Where would you stay? Hotels vs Airbnb Brand Wars

Where would you stay? Hotels vs Airbnb Brand Wars

iModerate Author

Jun 14, 2016

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Airbnb has grown incredibly fast – in nine years, they’ve expanded from a few air mattresses in San Francisco to houses, apartments, and more in 34,000 cities. We were curious about consumer perceptions of the platform as it compared to hotels, so we did a little qualitative research and dug into what type of person consumers thought chose one type of accommodation over the other, what kind of experience they expected to get out of each, and in what situations they’d choose to stay in an Airbnb over a hotel (and vice versa).

As you can see in the report, we found that there are two main drivers to choosing accommodations: seeking a unique experience and prioritizing trustworthy accommodations. When it comes to a unique experience, Airbnb unsurprisingly takes the lead – there is greater potential for an authentic, localized experience when you’re staying in a home, have access to a local (your host), and are located in residential neighborhoods that might not even have commercial options. On the other hand, hotels win out when it comes to trust. Although Airbnb’s success has proven that consumers trust each other enough to rent to/from a stranger, there’s a much greater feeling of reassurance that comes from dealing with a larger establishment, like a hotel chain. Consumers feel that if something goes wrong, a hotel will fix it – they need to in order to preserve their brand.

Chart depicting Airbnb vs hotels


While hotels can work to deliver more unique experiences, through highlighting regional activities and personalizing aspects of consumers’ stays, and Airbnb can work to boost perception as a trustworthy brand, boutique hotels have an interesting opportunity to bridge the gap. Consumers know what to expect to a certain degree, but are still delighted by unique features such as regional décor and unique on-site restaurants and bars.

Check out the full report to learn about consumer perceptions of Airbnb and hotels, including who stays in which, what they expect when they’re staying at either, and what opportunities hotel chains have – in particular when it comes to developing boutique brands – to stay competitive and relevant moving forward.

iModerate Author

Our research work with iModerate over the past several years has developed into a true partnership. Their unique fusion of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a single study has offered new insights into key topics and markets of interest for our organization, which in turn, we are able to quickly turn into action steps. They are flexible, responsive, and extremely engaged in the entire project process, from conception and design to final data processing and delivery. They have even gone above and beyond by volunteering their time, resources, and expertise to assist with a special target market project on women. iModerate has their finger on the pulse of the research industry and consistently provides creative suggestions and solutions to enhance our current work. This ultimately allows us to provide our leadership with the strategic insights and opportunities that helps us to advance the common good.

Kristin Thomsen, Manager, Market Research, United Way Worldwide