Airbnb plots full-service future

3 min read

Airbnb’s business has grown to almost six-million listings in 100,000 cities and, the company claims, six guests check in to an Airbnb listing each second. While Airbnb says more boutique hotels are coming on board, and that the hospitality industry has become more “accepting of home sharing”, Airbnb is diversifying its business model, aiming to become a full-service travel platform.

Aside from Experiences and accommodation listings, Airbnb has hinted transportation is a focus and says it wants “a platform that combines where travellers stay, what they do, and how they get there”.

Based on the results of a recent user survey, 147,000 hosts and 90,000 past guests said trust, safe payments, and local and authentic experiences were overriding reasons they choose to use Airbnb. Collectively, hosts and guests have generated more than 250-million reviews, “which has created an amazing currency of trust,” Airbnb maintains.

Launched in 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession, Airbnb attributes its success to “the number of hosts who sought to earn extra money and Millennial travellers specifically seeking out authentic experiences”.

Those younger travellers have helped spread the word to others. For future business, Airbnb adds: “… Millennials and Generation Z markets are projected to represent more than 75 percent of the key consumer demographic by 2022, and will continue to shape the travel and tourism sector.”

Based on the user feedback, the company says price is only one reason guests turn to Airbnb. Ninety-five percent of respondents value the ease and security of payment; 86 percent are sold on location; while 64 percent have been influenced by the belief that home sharing is better for the environment.

Airbnb says 86 percent of respondents said the location was “more convenient” and 77 percent of respondents wanted to live like a local. In the last year, the company revealed 4.5-million guests have checked-in at an eco-friendly Airbnb listing.

Launched in 2016 with 500 listings, Airbnb’s Experiences business grew 7x in 2018 (year-on-year growth). There are now 30,000 Experiences available in various parts of the world.

“Airbnb Experiences immerse travellers in local communities… offering one-of-a-kind activities that are handcrafted by local experts. From walking with wolves in Los Angeles to listening to live jazz in a repurposed London shipping container, Experiences go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in each host’s unique world,” Airbnb’s user survey report says.

Based on the user survey results, 96 percent of Airbnb’s community want more local, authentic in-trip experiences, 94 percent value the ease and security of payment offered by Airbnb, and 92 percent trust the Airbnb brand to have better quality experiences.

Airbnb says its unique listings and high-quality experiences have “created a new way to travel” citing more than 14,000 ‘tiny houses’ listed, more than 4,000 castles and over 2,400 tree-house options.

And, the company maintains: “Our community has created a truly global network. Guests who are seeking unique listings and experiences around the world find what they want at Airbnb. That demand generates greater opportunities for even more hosts and, in turn, more options for guests… We are more than just homes…”