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One Man's Opinion Vol 2, No. 8

Over the last weekend of June, I had the tough duty (not really) to tag-team babysitting responsibilities for our grandson, along with my daughter’s (Carey, a/k/a Mom) mother-in-law. In Yiddish, the term for that relationship between my wife and me and my son-in-law’s (Matt, a/k/a Dad) parents is machetunum; Mary (the mother-in-law) is the machetunester. English needs such terms. And, for the record, Mary is about the best machetunester one could imagine. Mom and Dad were heading to a wedding in Hilton Head, and children were not part of the carry-on baggage.

When I arrived in Phoenix the day before their departure, I naturally asked where they were staying. Both in the hotel business, they are used to me asking that, rather than asking questions about the wedding, the attendees, etc. They advised that they are staying with their best friends, a couple affectionately known as CK[squared] (both have, and, even, before their wedding, had the same initials), in an Airbnb for about $180 per night (for the entire rental). The hotel room where the wedding was held would have been $500 per night. Think about this: for the entirety of their 3 night stay, each couple is saving just under $1200 by using Airbnb.

I have written in this space before of my perspective on Airbnb, and I have followed those who say that it is a threat to the mid-scale and lower-scale hotels (but not the upscale and higher) and the AH&LA, which is decidedly opposed and is doing all it can to show that Airbnb is dominated by professionals renting their apartments and houses to avoid TOT’s and other occupancy taxes. However, millennials though they are, Carey and Matt are quite open-minded about their destination. We have used VRBO for large family vacations for a week’s duration; in fact, they looked at VRBO for their Hilton Head trip, and all those units had a one-week minimum stay. And, they have used Airbnb previously, including most recently on their “babymoon” (definition: a trip taken by a couple near the end of the second or beginning of the third trimester of their pregnancy, before the mother is told not to travel) in Amsterdam, where they fell in love with their hostess and the free-standing guest apartment they stayed in. They also know and understand and make their living in the hotel space, my daughter as someone who sells in a large full-service group hotel in Phoenix. They get the differences.

I think I am changing my mind. If a hotel can charge $500 per night, and the nearby Airbnb, only $93 (per couple), one needs to understand the purpose of the stay, the utilization of the facilities, and the savings potentially generated. This may be an extreme example, but it’s a very real one. Would I do it? Probably not; however, as long as Carey and Matt, and my son and girlfriend (both of whom are also in the hotel space), and other like them (and in their age range) do so, then they will continue to do so as they age further on the occasions where staying with Airbnb is a viable option for their traveling needs.

Just as all the hotel brands are now trying to curate experiences, Airbnb may be the ultimate experience-curator. The difference is that the guest is self-curating, rather than looking for a hotel brand to do it for them. For the first time since the introduction of Airbnb, I now understand its potential and the disruption it can continue to cause. I may even try it one of these days.

Four Corners Notes

I was pleased to see that both Bryce Johnson (taken #24 in the first round) and Marcus Paige (taken #56 in the second round) were drafted by NBA teams during the recent NBA draft. That they were four year players, good citizens, and college graduates should not be a detriment to pursuing a long and excellent career in the NBA, and they will now be added to the legion of former Tar Heels making their living in professional basketball. Thanks to Marcus and Bryce for four years of basketball commitment to UNC.

The principal of FCA, Michael Shindler, has over 40 years of sophisticated legal and transactional experience in commercial real estate, of which the last 30 years have been spent in the hospitality field.