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Hotels must 'wake up' to Airbnb says group founder

Room Mate founder Kike Sarasola says industry must adapt with the trends while still maintaining quality

Pictured: Kike Sarasola, founder of Room Mate

The founder of Spanish hotel group Room Mate says the hotel industry must view new offers like Airbnb as an opportunity and not a threat, as it reveals it is eager to enter the UK market.

Kike Sarasola says hoteliers need to learn from new providers like Airbnb and adapt their services accordingly, adding that it prompted him to launch Be Mate.

He said: "Basically, I think our industry has to wake up. Everyone is considering Airbnb as a threat; I think it's an opportunity. New things are happening and people have to adapt.

"Be Mate is our answer to Airbnb. I don't use Airbnb personally because I prefer services and security. I think hoteliers should concentrate on delivering services that Airbnb do not provide. Airbnb gives you a key and that's it. Hoteliers give service and security."

Be Mate screens and reviews private apartments before allowing them to be listed on its website. It then allocates a personal concierge for guests, called a City Mate, who manages check-in and helps out with local knowledge and offers cleaning and transfer services.

Sarasola, who has opened 23 properties under the brand, says he had been looking to launch Room Mate in the capital.

He added: "The market in London is very competitive. We've been close to closing a few deals but it's been very difficult. London is booming right now. We would love to be in a premium location like Chelsea or Knightsbridge then branch out to other cities across the UK."

The corporate event space is another target market for Sarasola, who says he has been working to build his brand presence in the space.

"We already have the leisure side, now we're targeting the corporate. We're thinking outside the box and bringing original ideas to companies and events."

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