It's always hard to predict the future of an industry, especially if the industry is fairly new, like home-sharing. New platforms can grow to multiple billion dollar companies in less than 10 years and they could also completely disappear within the same time-span.
After being founded in 2008, Airbnb has grown tremendously. The company is valued at $20B, twice the valuation of Hyatt and roughly equal to Marriot. It has more rooms listed than any hotel company (although it doesn't own the rooms) and in a recent report Barclay's predicts it could also top the list of most rooms booked within a few years.
The report also states that increasing regulations could slow Airbnb's growth. Airbnb has disrupted the accommodations market, and not everyone is happy about that.
Airbnb could also expand their services beyond offering accommodation, such as car-sharing, meal-sharing and local tours. I personally see a bright future ahead, for Airbnb but also for the sharing economy in general. I believe we're at the very beginning of a new era in which people will view their assets more as sharable resources than personal belongings and in which a significant part of economic transactions will take place on sharing economy platforms. Airbnb is certainly at the forefront of this movement.
Below you will find the opinion of 56 Airbnb experts, ranging from Airbnb hosts, frequent guests, travel experts, founders of Airbnb related startups and even a well-known Airbnb executive. They all share their vision on where Airbnb is going in the future. Enjoy!
Paula Pant – Afford Anything
The growing popularity of Airbnb is a double-edged sword. On one hand, high-quality Airbnb listings at reasonable prices will disrupt the hotel industry. Hotels will need to compete harder in order to attract guests, and may become more reliant on conference and wedding bookings than before. Hotels will also need to place an increased emphasis on the qualities that separate their offerings from Airbnb spaces, such as daily housekeeping. This is great news for guests, who will get more choices and better values.
“The growing popularity of Airbnb is a double-edged sword” – Paula Pant
On the other hand, as more people decide to list their spaces on Airbnb, the guests will experience the effects of the lack of quality control. Quite frankly, some Airbnb listings are amazing and others are filthy and disappointing. Thats why the review system is more important than ever, and cannot be understated. Reviews will make or break a listing. I expect Airbnb will even more strongly emphasize the review system and the Superhost badge in the future.
Chip Conley – Head of Hospitality at Airbnb
“Belong Anywhere.” That's our mission which means we literally need to cover the globe. We're already in 34,000 cities, but we've been predominately urban so you'll see us explore vacation and resort destinations in the next five years as well as move into some countries and parts of the world where we haven't had much supply historically.
“We will offer all kinds of unique services beyond just providing a place for you to stay.” – Chip Conley
With respect to “belonging,” we will offer all kinds of unique services beyond just providing a place for you to stay. Airbnb's focus will grow increasingly on the whole trip: how we can create a sense of magical belonging with customized experiences throughout your journey.
Chris Backe – One Weird Globe
I see Airbnb as a platform that aims to mimic the hotels it is trying to disrupt. We've already seen that ourselves, as far as the nickel and diming fees go. I can't say it makes me a fan of them – especially when a cheaper hotel can be found when you add it all up!
“I see Airbnb as a platform that aims to mimic the hotels it is trying to disrupt” – Chris Backe
I think some of the other players in the industry will be given a chance to shine, especially since their niches are slightly different. There will be room in the market for folks that are trying to use multiple services, although keeping up communication will be the biggest challenge. I don't see people investing enough money or time to learn the nuances to all the platforms, instead of sticking with the one that makes the most money or is the easiest to use.
In the end, it will continue to come down to price and service – one option gets to be more expensive than the other without an increase in service or other values added, then people will continue to go back to the hotels.
Nathan Tobin – Head of Growth at Guesty
Airbnb's future is undoubtedly bright. While many in the home-sharing community worry that impending regulations may stunt industry growth, we should embrace regulations because with regulations comes clarity. This sort of clarity actually expands the market and invites in new participants who may have otherwise been cautious of the sharing economy.
“We should embrace regulations because with regulations comes clarity.” – Nathan Tobin
In our experience at Guesty, we've even seen an influx of inquires from new hosts in cities that provide guidelines for short-term rentals, hosts who were waiting until the regulatory dust settled to get involved.
Sajad Ghanizada – Hurdlr
Airbnb has grown exponentially over the years and will continue to grow, being one of the leaders in the sharing economy. As with every disruptive service, Airbnb will face pressure from government, the hotel lobby, and consumers who have had bad experiences. Because of the temporary monopoly they hold within this niche service, they'll quickly adapt and grow.
“Eventually, Airbnb will become a household name” – Sajad Ghanizada
Eventually, Airbnb will become a household name which will push the hotel industry into a niche consumer market or force them to compete by providing a more customized service at a lower price point.
Ian McHenry – CEO of Beyond Pricing
Airbnb's biggest disruption is that it has enabled anyone to become a micro-hotelier, the same way that Uber enabled anyone to become a driver. Not only does this create income opportunities for people, but it creates a dynamic supply of accommodations. In the travel space, demand is highly variable but traditionally supply has been fixed.
Hotels will have to learn how to compete in this brave new world where suddenly the number of rooms available could double for a major event as people list their place in response to increased demand. Hotels will no longer be able to charge triple or quadruple their normal rates for big events.
“Airbnb will not become the dominant type of accommodation for most people.” – Ian McHenry
That said, Airbnb will not become the dominant type of accommodation for most people. It will become a mainstream option, will be bookable on traditional sites like Expedia and Booking.com, and will likely see hotel brands start to offer Airbnb-like options. In the same way that boutique hotels like Kimpton, Joie de Vivre, and the W took market share away from traditional full-service hotels, short-term apartment rentals like Airbnb will gain a significant share but will eventually be dominated by brands who can provide a consistency in the quality and service you can expect.
Mack Owen – Airbnb Host in Seattle
Every day, my feeling on AirBnB's future changes or evolves in some way. I do plan to grow my listing business, and the idea or goal is to have 3-5 listings by next summer. I feel motivated, excited, and passioned to do this, one reason I do get excited is I feel like I am the only person I know doing AirBnB hosting in Seattle (with my Partner).
I feel like I am doing something niche. People are becoming more familiar with the sharing economy and AirBnB, but in general it still seems like it is in its infancy. Then again, vacation rental businesses have been around for a while, and corporate housing type living situations have been around.
“Airbnb is the way online-dating used to be” – Mack Owen
I may inevitably end up going that route and business model as a result of wanting to grow and grow… An anology I compare AirBnB to, is the way online dating used to be back in the day. People originally were cold to the idea of meeting in a chat room, but within a 5-10 year window everyone is doing it. I think AirBnB hosting is heading in that direction. Soon it will be saturated and everyone will have the concept down, and realize it's a great way to make some money. Perhaps 2-3 years is my estimate, that it'll be completely mainstream. I am not sure about the legality issues though, that's another story.
David Ordal – Everbooked
In the really long term, I see Airbnb — and home sharing in general — from an environmental perspective. As more and more people travel, it creates a need for more and more infrastructure to support those travelers. The funny thing is that we already have that infrastructure, but just not in the traditional hotel sense. Airbnb is opening up short-term rental infrastructure in a way that has never been possible before.
We track a lot of data about Airbnb, and we're seeing that in the US, 60% of Airbnb reservations are for either ‘Shared Room' or ‘Private Room'. That's millions of room-nights per year for which we don't need to build any additional infrastructure.
“Airbnb is opening up short-term rental infrastructure in a way that has never been possible before” – David Ordal
I don’t think hotels are ever going to go away, and I don’t see things from an ‘Airbnb vs. hotels' perspective. There are a lot of people for whom an Airbnb might not make sense; perhaps they are arriving really late, or they’re bringing family, or they’re with a really large group. I see hotels and Airbnb as two sides of the same coin — with Everbooked I’m trying to bring the same pricing tools and data that hotels enjoy to the Airbnb hosts on the other side of the coin.
Airbnb has already opened up a whole new part of the lodging industry, and I only see that getting bigger. It benefits us as consumers, and it benefits the planet.
Kimberley Barker – Kimberleybarkernightingale.com
I love everything that Airbnb stands for – community ,sharing, people of different cultures coming together. I would also like to have another house or expand my current house to accomodate more listings. I am a bit concerned about what is happening in major cities with the governments wanting to impose taxes and restrictions on our ability to do this however.
