In the last couple of years, we have seen the launch of several peer-to-peer booking sites. The question that needs exploring is not whether these peer-to-peer booking sites are a threat to the hotel industry – they clearly are in my opinion – but how big a threat they might be.
Airbnb seems to be leading the way at the moment. Founded in 2008, the business describes itself as “a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” It is a classic online “butterfly” model, bringing together many vendors and many buyers through its central system.
A threat to hotel business
Is it successful? Well, over 10 million guest nights have been booked worldwide through via Airbnb (June 2012) since it was founded in August 2008. So I guess it is not doing too badly. Would these 10 million nights have been booked in hotels or are they all from people who would not have otherwise traveled? My guess is that most would have been traveling and used Airbnb to search for reasonable priced accommodation, so hotels may be missing out. And than let’s add the other sites like Homeexchange, Onefinestay, 9flats, HouseTrip and Wimdu.
Let’s have a look at small Denmark:
Danish daily Politiken has obtained figures from two of the most popular brokerage services, Airbnb and Homeexchange.com. According to Politiken, these two services will be responsible for 452,000 overnight stays in 2013, equal to eight percent of overnight stays by foreigners at hotels in 2012.
The figures are higher than we expected. This represents a new and exciting way to travel to and visit Denmark. Private rentals have certainly been underestimated until now, said Flemming Bruhn, director of the tourism organisation VisitDenmark, to Politiken.
However, since the figures only include two of many such services, this type of holiday is probably much more prevalent. It’s clearly an indication that the model is working and it’s growing.
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