As the world gradually emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are itching to travel again and explore new destinations. When it comes to lodging during travels, hotels have traditionally been the most popular option, offering a reliable and consistent experience. However, in recent years, alternative accommodations like Airbnb have gained considerable attention, particularly among younger travelers seeking unique and authentic experiences. With this growing trend, investors may wonder if Airbnb is a buy, as the company’s business model continues to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions.
Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) is a leading online marketplace and hospitality service that allows people to rent out their properties or homes to travelers looking for unique and affordable accommodations. The company was founded in 2008 and has since grown into a global brand with operations in over 220 countries and regions, serving millions of travelers and hosts worldwide. In this article, we will analyze Airbnb’s business model, revenue streams, and SWOT analysis.
Airbnb’s Business Model
Airbnb’s business model is built around the sharing economy, which is based on the concept of using technology to connect individuals who have excess resources with those who need them. Airbnb’s platform allows hosts to list their properties, and travelers can book accommodations directly through the website or mobile app. The company charges a commission fee to hosts for every booking, ranging from 3% to 14%, depending on the type of reservation.
Airbnb’s revenue streams come from different sources, including fees charged to hosts and guests, advertising, and additional services such as Airbnb experiences. Hosts are charged a commission fee based on the rental price, while guests are charged a service fee for every booking. The service fee ranges from 0% to 20% of the reservation subtotal, depending on the rental price and other factors.
In addition to its core business of short-term rentals, Airbnb has expanded into other areas such as experiences, which allows travelers to book activities and tours organized by local hosts. The company also launched Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe, which offer higher-end accommodations and luxury villas, respectively.
ABNB: SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis is a useful tool for evaluating the internal and external factors that can affect a company’s performance. Here is a SWOT analysis of Airbnb.
- Strong brand recognition: Airbnb is a well-known brand that has become synonymous with the sharing economy and unique travel experiences.
- Global reach: With operations in over 220 countries and regions, the travel accommodations and experiences company has a significant global presence.
- Diversified revenue streams: Airbnb generates revenue from different sources, including fees charged to hosts and guests, advertising, and additional services such as experiences.
- User-friendly platform: Airbnb’s website and mobile app are easy to use, making it simple for hosts to list their properties and for guests to book accommodations.
- Dependence on hosts: Airbnb’s business model relies on the availability and willingness of hosts to list their properties. Any decline in the number of hosts could negatively impact the company’s revenue.
- Regulatory challenges: Airbnb has faced regulatory challenges in various markets due to concerns about safety, zoning, and tax compliance.
- Quality control: With over seven million listings, it can be difficult for Airbnb to maintain quality control over its properties.
- Growing demand for unique travel experiences: As more travelers seek out unique and authentic travel experiences, Airbnb is well-positioned to meet this demand.
- Expansion into new markets: Airbnb can continue to expand into new markets and regions, particularly in emerging economies.
- Partnership with hotels: Airbnb has the opportunity to partner with hotels and other accommodation providers to offer travelers a wider range of options.
- Competition from other platforms: Airbnb faces competition from other short-term rental platforms such as Vrbo, Booking.com (NASDAQ: BKNG), and Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE).
- Economic downturns: Economic downturns can impact travel demand, which could negatively affect Airbnb’s revenue.
- Regulatory challenges: Ongoing regulatory challenges could limit Airbnb’s growth and expansion in certain markets.
Travelers Overwhelmingly Still Prefer Hotels
Despite the potential for new and unique experiences that can come with staying at an Airbnb, U.S. travelers still overwhelmingly prefer hotels over vacation homes like Airbnb. According to a recent survey conducted by Boston.com, travelers were asked if they prefer Airbnb-style lodging or the classic, hotel. A whopping 73% of those that participated in the survey said they prefer hotels. Around 16% of those surveyed said “it depends” on factors like location, convenience, privacy, etc. Only 11% of respondents said they preferred Airbnb over hotels.
To be fair, this survey was conducted by 75 people living in the Boston, Massachusetts area. However, every other recent survey found on the topic highlighted a preference of over 50% for hotels over Airbnb and other vacation homes.
One of the biggest complaints of Airbnb that is likely driving consumer preference for hotels is the cleaning fees. Unlike hotels, which typically include daily housekeeping services as part of the room rate, Airbnb hosts are responsible for cleaning and preparing their properties for guests. To cover these costs, hosts often charge a one-time cleaning fee, which can vary widely depending on the size and location of the rental.
The impact of cleaning fees on a traveler’s decision between choosing an Airbnb or hotel will depend on a variety of factors, such as the length of stay, the size of the rental, and the overall budget for the trip. For shorter stays or solo travelers, the cleaning fee may be a relatively small portion of the overall cost and may not be a significant factor in the decision-making process. However, for longer stays or larger groups, the cleaning fee can add up quickly and may make a hotel stay more appealing from a cost perspective.
In addition to cost considerations, travelers may also weigh the convenience and reliability of hotel housekeeping services against the flexibility and autonomy offered by an Airbnb rental. Hotels typically provide daily housekeeping services, which can be convenient for travelers who prefer a clean and tidy room throughout their stay. However, some travelers may prefer the privacy and control offered by an Airbnb rental, where they can clean and maintain the space themselves according to their schedule and preferences.
ABNB: 2022 Was the First Profitable Full Year
On February 14, 2023, Airbnb reported fourth quarter 2022 and full-year 2022 financial results, which came in much better-than-expected. In fact, the full-year 2022 represented Airbnb’s first profitable year on a GAAP basis.
During the fourth quarter of 2022, the travel accommodations and experiences company reported revenue of $1.9 billion, which represents year-over-year growth of 24%. On a full-year 2022 basis, Airbnb saw revenues surge 40% y/y to $8.4 billion.
Net income during the fourth quarter was $319 million, marking the most profitable fourth quarter to date in Airbnb’s operational history. For the full-year 2022, the company reported a net income of $1.9 billion.
Management noted that guest demand remained very strong during Q4 2022. Bookings increased 20% y/y in Q4 2022. Heading into 2023, Airbnb sees a strong backlog for Q1 that has longer lead times for bookings in Q4 2022 compared to last year. As of the end of 2022, Airbnb added over 900,000 global active listings to bring its total inventory up to 6.6 million active listings.
Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said: “2022 was another incredible year for Airbnb. We made almost 100 upgrades to our core service, saw record guest demand, and ended the year with our highest-ever number of active listings globally.”
Overall, Airbnb is certainly a unique alternative to the traditional hotel when traveling. The benefits of staying in a vacation home can include greater privacy, more room, a unique location, and more. However, consumers could be on the hook for higher costs than a traditional hotel when factoring in the extra charges like cleaning fees. Ultimately, with the pandemic easing away and consumers opting to travel more often, Airbnb could stand to be a great beneficiary, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z.
Disclosure: No position. Spotlight Growth has no relationships with any of the companies mentioned in this article and did not receive payment in any form for its creation. This is an opinion article and is not meant to be financial advise. We are not broker-dealers or investment professionals. Please conduct your own due diligence. For more information on our disclosures, please visit: https://spotlightgrowth.com/disclosures/