“Will Airbnb be able to sustain its original mission?” – Kimberley Barker
I am assuming most hosts are doing Airbnb for additional income that is needed or additional income to help out with something in their life. Why does such a great idea have to be taxed? Because “big government and big business” want a piece of the pie? Reminds me of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I do see Airbnb continuing to grow and expand, I am just concerned about what it will turn into, will it be able to sustain its original mission?
Ross McDowall – Probnb
I think Airbnb has a very bright future with a major amount of growth ahead of them. As stated by the CMO of Airbnb at the Airbnb Open in 2014, market awareness is 1% so they are just getting started. I see a future where the number of hosts and travellers continues to expand as younger generations that have different views on travelling and sharing enter the marketplace.
Tempering the growth will be the ongoing legal issues that face hosts in various cities around the world with home sharing or short term rental issues and these will take some years to be worked through. Of course the odd Airbnb calamity story will always appear in the press as if bad tenants are a problem only for Airbnb and not traditional landlords.
“Sharing is here to stay, the genie is out of the bottle and will be impossible to stuff back in” – Ross McDowall
I also think Airbnb will possibly acquire or compete against complimentary businesses along the way, such as management services like Guesty or dynamic pricing services likef Everbooked and Beyond Pricing.
So, overall very positive, however there will be some steps backwards as the vested interests make it less comfortable by ramping up the rhetoric. Sharing is here to stay, the genie is out of the bottle and will be impossible to stuff back in.
Harry Campbell – The Rideshare Guy
Airbnb is only going to get bigger as the entire sharing/collaborative economy continues to grow. But there will be contention over whether or not it's pricing out long term renters in metropolitan areas. Airbnb is a boon for individual owners but when you start converting apartments and condos into Airbnb properties, there won't be anything left for residents which will cause a problem.
“Airbnb is only going to get bigger as the entire sharing/collaborative economy continues to grow” – Harry Campbell
Ultimately, I think there will need to be a compromise that allows individual owners to rent out a property or two but that dissuades ‘Airbnb hotels' that only serve to increase the net worth of a small percentage of owners.
Megan Hunt – Princess Lasertron
I believe that the sharing economy will drive many of the new multi-billion dollar industries of the future, and Airbnb is the company that emerged to kick off this new era. The best asset that Airbnb has cultivated is the idea in its consumers of trust in strangers.
“The best asset that Airbnb has cultivated is the idea in its consumers of trust in strangers” – Megan Hunt
It’s a growing belief in the goodness of other humans. It’s using technology to commodify and exchange human interaction in the most literal, physical way. I am optimistic for a future where these economies of goodwill in increasingly diverse industries will effect the offline world as much as our virtual one.
Phil Morris – Ourbnb
For me I think that Airbnb model will change city to city as due to licensing and tax issues, it can’t be a one size fits all.
For instance here in Barcelona, you can host at home if you have a licence, which most people do not have. Although there are a large number of people like us who manage or rent out licensed apartments. With the government getting strict on unlicensed properties, I see Airbnb for Barcelona becoming more about whole apartment renting then about home hosting.
For the company as a whole, they’ve become really big in a short space of time and in the past year we’ve noticed the personal side of the company that we used to get has slipped quite a bit. I think this is a huge shame as we always felt we where part of this amazing moment of the sharing economy, now we do feel from time to time that the old Airbnb was much more fun and personable.
“We do feel from time to time that the old Airbnb was much more fun and personable” – Phil
The hotel industry, well.. They have had an easy life for the past 30 years. It was basically set rates open door and watch the guest come flooding in. Unless you where staying at a high end hotel, they all became pretty much the same. The decor was uniformed, the staff, unhelpful, customer service was not there.
We see a huge number of Airbnb virgins, who would be ‘hotels folk' up until their first time, and every time we speak to them the day after they check in, it always the same. ‘We’re never going to stay in a hotel again’.
“Hotels have competition now and it's not the hotel next door. It's us.” – Phil
There will always be a place for hotels and I don’t see that hotels are going to start closing down due to Airbnb, but I do think they have to rethink and up their game when it comes to what they are offering guests. They have competition now and it's not the hotel next door.It's us 🙂
Andrew Henderson – Nomad Capitalist
Airbnb will enjoy some growth as more twenty-somethings who value the hipster mentality of the “sharing economy” travel more frequently, but I think their refusal to moderate corporate listings and keep listings up to date will cause them a lot of problems.
“Airbnb will do well even as quality deteroriates and the “Facebook effect” sets in” – Andrew Henderson
Ultimately, however, they are a hot SV company and I'm sure they will do well even as quality deteroriates and the “Facebook effect” sets in.
Brian Schmidt – Everywhere Once
As full-time travelers we stay in more than our fair share of hotels. And we can say without question that Airbnb fills a seriously underserved segment of the hospitality marketplace. For us, being able to occasionally book longer-term accommodations in real, liveable, apartments in local neighborhoods, at reasonable prices, is a lifesaver. It adds a little dose of normalcy to our otherwise unorthodox lifestyle.
“Impersonally provided luxury can’t compete with the local experience you get through Airbnb”– Brian Schmidt
So the popularity of sites like Airbnb is no real surprise to us. The hotel industry just hasn’t done a good job serving travelers who want more than a bed in a box. And impersonally provided luxury can’t compete with the kind of local experience you get through peer-to-peer accommodation arrangements like with Airbnb.
As long as that remains true, we fully expect Airbnb will continue to have all the success it deserves.
Katie Matthews – Wandertooth
As travellers, and partial nomads, we use Airbnb a lot as guests, having stayed in apartments in cities like Seville, Belgrade, and Paris throughout our travels. We've always had awesome or almost awesome experiences, and because we are quiet, clean, and respectful, I think we assumed most people who use the service are similar.
I never paid much attention to the potential downsides of Airbnb until we moved to Prague, and our current landlords decided to run an Airbnb in the apartment directly above ours. It has totally changed our perspective on the service, because what used to be a quiet building full of residents now has groups of drunken tourists coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Last weekend, pictures in our apartment literally fell down because the Airbnb guests were jumping up and down, dancing and yelling at midnight.
“A key challenge for Airbnb will be balancing what residents want with what guests see as their right to party while on vacation” – Katie Matthews
I think a key challenge for the future of Airbnb will be balancing the sense of community that residents of a building want — and that comes with ties and a sense of responsibility — with what some guests see as their right to have fun and party while on vacation. I think that if Airbnb fails to solve the issue, they'll see more and more owners refusing to allow short-term rentals in their buildings.
Veronika Hradilikova – Travel Geekery
I see quite a bright future for Airbnb unless the government regulation intensifies. The trend of the sharing economy doesn't seem to stop, even despite several challenges and disasters (Uber in India). At the beginning, Airbnb faced one disaster of their own – a guest burned down a host's place. Their response was rather lukewarm and they were criticised for it heavily. But they learned and moved on and have grown into a company of a substantial size.
I have stayed at around 20 apartments on 4 continents and have had mostly positive experience. I've always relied a lot on the reviews. Perhaps I was lucky, too. The reviews have become rather tricky. According to a recent study by maphappy.org (and republished by Mashable), customers tend to avoid negative feedback once they've met a person face-to-face. But isn't there a similar problem with biased reviews of hotels? I personally think so. So in this aspect, Airbnb doesn't face bigger obstacles than any accommodation facility.
“Airbnb's main challenge is internal – how to manage growth without the loss of their unique culture” – Veronika Hradilikova
In my opinion, Airbnb will still be here in 5-10 years. There will be quite a few competitors breathing on their neck – often companies that offer swapping of homes, rather than a direct payment for providing lodging. But unless countries try to curb spreading of the whole sharing economy, Airbnb's main challenge is internal – how to manage growth without the loss of their unique culture.
Kristin Addis – Be My Travel Muse
I am a big fan of Airbnb and I use it often. AirBnb is way cheaper than hotels, and in South Africa was better value than hostels in places like Cape Town. However, I usually just rent out an extra room in a house someone owns. It becomes a problem when people get greedy and overuse the system.
Where I see the problem is with the lack of taxes. Plus, a lot of prime apartments are kept out of reach for renters because they are only Airbnb vacation homes and not just something that people casually rent out when they are out of town. I always liked it as something to help an entrepreneur or the typical traveler to get some extra cash.
“Airbnb becomes a problem when people get greedy and overuse the system” – Kristin Addis
Where it becomes a problem is when people have several apartments and rent them like hotel rooms. Then cities that are broke like Berlin or Los Angeles lose out on important hotel tax income that goes towards education and other public services. It's a tough call for me because I do like the value it provides but, like anything, some people choose to abuse it.
