Is Airbnb a Threat to the Hotel Industry?

Parsa Mazaheri
August 28, 2021

With Airbnb's pacey growth, there's a question being asked more than ever before now: "Is Airbnb a Threat to the Hotel Industry?" This is becoming a heated debate nowadays as Airbnb looks relentless in its growth and shows no signs of stopping. Compared to what it was back in 2015, Airbnb looks more like a formidable competitor to the traditional hospitality market; it's understandable, after all, the company has been changing and improving a lot since then. But even back then, in 2015, there are records of people wondering what would happen if Airbnb expands into hotels, hostels, and even in real estate, which unironically happened later on. Making Airbnb the massive online marketplace, it is nowadays. But the question remains: is Airbnb a threat to traditional hotels?

Transforming the Industry or Disrupting the Industry?

Now let's take a step back here. Let us rephrase the initial question. A "threat" in business is not well-defined either way. We like to compare Airbnb and the hotel industry to (for example) Netflix and the TV industry. In the case of Netflix vs. TV: At first, the idea of Smart TVs replacing traditional TVs seemed irrational. Back then, when I was personally first introduced to the concept, I asked the question: "Well, how do I watch my favorite TV shows then?" You see, I asked myself that question because of my own lack of knowledge about the idea of SmartTVs or even the misinformation I was given. So, if I had a time machine now, I would go back there and tell myself: "SmartTVs and Netflix are not threats to the TV shows you're watching. They're actually just transformations or alternatives to the traditional telly you're used to watching!" The same goes with Airbnb and the hotel industry, really. Here's how:

It's no secret that Airbnb is a giant in the hospitality industry; there's no denying that. Therefore we believe, hoteliers can see this as an opportunity to join forces with Airbnb instead of guarding against them. Airbnb's reach in the hospitality industry is beyond measurement at the moment. We've provided information about their statistics at the bottom of this very article if you ever come to doubt that. But just like TV shows joined forces with Netflix back when it was the hot topic of the entertainment industry, history can repeat itself in the hospitality industry suit this time around.

However, there are counters to this logic. Firstly and most importantly, from a hotelier's standpoint, Airbnb is essentially just a massive hotel chain with the most extensive number of rooms and lots of other cool stuff. Therefore, it's a tough ask for a big hotel chain to step down as a hotel chain and list their rooms and properties individually on another platform. Secondly, Airbnb has a peculiar taste when it comes to hotels. If you look up the official Airbnb documents, it states: "We welcome listings hosted by professional hospitality businesses on Airbnb that offer unique spaces and personal hospitality to the Airbnb community." Also: "Airbnb Launches Global Hotel Technology Partnership to Support Boutique Hotels, Bed, and Breakfasts." So, unfortunately, Airbnb's take on hotel partnerships is somewhat unclear, but it seems like not any hostel around the corner can partner with Airbnb. At least not yet.

Is Airbnb a Threat to the Hotel Industry
Don't underestimate the power of technology!

Pros and Cons of Airbnb Leading the Charge

It's estimated that 22% of the market is currently under the command of Airbnb. So, yes, Airbnb is larger than any hotel brand, group, or individual. Nevertheless, there's an argument brewed up: whether Airbnb is complementary to the traditional hotel industry or is it absolutely disruptive?

Wherever there's competition, there's a success. The new concept of Airbnb and its role in the hospitality industry has essentially put the traditional hoteliers between a rock and a hard place. To top the customer experience and the absolute dominant state of Airbnb, hotels had to get creative. We believe this was one of the main reasons for new hospitality trends such as sustainabilitynew roles of technologyIoT applicationsdigital marketing, and even Smart Locks. All to look more appealing in the traveler's eyes and to top the titan of the hospitality industry, Airbnb.

However, this proactivity is because Airbnb has changed how the average traveler looks at the travel industry nowadays. After all, there are evidently millions of people looking for quirky landmarks and exceptional places to stay at, instead of the average creaky hotel room. And nowadays, these places are easily accessible, courtesy of Airbnb! The point here is that Airbnb has not only topped the charts statistically but also changed the industry. The reason the hotel industry is becoming more flexible and more technological than ever before is probably Airbnb alone.

Anyhow, all that leads to the termination of smaller businesses, although there are still people booking accommodations the old-fashioned way, the smaller businesses are the ones in danger amidst the fight back and forth. The hotels and hostels that are not fortunate enough (literally and figuratively) to renovate and rebuild with the new trends and adapt are being shut down all over the world. Especially with the COVID hit, the situation just worsened.

Airbnb, the frontrunning app in anything travel!

Airbnb Statistics for the Non-believers!

At the time of writing, this is the most up-to-date version of Airbnb global statistics we could find. To emphasize how big and respectable Airbnb is and to inspire you to take action, hopefully!

Airbnb Currently Has:

  • Over 150 million worldwide users have booked over 800 million stays.
  • Six guests checking into an Airbnb listing every second.
  • 4 million hosts worldwide.
  • Property listings from 100,000 cities in 220 countries.
  • 90,000 cabins
  • 40,000 farms
  • 24,000 tiny homes
  • 5,600 boats
  • 3,500 castles
  • 2,800 yurts
  • 2,600 treehouses
  • 1,600 private islands
  • 300 lighthouses
  • 140 igloos (no joke)


In summary, we can say it depends on your business. You can be both upgraded or downgraded or both, from Airbnb's rise. Ever since its launch back in 2007, Airbnb has been expanding, and honestly, there's no reason to stop now, and Airbnb is not showing any sign of slowing down either. Therefore, we believe you'll either need to adapt to the situation as a hotelier or accept the fact that your audience is shrunk down to people who book their stays the old-fashioned way. And even that is being shrunk down each passing day, as more and more people are adapting to the new age of travel!

We believe the travel industry and the hospitality industry are essentially transforming and changing, so should you.

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Parsa Mazaheri
Marketing/CS Specialist