In 2015, Airbnb, the short-term rental platform, will double its nightly bookings to about 80 million, reports Reuters, citing "investors familiar with the company's performance." And bookings during to the papal visit show why, according to a Wall Street Journal story.
The forecasted numbers couldn't be verified because the private startup doesn't publicly reveal its figures.
If true, Airbnb would have a triple-digit growth rate for nightly bookings in its seventh year of existence. That would far exceed the forecasts of investment analysts.
Nightly bookings do not precisely equate to revenue gains. So a doubling in nightly bookings doesn't mean overall revenue doubles. That said, the marginal cost of selling additional nights on the system is small.
Challenge to hotels
A couple of years ago, the industry perception was that Airbnb was mainly a threat to vacation rentals platforms like Homeaway. But now the talk has turned to Airbnb's effect on hotels.
A story in today's Wall Street Journal shows why. It uses the example of Pope Francis's visit to the United States last week and the effect on hotel rates as a sign of Airbnb's growing impact on hotels.
When a major event happens at a destination (like a papal visit, a sporting event, or a holiday like New Year's), hotels charge higher-than normal rates.
But the early data from STR Global, the consultancy, shows that rates at stops along the papal visit did not increase as much as would have been expected based on past models.
Airbnb's presence is named as a factor. In Philadelphia, one of the stops on the papal tour, Airbnb boosted the supply of accommodation by about 17%, reported STR.
Airbnb says it has more than 1.5 million rental listings worldwide.
Tnooz recently cited the view of hotel asset managers, investors, and major chain executives that Airbnb’s threat to hotels may be structural. We quoted Mark Carrier, president of B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, who said:
"My worry is about the potential for Airbnb to generate inventory that responds dynamically to demand in peak periods. That would knock the edge off hotels’ ability to drive profitable RevPAR."
The full Reuters story is: Exclusive: Airbnb to double bookings to 80 million this year - investors
The full WSJ story is worth a read: "Airbnb Crimps Hotels’ Power on Pricing"
Meanwhile in China in the past day, Zhubaijia, an Airbnb clone, raises $78 million, just six weeks after receiving a $30 million round.
Tnooz's August story was: Airbnb’s threat to hotels may be structural, going beyond tax fight
NB: Image courtesy ouishare/Flickr/Creative Commons