Penny Sadler – Adventures of a Carry-on
I've been reading lately that some cities are imposing hotel taxes on Airbnb users as they see Airbnb as direct competition and taking away from their business. While I'm sure this is true in some instances – in many it is not. My situation falls in the latter category. Another condition for taxing was that people are accepting long term guests (stays of 30 days or more) and the owners are not living in the dwelling. This is not at all my situation. I never have anyone for more than a week at a time and I live in the space I rent out.
I like to think I do Airbnb more in the spirit of how it started, kind of old school boarding house. People who rent from me are definitely not people who would be staying in hotels. In some cases they might not even be traveling if there were not a resource like Airbnb for them. In other cases they stay with me because they want to have a more personal experience of the city they are visiting, be it for work or pleasure. As one guest stated, “I want to live like a local for a few days.”
“Some people wouldn't be traveling if there weren't a resource like Airbnb” – Penny Sadler
Since I actually live in the dwelling myself and share space with my guests, I form friendships with some of them, and yes, it is a source of additional income – income which is helping to replace income lost in the crash of 2008 – but in fact doesn't even come close. It's a drop in the bucket. I participate in Airbnb more for the experience than the dollars.
I'm concerned that the federal and local governments will interfere in Airbnb and make it less desirable to use, and more expensive. I hope they can find a way to sort out the people who are abusing the site and people like myself and my guests who actually benefit from the site.
Nicole Smith- Bitten by the Travel Bug
I don't think airbnb will disrupt the hotel and hostel industry, but it will continue to give the consumer more options at a variety of price points. Just as there are different price points and styles of hotels and hostel, Airbnb offers this within its booking portal – often offering a lot more services for less!
I am a huge fan of hotels – in fact, they're my preferred accommodation choice – but one of the best aspects of Airbnb is the local feel you get from experiencing their properties, whether you're sharing an apartment or renting a whole house. You get to know the city more intimately with suggestions and help from your host. You have as much or as little independence, depending on what you (and they) choose. Sure, you'll be well looked after but you often don't get that local feel in a hotel.
Guests also impact hosts, and not just with the ability to earn extra income through renting out their property or spare room. The French twins who stayed with me recently taught me about French cuisine – particularly their love of wine – which has broadened by palate, and my first airbnb host in Paris taught me to seek out small neighbourhood stores even in the most touristy of places, those are the people who will be patient enough to let you practice and improve your language skills. They also have the best French coffee!
“My guest made me look at my neighbourhood and city in a different way” – Nicole Smith
Right now, I'm hosting a Muslim girl – it's her first time away from her family or husband – so I'm acting as both friend and mother to her, despite her being older than me. At the same time, she's made me look at my neighbourhood and city in a different way, particularly about accessibility to Halal food in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne (an area that is primarily Jewish or Christian) and women's safety.
Hotels and hostels will always have a place for consumers who seek that product, but Airbnb's growth continues to show that people are seeking out alternative accommodation. The people and personalities behind the properties are just one of the many reasons why.
Kimberley Pack – Moms Guide to Cheap Travel
There is no doubt Airbnb has changed the travel industry for good. The idea that there is more options then just what Priceline has to offer has really empowered travelers.
From a family perspective the idea of traveling with children is enough to make you not travel, or leave them home. Most parents that travel know ONE golden rule, If you are sharing a room with your children, YOU get to go to bed at the same time they go to bed. With Airbnb you are able to find HOMES, not just rooms.
The market Airbnb has created will be an asset for many years to come. Will Airbnb eventually replace hotels? Absolutely not. As someone who has used Airbnb for family vacations it has been an amazing experience, but with a few drawbacks.
Most require a large cleaning deposit for obvious reasons, so like anyone wanting their LARGE deposit back you will need to CLEAN. It's not something you consider when booking your vacation but at the end, the LAST thing you want to do is clean up after yourself. This is where a hotel shines, when you are done you can walk away and unless you broke a lamp or emptied the mini bar you are unlikely to receive an unexpected bill.
“As a mother of two and a lover of hotels, even I can see the merit of Airbnb” – Kimberley Pack
Unlike a hotel they are not as forgiving of the juice that was spilled or the overflowing trash can that is left behind. After a week long stay in La Jolla I spent a solid 3 hours vacuuming, sweeping, and perfecting the home we had rented through Airbnb. A few weeks after returning from our trip we received an email that not only were they keeping our $500 deposit they were charging us erroneously for strange things like “milk splatters on furniture”; when none of our children drink milk.
By no means do I blame this on Airbnb, BUT they are the third party that joined me with this amazing rental (really it was fantastic) that ended up costing me a LOT more then I could have ever imagined. In this category I feel Airbnb will need to solidify add on fees to stay competitive with hotels.
As a mother of two and a lover of hotels, even I can see the merit of Airbnb. I see it growing and becoming a staple in the family travel experience. But with that same respect please know that I still plan on using hotels, if only so someone else can make my bed for a few days.
Sean Boyle – Venturists
We've been traveling full-time for almost two years, and have used Airbnb for the majority of our stays. We are also hosts, renting our condo in Mexico on Airbnb. So, we're pretty familiar.
We've met more and more people trying out hosting, and generally having a great experience with it, so we think it will continue to grow. We've also spoken with people who've had such success that they've branched into “professional” Airbnb hosts, buying two or more places specifically for the purpose of renting out.
We see more growth from this kind of approach, and think this will lead to more innovation in “support” industry niches, like property management, housecleaning, key services, etc. which can be managed remotely. I would not be surprised Airbnb and its competitors start offering these services (or acquiring companies that offer them).
There's a lot of hype around Airbnb killing the hotel industry, but I just don't see it happening. Generally, the sharing economy travelers are different than hotel travelers. There are even pretty big distinctions in Airbnb users – for example, we travel as a couple, and rent out whole apartments, never just a room (or couch) in someone's place. Even though we love meeting new people, we think having a stranger sleeping on the couch in the next room just a bit creepy. But that's just us.
“There's a lot of hype around Airbnb killing the hotel industry, but I just don't see it happening” – Sean Boyle
We still use hotels, as well, but for shorter stays — if we're arriving on a late flight or train, we'll almost always stay in a hotel the first night — it's just less of a hassle to check in at a staffed hotel than trying to arrange a midnight key swap with a host.
That said, I also haven't seen any of the big hotel companies revealing a good strategy to disrupt the sharing economy inroads into the hospitality business, and it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts going forward.
Milou van Roon – Explorista
I can only give my perspective as a user, and consumer, rather than an industry insider. I think Airbnb will continue to grow for a few more years, but I do think Airbnb has to worry about not becoming too scattered. It caters to everyone now, and the availability in some cities can be overwhelming.
Besides, it’s no longer just residents homes, but also hotels and hostels selling their rooms on it. If I’d wanted to stay in a hotel, I’d book a hotel. I think regulations for that have to be stricter.
“If Airbnb loses to much of it’s essence, another company will take over” – Milou van Roon
Legally Airbnb will have plenty to worry about in the next years, when it comes to taxes, and such. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the core of Airbnb will remain in a few years. If it loses to much of it’s essence, another company will take over.
Marcela Faé – Fotostrasse
My thoughts on Airbnb are a bit controversial and I'm on both ends of the discussion: Is Airbnb a good business model?
I understand that you're the owner of your house and you should do with it whatever you want, I understand that you should choose to stay with people and have a more “living like a local” experience when traveling, I understand that you're free to choose and to save money on accommodation.
Hotels prices sometimes are insane! I've used and still use the service myself and I find very good, specially if you're traveling alone and you choose to stay in a shared room. You build a relationship with your host, friendships begin like this.
On the other hand, I see the devastation that this business model is doing to the city that I love. Berlin is a city that people don't buy, they rent! It has always been like this and I hope that stays like this for years and years.
“The idea of Airbnb is great but we need more rules and more ethics” – Marcela Faé
But the prices of rent are getting mad expensive and impossible to find alternatives. And, unfortunately, some of the fault here is that it is way more profitable to have some extra apartments and use it as Airbnb rentals than to rent to people that really want to build a life there.
Besides this point, I understand that some residential buildings are not as safe as before with so many strangers coming and going. What used to be a community where everybody knows the person next door, now it is 1/2 of the building trying to live their lives while strangers rent the apartments for a few days or weeks.
