Brighton B&B Market – Changes in the Air
Like many industries, the hospitality one is not immune to change and challenge. The life of a Brighton B&B owner is a very enjoyable and fulfilling one since you own your own business and can set its direction, you meet plenty of interesting people and you can manage your own time. So when the sun comes out, put away that paperwork and go and enjoy a nice lunch by the sea. All and more of these aspects have served us well at LimeHouse and we hoteliers often forget sometimes how lucky we are.
But challenges and competitors are coming and we have to raise our game and show what we can offer. The most obvious is Airbnb which allows users to rent residential properties from people in nearly every destination for an affordable price. Airbnb says it is not a competitor to guesthouses and wants to work with them and indeed B&Bs can register with them. However, there is no doubt they are making inroads to the traditional model very much as Uber has done with the London black cab. We recognise that they do offer something different and it is true they have helped the industry as more people are travelling as a result of AirBnb. It is also true that AirBnB is catering to a different market i.e. more independent people, particularly the young, who are looking for a different travel experience with a room in a local neighbourhood where they can immerse themselves in the local culture. There’s also no doubt it can be cheaper to rent a room than stay in a hotel for a week and increasingly guests like the greater flexibility and informality.
However, it is not the level playing field people think. Guesthouses are subject to business rates, fire regulations and health and safety requirements, none of which apply to home residences. We also pay our full share of tax and there are debates about how much home owners are paying. In the Mail on October 8, it claimed Airbnb paid less than £200,000 in tax last year despite generating more than £600m of rental income. It’s also the case that rooms are no longer offered in isolation but whole houses in residential areas leading to complaints about noise and bad behaviour. So local councils are starting to wake up both to the concerns of their rate payers and also the damage it might be doing to the local economy.
Brighton Hotels, B&Bs and guest houses are all aware of Airbnb and are using the challenge to up our game, differentiate our product and show what a great experience we can provide.
We’re all watching this space…