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Airbnb bigger than Booking

Posted by Kjetil Faye Lund on 2 Mar 2019, 14:20:08
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In a monster battle between Booking.com and Airbnb over which company rules the private accommodations space, Airbnb has now issued a response to Booking.com’s claims of supremacy.

The privately held company, which is valued at more than $31 billion, said Friday that it has more than 6 million listings, which tops Booking Holding’s 5.7 million listings, according to Skift.

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Moreover, the company, which is rumored to be on its way to an initial public offering either this year or next, stressed the following points of distinction between it and its (unnamed) rival.

First, the company’s release on the number of listings stated: “Our platform is fueled by hosts and guests who are loyal to Airbnb because we treat them like members of a community, not commodities.” This is a common statement issued by Airbnb executives who stress that Airbnb isn’t like other online travel agencies or marketplaces.

Secondly, it said, “We have an unrivaled brand.” As Skift has noted before when discussing the “Airbnb Threat” to online travel agencies such as Booking Holdings and Expedia Group, the Airbnb brand plays a major factor in terms of consumer recognition and awareness. By becoming part of the cultural and social lexicon to describe homesharing—in much the same way Uber or Lyft have done so with ride hailing/ridesharing—the brand has become synonymous with private rentals.

Thirdly, the company also noted it has “more listings than the six largest hotel groups have rooms, combined.” By comparison, Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel company, has approximately more than 1.3 million rooms.

On Wednesday, Booking said that in the third quarter, it saw “over $1 billion” in revenue from its homesharing business, including vacation homes, apartments, and unique properties that aren’t hotels. For 2018, Booking said it generated $2.8 billion in revenue from alternative accommodations, accounting for 20 percent of the company’s overall revenue.

Friday’s announcement regarding the more than 6 million listings on Airbnb did not include any information about revenue generated from private accommodations.

Read on: How to succeed in the sharing economy

But it’s clear that the deployment of the release itself was, in many ways, a pointed response to Booking’s boasts that it is the global leader in private accommodations. Until Airbnb goes public, it’s hard to know exactly what the numbers bear, but it’s clear that the public battle between Airbnb and Booking will continue for some time.

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