Why We’re Ditching Airbnbs and Going Back to Hotels
Now the pandemic has been tough on the hospitality industry. It’s possible that property managers have tried to find professionals to fix damp and broken plumbing fixtures to no avail. It is also possible that they are short of cleaning staff to do laundry and deep dusting. And it’s entirely possible that landlords have lost money during the lockdown and have no spare cash to spend sprucing up their investment property.
But I can be understanding and not want to hang on a wall as the toilet slides under me on my vacation. I can be empathetic and not want to breathe in mold spores while lying in bed. As disappointed as I was to miss out on my stay, I’m grateful I had the foresight to check the reviews before driving six hours to a horror house.
– Kerri Sackville
Australians like to plan their vacations in advance. We read all the reviews so we know what we are getting. Professor of Tourism at the University of Queensland Business School, Sara Dolnicar says we even book a year in advance.
“Christmas 2023, people are booking the same place for Christmas 2024,” she says.
But hotels are making a comeback now that vaccination rates have increased and COVID restrictions have been lifted. Makarand Mody of Boston University says hotel occupancy levels and rates are back to or above pre-COVID levels.
“Our research shows that all things being equal, people are more likely to choose a hotel room over accommodation on a sharing site,” he says.
Dolnicar says it depends on the type of tourist – families want more space and the ability to cook.
“Different types of accommodations for different needs – you can’t go to a Hilton off the beaten path. And there’s no doubt now that reviews are super influential,” she says.
Reviews can deteriorate in the weeks leading up to your long-awaited trip. Kerri Sackville got her money back after seeking written assurance that all issues raised in recent reviews had been resolved.
But UQ’s Dolnicar says not everyone is so lucky. When we book through platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, we don’t deal with a single policy or process. Each provider has their own rules and regulations and hosts can choose how tough they want to be.
She also says that we should have different expectations of accommodation rented through accommodation platforms compared to the expectations we have of hotels.
“Holiday homes cannot be commercial and flawless,” she says. “If the customer expects holiday homes to be on the same level as hotels, that will never happen. These are people’s houses and sometimes the oven breaks. No janitor will come and fix the oven for you in the next 20 minutes.
Homeowners and property managers are really struggling to keep their homes up to date. Nancy Navarrete, business development manager of property management at Ray White, said it was nearly impossible to get tradespeople in regional areas on rental properties.
“It’s been like this since the start of COVID-19. [Tradespeople] have so much work and so many options. Prices have also risen for materials, making work expensive. We’ve also heard that a lot of tradespeople have moved closer to metropolitan areas to take advantage of the influx of work,” she said.
UQ’s Dolnicar says some of us like to book a spontaneous last-minute getaway, though it’s more difficult with parents in tow.
For those having issues, a Choice spokesperson says: ‘Across NSW accommodation providers, booking platforms, hosts and guests must follow mandatory rules Code of Conduct for the Short Term Rental Industry.”
It’s pretty general, but here are the nuts and bolts. If your hot water fails or the door falls on the house, “take pictures and write down what happened immediately.”
“When talking to the booking platform, accommodation provider or host about the issue, be sure to take notes on who you talked to, what you discussed and the relevant dates. This can be helpful down the track if you are unhappy with the solution If possible, address your complaint by email or in writing, so that there is a record of the problem and the supplier’s response.
“If you believe your host has breached the code of conduct and you cannot resolve the issue directly, you can file a complaint with NSW Fair Trading.”
– Jenna Award
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