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Surviving Airbnb: Four Seasons CEO Says Tech, Customer Service Are Key For Luxury Hotels

Allen Smith, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO

Airbnb's push into luxury lodging is not lost upon Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO Allen Smith, and to remain competitive the high-end brand is turning to a fusion of technology and customer service.

Smith told Bloomberg it would be naive for luxury hotels to ignore the Airbnb effect and underestimate just how fast markets are changing. To push back, the luxury hotel chain launched a mobile app that includes a chat function to enhance customer service, and the company plans to introduce a guest recognition program to increase customer loyalty.

Airbnb set its sights on the luxury market in February when it acquired Luxury Retreats, a high-end rental manager, in a $300M deal. Luxury Retreats operates more than 4,000 properties globally and the deal marked Airbnb’s largest acquisition to date.