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Will Airbnb rival Hostelworld for hostel bookings?

Feb 16, 2018

In its first significant core-product change in years, Airbnb has signalled that it is ready to take on Hostelworld and other online travel agents (OTAs). The accommodation booking platform has recently connected with third-party distribution manager, SiteMinder, and said additional channel managers will be given access over time. New research shows Airbnb has quickly become a popular source of bookings for hostels in recent years.

The just released 2017 STAY WYSE Hostel Booking Sources Report is based on survey responses from 1,133 establishments in 87 countries – representing 116,000 hostel beds worldwide. After making a big jump as a booking source in 2015, Airbnb did decline slightly as a hostel booking source last year. This drop coincides with tighter regulatory measures being levied against Airbnb by local governments.  Now that Airbnb is allowing hotels and hostels to simplify their listing process with a third-party manager, will it rival Hostelworld for second-place hostel OTA, after Booking.com?

“I hope for the sake of the hostel identity that Hostelworld can hold its own. Airbnb has swiftly moved into third place as a distributor for hostel accommodation and this new development with SiteMinder could make it more difficult to compete,” said David Chapman, Director General, WYSE Travel Confederation.

Airbnb has said it will give preference to uniquely designed properties which provide access to common areas. Third-party listings offering local flavour, tours and products are more likely to be featured on the platform. In other words, accommodation with a hostel concept. With commission rates five times lower than those charged by Hostelworld and Booking.com, Airbnb is positioning itself as a tough contender on the hostel OTA playing field.

While Airbnb has a strong showing for hostel bookings in the United States, other world regions haven’t taken to the platform as quickly. The 2017 Hostel Booking Sources Report provides deeper insight into hostel booking sources by region since 2015. The executive summary and report are now available for download.

Airbnb now firmly established within the youth travel market

The New Horizons Survey of 57,000 youth travellers worldwide found that hostels are steadfastly the top choice for travellers ages 18 to35. However, the survey also revealed that Airbnb-style accommodation edged out family and friends as the third most popular travel accommodation for young travellers in 2017 compared to 2012. Twenty-three percent of New Horizons survey respondents reported using Airbnb to book their accommodation.

New Horizons OTAs

Our latest New Horizons Survey shows that the Airbnb brand is of significant importance to young travellers booking travel accommodation via a third party – even more important than Hostelworld,” said WYSE Travel Confederation Director General David Chapman. “It remains to be seen whether the larger operators in the industry will start listing on Airbnb.”