I think the idea of Airbnb is great but we need more rules and more ethics. I understand that it is not the majority of the users but I see the other side as well. And please understand that I'm not criticizing & complimenting only Airbnb. It is the business model in vogue here.
Kevin Koskella – Freedom Lovin
I think we will see lots of changes and innovative ways to use the system. One of the issues now is that it is difficult for Airbnb landlords to gauge price. For example, I had a place in a popular part of town that I advertised for $130 a night. But after a week of listing it, I had no takers. I had to then test prices in $5 increments. $125, $120, etc. until I found the price people were willing to pay. This is time consuming and annoying to have to do.
For that place and that time of year, I was able to get $115 a night. But a few months later, even at $130 I was flooded with requests, so I had to keep raising it.
There are ways to solve this. Airbnb can track what is going on in an area using analytics. They can build an automated system so you allow Airbnb to adjust your price and keep it competitive, so you don’t have to go back in there every day and test a new price.
There also need to be changes on the user end. Sometimes, as a landlord, I would be frustrated because my place would go unrented, where I would rather slash the price than have it go empty. As a renter, I would also be frustrated as I see listings that are a bit out of my price range go unrented.
“Airbnb should implement an optional bidding system to make finding and renting places more efficient” – Kevin Koskella
Currently, tenants can email listings and ask for a discount. But this is inefficient. Airbnb can implement an optional bidding system. For example, let’s say I have my place listed for certain dates at $130/night. But the dates are approaching, and nobody has taken my place. The option could be to have prospects set bids in an area, and landlords can contact whoever they choose out of the bidders to stay at their place. Perhaps something like what Priceline does, only with more ability to choose as a landlord.
This seems like a win-win situation, making finding places and renting out places more efficient, saving renters money and allowing landlords to rent at a lower price instead of going empty. Just like Uber has been forced to innovate due to competition, the same situation will happen as the short term rental market keeps growing.
Derek Davis – Shared Economy CPA
I think the future of Airbnb is growing and more people in Gen Y will harness the ability to get secondary revenue to improve their quality of life and give them the financial liberty to pursue their dreams/aspirations.
“It's truly an exciting time to join the sharing economy.” – Derek Davis
What is most interesting that we're starting to see is how people are turning their part-time Airbnb hobbies into full-fledged businesses with multiple units. I think it's truly an exciting time to join the sharing economy as it can provide people with an additional source of revenue while still maintaining the lifestyle that they choose.
Richie Khandelwal – Pricelabs
Airbnb, over the past 6 years, has done a tremendous job of growing a simple home-sharing idea into a successful business. They have not only provided a way for individuals to leverage unused spaces in exchange for money, but also (and more importantly) furthered the feeling of trust and hospitality. For coming years, their opportunity set can be broadly broken down into 3 simple parts:
1. Book more nights
2. Increase supply (a lot of this would be driven from Asia)
3. Look for ways to be a part of the complete travel experience, not just accommodation
We could go significantly deeper on tactics that Airbnb can deploy to push further on each of these opportunities but for now I am going to keep the discussion about hosts and what it means for them.
For existing hosts, second bullet here competes with the first one as new hosts join Airbnb. This could affect the number of bookings each guest receives. Thus, in the coming years, it will be increasingly important for hosts to maintain good ratings, and stay competitive on prices, amenities etc.
“In the coming years, it will be increasingly important for hosts to maintain good ratings, and stay competitive on prices” – Richie Khandelwal
Also, Airbnb's motivation to tap into the complete travel experience for tourists can mean an additional revenue opportunity and a way to differentiate their listing for hosts. While it remains to be seen how Airbnb makes moves in this space, one thing that hosts can do today is to find a specific pain that their guests deal with and improve their travel experience.
For example, one of our very successful hosts, realized that her guests did not have too many good eating options in here area. So she started offering organic backyard grown breakfast and lunch options to her guests. Her guests simply love this and rave about it in their reviews. Such tactics can go a long way in boosting your Airbnb business to new levels.
Any mention of Airbnb is incomplete without talking about the legal scrutiny they are facing and undoubtedly, it remains their biggest challenge. But on this topic, I am hopeful that our political leaders will make sensible choices and push legislation that are just.
Betsy Wuebker – Passing Thru
I think whenever other entities jump on the bandwagon like they have with Airbnb (TripAdvisor, FlipKey, etc.) this is validation of a great concept. Future issues appear to be primarily with legality.
Communities that love regulating will challenge this business model, as we’ve already seen. I think there’s more of a threat in this regard to companies like Uber, where there is a strong organizational objection (taxicab unions). There doesn’t seem to be too much lobbying against it from the hotel industry, for example, that we as consumers can see.
“Forcing Airbnb underground by banning or over-regulation doesn’t seem to be in a community’s best interest” – Betsy Wuebker
Forcing this activity underground by banning or over-regulation doesn’t seem to be in a community’s best interests, in my opinion. I think Airbnb and its counterparts are just too big, and the consumer backlash would be detrimental for the most part. As a popular alternative to the traditional concept of renting a room at a hotel, and with the crossover with longer-term rental options, you tend to see the same properties popping up in various online resources from Craigslist to VRBO to Airbnb.
Talon Windwalker – 1 Dad 1 Kid
I think its future is quite bright for most areas. I know in one place in the US they will now have to start adding on a tax, which may hurt them in that area. Once you add their service fee + local taxes, they'll lose some advantage. I think they're probably more of a threat to B&B's than to hotels. People on holiday often want to be a bit pampered and often want amenities that don't readily exist in Airbnb places (i.e., pool with a swim-up bar).
“Airbnb is probably more of a threat to B&B's than to hotels” – Talon Windwalker
I see their growth to be quite good in places that are heavily saturated with hotels and/or pricey, like Paris. There is a significant savings realized with Airbnb places in Paris. I know the city officials have bristled a bit with Airbnb and some buildings have outright banned it, but for the most part they seem to get that short-term rentals are needed and only help attract people to come and stay longer, which brings them more money.
Meritxell Garcia Roig – Tourism With Me
I think that social economy services such as Airbnb have a bright future. Although at the beginning they were considered intruders in the hospitality industry and legislation was not prepared for them, they are a service that brings value to customers and tackles a concrete need.
Airbnb tackles two needs mainly.
Owners: to be able to rent free space from a room to a whole property in an easy way. From day to day rentals to months.
Users: be home away from home and have all the comfort of a house. Possibility of affordable prices and good option for groups and families.
“The Airbnb experience mainly depends on the host so it's difficult what to expect on a brand level” – Meritxell Garcia Roig
The challenge I see is the personal touch and concierge services that they offer. Foreigners need sometimes support on reservations or on where to go, a service you would expect from a hotel. For a certain type of customer this could be a must and a reason to reconsider other accommodation options.
The experience with Airbnb will mainly depend on the property and hosts so it is difficult to set a general standard on what to expect at a brand level.
Natalie Sisson – Suitcase Entrepreneur
I see the future of AirBnB as a bright one. I believe there will be more and more collective sharing communities and services around accommodation, housing and co-living and co-working popping up like Zoku.
I also see AirBnB extending their services to potentially include the new trend of co-working with co-living (I'm biased as a digital nomad obviously but this is a growth market).
“Renting your car along with your house via Airbnb will be incorporated into their offering” – Natalie Sisson
Greater importance is going to be placed on ratings, reviews and user experience – both from the host and AirBnB guests. It wouldn't surprise me if extensions like renting your car along with your house/ apartment via AirBnB will incorporated into their offering.
Obviously a whole new business opportunity has been spawned thanks to AirBnB and it wouldn't surprise me if people take this really seriously managing multiple properties around the world specifically for AirBnB use. Potentially even taking over from hotel chains.
Randy Engler – Proprly
I believe that Airbnb's growth has really only just begun and that increasingly listings are going very quickly from urban-centric to the more traditional vacation rental markets. As Airbnb extends it's reach beyond major cities, long-standing VR companies like HomeAway are going to see increased pressure from it's users to provide an easy-to-use, well designed platform for marketing their homes.
“Airbnb's growth has really only just begun” – Randy Engler
With Airbnb's expansion into traditional VR markets, companies like Guesty, Proprly, BeyondPricing have a huge opportunity to provide services across a much larger sector.
In my opinion the future of AirBnB must be seen as the future of hospitality in itself. In fact it has introduced a new concept of travelling which inspires traditional operators to adopt a “human” approach. At the same time, AirBnB has been responsible for the growth of a new sector in travel market, based on sharing economy and a local destination experience.
