AIRBNB TAKES SHARE FROM HOTELS AND ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCIES WHILE INCREASING CUSTOMER LOYALTY
It’s hard to believe that when Airbnb launched in 2008, it was little more than a couple of guys renting out air mattresses to help cover the rent for their San Francisco apartment. Yet that’s the idea that has given legacy hospitality businesses — several of them on the Global 2000 list — a run for their money. In fact, U.S. bookings on Airbnb have outpaced the market for the past four years and contributed to nearly half of the overall lodging market growth in 2018. Airbnb also commands more than 81% of the home-sharing bookings in the U.S.
Looking ahead to 2020, when Airbnb may IPO, analysts and investors are wondering: Can this unicorn sustain its growth? Our recent Insights Report, leveraging U.S.-only email receipt data, analyzes bookings activity at Airbnb and other home-sharing sites, traditional hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs), indicates continued bookings growth for Airbnb, despite a recent slowdown in new users.
U.S. bookings growth on Airbnb outpaced the market for the past four years and contributed to nearly half of the overall lodging market growth in 2018. While it’s true OTAs and hotels account for the majority of total bookings, home-sharing sites are eroding the legacy businesses’ dominance.
Airbnb accounted for 12% of lodging reservations as of September 2019. Airbnb is the dominant player in this category; VRBO is Airbnb’s closest competitor and it has failed to threaten the home-sharing giant. Airbnb bookings increased 38% year-over-year in 2018 — compare that to traditional hotel and OTA bookings, which grew just 3% and 4% respectively.
Customers who used any combination of Airbnb and OTAs and/or hotels increased from 4% to 11% between 2015 and 2019. Even more striking, there’s a subset of customers whose reservation history shows when they travel, they only use Airbnb. These customers accounted for just 4% of our data set in 2015, but 12% as of September 2019. The increase suggests there’s a growing number of people who choose home-sharing instead of hotels when they travel.
Users who booked lodging exclusively through OTAs declined to 37% in 2019 (as of September) from 44% in 2015. Similarly, hotel-only customers dropped to 28% in 2019 from 33% in 2015. This decline doesn’t necessarily mean bookings are falling on these platforms, but rather could indicate customers are choosing more diverse options for specific trips.
While both repeat and new-user growth has increased over the past several years, 2019 data shows a slight slowdown in new-user growth for Airbnb customers. Between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018, new-user growth dropped from 30% to 24%. The data tells us that once customers have an Airbnb experience, though, they are very likely to return: repeat users accounted for 78% of Airbnb’s total booking in Q3 2019 up from 73% in Q3 2018.
These trends that suggest Airbnb will continue to erode OTAs’ and hotels’ market share as tracked by 7Park Data’s proprietary data sets. To learn more about our product and services, or to request a copy of the Airbnb Insights Report, please contact us.