A key trend emerging from the discussions and presentations at this year’s International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), in Berlin earlier this year, is the ongoing convergence occurring in the short-term accommodation sector.

Convergence between the hotel sector and alternative lodging is happening by necessity. Hoteliers realise that they must increase the variety of their offerings to grow their client base. At the same time, the Airbnbs of this world have realised that in order to tap into new client segments, like business travellers, they are need to offer more upgraded accommodation with a guarantee of enhanced quality and service.

According to Liam Brown, president and managing director of Marriot Europe, who spoke at IHIF, the chain now offers some 200 rentals in London and Paris through its collaboration with the accommodation platform, Hostmaker. Furthermore, 20% of members of the group’s loyalty scheme, Marriott Rewards, have booked rentals with an average length of stay 6-7 nights.

Room Mate

A shining example of convergence is Room Mate, a medium-sized Spanish chain, founded 13 years ago in Madrid, which offers has a variety of accommodation styles. Speaking at an IHIF panel, the group’s co-founder and CEO, Kike Sarasola, noted that:

“Time is the most precious element when you’re looking for something, No matter your age or what you want to do, if you go into one of my platforms you will be able to see all the possible combinations. One time, you can go to one of my apartments, and other time, you can go into one of my hotels.”

Kike Sarasola, Room Mate’s co-founder & CEO

Besides its traditional hotels, the company manages more than 10,000 apartments, 600 of them exclusively, and opened its first complete apartment building in Madrid last year. The apartments, many of which are listed on Airbnb, are to be found in the immediate vicinity of the group’s hotel properties and are vetted against an extensive checklist of criteria. Guests, who stay in the apartments, benefit from hotel services, such as check-in, checkout, housekeeping and catering. “And now we’re going into hostels,” Sarasola announced during the panel discussion. The group is planning to open its first hostel in Istanbul, to be called ‘Bunk’.

UnderTheDoormat offers curated rentals

At another panel, the CEO of premium short-lettings provider UnderTheDoormat, Merille Karr predicted that in five years’ time, all the major hotel chains will offer home sharing. She also noted that the gap between rentals and hotels is closing with alternative accommodation now accounting for 10% of overnights in London. Karr stated that there is a need for greater quality control in the rental sector, such as providing insurance for homeowners who rent out their properties.

Merillee Karr, the founder & CEO of UnderTheDoormat


Macy Marvel is a freelance analyst at Mintel focused on the global hospitality sector. Also a consultant at Opus Hospitality in Geneva and an advisor to Lausanne Hospitality Consulting – a division of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Macy is a frequent presenter at international hospitality and tourism industry conferences.

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