“The future of AirBnB must be seen as the future of hospitality in itself.” – Giusi Carai
Therefore, I believe the future for AirBnB will be very challenging. In order to maintain the leadership they must pursue a strategy to stand out from the crowd. To do so, maybe “content” could be the word.
Heather Bayer – Cottage Blogger
If you had asked me two weeks ago what my prediction would be for Airbnb’s future I would have said their next move would be into professionally managed properties and this indeed is happening. Since the majority of these companies are located in popular vacation destinations rather than Airbnb’s home turf in cities and urban centres, they will need to develop new strategies to tackle this market.
The challenge Airbnb will have in moving into rural vacation rentals is the pushback from the traditional owners –those who are used to screening their rental guests and have thus far avoided the transition to online booking.
“The challenge Airbnb will have in moving into rural vacation rentals is the pushback from the traditional owners” – Heather Bayer
Whereas the urban market is dominated by millennials and investors who have a more laid-back approach, the baby-boomer owners are more firmly entrenched in the VRBO mindset of hefty damage deposits, tightly controlled rental agreements and traditional screening practices.
If they are able to win over these owners, we should see some fresh ideas emerging for this market that might give them more options in terms of yield management, remote management of emergencies and maintenance options.
Elvina Beck – Podshare
If people are neutral about home-sharing then it will cease to exist, but if there is as much activism as there is participation then the code can change for the better. Government permissions cannot keep up with innovation. In Los Angeles, our city codes are making Airbnb rentals illegal because at the core, residences are being used for commercial purposes – BUT from a macro level, LA codes have not been changed since 1947 (making us one of the oldest codes next to Cleveland).
The good news is that LA is undergoing a re-code process (which will take a decade or so) but the need for conversations, organizations, storytelling and letters to newspapers and council members is crucial. Mid-level hotels are feeling a 5% decline in profits thanks to Airbnb, and cities like Santa Monica are calling home-sharing disruptive to neighborhoods – not the good kind of silicone beach disruption.
San Francisco championed a law in favor of helping residents offset the cost of their booming rent bills with overnight rentals, but looks like the “Home-Sharers of San Francisco” are not home free as residents try to appeal the bill.
I believe that the sharing-economy is here to stay. Since the inception of Airbnb in 2009 (and other sharing successes), the trend has been pointing to “access not ownership.” Whether it's homes, cars, tasks, bikes or ideas, legislation needs to address the question of the legality of the sharing economy (and hopefully allow owners the free-will to share) and utilize the opportunity to collect tax dollars to improve our neighborhoods.
“Since the inception of Airbnb, the trend has been pointing to “access not ownership.” – Elvina Beck
There are rate and review verification systems in place to protect both sides of the transaction, to the best of the platform's ability (of course common sense logic should always weigh in), and there is a method of collecting payment to be fair – but best of all; there are opportunities for consumers to choose corporate or local. Let the people vote with their wallets, with their voices by sharing their stories, and at the ballots by participating in political change!
Deia Bong – Nomad Wallet
I keep coming across news articles about how Airbnb is in trouble because it doesn't comply with current laws and regulations. For example, regular houses and apartments obviously don't follow the same safety guidelines that hotels do, even though they're technically in the same industry. There are also problems with Airbnb hosts not paying as much in taxes compared to hoteliers.
“I think that hosts will find themselves having to meet more and more legal requirements in the future” – Deia Bong
Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry, for sure. Governments and hotels don't seem to know what to do with Airbnb and I see this leading to changes in the future as new laws and regulations are developed to specifically deal with vacation rentals.
I think that hosts will find themselves having to meet more and more legal requirements in the future, although these requirements will vary by location. Could this lead to higher prices? Probably, but I sure hope not.
Jim Breese – LearnAirbnb
In only a few short years Airbnb has gone from two guys renting out their airbed for extra cash to becoming a $20B company on its way to permanent disrupting the $500B hospitality industry. The near term future of Airbnb is clear—incredible continued growth and the accompanying growing pains that go with it. As it grows its listings to over 1M and continues to expand into new and existing markets, so too will its battles with city councils and affordable housing advocates intensify over short term rental regulations.
But what may be some more exciting possibilities in Airbnb’s future?
Emergence of Celebrity Hosts—Yes! As the sharing economy continues to expand and encompass an ever-larger part of life, more and more people will choose to accumulate experiences over things. A host with VIP access to the hottest and most exclusive restaurants and clubs? A host who is a 3rd generation local shaman providing a very authentic peek into local customs? More and more, location and amenities become commoditized as listings grow.
Instead, crafted experiences will be what set the top hosts from everyone else. We may eventually see the emergence of celebrity Airbnb hosts who are able to charge very high premiums for their listings due to the unique and appealing experiences they provide.
“Airbnb becomes an experience platform – eventually.” – Jim Breese
Airbnb Becomes an Experience Platform—eventually, people won’t be going to Airbnb to look for a place to stay but instead, seek an “experience” to have. The location and specific unit a guest chooses will just become a by-product of an the experience they wish to have. Just think, when you travel for leisure (even for business), do you often look for things to do? An excursion? A popular and hard to get into attraction? By commanding the traffic for experience seekers, Airbnb becomes an experience platform that can deliver far more than fancy looking hotel replacements. And savvy hosts will become experience curators who partner with popular local attractions and business to deliver unique experiences for their guests.
Tracey Tullis – The Expat Experiment
Airbnb makes travel more accessible for people. The value for money is undeniable, so much better than hotels. I have personal experience with this as I travel full time with my family. We have been traveling for over a year now with half of that time staying with Airbnb hosts.
Every city we’ve stayed in “whole place” Airbnb rentals, usually 1 or 2 bedroom self contained apartments with a full kitchen. It has cost a fraction of what it would have cost us in a hotel or even a hostel for that matter. Airbnb makes my family's travel lifestyle financially possible.
“Airbnb makes my family's travel lifestyle financially possible.” – Tracey Tullis
Living like a local while on holiday is a popular travel trend right now. Airbnb helps travelers explore and get to know cities away from tourist traps leading to a more authentic, local experience while vacationing. Hosts share their local favorites for restaurants and shopping revealing hidden gems off the beaten tourist path to their guests.
This demand for more authentic travel has influenced hotels to adapt and work to offer local experiences to would be guests. Many big hotel chains now promote and engage their local communities, collaborating with local businesses to create options for guests seeking an authentic experience.
Having never heard of Airbnb until 2013 myself I am truly blown away by how it has influenced travel for my family and the travel industry as a whole, with the consumer pursuit of the local travel experience pervading every sector of travel and tourism in 2015. It’s hard to believe the whole service started with three air mattresses and the promise of a free breakfast!
Sam Wood – Indefinite Adventure
I really love Airbnb. I certainly hope it sticks around for a good, long while, as it’s completely revolutionised the way people travel, and in general, I think that change is for the better.
I see potential for Airbnb venturing into offering more personalized experiences to complement what they already offer, for example personalised tours from locals, experiences like home cooked meals in people’s homes and so on.
“I see potential for Airbnb venturing into offering more personalized experiences.” – Sam Wood
The question of Airbnb contributing to rising costs and scarcity of longterm accommodation for locals is a tricky one, since there are certainly already places where it’s more profitable for apartment owners to rent out their place for short periods of time on Airbnb to tourists than it is to rent on a longterm basis to locals.
Ultimately, this is an issue that Airbnb is going to have to tackle itself and take responsibility for. Perhaps they will need to increase their fees on the site and is that money to put back in to the communities where they operate somehow, though quite how, I'm not sure.
Ryan Fix – Purehouse
There is no question that Airbnb has disrupted the global hospitality sector in a major way. In this seismic shift, there is a massive land grab effort underway. The hotel lobbies are preparing for war. The policy wonks are in a frenzy to make sense of it all. And the regulator's heads are spinning on how to legalize this new sector, so that they can capitalize on the landfall of tax revenue. It seems clear that we are on the front end of a tidal wave. We haven't seen nothing yet! The real fun is just starting.
“Airbnb will also launch an app platform, allowing local services and products to sell on the Airbnb marketplace.” – Ryan Fix
Looking through the crystal ball, Airbnb will be focusing on hyper-personalization. Beyond booking a stay in someone's home, you can also book an Ethiopian-style dinner in someone's home and find a tour guide to explore the street theater in Krakow, Poland. Airbnb will also launch an app platform, allowing local services and products to sell on the Airbnb marketplace. Examples include welcome kits, cleaning & laundry service, private chefs and much more. This is just scratching the surface.
