Airbnb Is Soaring Into 2011

I hardly ever give full write-ups on specific companies, but Airbnb is an exception because of their sustained growth and disruptive offerings. Take a look:

In the past year the market for short-term property rentals listed on Airbnb has grown exponentially. On any given night throughout the year, there are over 2,000 reservations booked each night in property locations around the world. One of Airbnb’s leading advantages is the company’s reach in more than 8,000 cities and over 160 countries. As existing customers continue to boast the renters ability to extract “more value for less price”, it’s certain that the company will reach its target of 1,000,000 reservations in 2011.

Founder & CEO Brian Chesky makes it clear in the recent TV interview that the company is positioning itself for long-term growth in the market for short-term rentals. Chesky compares Airbnb to eBay: He notes that eBay made a billion dollar industry from selling things in your house; he wants to create a billion dollar industry by selling the house. Airbnb takes their 6-12% cut in a pricing style similar to eBay’s transaction success fee.

There is certain indication that Airbnb has the leverage in existing markets to soon become a major competitor offering a hybrid product in-between hotels and vacation rentals. Easy to use functionality and a trusted review system are at the core of Airbnb’s continued success. This is confirmed by the standard protocol of Airbnb’s search system which lists the most recommended listings first. The process of listing your rental is as simple as creating an account and adding a description to your listing. Additional tools such as a built in Craigslist posting tool help drive additional traffic to the listings. In fact, the excellent UI is even a nomination for “Best Design” by The Crunchies.

I believe that Airbnb is really just at the tip of the ice-berg right now. Their enormous value proposition offered to every property owner with unused space around the world is just beginning to gain traction in many international destinations (“Airbnb London” and “Airbnb Paris” are breakout searches on Google). Many travelers see the benefit of becoming immersed in the destination itself with local people as something that does not compare to the homogeneous quality of a hotel room. Several substitutes have risen in the wake of Airbnb’s success, but my guess is that hardly any of them can compete with growth similar to Airbnb.

Here’s to the year of the air bed!

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01 2011