Airbnb is ‘a lodging not a hospitality business', says Hilton boss

08 March 2016 by
Airbnb is ‘a lodging not a hospitality business', says Hilton boss

Airbnb is not a threat to hotels because it is in the lodging and not the hospitality business, according to the boss of Hilton Worldwide.

Speaking on a panel of chief executives at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Chris Nassetta, president and chief executive of Hilton Worldwide, said he was not afraid of Airbnb.

"The type of business run by Airbnb has been around for centuries; it is just that now a lot of efficiencies have been brought to it," he explained.

Nassetta added that he did recognise that Airbnb has created new travel opportunities that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Representing InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Richard Solomons said he had also used home rental businesses such as English Country Cottages. He said that there were some parallels between what Airbnb and IHG offers. "For instance, we have an extended stay brand, serviced apartments, Holiday Inn Club Vacations - all great products that compete. We should never forget what we do and be proud of it."

However, Wolfgang Neumann, president and chief executive of the Rezidor Hotel Group, warned that 10 years ago the hotel industry didn't take online travel agents seriously. "The truth is that we should stop discussing Airbnb as a fluffy and sharing operator - it is not, it is a business and the same rules need to be applied to it in order to ensure fair competition."

The chief executives' panel was completed by Geoff Ballotti, president and chief executive of Wyndham Hotel Group, and Frederico J Gonzalez Tejera, chief executive, NH Hotel Group.

They also discussed the impact of changing global markets, changes to the political landscape, mergers and acquisitions, distribution channels and the growth of franchising.

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