If the travel industry does not adapt to these changes, they will be out of business.
Andrew Kitchell – PriceMethod
Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, Booking.com and other peer-to-peer platforms will eventually account for 25%+ of the accommodations market.
We are only at the beginning of a massive transition toward accommodations that are distributed, peer-to-peer, and on-demand. Evidence of this transition is everywhere. For example, in Brazil for the World Cup, Airbnb _alone_ accounted for 20% of all night stays. And in many cities, booking rates at peer-to-peer listings now match hotels.
What is fueling this growth? A huge demographic shift in how we travel, work, and even live.
For travelers (the first wave of peer-to-peer), peer-to-peer platforms made it possible to easily discover trustworthy hosts and inspiring listings. Fueled by society's growing taste for having and sharing unique experiences, staying in an individual's home went from frightening to trendy in a few short years. As peer-to-peer listings moved into the mainstream, they have also professionalized. This means that business travelers are now able to find clean, well-managed homes with keyless entry that are bookable instantly. Now, almost any traveler can find exactly what they need through peer-to-peer platforms.
“Airbnb and other peer-to-peer platforms will eventually account for 25%+ of the accommodations market.” – Andrew Kitchell
For workers, peer-to-peer platforms have given rise to a new category of professionals: peer-to-peer entrepreneurs & peer-to-peer professionals. Now, individuals can start a business in a day, scale their businesses in a reasonable manner, and define a unique brand. Suddenly, we see college graduates, engineers, and others leaving their traditional jobs to build their own business in the peer-to-peer accommodations space.
Finally, we are starting to how peer-to-peer accommodations are changing how people live. Every day, we talk to individuals who are designing homes and buildings so that they can participate in the peer-to-peer society. Soon, cities and regions will start adjusting their long-term plans as well, to support or even encourage the local development of peer-to-peer accommodations.
In the short term, local regulations might slightly slow the rise of peer-to-peer platforms. However, in the long term, innovation and democratization of opportunity will prevail, and peer-to-peer listings will become a dominant force in the accommodation space.
The sky is the limit. We're excited to be part of it!
Michael Milne – Changes in Longitude
We’ve been global nomads since 2011 and live in Airbnb properties over half the time. It’s fair to say that the choices on Airbnb have helped us become long-term travelers. We use it because of its convenience, pricing structure and nimble web site. If Airbnb were a country we would probably qualify for citizenship. That said, Airbnb faces many challenges.
“If Airbnb were a country we would probably qualify for citizenship.” – Michael Milne
As Airbnb grows they must ensure the quality of their listings and landlords. The recent case of an Airbnb user being bitten by a dog in South America demonstrates that although millions of people use the service, it only takes a few bad experiences for the company to garner negative publicity. In this particular case Airbnb didn’t handle the situation well, a sign of an early stage company with young management. Airbnb will have to take on greater responsibility moving forward to attract customers that are nervous about using the product. We see them eventually moving in this direction.
Currently Airbnb views hosts as the source of their revenue and values them more than guests. Witness their “Superhost” program, yet there is nothing comparable for frequent guests. This is an upside down way of looking at things since it is the guest that actually pays for the product and provides the company with the revenue necessary to satisfy investors. Ultimately Airbnb will have to recognize the value of the guests.
“Why is there a “Superhost” program but nothing comparable for frequent guests?” Michael Milne
Airbnb faces headwinds on the regulatory front. We’re surprised more hotel chains have not tried to quash them in key markets citing inconsistencies in safety and security. A coming trend is a recently aired advertisement from the American budget hotel chain Motel 6 that directly attacked the Airbnb business model without mentioning them by name. Continued success will bring more criticisms from the hotel industry, which has deep pockets for advertising and lobbyists. However, hotel chains may have already lost this battle by ignoring Airbnb up to this point, allowing them to become a major player in the lodging market.
“Despite the challenges that Airbnb faces, it is not going away. And for travelers that is a good thing.” – Michael Milne
We see Airbnb continuing to grow as more people become aware of its product. Currently when people put homes up for sale that have a spare bedroom/kitchen they call it an “in-law” suite, the implication being that an elderly parent can live in the house. We envision future home listings saying the house has an “Airbnb suite” that will provide the new owner a source of extra income. Despite the challenges that Airbnb faces, it is not going away. And for travelers that is a good thing.
Joanna Kalafatis – Lose The Map
I think the future of Airbnb will revolutionize the nature of travel, but I believe it will face many challenges from established hotel chains, as well as local and country regulations.
In some cities (such as San Francisco) there is already a huge debate raging on the use of Airbnb, as the city wants to crack down on people renting out their apartments, and protesters have pushed back on this impulse. On one side of the debate, people are arguing that widespread use of Airbnb lifts apartment rental prices across the board, while others want to retain their right to do as they wish with the property they lease or own.
Airbnb is going to have to find a way to assuage these concerns if they don't want their business severely restricted or curtailed in certain parts of the world. In my mind, that is definitely one of the biggest challenges they will face in the next few years.
The hotel industry will have to make some adjustments as well – I don't think it's by any means the end of the hotel system as we know it, but Airbnb has definitely put a dent in hotel reservations, and perhaps major chains will need to adapt to what Airbnb users are seeking in order to draw them back in.
Generally though, Airbnb has been growing non-stop and shows no signs of slowing down. From my personal experience, I have loved using the service in my travels, and recently booked a solo 6 week trip through Europe and Japan mostly through Airbnb because of the experience it provides me. The growth of Airbnb makes me very optimistic about changing attitudes towards travel, with a recent move towards really inhabiting a place's culture and lifestyle rather than just observing from a safe distance.
“The growth of Airbnb makes me very optimistic about changing attitudes towards travel.” – Joanna Kalafatis
When I stay at someone's apartment/house (boat/igloo/the options are many), I get a little glimpse into how they live, and I get to feel like I'm a part of the neighborhood. Hotels always put up a little wall between travelers and the city around them. When a hotel provides everything from entertainment to dinner service, there is less incentive to go out and explore the city, and less incentive to engage in local routines, even for something as simple as food shopping at the local supermarket, or finding that coffee shop you love on the corner where you stop every morning before starting your day's exploration. For me, those are the activities that really give you a glimpse into a country's culture.
I think Airbnb will continue to grow because it is simultaneously a product of the movement towards more authentic and local travel and also a major factor strengthening this trend. Also, unlike sites like Couchsurfing, it is a more inclusive business model, since it can appeal to people of higher income ranges or people who have put their hostel/sleeping-on-someone's-futon days behind them, while more budget and younger travelers can still find pretty cheap deals by renting someone's private room.
Airbnb will have its share of challenges, but for me, the bottom line is that it signals a positive change in the way people want to travel and experience the world, especially among the millenial generation, and other travel businesses will have to take a cue from the company and adapt to a changing travel lansdscape.
Ashley Parent – Blissy Life
I think the number of AirBnB users (both hosts and guests) will continue to grow. Although I do believe there will be bursting point: a time where there are more listings than there is interest. More so as hostels and guesthouses join the site and list their plethora of rooms– these establishments are able to offer a significantly lower rate than than a host listing their private residence. As a result the casual host would need to significantly chop their prices to compete or even just to be viewed a potential guest.
“If no changes are made, Airbnb will eventually be inundated with hotels and hostels.” – Ashley Parent
I certainly don't believe hostels should be banned from the site– I strongly believe options are a wonderful thing– but to posssibly have a different category or section for such listings.
If there is not a change made, I think the site will eventually be inundated with hotels and hostels. At which point it will turn into a Booking.com or Hotels.com and loose the charm and appeal it currently holds. I think private hosts will start to remove their great offerings as there is less interest and it's no longer worth their time.
But of course I hope this doesn't happen, so lets make some changes!
Sofie Couwenbergh – Wonderful Wanderings
There's been a lot of talk lately about Airbnb being unfair competition for hotels, mostly because the system is less regulated. However, I don't think Airbnb will ever replace hotels. The concept is an entirely different one. I do believe it attracts all sorts of travelers, from travelers who prefer to cook their own meals to save money to families who prefer the extra space a rental gives them and business travelers who like to have an office space to get work done while they travel.
