Hotel Vs. Airbnb: The Millennial's Choice Might Surprise You

Here's how younger travelers will be vacationing in 2018.

Photography by RITZ CARLTON

We all know that millennials live for off-the-beaten-path, unconventional dwellings and shacking up with strangers—but new data suggests that younger travelers actually prefer hotels and resorts over rentals and popular home-sharing accommodations like Airbnb and VRBO. In their most recent travel trend report, Resonance Consultancy—a real estate and tourism strategy company—revealed that in addition to solo travel, camping, and city-specific trips, millennials prefer full-service lodgings over owner-direct accommodations.

Considering Airbnb offers more listings than the top five international hotel brands combined—and the fact that the DIY hospitality hub recently unleashed a series of new payment options that make group travel and booking in advance that much easier—these findings may come as a surprise.

The study was based on an online survey sample of US residents between the ages of 20 and 36 who’ve taken an overnight vacation at least 75 miles from home in the past year. The survey uncovered that close to two-third of the respondents prefer booking on travel websites, and nearly half of the respondents claimed they would also rather book through a specific hotel, resort, or airline website. Only 23 percent of millennial travelers said they’d prefer to stay in a privately-owned apartment or condo.

However, that’s not to say that millennials don’t make up a major portion of Airbnb users. According to Airbnb, roughly 60 percent of guests who have booked through Airbnb are millennials. “Trips booked by millennials have accounted for over 77 million guest arrivals at Airbnb listings, including over 44 million in just the past year,” the company reports

Photography by GRADUATE HOTELS

So, why the possible shift? Apparently, younger travelers are craving ease, amenities, and avoidance in 2018.

“The less human interaction in booking a hotel or travel experience, the better,” Resonance Consultancy suggests. Not having to coordinate (or live with) a host proves to be a major draw for millennials who just aren’t in the mood to share their space with strangers. Security, swimming pools, and all-inclusive packages—amenities that not all rentals or home-share accommodations can offer—also rank high on their wish list.

Unsurprisingly, Airbnb is almost always cheaper than a hotel room: According to Forbes, the average cost of a hotel room in New York City is $306 a night, while a room booked through Airbnb typically runs at $187 a night. The same rings true for most of the world’s major cities—from Tokyo to Moscow to Paris. So, despite the fact that owner-direct bookings like Airbnb are often easier on the wallet, millennials appear to be more willing to splurge on fully-equipped hotel suites (and even more if said room is especially Instagrammable).

But it’s not your run-of-the-mill hotels that are expected to attract younger travelers in 2018—millennials are actively seeking out savvy, style-focused stays that offer unique tastes of the local community and culture.

“A hotel’s ability to reflect and channel its surroundings matters more than ever,” reports Resonance Consultancy. “Some properties are themselves becoming local attractions.” Other hotels that are coming up with solutions to alleviate long check-in lines—or eliminate front desk check-ins altogether—are also expected to go over better with millennials.

Graduate Hotels—a design-focused hotel line targeting college towns—and Hilton’s newest hotel chain, Tru by Hilton, which hopes to cater to a younger crowd with gourmet cocktails and an iPad-clad lobby, are just two hospitality groups beginning to reimagine the “millennial hotel.”

Do big name hotels rub you the wrong way? Thankfully, you can still find what you’re looking for on Airbnb. If a night in a dreamy houseboat, a retro airstream, or on your own tiny private island doesn’t defy the generic, we don’t know what does.

See what else millennials are up to:
Millennials: Do This For a More Successful Dating Life
It Looks Like Millennials Won't Be Buying More Homes in 2018
Millennials Are No Longer Shopping at Grocery Stores


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Published on January 24, 2018 - 5:00am EST

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