Airbnb on pace to become world’s 4th largest online travel company


Airbnb will likely become the world’s fourth-largest online-travel intermediary by the end of the year, as the peer-to-peer accommodations service continues to boost demand from its core leisure sector and more nascent business contingent, according to research firm Phocuswright.

Closely held Airbnb, which doesn’t disclose bookings or revenue figures, likely generated about $7.5 billion in gross bookings in 2015, and is likely to surpass the annual bookings of European OTA eDreams Odigeo this year, Phocuswright said.

eDreams Odigeo’s five brands, which include Opodo, Travelink and Go Voyages, generated 10.7 billion euros ($12 billion) in bookings for the year ended March 31, according to eDreams Odigeo’s public filings.

After this year, Phocuswright expects that Airbnb will trail only Expedia Inc., Priceline Group and China-based Ctrip in annual gross bookings among online travel intermediaries.

Expedia and Priceline generated $61 billion and $56 billion, respectively, in gross bookings last year, according to company filings.

San Francisco-based Airbnb’s growth stems from the rapid adoption of home-based lodging. Almost one in three U.S. travelers stayed at a home-based unit last year, up from about one in 10 in 2011, Phocuswright said.

Additionally, Airbnb’s growth disproves the claim within the hotel industry that recent consolidation amid OTAs has given Expedia and Priceline too much sway over accommodations pricing and distribution, wrote Doug Quinby, Phocuswright vice president of research. Hotel industry lobbyists last year decried Expedia’s acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide because the buyout gave Expedia and Priceline control over about 90% of the OTA market in the U.S.

“Three guys without a lick of travel industry experience got together and have managed to create the fourth-largest online travel intermediary, just as OTA consolidation accelerated,” wrote Quinby. “So who says you can’t build an online travel company today?”

Airbnb this summer filed documentation indicating that it was raising $850 million in a funding round that would value the 9-year-old company at about $30 billion, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month. Airbnb has declined to comment on valuations and funding efforts. Priceline’s market value is about $69 billion, while Expedia’s is about $17 billion.

Airbnb earlier this year also reportedly received a $1 billion credit line from a group of lenders that included Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Some analysts have said the debt indicates that the company may be preparing to go public.


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