“Airbnb has filled up a gap in the accommodation industry, more than replacing an option that was already there.” – Sofie Couwenbergh
But at the same time, the needs Airbnb caters to for those travelers are different from the needs travelers have that book a hotel room. Someone might book an Airbnb apartment for a trip with friends, but a romantic hotel room with breakfast included for a city trip with their partner. My feeling is that Airbnb has filled up a gap in the accommodation industry, more than trying to replace an option (hotels) that was already there.
Andrew Carlone – CEO of Coral
How will Airbnb turn a home sharing marketplace into a platform in which the value exchanged is human experience off the web?
By fostering the unnatural trend of allowing strangers to stay in your home Airbnb is leading the modern economic evolution towards a people-centric system of shared assets. Additionally, Airbnb has enabled thousands of microentrepreneurs to begin renting out their underutilized space generating unprecedented opportunities for additional income. As their platform has developed it has truly become something of inspiration and lasting change for many people, including myself.
“Airbnb is leading the modern economic evolution towards a people-centric system of shared assets” – Andrew Carlone
Specifically for Millennials, on the cusp of the sharing economy, I am filled with hope that our artificially connected world is coming back to its roots: genuine human interaction. Whereby, you are no longer encouraged to pay for material possessions, but rather experiences; especially those that expand your understanding of the world.
However, what kind of rich data can be used to quantify how people are interacting off the web? What can be analyzed in order to get the most out of the sharing economy? Hypothetically speaking, you’d have to understand how people have been conditioned by their unique environments in order to understand how they will interact with others who have been living in a drastically different domain, in order to make sure their money is not wasted on a lackluster experience.
Currently, Airbnb has done a great job of creating a community of passionate people who understand the balance of art and science when providing their guests with an experience tailored to their needs and preferences. However, as they reach the mass consumer market Airbnbs will be everywhere and guests will face a plethora of options when seeking to travel to a given destination.
Airbnb and its users will face The Paradox of Choice—a term coined by psychologist Barry Schwartz—where too many options reduce a guest’s ability to effectively select a promising experience. We’ve seen other companies combat this problem, such as Netflix implementing a suggested content category to help users navigate the intimidatingly expansive selection of media on their platform. Guests are already given an abundance of options for homes in which to have an intimate experience, yet are forced to decide where their time and money should be spent based on Yelp-like reviews, a glance over a Facebook profile or online conversation, pictures, and a short description when selecting an Airbnb location.
“Airbnb and its users will face The Paradox of Choice” – Andrew Carlone
Also, Airbnb must remove the not-so-glamorous parts of hosting such as hosts quarantining themselves to a section of their home on nights they rent and showering at the gym, which is exactly what 63-year-old photographer Frederic Larson does. However, in leveraging his assets into seamless income streams he is generating $3,000 per month, which helps when you have two kids in college. “I’ve got a product, which is what I share: my Prius and my house,” says Larson. “Those are my two sources of income.”
In my opinion, Airbnb must enable its users to figure out how to do better work, more effectively share their personal brand story to increase demand, and outsource anything they cannot do well themselves in order to focus on what they are best at; providing a unique experience for their guests. Guests are going to be willing to pay more for how hosts make them feel in their home—that’s the magic of the sharing economy, but as I previously alluded to, therein lies the problem.
“Airbnb will need to continue doing a superb job of creating a community of amazing people” – Andrew Carlone
It is easy to put a value on material goods, but how will platforms quantify a customer’s preference for experiences? Harnessing this seemingly intangible data, to ensure that consumers are not wasting their money, is the key for allowing the sharing economy to flourish. Airbnb will need to continue doing a superb job of creating a community of amazing people, but will have to aggregate data about who people are and how they act in order to combat The Paradox of Choice and match people with others who will give them their desired experience.
Matt Landau – Vacation Rental Marketing Blog
Airbnb is the gateway community. Airbnb has been the first to successfully create a community: providing tenants and owners and managers with the tools and the common set of values to profit from unused bedrooms or entire beachfront mansions. Upon “discovering” the juicy economics of vacation rentals and home sharing, many of Airbnb's casual community hosts are content.
“Airbnb is the gateway community.” – Matt Landau
But many will seek more — more ways to market their property, more ways to express their identity, and more ways to stand out from the crowd. In the future, the inherent rules and regulations that are needed to keep Airbnb's community in tact will actually serve as motivation for more elaborate and professional host pursuits in an industry that is rife with opportunity.
James Hunt – The Two Percent
I'm a location independent traveller who owns property in London that is rented out on Airbnb, so I get to experience both sides of the platform as a guest and host.
I've been a keen user of Airbnb as soon as it came to Europe, and I loved how in the early days there was a great feel to the platform. You met some great hosts, got great rates, made new friends. In just the last 1-2 years, I've felt like it has changed considerably.
A high majority of places I stay at are homes used solely for Airbnb business, rates are usually on par or higher than other accommodation options, and there is much less “love” in the places (i.e. properties are devoid of personality or culture, no books, music or quirks, kitchens are normally bare apart from some stuff left by other guests).
As a host, I use a management company to handle everything with guests. Even though my flat is now solely for renting out, I have tried to keep the “love” in the property and left my stamp on the flat with my own tastes and likes. At a competitive price for the location, my flat is around 90% let with bookings, however after management fees, I am left with a similar amount than if I was renting it long term.
The upside to using Airbnb is that I can return at any time without worrying about long term renters, and I can leave a majority of my stuff in the property. The downside is that there are no guarantees of rental income – so if there is a lull in bookings, I could lose money after mortgage and expenses are paid.
“The upside to using Airbnb is that I can return at any time without worrying about long term renters.” – James Hunt
From an industry perspective, legality and laws around Airbnb in the UK are out of date and out of touch. I could only find one insurance company to offer me insurance for short lettings at a competitive price. Many areas of the UK forbid renting property out for less than 6 months. Mortgage companies do not like short term renting. And there is a shortage of management companies – there are only 2 companies who offer the service in the whole of London.
If Airbnb lobbies for legal change, I can see the market opening up greater, but at the moment, most people in the UK would not think about letting their homes. If it was easier, who wouldn't rent out their home while they are on holiday – you essentially travel for free. Abundance will bring cheaper prices which will fuel availability. Only then may the hotel industry come under fire. As Airbnb now competes on price with hotels, I think there will always be people who want to stay in hotels, for consistency, convenience, and safety.
Donna Meyer – Nomad Women
I personally love Airbnb and hope it has a robust and wide-ranging future. I have used it several times as a guest in Europe (in Paris, Prague and Amsterdam) as well as in Boston in the US. I have also been a host in my home in central Mexico. I have never yet had a bad experience, as guest or host.
As a single traveler, I am at a distinct financial disadvantage when booking hotels, having to pay a “room” rate instead of a per person rate, so finding more cost-effective housing is important to me. I also love the idea of having more space, a place to cook, and/or a host to interact with and get personalized information about the location. Nothing about a hotel experience is ever this “personal.”
“There is no doubt that Airbnb cuts into hotel businesses in some markets.” – Donna Meyer
However, I worry about the service's future. There is no doubt that it does cut into hotel business in some markets, and in many areas the hotels are fighting back. More and more cities have outlawed Airbnb, just as they have Uber and other “sharing economy” services. My hope is that Airbnb has finally become big enough to counter some of the huge corporate cash being flung against it.
Bottom line: I love Airbnb! Long may it wave!
Noel Morata – Travel Photo Discovery
Even though travelers have a plethora of choices when it comes to accommodations when visiting a destination, I think there is a large percentage of travelers that are really looking for an authentic experience and this is where Airbnb fits into this space perfectly. You get to stay in a locals home and quickly get an insight to their day to day habits, culture and lifestyle depending on how much you want to engage with that person.
“I found that most of the Airbnb hosts are generous with their time and knowledge about their location” – Noel Morata
I found that most of the Airbnb hosts are generous with their time and knowledge about their location and what to portray in the best possible light so this to me is a fantastic way to experience a new travel destination and will only keep expanding or getting more competitive in the travel marketplace.
Suzanne Wolko – Phila Travel Girl
Airbnb, in my opinion, actually helps the travel industry as it gives those who may not have been able to travel the opportunity to do so at a lower entry point. It also allows others to change/upgrade the mode of lodging (i.e. – from hostel to private room, from budget hotel to an apartment with a kitchen, from hotel to luxury flat, etc.) with little additional cost.
The hotels have no reason to fear as the traveler type is different and for the most part the number of available beds in any one city/neighborhood on one night equates to one or maybe two hotels so not so much to take away guests for the hotel to worry about.
