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American consumers spent more on Airbnb than on Hilton last year

That means Airbnb now owns about 20 percent of the entire US consumer lodging market.

A woman stands looking at a sculpture of the Airbnb logo.
Much of Airbnb’s growth is coming from travelers who live in the central US.
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Wired25
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Airbnb has long felt like an existential threat to hotel companies. New data shows that it actually is one.

US consumers spent more money on Airbnb last year than they did on Hilton and its subsidiary brands like DoubleTree and Embassy Suites, according to new data from Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of dollars in anonymized debit and credit card purchases. Their Airbnb spending is even catching up to Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, which added to its revenue by acquiring Starwood hotels in 2016.

The data shows roughly 30 percent growth last year in US consumer spending on Airbnb, which is expected to go public next year and is currently valued at about $38 billion.

Much of that growth, according to Second Measure, is coming from travelers who live in the central US. Currently, about a third of Airbnb’s US customers are from populous coastal states like California, New York, and Florida. That’s a departure from 2012, when people from those states made up half its customers.

This growth comes as Airbnb, which has traditionally been a way for people to rent space in their homes, branches out more directly into the hotel space. Last year, the company expanded its bookings to include boutique hotels. Earlier this month, Airbnb acquired the last-minute hotel booking site HotelTonight, bringing it even deeper into the mainstream hotel market.

Indeed, hotels, which have long lobbied against Airbnb, are increasingly competing for the same customers. Twelve percent of major hotel* customers also booked with Airbnb last year, up from 1 percent in 2013, according to Second Measure.

Out of all US consumer lodging spending last year, Airbnb made up nearly 20 percent, according to Second Measure data. HomeAway, its home-sharing competitor owned by the travel booking site Expedia, brought in 11 percent.**

That’s impressive considering the US hotel industry brings in more than $200 billion in revenue a year. Note that Airbnb only considers its revenue to be the fees it gets from renters and travelers, not the gross bookings — what consumers spend — that would be included in the Second Measure data. It’s a different revenue model from hotels, which take in all the gross bookings but also have much higher expenses like building and running the hotels.

Airbnb’s revenue in this data would include the total amount consumers spend on its lodgings and its “experiences,” while the hotel data would include room prices as well as food, beverages, and incidentals. Basically, everything that would show up on the consumer’s credit card bill under Airbnb or these hotels (and their subsidiary brands) would be included.

Second Measure’s data is for personal US credit cards, so people traveling from abroad or using corporate accounts wouldn’t be included. Hotels tend to be more popular among business travelers — and business travelers tend to be more lucrative than leisure ones — so including them would definitely move the data in hotels’ favor.

Airbnb, however, has been trying to eat into that business travel market as well with Airbnb for Work, its segment of highly rated lodgings that have hotel amenities and self-check-ins. Airbnb says it manages travel for 400,000 businesses, and business travelers are using the service for shorter trips — ones that might have once defaulted to hotels. The average stay with Airbnb for Work is five days, down from six days last year, according to Airbnb. The fastest-growing segment of business trips is three nights or fewer.

Analysts estimate Airbnb brought in more than $3 billion globally in 2018. Unlike a number of other startups planning to go public, it’s been profitable on an Ebitda basis for two years.

* Includes InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Starwood, Choice Hotels, Wyndham Hotel Group, La Quinta, Hyatt, and all of their subsidiary brands.
** HomeAway revenue includes VRBO and

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