Airbnb Traffic Is Up 31 Percent Since 2016

The company is booking more rooms than ever and expanding its offerings. But that doesn't mean Millennial travelers have abandoned hotels for all occasions.

Airbnb saw 106.9 million site visits in Q1 of 2017, up 31 percent from the same period in 2016 — meaning that the company is now drawing more traffic than any other hotel brand or metasearch site, according to an eMarketer report drawing on data from SimilarWeb.

Why? Well, it isn’t surprising, but Millennials — major drivers of sharing economy adoption who are also 23 percent more likely to travel than their older counterparts — account for a reported 66 percent of Airbnb’s app traffic.

“This demographic appears more willing to roll the dice on the sort of personalized travel experience that the home-sharing service offers, in lieu of more predictable—but often staid—offerings from hotels,” eMarketer’s report states.

So, Do Millennials Hate Hotels?

But while Airbnb’s growth is significant, indicative of disruption in the travel space with the growing importance of personalization, those figures don’t necessarily tell the whole story.

As we wrote earlier this month, separate research suggests that Airbnb hasn’t truly supplanted traditional hotel accommodations for the Uber generation: 37 percent of Millennial say Airbnb is a “cheaper, preferred option,” but another 35 percent say the benefits of a hotel are worth the added cost — meaning that Millennials are effectively split when it comes to their preferences.

Additionally, 26 percent have stayed in an Airbnb before, and LendEDU’s research found they had mostly positive things to say — but a separate faction said that Airbnb still “feels sketchy and not as accommodating” (27 percent).

So, what does that mean for hotels? Well, these findings suggest that — rather than needing to convert the entirety of Airbnb customers to hotels, or vice versa — perhaps there is a solid market within the Millennial demographic for different types of experiences at different times, even as Airbnb continues to grow. After all, Airbnb is drawing more traffic than any individual hotel booking site — but not more than hotels as a whole: Just Marriott and Hilton saw approximately 111.2 million combined site visits in Q1 2017, which is more than Airbnb.

As such, traditional hotels must first know their target consumer: Is it older Millennials who have more disposable income, and can they offer them luxury upgrades and services that Airbnb by its very nature can’t provide? Is it consumers on-the-go looking for a last minute deal, who could perhaps be won over by relevant, geo-targeted messages at the right moment? Or perhaps its both, depending on their past stays and search history. But understanding this starts with research about what strengths play to which audience — and then targeting that audience accordingly across devices.

But Airbnb is hardly content to rest on its laurels: “The company is attempting to expand its portfolio of services to make it easy for guests to connect with tour guides and travel experience providers at destinations by providing personalized recommendations,” eMarketer reported. “Users can now book tours and other types of expeditions directly within the platform.”

Additionally, company is also expanding its ambitions in the business travel market, reportedly introducing a new category called “Business Travel Ready.” Airbnb listings in this classification will offer features like desk, Wi-Fi, a hairdryer, and more.

Essentially, as the sharing economy continues to grow, hotels need to understand the appeal of these types of offerings and target the right customer segments with appealing offers for both personalization and luxury experiences where appropriate — because competition from Airbnb certainly isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.