Can Airbnb Book a Billion Nights a Year By 2025?

April 11, 2016, 6:07 PM UTC
Airbnb'S Value Estimated At $10 Billion After New Round Of Investments
SAN ANSELMO, CA - APRIL 21: The Airbnb app is displayed on a smartphone on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. Online home-rental marketplace Airbnb Inc. is about to receive more than $450 million in investments from a group led by private-equity firm TPG. The new investments will value the startup at $10 billion, significantly higher than some publicly traded hotel chains. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photograph by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Airbnb’s growth over the past several years is impressive by pretty much any metric. That will likely continue, according to an analysis by financial services firm Cowen Group, Bloomberg reports.

Based on a survey of 1,400 U.S. hotel and short-term rental guests, Cowen analysts project Airbnb bookings will increase from around 79 million “room nights” this year to roughly half a billion annually in the next five years—and a full billion per year by 2025

Why so optimistic? A lot of data, both anecdotal and numerical, points toward big gains. For one, despite Airbnb’s global traction, a large pool of consumers still haven’t used the service. Only 10% of respondents surveyed had actually booked through Airbnb before.

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Yet Aibnb’s brand recognition is strong. Half of respondents have heard of the service, and of the 26% of respondents who knew what Airbnb was but hadn’t yet stayed in an Airbnb lodging, 82% said they would try Airbnb in the future. A full two-thirds of those said they planned to do so within the next year.

But it’s not all about new customer growth, the Cowen analysts told Bloomberg. Existing Airbnb customers are extremely loyal as well. A Goldman Sachs (GS) survey of U.S. consumers found that an increasing number of Airbnb’s customers stick with the service rather than going back to hotels. Three-quarters of respondents to that survey that had used Airbnb three to five years ago—back when there were significantly fewer listings than there are now—have booked lodging through Airbnb within the past year.

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People are coming back to Airbnb, the Goldman Sachs survey showed, because they are nine times more likely to be more satisfied with Airbnb than their hotel stay where leisure travel is concerned. Leisure travel makes up the majority of Airbnb’s use.

That doesn’t spell disaster for the traditional hotel industry. Although Airbnb is expected to continue to gain users, its year-over-year growth rate has been slowing over the past few years. Bookings nearly tripled year-over-year in 2012, but have slowed over time to an expected 70% growth this year. It does not indicate stagnation by any stretch, but rather an increasingly mature business. And considering that 53% of respondents to Cowen Group’s survey had not even heard of Airbnb, there’s still plenty of room for new converts.

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