I was intrigued when I saw an article about a hotel in London engaging with the sharing economy rather than running scared.
I spoke with Robert Holland, Regional Operations Manager at Bespoke Hotels to gain a better insight.
The new initiative only began at the start of November and it has started small to test the idea before planning to ramp it up in January. The hotel is near to London Bridge and has a very loyal corporate following. The hotel has always prided itself on being a part of the community that is Bermondsey Street.
Robert had read many alarmist pieces in the press about how the sharing economy would erode their business but he discussed the initiative with his team and decided they would be better to embrace the opportunity rather than fight it.
On Bermondsey Street alone there were 17 apartments to rent through Airbnb, not just bedrooms but whole properties. Robert valued their efforts to bring these business' into line with regards to compliance and thought that by providing hotel services that are subject to all of the controls & taxation that a hotel has to adhere to, at least he can ensure that their trading is seen as more legitimate.
For the hotel the margins they will make on the agreement on the housekeeping & maintenance are fairly small and somewhat insignificant. The bigger gain has been to endear the hotel to a wider direct audience by offering the guests services such as baggage storage and discounts on our F&B and offering the hosts a partner to use when they are unable to stay in their own apartments and booking out their guests when there have been issues with the properties namely a leek that one of the apartments had from their neighbour recently.
It is early days but there is a lot of interest and Robert intends to grow the number of properties they look after through each of the two hotels that he manages. Robert see's this project as not having a great impact but an interesting initiative all the same.
Personally I see this a traditional provider reading the changing market and pro-actively finding a way to work with the disruptive supplier to find mutual benefit.
Well done Robert and his team.
I've asked Robert to keep us updated on the progress.
In the meantime more information on the hotel group can be found here.