Since its founding in 2008, one of the primary critiques against Airbnb has been that the company could severely damage existing hospitality and real estate industries. However, according to an Oct. 12, 2016 Business Insider article, most of these concerns appear to have no factual basis.
Interestingly, prominent data research firm STR analyzed Airbnb data alongside hotel data in thirteen US and international markets—and found that Airbnb isn’t actually replacing hotels. Although Airbnb has more than double the number of listings worldwide than the leading hotel chains (such as Marriott and Hilton), the company targets entirely different demographics. “Comparing Airbnb and hotels in the first place is apples to oranges,” STR senior research analyst Jessica Haywood noted in the article.
According to Haywood, very different types of travelers from those who typically gravitate towards hotels, choose Airbnb. These travelers are often looking for an entirely different experience; they want to be immersed within and interact alongside the culture in a more intimate way than hotels can offer. Many Airbnb users can also not afford to stay in a hotel so they only travel if they can secure cheap accommodations. These are people who likely would not be traveling at all, were it not for the possibility of staying in an Airbnb.
Notably, in terms of occupancy, hotels are far ahead of Airbnb in every major market, and especially so in large international cities like Mexico City and London. Haywood concludes that, within the US, Airbnb is providing accommodations for those who cannot stay in hotels; therefore, while Airbnb may be edging in on the hotel’s guests, it is not claiming a large enough portion of them to disrupt traditional lodgings.
Ultimately, we at MetroButler believe that while Airbnb may not be putting hotels out of business anytime soon, this data represents a new frontier in hospitality and travel. Traditional accommodations do not reflect all travel needs and the introduction of new companies only increases the total amount of travel, rather than creates competition among industry players. Like Airbnb, we aim to curate a unique, immersive experience for our guests, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us and all travelers within the hospitality industry.