Nor were the OTAs the hotels' only increasingly dangerous adversary in 2016.
Airbnb's 3 million listed homes hosted 70 million guests during the year, realizing growth that continues to outpace the overall accommodations industry and fueling opposition from both hoteliers and city and state governments.
Airbnb's global bookings were predicted to surge 70% this year, to $12.3 billion, reaching more than half the booked-room nights of Marriott International (pre-Starwood acquisition), Hilton Worldwide and Expedia Inc., according to analysts Cowen & Co. By 2025, the analysts predicted, Airbnb's share of U.S. hotel and short-term rentals will spike to 13%, up from 2.3% this year.
Airbnb this month dropped a lawsuit against New York City and state over laws forbidding rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present. In June, Airbnb sued its hometown, San Francisco, over a bill requiring all its hosts to register with the city. Just last month, Airbnb was fined about $635,000 by Barcelona (which levied a similar fine on Expedia's HomeAway unit) for facilitating unlicensed rentals.
On the other hand, the company also made headway against what has been the hotel industry's strongest argument against the home-sharing service: that it doesn't play on a level field because its hosts don't pay taxes or comply with regulations. This year, Airbnb reached deals to collect occupancy taxes in more than 200 cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington.
Airbnb's rapid expansion has brought its own kind of growing pains, and this year it had to address growing incidents of discrimination by hosts. The company enacted a policy prohibiting the denial of stay requests based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability, and it is working on a feature that automatically blocks any calendar dates offered by a host who has rejected a stay request for those dates.
None of this seems to be slowing the company, as the adoption of home-based lodging continues to soar. According to Phocuswright, almost one in three U.S. travelers stayed at a home-based unit last year, up from about one in 10 in 2011.