April 01, 2015

Airbnb a category creator rather than a disrupter


Airbnb recently revealed that 76% of Airbnb listings are outside the main hotel districts in cities, and there are different-use cases for why people book with Airbnb. Apparantly, the company is in direct conversations with the six largest hotel groups.

Arguably, the most significant disrupter identified in travel today is the sharing economy. Anyone with an automobile can now compete with established black-car companies, homeowners with spare rooms can go head-to-head with hoteliers and local residents can offer their services as an alternative to guided tours.

Airbnb, among the best-known companies that enable sharing, currently lists as much room inventory as major hotel groups. Conley, the company's head of global hospitality and strategy, said that he didn't know yet exactly what he would tell summit attendees, but he said he looks at Airbnb as a "category creator" rather than a disrupter.

"Hospitality has always been full of innovation," Conley said. "Holiday Inn created the first global brand. Embassy Suites and Residence Inn built the extended-stay category. Airbnb is also growing a new kind of supply: home-sharing in urban markets, and some vacation rentals. We facilitate a collection of people who have chosen to operate very small businesses, with three, four or five rooms."

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Read also "Airbnb: The threat most hoteliers are ignoring"