Take that, Airbnb! Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel hopes to push back against home-sharing

Hotel features five bars, tablets instead of a front desk

Public Hotel and Ian Schrager
Public Hotel and Ian Schrager

Ian Schrager is fighting back against Airbnb with a tech-fueled hotel.

Public Hotels replace the front desk with self-serve tablets where guests can check in and create their own room keys, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Lower East Side hotel features five bars and a restaurant, axing traditional room service. Calls from hotel rooms are re-routed to a call center in Las Vegas, and guests can ask a chatbot questions through Facebook (though, the Journal notes, this system still has a few defects to work out).

Schrager said the hotel industry needs to up its game if it hopes to adequately compete with Airbnb.

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“Airbnb is a mortal threat to the U.S. hotel industry,” Schrager told the Journal. “The only way you can compete with a strong idea is by having another strong idea.”

Last year, a Morgan Stanley study found that 49 percent of Airbnb users had opted for the home-sharing service over a traditional hotel stay in the part year. The study also found that 25 percent of those who traveler for leisure and 23 percent of business travelers will have used Airbnb by the end of 2017.

Schrager plans to open more than five Public hotels in the next few years, including another in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, one in Miami and one in Las Vegas. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel