Hilton may be launching a new offering to attract younger travelers, which may compete directly with Airbnb. This comes as particularly interesting news since Hilton is the biggest hospitality company in the world, and this seems like they are seemingly trying to catch up to the world of anti-establishment hotels that Airbnb created. Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton, confirmed that the company has been exploring a new approach that would offer smaller and cheaper places to stay in big cities.
This experimental strategy from Hilton would be geared towards a younger age bracket of travelers who don't want to deal with high prices, complex processes, or fancy room setups. Global research company Stay Wyse predicts that travel spending from younger people is going to increase over the next five years by over $100 billion. When you combine that with the undeniable growth from Airbnb and other low cost low service hotels, this seems like a smart business decision.
One example of a micro-hotel property that has followed this approach is citizenM - who currently has locations in New York, Amsterdam, Glasglow, London, Paris, and Rotterdam. They focus on slim rooms with big windows, soft bed, and a TV. There's no extraneous furniture, like a desk. The New York Times even called this decision about the space in their rooms to be "smart rather than confining." They create a stylishly designed communal lobby and cafe experience featuring modern art, free WiFi, and self service food, which makes for a comfortable remote working space.
The citizenM brand prides itself on having the self-service check in and express check out be extremely fast and digitized. Having this ease and self-service gives them room to implement staff in different ways. Instead of bellhops to carry your bags, they have ambassadors - who act more like a friendly local - working at all hours who help you navigate the city and find out what to do and see. But if you don't go up and ask, they'll let you relax and go about your business.
When you book with Airbnb, you get a similar experience. You get a welcoming host who takes pride in providing a comfortable and personal stay in their home as they want to be highly rated. We hope that Hilton will take note of these successful approaches from both citizenM and Airbnb and make sure that their offering is not only smaller and cheaper, but also add an element of personality to their offering. Architecting a brand new experience is key to success.
Originally posted about by Bloomberg.