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Over 20 years ago I correctly predicted the gigantic impact of online marketing and sales on the travel industry - whether airlines, hotels, package holidays, business travel and so on.

And so it has turned out.  So how will the next stage in the online revolution impact hotels and the entire hospitality sector?

I recently gave a keynote on these issues to 800 CEOs of many of the world's largest and best known hotels, at a Starwoods hotel group global summit.

A key message was that small things will continue to create magic for customers, in the largest hotels, often at very low cost....

At the other end of the scale, we are also seeing massive impact on the profitability of smaller guest houses, Bed and Breakfast accommodation, and hotels with less than 15 guest rooms.

As labour costs rise, it becomes less and less viable to provide full hotel-type services to a small number of guests - such as out of hours room service, full board or half board, daily cleaning and turn down service at night, and so on.

At the same time, the number of people wanting the additional freedom and independence of their own place is growing, hence the popularity of ApartHotels, or their equivalent, including groups of guests being able to book an entire small hotel to themselves, possibly even with access to hotel kitchen facilities. And it also explains the popularity of AirBnB. 

When you stay in large hotel chains it can be difficult to work out what country you are in when you wake up in the morning, or when you walk around inside the main areas of the hotel.

AirBnB offers authenticity: a touch of genuine local culture, feel what it likes to be a real resident.

My wife and I have rented houseboats a few times in Amsterdam, because we wanted to know what it would feel like to live on the canals. A wonderful experience. Yet the larger houseboats also function as guesthouses.

Here is another example of a hybrid: a successful beach hotel, with stunning sea views, in Weymouth on the South Coast of England, that can be booked completely, through AirBnB, including the "Owner's Accommodation" with access to the hotel kitchen. The hotel has large numbers of bookings via Booking.com, and loads of TripAdvisor reviews, yet offers a wider range of options for bookings than most traditional small hotels.

Yes you can be a traditional guest, or you can find out what it would feel like to live right on the sea front, right on the beach, with the sand and sea as your garden, as part of a larger group, experiencing all the fun of the seaside together as one party.

Beach House with Sea Views in Weymouth - Holiday Home / Hotel


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