Some hotel advantages over Airbnb properties include loyalty programs, perceived safety and quality, reservation process, and consistent product.
As an independent travel consumer advocate, I am not loyal to any one supplier or way of doing things. As a travel consumer, I seek value—certainly I have preferences and I recently published an article about Airbnb advantages over hotels.
Here I flip the script and present hotel advantages over Airbnb, why choose hotel instead of Airbnb, with some help from some hotel-loving friends.
1. Hotels Have Consistent Quality
With hotels, you can anticipate fairly consistent quality across brands. Repeat travelers know what to expect when staying at any Residence Inn, Super 8, or Four Seasons—whether in Santa Fe, Missoula, or Helsinki. Novice travelers can use sorting filters on booking websites and read reviews to view hotels meeting certain price, rating (quality), or other criteria (distance, size, brand, etc.). Airbnb rentals range from ground space (really) or an air mattress in a common room to entire estates (also really).
2. Hotel Reservation Process
Most hotel reservations are immediate and binding, especially when booking directly with the supplier (hotel chain). Some Airbnb bookings are automatic but most (my estimate) still require sending a request to the owner, receiving approval, and then booking the property. I have read a very small percentage of Airbnb reviews where the reservation was made far in advance but cancelled by the owner within a month of the check in date. I certainly would not risk booking (or advise someone else to book) such a place.
Hotel refund process is usually better than Airbnb refund policy. Most hotel reservations can be cancelled or altered up to the day of arrival or perhaps 24 hours prior but Airbnb users are usually locked into their itinerary once it is booked.
3. Hotels Are Easier For Last Minute Stays
When on my beloved road trips, I rarely have a predetermined destination for the end of the day. I set off in the morning, spend hours exploring, and find a place to sleep when my adventure meter is empty. In other words, I often book last minute lodging. For these situations, the hotel (or usually for me, a roadside motel or inn) process works better than Airbnb. I have tried using the Airbnb app on the road but last minute bookings are not conducive to their model.
4. Research Time
After more than 25 years of trip planning (for myself and others), I have refined processes for hotel and Airbnb searches. While it usually takes some time to research and decide on a hotel property, it is a fraction of the effort and time of Airbnb searches. Because of the unique nature of vacation rental properties, it simply takes more time and effort to research possibilities, narrow down the choices, contact the owners, and make a decision.
5. Hotel Loyalty Programs
I knew when I asked Ed Pizzarello for a quote about why hotel loyalty trumps Airbnb rentals, it was like asking if a rock star wanted some recreational substance (yes, loyalty points ARE like crack. I said it!). He recently wrote A Cautionary Tale on Airbnb and frequently travels with his family so I was interested in his viewpoint. Ed shared this with me:
“While Airbnb fits a definite need for travel, don’t overlook the value of hotel loyalty programs. If leveraged correctly, it can yield a whole lot more comfort without having to spend money. Points can be redeemed for suites, villas or larger rooms in many destinations, making travel with a family cheaper and more comfortable. Redeeming hotel points isn’t just 4 people crammed into a room with 2 small beds and 1 bathroom.”
6. Travel Agent
Travel agents can book hotels, sometimes at lower rates than consumers can find online. However, travel agents cannot book Airbnb properties. Well, I mean travel agents do not receive commissions for Airbnb bookings. Anyway, if you lean toward the non-DIY (do-it-yourself) side of travel planning, using a travel agent to book hotels is likely one of your go-to strategies.
7. Perceived Safety and Security
“Traveling solo, I’m always concerned about security and safety. A hotel provides me a better sense of security than the Airbnb hosts/properties did—hotels have evacuation plans and security on site. I want to relax and sleep well knowing assistance is a phone call away.”
A recent Airbnb episode in Spain is definitely disturbing. Personally, I have had no safety incidents with Airbnb properties or any vacation rentals. In hotels, on the other hand, I have had a housekeeper enter my room (Austin Texas), guests enter my room (Hawaii), a local try to enter my room (Texarkana Texas), and returned from dinner to a murder scene (Anaheim California). On a recent road trip, local news was about a murder in a hotel. So, I do not agree that vacation rentals are more dangerous than hotels. Do your research! I definitely recognize that even perceived safety will make most travelers more comfortable.
8. Escape From Everyday Life
Many people want to get away from it all when on vacation and be pampered and catered to. Suzanne also shared:
“I want to escape the daily drama of life (work, cook, clean, gym) so I expect a hotel to offer everything I can’t get at home (luxury bedding, room service, a concierge) and make me feel special. Airbnb makes me feel like I’m home—working, cleaning, cooking, etc.”
Those are some great reasons why hotels are better than Airbnb. Of course, not every hotel is worth your time. Reader’s Digest rounded up 10 Red Flags You’re About to Stay at a Bad Hotel, including tips from the McCool Travel team.
What other hotel advantages have you experienced?
Here are some articles where I compare a vacation house rental to hotel:
>>> Please also read my counterpoint article, 8 Great Airbnb Advantages.
Here are some articles focusing on why hotels are better than Airbnb:
Some people still don’t use Airbnb for these 11 Reasons on Fast Company
Are Airbnbs Better Than Hotels? on Condé Nast Traveler
10 Reasons Why a Hotel is Better Than Airbnb on Travel Market Report