Should Airbnb be worried about competition?
Airbnb has positioned and acquitted itself as THE alternative to hotels. synonymous though it is with the idea of vacation rentals, Airbnb faces competition from other, big budget companies. With the biggest threat to Airbnb's revenue being a fall in reservations, and the most likely drivers of this scenario being those competitors, this question carries big weight in the forthcoming Airbnb IPO.
Airbnb generates the most bookings in the short term rental industry, but other platforms have vibrant channels and are growing quickly. Traveler reviews provide a good way to track booking trends over time. This data indicates that Booking has grown faster than Airbnb post-COVID, which is consistent with their larger marketing spend.
Inventory utilization (i.e the number of bookings per listing) increases as professional property managers add more channels. For professional property managers, Inventory listed on all platforms generates the most demand (21 booked nights per month) of any distribution strategy. However, Airbnb also books significantly more nights in a month per exclusive listing (16.5 booked nights per month) than its closest rivals, coming closer to the booked nights achieved by listings on multiple platforms; one can see why small PMs or hosts might forgo the complexity of managing multiple channels.
While Airbnb enjoys a real advantage in total listings, listing on multiple platforms is a dominant distribution strategy for property managers. Further, when we consider number of booked nights, thus accounting for trip length, Airbnb has climbed above its competitors in year on year performance through the course of a troubled 2020. Whilst weathering the substantial year on year loss, Airbnb again indicates a considerable dominance in booking power over its rivals. Nonetheless, those rivals generate a more than meaningful fraction of Airbnb's bookings.
In terms of traffic, Booking.com's dominance is substantial, even considering Airbnb's split domains. Whilst it has some ground to make up in traffic, it is Airbnb's command of direct traffic that sets it apart.
Then there is Airbnb's hotel opposition - each are potentially the greatest opposition to the other. Airbnb have built a staggering collection of over 12 million rooms, rivalling the might of even global hotels. Crucially, it now outpunches major hotel brands in terms of inventory size, as the pandemic recovery demand swings towards the vacation rental provision.