Samoa Tourism Authority on Airbnb impact

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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HEADING TO SAMOA: Chad Morris, General Manager Investment & Tourism, P.T.I. Australia and Pauline Romao.

HEADING TO SAMOA: Chad Morris, General Manager Investment & Tourism, P.T.I. Australia and Pauline Romao.

Recently Airbnb in partnership with Pacific Trade Invest (P.T.I.) announced that they were bringing a series of Airbnb workshops to Samoa.  The Samoa Tourism Authority will be facilitating the first Airbnb Pacific workshops.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, C.E.O. of the Samoa Tourism Authority, Papalii Sonja Hunter, responded to questions about what kind of impact Airbnb will have on local hotel businesses.

“Airbnb have recognized that they want to come to Samoa and yes, it will mean competition for the hoteliers. They are going to run workshops on February 14th whether we like it or not.”

Papalii points out that while there will be more competition, this disruption to the hospitality industry is an opportunity for hoteliers to also flourish if they respond with innovative ideas of their own or capitalize on what they already have by perfecting it.

“So the thing is yes, they will compete, but this is now the industry. Accommodation will now have to be a lot savvier in their marketing. This is an open market economy; you work with them if you feel like. There are other properties that work with them.

“You have to be a lot more caring and provide a pampering experience providing a property in our experience because as most tourist say, Samoa is an easy sell because of how the people are. So we need all of our properties to capture that top notch experience.”

According to Papalii, Airbnb is not much different to Samoa Direct who market your property and providing booking assistance for hotels or resorts, however she points out that there is only so much marketing that you can do and that hoteliers need to take responsibility for their own development as well by coming up with relevant concepts.

“In this life, we will always have competition, so you have to see how relevant you are, stop blaming everybody else for the way your property is marketed.

 “You also have to look at your own development cycles, when you launch a property everyone wants to see, as you go along the novelty wears off so you always make sure, you provide changes that actually capture people’s attention.

“We are looking at the experiential side. Everybody loves Chef John because he’s new and everybody loves new things. It’s all about the experience tourists have in when they arrive at your hotel and it’s presented in a way where they feel pampered, loved and when they want something – it’s at their fingertips.”

In a press release last week, General Manager for Investment and Tourism for P.T.I Australia, Chad Morris, says Airbnb is a great opportunity for local Samoans to generate income. Currently there are 60 active hosts in Samoa who earn about US$2,700 (T$6,700) a year, showing that there is a demand for it.

Airbnb will deliver their works shops on February 14th in a series of two sessions which will focus on training for existing Airbnb hosts and the other will cater to those who are interested in becoming a host.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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