What Airbnb’s latest changes mean for Gold Coast hoteliers

By Greg Bell

Last Friday, news of Airbnb's latest offering hit the stands: Airbnb Plus.

New projects from the global home-sharing giant are appearing left and right – in October last year, they announced a partnership with the Niido complex in Florida to create a dedicated Airbnb strata. Now, they are poised to disrupt the international hotel market once more with a standardised higher-end categorisation and broader inclusion of accommodation formats.

Here, we look at Airbnb's relationship with Australia's hoteliers and what their newest feature could mean for owners of commercial real estate on the Gold Coast.

Disruption to Australia's hotel industry

In 2015-16, Airbnb hosts accommodated 343,800 guests for 586,700 nights across Queensland, according to a Deloitte report. Major draws for consumers turning to Airbnb include unique cultural experiences and accommodation availability outside of typical hotel districts.

However, hotel industry personalities have expressed concern over rooms listed on the home-sharing app being exempt from the strict regulations to which traditional visitor accommodation venues are required to adhere. Australian Hotels Association WA CEO, Bradley Woods, explained to ABC News:

"On one side you've got [hotels] who are complying with state laws, paying taxes, complying with legal requirements, and yet there's another whole market here that is not doing that and escaping those legal requirements."

That said, the rise of Airbnb has not stopped the hotel sector from improving its performance. Accommodation venues with 15 or more rooms experienced 66.6 per cent room occupancy during the June quarter of 2016, up 1.3 per cent on the previous year, according to the ABS. Meanwhile, IBISWorld anticipates a 1.9 per cent total industry growth in 2018.

What is Airbnb Plus?

Plus is Airbnb's answer to quality concerns. Plus-certified homes will be required to meet a 100-plus point quality inspection and be run by well-respected and celebrated hosts.

Interested hosts will apply to the program, paying a $149 fee, and if accepted will have their homes professionally photographed for the listing. Plus homes will offer higher standards and price-tags, further adding to Airbnb's role as a direct competitor to traditional hotels. The new certification is currently only available in Melbourne, but plans to expand to 50 cities across the world this by the end of 2018.

Those familiar with the adage "if you can't beat them, join them" might be interested to learn that in addition to Plus, the app will change to invite hotel listings. This move shows that rather than gunning for players in the hotel industry, Airbnb may instead be creating its name as a global online travel agency.

Charging only a small commission for listings, Airbnb could now represent a channel for greater visibility and competition for Australian hoteliers at an affordable price.

For assistance in buying or selling Plus-worthy hotel and leisure property in the Gold Coast, get in touch with Ray White Commercial Gold Coast today.

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