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AirBnB Flexes Its Muscles: Is the Hotel Industry Scared?

Where: Various Locations
May 7, 2013 at 9:59 AM | by | ()

Although it's been around for a couple years now, the chatter surrounding Airbnb has picked up in the last few months due to its now undeniable presence within the lodging industry. According to Yahoo News, Airbnb listings -- aka rooms for rent -- have risen from 10,000 at the end of 2009 to 300,000 across 192 countries today. At the end of last year, the numbers suggested Airbnb would surpass Hilton in number of rooms booked. That's a serious growth spurt!

Clearly, Airbnb's rise in popularity shows it is no longer an option only for hippies and free spirits, a fact that has caught the attention of some within the hotel industry. The big question becomes: Can Airbnb really pose a threat to hotel revenue and occupancy? Well, given that both business and leisure travelers are using the service, hell yes it can!

Price, variety, and the idea of having an authentic experience seem to be driving Airbnb's success as travelers look to not only save money but to immerse themselves locally while on the road.

"It's always painful to find a nice and affordable place to stay especially when you travel alone and have no idea about the place you're going to visit," said Lu Cao, from Portland, OR. "I used Airbnb several times around different U.S. cities and they all turned out to be great. You can always learn a lot of local info from the hosts, and the check in/out time can be much more flexible than a hotel. Also, almost all of them provide free WiFi connection."

For example, a search of the Airbnb listings in NYC for this weekend showed over a thousand rooms available for less than $100 a night. Meanwhile, a search of hotels.com for the same time period and same price range pulled up a listing of hotels mostly located in New Jersey, many of which had received poor reviews. By the way, just in case you didn't know, New Jersey is not New York City!

So, if Airbnb has more options at lower prices and society starts to view it as being safe (aka we get past thinking every stranger is a serial killer), why couldn't the service compete with hotels? Especially considering all the "support local" movements happening across the country. Talk about supporting the local economy and people -- your tourism dollars would literally go directly into their pockets.

We see competition as a good thing, so we're looking forward to seeing what Airbnb continues to do and how the hotel industry responds.

[Screengrab: Hotel Chatter]

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