As we’ve seen with Uber and Lyft, people are willing to pay a premium for convenience. Airports can do the same thing—and they’re doing it wrong. Airport hotels often charge exorbitant prices for their shuttle service that doesn’t come close to providing what those companies promise.,
The “one mile at a time” is the self-inflicted wound that has caused the disappearance of airport shuttles. The hotels are now left with no way to transport guests to and from the airport.
Airport Shuttles’ Disappearance: A Self-Inflicted Wound For Airport Hotels
on November 15, 2021 by Gary Leff
There are many fewer free airport shuttles now than there were before the outbreak. Because hotels are short on personnel and seeking to minimize expenses in general, many have abandoned airport transportation, which is one of the most important aspects of being an airport hotel.
This is due to a variety of factors.
- Airport overnights are most prevalent at large international gateways, and foreign travel has slowed – but it’s on its way back, rushing back over the Atlantic on flights that are often pretty full.
- Airport hotels in outstations where crews stay overnight attract a lot of visitors, but airlines must provide transportation for their crews whether or not there is a complimentary shuttle for other customers.
- Hotels are slashing expenses across the board, including removing automated daily cleaning and limiting restaurant hours.
Hotels appear to be operating under the assumption that ‘we need to do less for the customer in order to improve our margins,’ as if the things they did for customers were gifts in good times rather than investments in attracting customers in the first place and providing value that will result in higher rates.
And hotels have forgotten that Airbnb is their largest competitor, and that service is their major differentiator in the marketplace. Except when hotels advertise themselves on Airbnb, Airbnb is mostly self-serve. As a result, investing in services distinguishes hotels and provides consumers a reason to pick them. And while add-on costs are one of Airbnb’s most irritating features, the drip pricing of resort and destination fees makes hotels less unique as well.
Eliminating airport shuttles decreases hotel competition not only against Airbnb, but also against other hotels. You may as well travel a bit farther off airport to a better spot whenever you have to coordinate your own transportation from airport to hotel.
In other words, in the past, airport hotels provided shuttle services for a reason: it was in their best interests. It wasn’t something they did as a courtesy to visitors. Since so many other airport hotels have ceased operating shuttles, they may believe they’ve found a new balance (so they do not need to offer them to compete against other airport hotels). However, hotels that believe this are seeing their competitors too narrowly.
- In many cases, off-airport hotels compete with on-airport hotels, and the lack of transportation makes paying extra for on-airport convenience more appealing (raises the rates of on-airport via increased demand, and forces off-airport to lower their rates to attract guests).
- Off-airport airport hotels compete with city hotels, which have more facilities and activities to offer. You may as well drive a little farther after you’ve arranged other transportation.
It’s short-sighted to cut the things that pull visitors away from alternatives, yet it’s the road that many hotels are taking to their peril. The hotel sector complains that it did not get bailouts, and as a result, the major REITs who control many of them are having difficulty repaying large lenders; yet, it is the lack of attention to consumers that is causing them issues in the future.
(The query came from reader Miles.)
More From the Wing’s Perspective
The “frequent miler” is a self-inflicted wound for airport hotels. The frequent flyers are the ones that cause the most problems for the airport hotels. They have been known to be rude and disruptive when they arrive, just because they can.
- american airlines
- the points guy
- god save the points
- live and let’s fly