Airbnb has already overtaken major hotel companies in terms of its valuation by investors, but its growth could have it outpacing them in more concrete terms—actual guest bookings—in a few years, according to a Barclays research report.
The rooms available in 2014 jumped from 300,000 in February to a million in December, while the largest hotel company in Europe measured by rooms, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), had about 698,000 rooms in its portfolio. Airbnb offers more rooms than many of the largest hotel groups in the world–Hilton, InterContinental and Marriott—which each maintain just under 700,000 rooms. (Marriott said today at the World Economic Forum that it expects its portfolio of hotels to surpass 1 million rooms by the end of 2015.)
The size comparison isn’t a direct one, since Airbnb doesn’t own the rooms booked on its site, and many listings aren’t available year-round. And when it comes to guest bookings, Airbnb still has a long way to go: Barclay’s report estimates that Airbnb’s current bookings are about 37 million room-nights per year, which is only around 20% of IHG’s 177 million last year.
Still, the Barclay’s report, titled “Hotels: Is Airbnb a game-changer?,” predicts that Airbnb’s growth in bookings could triple in size in the next year, putting the company on track to outpace the largest hotel companies within a few years. It projects that by the end of 2016, the room-sharing platform could boast 129 million room-nights per year. Airbnb currently represents as much as 17.2% of hotel room supply in New York, 11.9% in Paris, and 10.4% in London, according to Barclays’ estimates, and those percentages are projected to increase.
Amid its optimism about Airbnb, the report also noted that increasing regulatory pressures around the legality of Airbnb’s listings could slow this growth. Airbnb also poses a greater threat to the midscale segment of the hotel industry than to luxury categories, and hotels have a leg up with it comes to business travel, the report said. Despite the Airbnb’s efforts to target more business travelers, the report says that just 10% of Airbnb bookings are currently used for business travel.