Airbnb has been a major disruptor in the travel and hospitality industry, but the CEO of Hyatt Hotels said the popular app has only made his business stronger.
The rise of Airbnb as a competitor to hotels has pushed Hyatt to up its game and focus on the way it provides services to its core high-end traveler clientele, Mark Hoplamazian said during a presentation Friday.
"Airbnb has demonstrated that people really do care about the interpersonal human experience. Their founding was about connecting individual travelers to real people," he said at the Baron Investment Conference in New York. "Airbnb has actually expanded travel and they've inspired us to think about how we do business."
The app allows travelers to book private accommodations at prices that often are cheaper than what they would pay at big hotels.
Rather than watch its business shrink amid what Hoplamazian called "fierce" competition, the Hyatt brand has expanded.
The company is opening at least 60 new hotels this year and also is at a record pace for new building. Hyatt employees are being trained to focus on letting guests "let them be themselves."
Much of that growth is coming from China, which he said has accounted for 120 million of the world's travelers this year.
"The wind is at our back, because people are looking for experiences," Hoplamazian said. "There are more and more people around the world who can afford to travel. That base of travelers that is expanding is significantly driven by travelers coming out of China."
Other new trends in the industry he outlined are a focus on wellness and a continued emphasis on corporate culture.
"Many, many more companies are turning to mindful practices in their businesses to allow their own employees to be their best selves and to be balanced. A lot of it is to manage stress," he said.