New research on Airbnb and hotels

How much do Airbnb and hotels really compete for the same travelers? Not much, according to preliminary findings of a report by hotel industry research group STR. Instead of finding evidence that Airbnb growth is undermining hotel growth, the study of seven US and six international markets finds evidence to the contrary—that hotels are growing even as Airbnb grows.

For example, STR senior research analyst Jessica Haywood writes, the markets “with the highest Airbnb occupancy are also the markets with the highest hotel occupancy,” raising the possibility that hotels in these markets “are already full, so Airbnb is accommodating excess demand.” Airbnb’s occupancy shows a seasonal pattern with “more sustained occupancy in the summer, a logical finding, since Airbnb is leisure-focused,” whereas hotels “have much higher occupancy year-round,” due in part to a “steady and diverse base of group and contract travel.”

Airbnb offers a unique experience which, by design, means it is growing the hospitality pie. According to regular surveys of Airbnb guests, roughly one third of all trips on Airbnb would not happen at all, or would not last as long, if the guests were not using Airbnb. At Smith Travel’s recent Hotel Data Conference, one hotel executive said “the industry’s performance during the period that saw Airbnb’s rise is proof of their ability to coexist.”

Check out the full STR report here and stay tuned for more. STR will release more detailed findings of its research later in 2016.