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Inside the Airbnb bubble it's easy to think that it exists as an isolated island devoid from any competition in the outside world.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Airbnb’s rapid rise to world domination in the vacation rental industry has kick-started a global arms race to scoop up as much of the market share in this sector as possible, with the likes of Booking.com spending in excess of $5Billion in 2019 on marketing alone.
So, who are the biggest competitors for Airbnb? And, what are their unique value propositions?
Let’s find out...
Airbnb’s market share has risen dramatically since 2010. Statistics from 2019 estimate that Airbnb now accounts for upwards of 20% of the vacation rental industry as a whole.
With the entire market valued at roughly $87 Billion in 2020, this puts Airbnb’s total revenue in the realms of $20Billion.
With Airbnb’s year on year growth rate in 2018 topping 30% in the first quarter alone, it’s safe to assume these statistics are only going to rise in the coming years.
But, that’s enough about Airbnb’s market share for now, let’s get back on track and delve into the industry heavyweights that are the leading competitors for Airbnb.
From its origins as a small startup from Amsterdam -- founded in 1996 -- Booking.com has risen to become the global travel industry heavyweight.
With its focus originally on aggregating Hotel and short-term accommodation onto one marketplace, it’s now turning its attention to the booming vacation rental industry as well.
With the enormous amounts being invested in marketing (in the USA especially) it appears that Booking.com is starting to gain a bigger chunk of the market share.
“It is growing faster than our core business, and we’re pleased with that,” said Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel.
Booking.com is still primarily a platform for booking Hotel/Holiday apartment-style accommodation, whereas the core of Airbnb’s listings are still from small-time homeowners looking to monetize their properties.
However, Booking.com -- and the recent addition of its ‘Homestays’ section -- aims to change its image on this front.
With Airbnb and Booking.com both looking to provide end to end solutions for the entire travel journey -- from car rentals and flights to activity bookings and restaurant reservations -- the competition has only just begun.
And it’s beginning to heat up!
Did you know that it’s possible to list your property on more than one platform?
Well, if you’re a Smartbnb user this process is actually really easy.
In fact, we currently offer direct integrations with some of the biggest competitors for Airbnb, so you can list your property on multiple platforms -- and expose your property to a much bigger audience -- and manage the whole thing in one place.
And, because the integrations are seamlessly updated (in real-time), you’ll never run into the problem of double bookings like you would if you were to attempt this manually.
It’s a pretty cool feature, and we’re adding support for more and more of Airbnb’s competitors over time. Click here to find out more >>
Expedia Group is a massive conglomerate company with many smaller subsidiary companies under its umbrella brand making it a massive player in the vacation rental industry, and a big competitor to Airbnb.
Although it’s subsidiary brands don’t have the same global brand recognition as Airbnb, they do have plenty of regional recognition, and for this reason, they are definitely one of the competitors to watch out for.
Probably the biggest and most well known of the subsidiary brands. VRBO has a strong market share in the USA.
Although Home Away is literally identical to VRBO, it has stronger brand recognition -- and is more popular in -- Europe, Australia, India, and Brazil.
Bookabach is predominantly available in New Zealand (also parts of the South Pacific), and in many regions is a popular alternative to Airbnb.
Stayz is targeted exclusively at people looking for accommodation in Australia.
TravelMob is popular with travelers in South East Asia; places like Bali, Thailand, Vietnam.
Expedia has gone down the route of acquiring multiple different country-specific travel brands. This has given them an advantage with brand recognition and traction in these local areas.
However, Airbnb continues to make inroads in all of these locations whilst maintaining its operations all under one brand.
In the future, Expedia may try to amalgamate all of its subsidiaries under one brand, however, this remains to be seen.
Until then, however, I see Airbnb continuing to erode market share from Expedia’s subsidiaries over the coming years.
Flip Key was founded in 2007 -- originally as a house-swapping platform -- and after being featured in Travel and Leisure Magazine’s Top Travel website list was quickly acquired by Trip Advisor in 2008.
Since then, Flip Key has continued to grow, now boasting more than 830,000 listings in over 179 different countries worldwide.
It seems Flip Key has the same end goal as Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia group combined; The holy-grail of travel -- to create a seamless complete travel experience for their users. From car rental to flight bookings, restaurant recommendations to local tours.
And with Trip Advisors backing, they have a good chance of achieving this goal and giving Airbnb a run for their money in the vacation rental space.
Flip Key has the advantage of the combined wisdom of over 500+ million Trip Advisor traveller reviews. This gives them a unique advantage over many of the other travel platforms -- Airbnb in particular.
This collective wisdom can help their users create more informed travel decisions which can only be a good thing.
However, once again it seems that the Airbnb brand reigns supreme as Airbnb still dominates Flip Key in almost all markets. Will it stay like this forever? Who knows.
But for now at least, Airbnb is continuing to dominate and scoop up more and more market share.
Although not exclusively a competitor to Airbnb, HomeToGo/Tripping.com is a search engine that aims to aggregate the vacation rental market on one platform.
Their system gathers booking information from booking websites: Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, Housetrip, Roomorama, Interhome, Novasol, Wimdu, ZenRentals, Bedycasa, WayToStay, Gloveler, HolidayVelvet, 9flats, AlwaysOnVacation, RedAwning, Housetrip.
Users can search by price, ratings, location and a long list of features and amenities.
Although not necessarily a direct competitor to Airbnb, Tripping.com does offer users a unique opportunity to find and compare listings on multiple platforms (including Airbnb).
However, after using Tripping.com to research this article it’s evident that their integration with Airbnb pricing is not very accurate whatsoever.
In fact, the prices displayed on Tripping.com for Airbnb listings are totally inaccurate!
Whether this is because Airbnb won’t let them integrate with their system fully, or whether it’s because Tripping.com is affiliated with many of the other companies in the list above I’m unsure.
However, I don’t see Tripping.com eroding too much of Airbnb’s market share any time soon.
Airbnb has hit the vacation rental market by storm, completely changing the landscape in its short history.
However, as the market is maturing, so too are the competitors for Airbnb who are hot on their heels.
Will Airbnb trump them all and become a monopoly in the vacation rental market?
But, one thing we do know though is that the competition is heating up. And, free-market competition is a good thing for hosts and guests alike -- bringing down prices and reducing fees.
Luckily though, you can hedge your bets by listing your property on multiple different platforms seamlessly (with the use of Smartbnb), that way, you can hedge your bets without having to pick a winner.
So, go get yourself signed up for a Free 14 day trial with Smartbnb and get your property listed on multiple platforms right now.
You’ll be glad you did.