In the latter half of 2013, Airbnb began making more direct comparisons between itself and the hotel industry. Nathan Blecharczyk, cofounder and CTO, told the Telegraph in November that he expected Airbnb to surpass InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Hilton in total number of rooms. He was right. Intended or not, the direct comparison with two of the world’s largest hotel companies proved to be perfect PR for the fast-growing startup. Within six months, the company had closed a monster $475 million funding round. The extensive media coverage in the run-up to the funding couldn’t have hurt. It widely – and almost always superficially – compared the reported $10 billion valuation to the lesser market caps of several hotel companies, including IHG. The comparisons – both in the number of rooms and in valuation – may have made for great PR, but otherwise don’t make much sense. Airbnb’s business model shares little in common with that of hotels. It aggregates inventory and charges booking fees. The company does not own properties, manage inventory and on-property services and facilities, or even have control of its hosts’ availability calendars as many vacation rental management companies do (although Airbnb has taken some interesting and important approaches to these areas with Instant Book and predictive pricing for hosts). More apt comparisons would be with online accommodation marketplaces, such as HomeAway, Priceline or Expedia. Get the full story at Web In Travel