AirBnB Competition and Hotels’ Response: The Importance of Online Reputation
AirBnB and other similar platforms are changing the market structure of the accommodation industry, threatening the status quo of the traditional hospitality industry. This is a new paradigm in which low cost accommodation options press down prices in an industry with a non-flexible cost structure. This paper analyses the role of quality perceived by customers as a key factor explaining prices differences among hotels. In a context characterized by instant access to past guests’ valuations on the Internet, the role of these valuations is compared with the traditional rating system, which is less flexible through time and based in legal standards that vary across countries. According to our empirical research, quality as assessed by past customers increases a firm’s capacity to set higher prices, working as a signalling mechanism, including the hotels in the same star category. Managers capable of building a reputation of consistent high quality service will show a higher market power.