Airbnb vs. Hotels: Innovate or Perish

Although major hotel brands claim not to be affected, the growing supply of houses and apartments for short stays, is forcing hotels to change their methods of attracting guests in order to survive.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway are just some of the countless websites where owners rent their houses or apartments to tourists, who increasingly opt for this alternative to conventional hotels worldwide, and Central America is no exception. In Panama, despite the fact that there is a law against renting apartments to tourists for less than 45 days, which is punishable with a $50 thousand fine for repeat offenders, this alternative type of rental accommodation is still growing.

The segment is starting to attract business travelers. reports that "... there are signs that Airbnb is making inroads among business travelers, a critical group of customers for the hotel sector. In the summer, Airbnb entered the corporate market by joining Concur, an expense management company, in order to allow Airbnb charges to appear directly in the form of traveler's expenses. Airbnb now reports that just under 10% of its guests are business travelers. "

Ian Carter, President of Development at the Hilton hotel chain, said that "... "We believe that hosting websites for rentals are stimulating demand, rather than displace existing demand '...". However, many analysts and industry experts see trouble ahead for established chains if they do not treat Airbnb as a competitor. "

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More on this topic

Rental Properties in Nicaragua

January 2017

Already more than 1000 homes are available to rent through the web platform Airbnb, and most of them are centered around the Pacific coast.

The increasing supply of houses and apartments available for short stays is forcing hotels to change their methods of attracting guests in order to survive. In the case of Nicaragua, where the hotel supply is relatively nascent and not as developed as in other neighboring markets, the efforts that businesses in the tourism sector have to make to compete with Airbnb is even greater.

Airbnb Could Operate Freely Outside of Panama City

January 2017

The government has proposed that Airbnb offer its services only in the interior of the country where the supply of hotels is lower and where the legal prohibition of vacation rentals is not in effect.

Authorities at the online rental company met with representatives from the government and the private sector, after a group of tourists were affected by an inspection by the ATP in an apartment which was rented out using the platform. 

11% of Tourists Prefer Houses to Hotels

November 2016

In Costa Rica between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of tourists staying in rented homes instead of hotels increased from 4% to 11%.

Of the more than 9.6 million tourists who visited Costa Rica in the last five years, almost 700 thousand claimed to have stayed in rented homes using platforms such as Airbnb or Homeaway, instead of hotels. Figures compiled by indicate that the greatest trend was seen in the province of Guanacaste, specifically among tourists coming into the country through the Daniel Oduber airport.

Hotels are Losing War On Holiday Rentals

October 2016

In Costa Rica the total amount of accommodation available for rent through the web platform Airbnb is now equivalent to 18% of the hotels in the country.

The figure has been confirmed by the union of hoteliers, who say there is now a total of 11,000 homes offering accommodation for tourism through Airbnb. On top of this data there are also residences rented to tourists through other platforms such as Homeaway or VRBO.

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