Airbnb has been a poster child for the “shared economy” era of travel in which we find ourselves today.  The company made headlines for a variety of reasons over the summer, but not all of the press was positive in nature.  Legal proceedings in two of the country’s largest states (California and New York) put a bit of a damper on news that the startup reached a $10 billion valuation.

A recent article in The Telegraph is now announcing that Europe accounts for 55% of Airbnb revenues, and this is due in no small part to the fact that the company has encountered a much warmer regulatory reception on the other side of the pond.

“We’ve had a much, much better experience in Europe,” says Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.  “I think it may be something to do with this concept being newer to the US than it is to Europe.  In a way, this has been part of the European culture for centuries, if you think of the roots of B&B’s there and dozens of countries (located) so close together.  In a city like London, there’s a lot of good will.”

Making the Most of Oversees Markets

Along with Taxi app Uber, Airbnb is at the forefront of what has been labeled the “sharing economy”.  It invites people to make extra income by renting out rooms to visitors for short breaks and business trips.

That approach has been very popular, despite the fact that California and New York lawmakers stepped up legislation to be able to “police” renters they deem to be misusing the site.  There are now Airbnb properties offered in 34,000 towns and cities around the world.  Only four countries – Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria – are not represented.  More than one million Britons have booked accommodations via the service and more than 35,000 UK properties are listed (up 73% from a year ago).

Chesky also expressed that his company is seeing a lot of demand for expansion, with much more room to grow in Europe and Asia.  Tokyo is now the company’s fastest growing city.

In addition to expansion of offices across the globe, Airbnb is also directing more resources toward their marketing efforts.  The company hired the chief marketing officer from Coca-Cola, who will be presiding over a meaning marketing budget, something the company has not really had previously.

Three Things to Remember

– Throughout the summer, Airbnb experienced a roller coaster in the media.  The company went through a complete re-branding, which included a logo that drew criticism from social media channels across the web.  The company also received the $10 billion valuation they were aiming for after a $500 million round of funding from investors.  The company is the highest valued startup company in the world and is attempting to reshape the travel industry.

– While Europe is currently Airbnb’s leading market, there is still plenty of room for growth internationally for the company.  Further expansion in Europe as well as a stronger presence in Asia will make Airbnb major players in the travel space.

– Airbnb acts as a online marketplace for rentals by owner, putting it in a slightly different category than  It does fall into the same category as major vacation rental website HomeAway, which manages and features more than 1 million individual listings across its websites.    It will be interesting to monitor these two companies over the next 12 months to see how each company’s actions (i.e. HomeAway/Expedia Deal, $10B Valuation, etc) affect the other.

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