“Airbnb, in my opinion, actually helps the travel industry.” – Suzanne Wolko
The hotels dangle a stick of loyalty points, full service and a getaway experience whether business or pleasure and Airbnb can't do that. Kimpton provides a boutique experience with a welcome gift and free wine happy hour – Airbnb doesn't do that. I can order room service 24/7, with Airbnb I need to do takeaway or cook for myself, things I normally do at home. When I travel I want what I can't get at home – luxury bedding, fancy bathroom and the indulgences of room service.
Just like Uber, Airbnb can actually be more costly than a full service hotel alternative once Airbnb fees are added and any cleaning or other fees. Where Airbnb succeeds is that travel can be more spontaneous/on demand but the lingering safety and risks are still there for some as to my knowledge, Airbnb isn't visiting every property to see if they adhere to certain standards of safety, etc..
I really value the sharing-economy approach and definitely see a continued and increasing demand for services like Airbnb, although I do not anticipate that they will completely replace the need for hotels because we all want different things. I can't imagine that I would always want to stay in someone's home because I enjoy different experiences e.g. I enjoy the social environment and activities provided by hostels; I also love the occasional splurge on a really nice hotel room, where I can enjoy the hotel experience, order room service and make use of other hotel facilities such as a swimming pool, spa etc. and I'm equally happy to go camping, sleep outdoors and get close to nature.
“Airbnb is clearly disrupting conventional accommodation options” – Kirsten Thompson
Airbnb listings are also not all accessible to everyone e.g. to wheelchair users, so in most cases a hotel with accessible rooms, lifts and ramps would better meet the needs of those individuals.
Airbnb is clearly disrupting conventional accommodation options and from a traveller's perspective, this can only be a good thing as it is providing the traveller with more choice and a different type of experience; a more culturally authentic and immersive experience.
Mark Pinheiro – Viaje de Milhas
I first came in contact with Airbnb in June of 2013, when my colleague started organizing a trip to San Francisco. Because of multiple large events in the city when we would be there, the hotel prices were sky high, and so Airbnb made a lot of sense and solved our problem.
This is by the way, the very same reason why the founders started the company, except they were on the renting side. They needed money to pay their own rent and decided to rent an air mattress and offer breakfast to their guests, hence the name Airbnb.
It was quite an experience, because the owner had left his house and temporarily moved to his girlfriend in order to make some extra cash and so left the house completely full of personal items. On top of that, just out of coincidence, he was an entrepreneur and had a company on the same industry I have in Brazil and we have been discussing about bringing their technology to Brazil.
Since their unbelievable worldwide growth, a number of important issues started to be raised by users, competitors, local governments, neighbors, etc. This is expected when a disruptive product or service is launched. And in Airbnb's case it was such an obvious and simple one that makes one wondering why this idea was not mine! Among these issues, there are security, legal, tax, privacy and legislative questions, among other topics up for discussion.
Some are fairly simple to solve, like the tax one. The hotel industry has been all over them about unfair competition and this is due mostly because of the tax burden. If Airbnb complies with local tax regulations, they can discount the tax percentage from the owner and pass it to the rightful government department.
“Will Airbnb become an Amazon of sorts?” – Mark Pinheiro
Others are much more complex, like security and privacy. For instance, what happens if a crime is committed on your property? What if you lease a house and hidden cameras are installed and your privacy is broadcasted to the world?
At their current valuation and the amount of support they have been getting from investors, one can only imagine that they will have plenty of resources to solve these issues, expand their business model and grow even more.
Into what spaces will they grow now? Corporate? Will they be able to create or promote products associated with the service? For instance, technologies that will allow remote management of multiple properties for owners, suppliers that offer cleaning services, etc., and thus become an Amazon of sorts?
What are they planning next? What will their competitors do to catch up? Time will tell…
Kelly McDaniel – Watch us Wander
We have used Airbnb in Oregon, North Carolina and Florida and have had great experiences in all places except for one studio apartment in North Carolina. That is the experience that made us question the service – I had read all the reviews, looked at the pictures, communicated with the host and deemed the space a quality choice – so it was a big surprise when we arrived to a dirty, lived-in, unkempt apartment with no towels, silverware, dishes and a racoon in the roof. That reservation was cancelled pretty quickly.
That stay has not scared us off – we still see Airbnb as a great alternative to traditional lodging and a way to bring travel costs down while increasing unique, intimate experiences through the eyes of local residents. We like that we can “text” with our hosts at any time during our stay and that they are usually more than happy to recommend the best restaurants, activities, tips and advice; something hotels simply cannot always do. Airbnb's policies, verified ID system, and payment processes give us a sense of safety and trust. I feel that they know what they're doing and will take care of us should something happen.
That being said, I do feel that as Airbnb grows and more people see the lucrative potential, there may be more and more instances of abuse of the service. Hosts could potentially become a new type of slum-lord. Guests could potentially trash peoples' homes without recourse. Whenever a new service becomes widely used, it becomes more widely abused.
The hotel industry will probably see a hit, but I do not think they will suffer. Mainly because most travelers still desire the safety, “cleanliness”, and professionalism that hotels offer. A stranger's home, however clean and safe it seems, will never be on the same level as an all-inclusive internationally renown resort. Though there is some overlap, we believe Airbnb's target market is not the same as the hotel industry's target market. What I like most about Airbnb is the idea that it is people helping people, not corporations simply looking to make money. But that won't keep the hotel industry from feeling the threat and taking action.
“I foresee a future for Airbnb that will be riddled with legal complications.” – Kelly McDaniel
I foresee a future for Airbnb that will be riddled with legal complications. In this age, technology far outpaces legislation and regulation; the growing prevalence of drones and the law rushing to catch up with them is a perfect example of this. It seems likely that within the next five years the government will be passing laws to restrict use of Airbnb, both from the guest side and from the host side. This is likely to come from a push from the hotel industry lobbyists as they stand to lose the most from Airbnb's continued success, but could just as easily come from property management companies and even landlords.We have already seen examples of this in the news with Uber coming under scrutiny from municipalities and taxi companies. This is not to say that the site will be shut down, though–the modern “share-economy” is here to stay–but the company surely will face legal and regulatory hurdles for the near-term.
Dave Anderson – Jones Around the World
I've personally used Airbnb along my travels on several different occasions, and I think that they have an amazing future ahead of them. I've actually met a few people who have made careers out of it, by managing different properties in popular tourist destinations! The more Airbnb grows with the amount of listings, it could definitely become the #1 booking site for vacationers.
“Airbnb could become the No.1 booking site for vacationers.” – Dave Anderson
As well, it's an amazing tool for looking for short-term apartment rentals. Personally, I found an amazing deal on a great apartment in Chiang Mai, and always look at AirBNB when I decide to “slow travel” and chill at a certain place for longer than a week. I think AirBNB has an amazing thing going on for them, and if they continue to grow at the certain pace they have been, then I think they will become a website that everyone knows, uses, and recommends.
Benita Matofska – Founder of Compare and Share
Having grown to exponential heights in seven years, Airbnb has played a definitive role in the Sharing Economy, a market now growing faster than Facebook, Google and Yahoo combined. Now on the Forbes Rich List and with the company valued at over $20 billion the question is — how can they tailor their future to grow in both an ethical and sustainable way and remain true to the Sharing Economy’s values?
“How can Airbnb tailor their future to grow in both an ethical and sustainable way?” – Benita Matofska
At Compare and Share we believe that the future is about leading through collaboration, partnerships & experiences. For Airbnb to retain credibility and maintain authenticity, they’ll need to work in open, collaborative partnership with some of the over 7,500 Sharing Economy companies from around the world.
Understanding that future businesses are models based on partnership and collaboration and rather than taking a ‘winner takes all approach’, will be key to Airbnb’s true success. If they take a traditional corporate approach, they’ll simply become the institutions they sought to disrupt. The question is – can Airbnb share? Their future depends on it. In the Sharing Economy — who shares wins.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to everyone who's participated, it's been great to connect with so many experts and learn their opinion on the future of Airbnb. I'm excited to keep this conversation going so feel free to tweet your thoughts using #thefutureofairbnb. I'll be tweeting the coolest quotes from this post, so keep an eye out for that and follow me on twitter to receive updates.
Airbnb hosts and guests, what do you think about the future of Airbnb? Which of the predictions do you agree with most? Join the conversation and comment below!
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