As the number of short-term rentals grows in major cities, a new set of conversations is taking place about the future of the hospitality industry. Many people argue that short-term rentals are the future, but many of these people are forgetting the benefits that made hotels so popular in the first place. There are a few key areas where rentals excel, but their shortcomings are significant enough to limit their long-term potential.
A major perk of short-term rentals is that many are available off the beaten path. Individuals offer rooms and houses in neighborhoods that are not open to hotels. This allows visitors to get a better view of the true culture of a city. The down side of this is that most amenities needed by tourists, including rental car agencies, restaurants, and convention centers, are located in areas unsuitable for short-term rentals. These include business districts and hospitality districts. Residential areas may be unsuitable for visitors without vehicles or those unused to the area. They may also be located far from sightseeing destinations.
Another perk of owner-rented properties is that it’s easier to get to know locals. Some hosts are free to show off their favorite haunts and tell guests the best things to see and do in their new city. Unfortunately, most hosts also have jobs and lives outside of renting their homes to visitors. In some cases, the host will be available to turn over a key and little more. Bigger resorts and hotels offer concierge services that may be far more conducive to seeing a city. These services are generally well connected and available at all hours. If the local experience is an important part of visiting a city, guests should be sure to check with their host to be sure he or she will be available.
Many hosts are clean, friendly, and hospitable, but there is no guarantee of good customer service. While most hotels put great stock into hospitality and offering quality service, the same cannot be said for owner-rented properties. Amenities such as coffee pots, luggage racks, toiletries, televisions, and private showers are often not available. If full-service is a requirement, visitors are better off checking into a bed and breakfast or local hotel.
While there is definitely room in the hospitality market for owner-rented properties, the national conversation about their disruptive potential is overblown. Hotels will likely continue to be the standard for years to come due to their convenience, reliability, and commitment to hospitality.