grouped into specific categories, including quality, design and location, plus additional details that can affect a client’s stay, such as noise level. The group puts particular emphasis on the quality of the photos which must be of a professional calibre and should accurately reflect the reality of the accommodation. Every apartment is visited by one of the group’s city managers, who are responsible for pre-selection, and is then reviewed and approved or rejected by Be Mate’s listing quality team. Apartment ratings are based on three aspects: hospitality best practices as defined by Room Mate Hotels; feedback from customers; and common sense, i.e. would the reviewer stay in the apartment?

Guests also benefit from basic hotel services, such as 24-hour check-in, check-out and luggage handling. Additional services can be ordered such as daily room service, airport transfers and catering.

onefinestay

Only 1 in 10 of the properties that apply to be listed on this accommodation rental platform is accepted, whilst the typical property in the firm’s inventory is worth $2-3 million and located in prime positions in London, New York City, Los Angeles or Paris. Onefinestay maintains that it does not directly compete with hotels as the average length of stay is longer and the typical clients are family groups.

Onefinestay provides some hotel services. For instance, the company employs a staff of roughly 700 who ensure the smooth running of operations, including cleaning. Reception takes place on the premises of a guest’s accommodation. The firm also has to be prepared to respond to emergencies on a timely basis, such as appliance breakdowns, technical issues or lost keys. Another original service includes the loan of an iPhone to guests for their stay, which helps overcome any mobile connectivity problems for clients coming from overseas.

The company maintains that booking a stay is as straightforward as booking a hotel room, though the firm goes to some extent to vet its guests, given they are staying in high value private homes.

Macy Marvel is a consultant at Opus Hospitality in Geneva and an advisor to Lausanne Hospitality Consulting – a division of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. He is a frequent presenter at international hospitality and tourism industry conferences.

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