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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.
We just caught wind of a bed & breakfast in northern Germany, via our friends at Psfk, where guests can tuck into 100 year old beer barrels come bedtime. As in, the barrel is the bed. Hm, now that's our kind of themed room!
The nameless hotel, listed on AirBnB, snagged a few extra-large barrels from the local Potts Naturpark Brauerei (established 1769) and creatively converted them into cozy double beds in its three "beer rooms." The brewery used the barrels to age and transport malt beer from the 19th century all the way until 1995. (They're so old, we bet you can still smell the hops!).
As if the beds weren't crazy enough, there's even an on-site beer barrel-turned-sauna. And of course, a cold brewski is offered as a nightcap. Each of the rooms is also tricked out with a 32 inch flatscreen, DVD player, free WiFi, and massage jet shower. Got the morning munchies? "Breakfast in barrel" is on tap for 20 euros per person.
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Have you ever booked a stay through Airbnb? If yes, then skip to the next paragraph. If not, here's a quickie backgrounder: started four years ago, the vacation rental site allows travelers all over the world to book stays in other people's apartments and homes—just like a hotel room, but often much, much cheaper and a quicker way to connect with locals.
Needless to say, the company is giving hotels a serious run for their money.
How much money, you ask? A recent statistic actually found that by December 31, Airbnb (which is now available in 192 countries) will have surpassed Hilton in number of rooms booked. For evidence, see the below tweet from tech leader Tim O'Reilly: