In the third quarter, Booking.com reported having 21% more
global alternative accommodations listings than it reported having in the same
quarter last year, and the company hinted at plans to invest in gaining more
traction in the U.S. alternative accommodations market.
"Definitely, we grew quite fast in the past 12 months,"
said vice president Olivier Gremillon, who leads Booking.com's strategy in
homes and apartments. "There are a lot of different ways to look at the
industry, but if you look at the different big players -- whether it's HomeAway
with its different brands or Airbnb -- we have more supply than they have."
Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel last week released the
company's latest figures in a financial earnings call: As of Sept. 30,
Booking.com had 5.7 million alternative accommodations listings, contributing
to a total of about 29 million listings.
"Our room-night growth in alternative accommodations
remains robust and is higher than our consolidated growth rate," Fogel
Booking.com's biggest competitors in the U.S. market are
Airbnb and HomeAway. An Airbnb spokesman confirmed the company has "5
million-plus" listings. HomeAway, owned by Expedia Group, has about 1.8
million online-bookable listings, more than 300,000 of which are integrated on
its core OTA platform, according to its most recent financial results.
Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom admitted that the company is "very
much in the early stages here" compared with its competitors.
Gremillon told Travel Weekly that Booking.com has been in
the alternative accommodations space for about 10 years, "speeding things
up in the past couple of years." In recent months, the company has
introduced new tools for its "casual" host as well as for property
Booking.com's roots in the alternative accommodations space
are with professional vacation rental managers, he said, differing from
competitors who initially focused on secondary homeowners.
"We are all slightly different, and we all have
strengths in different regions," Gremillon said.
Booking.com offers a large amount of both traditional and
alternative accommodations on one platform, he said, adding that he considers
its scale to be a differentiator in today's alternative accommodations market.
Gremillon admitted that Booking.com is stronger in Europe
than it is in the U.S.
"The U.S. is a big focus market for us, both in the
supply and on the demand side," he said. "You might have seen some of
the marketing we've been doing, like TV commercials where we actually showcase
more and more of our homes and apartments just to be able to raise awareness
about the fact that Booking.com is not only about hotels but also about other
types of accommodations. We are pushing, definitely, on different fronts."
Most people who use Booking.com in the U.S. find out it
lists alternative accommodations once they are already visiting the site,
Gremillon said, so the company's goal is to further educate consumers about
Booking.com's variety of listings.
In the financial results call, Fogel also said he believes
offering so many hotels and alternative accommodations on a single platform is
one of Booking.com's strengths, but he echoed Gremillon's sentiments about
"Customer awareness of our capabilities, particularly
in certain geographies like the United States, is low and will require a higher
marketing investment in the coming quarters," Fogel said. "However,
we believe we are on the right path, and in the long run, will achieve a
leading global home business."