Author Topic: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)  (Read 537 times)

ergophobe

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According to SimilarWeb, AirBnb.com overtook Booking.com in November 2017 and has had more visits every month since.

For those who follow travel, this is a big shift for several reasons

1. It means that AirBnB has catapulted past VRBO which a few short years ago had 5x the revenue of AirBnB. As an aggregate that might still be true because VRBO/Homeaway is split across several sites

2. More importantly, it represents a non-traditional property beating an OTA. When you consider that Booking.com sells hotels, rental cars, flights and vacation rentals, and AirBnB mostly sells just vacation rentals and still a handful of shared rooms, that says a lot about where the travel industry is going (and how good AirBnB marketing is).

One side note - I have pretty much never seen AirBnB show up in "information" searches. They don't seem to have much of an organic strategy compared to Booking.com or the Expedia family or TripAdvisor. So this must be a *huge* amount of direct traffic. Not to mention that the AirBnB crowd is also very much of an "app" crowd rather than a "website" crowd in my experience.


https://www.similarweb.com/corp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/The-Secrets-Behind-Booking.coms-Success.pdf

rcjordan

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 06:06:17 PM »
> never seen AirBnB show up in "information" searches

Ditto. And I think much the same could be said of reddit. I suspect an algo is at play. 

ergophobe

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 06:08:06 PM »
Strangely, if I actually go to SimilarWeb, even including the top AirBnB.cTLD domains, it doesn't look close to Booking.com.

https://www.similarweb.com/website/airbnb.com?competitors=booking.com
https://www.similarweb.com/website/airbnb.fr?competitors=airbnb.it

ergophobe

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 06:09:36 PM »
much the same could be said of reddit.

Hmm... that's true, but stranger given that reddit content is more search-friendly.

Adam C

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2018, 10:57:37 AM »
I wonder if there is something in the nature of the Airbnb product that leads to a greater number of visits per conversion.

For a flight - its typically a very easy, functional transaction (airline of choice or meta search)

For a hotel - a bit of bouncing between the OTA and tripadvisor, maybe having started at or used a meta search at some point

For Airbnb - a load of research on the properties available, locations, owner, reading the reviews, etc.  Message the owner, wait for response, negotiate a price, wait for a response, book it, revisit closer to travel time to get the details etc.

It keeps pulling you back in


rcjordan

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2018, 04:23:28 PM »
> a load of research on the properties available, locations, owner, reading the reviews, etc.  Message the owner, wait for response, negotiate a price, wait for a response, book it, revisit closer to travel time to get the details etc.

I suspect that's a good part of it.  Cottage rentals here often involve whole families or multi-family. Large or mega-cottages (some 'cottages' are 20+ bedrooms) are popular.  The number of decision-makers involved, the length of stay, amenities, and other assorted logistical issues would likely mean repeated visits and sharing.  For those short-term AirBNB stays that are replacing hotel stays, the fact that it's privately owned rather than a commercial commodity should make the renter more suspicious that it's being misrepresented or hyped and needs double-checking.

FWIW, when I was in the US summer resort search business the search season kicked off on Thanksgiving. I always assumed it was because families were together and used that opportunity to start planning and sharing summer vacation ideas.

ergophobe

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2018, 04:27:24 PM »
I wonder if there is something in the nature of the Airbnb product that leads to a greater number of visits per conversion.

Maybe. The bounce rate is low too, which would match with what you're saying.

On the other hand, they only sell one service. No flights, no cars, no hotels. So I find it surprising they can beat massive companies that sell everything. I think it's indicative of some major changes in the travel industry that people have been talking about for a few years.

What people want in a travel experience has changed dramatically as, say, my father's (89 yrs old) generation ages out of travel and my niece's (26 years old) generation ages in. Interestingly, the two of them just went to Rome together, But my niece organized the trip, and I'm pretty sure she booked the accommodations on AirBnB.

Marriott = Buick in 1990s
AirBnB = Honda in 1990s

ergophobe

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2018, 04:28:46 PM »
search season kicked off on Thanksgiving. I always assumed it was because families were together

Still true. It's also when the wedding search business kicks off. People go home and announce their engagements

rcjordan

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2018, 04:38:48 PM »
>weddings

HUGE business. Bridal conventions showcasing vendors are January here.

aaron

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2018, 05:47:41 PM »
The lack of Airbnb ranking in organics may be biz strategy as much as anything.

Early on they wanted to appear different than hotel booking websites, with more unique inventory.

They lacked the scale to do the direct deals with big players so they needed to rely on individual property owners to create scale.

Eventually they will offer tons of hotel booking options on their site & at that point in time they will make geo-local hotel keyword pages, which will likely rank great on the back of their brand awareness and strong link profile. However it remains to be seen what sort of organic opportunity that will represent as Google keeps eating more of the search result interface for the big money hotel related keywords.
  • "This is just a suggestion, Google, but if I search for a hotel by name, maybe its own official website should not be on the fourth page of search results, after 3 pages of structured listings data." - Benedict Evans
  • "to appear in Google’s meta-search, businesses must pay a price per click that is often three times as much as for keyword searches. Google also charges a 10% to 15% commission on net revenues from reservations booked through its meta-search." - WSJ
  • "Google Revamps Mobile Travel Search Results, Almost Making Web Results Irrelevant" - SearchEngineLand

According to SEMrush Airbnb gets something like 10 million organic search visits a month
https://www.semrush.com/info/airbnb.com
The VAST majority of that is their core brand term, or their core brand term with local modifiers like Airbnb Detroit or such.

On a page-by-page basis SEMrush estimates over half their organic search traffic hits the homepage.
https://www.semrush.com/info/airbnb.com+(by+organic_uniq_urls)

They have a "things to do" section, along with options like "food scene" or "shopping mall" but most likely those pages end up being thin and duplicative relative to whatever Google's local results list directly in the search results page.

People looking for hotels typically search for cityname hotels & similar terms, which creates a fertile longtail set of queries for TripAdvisor to rank on. Airbnb operates in more of an unstructured space. The condos vs spare rooms vs little house in back yard vs etc etc etc query volume isn't really there...and people probably prefer to do a visual search for that stuff on Airbnb vs a text-based search on Google.

The sort of tell for Airbnb rankings will be how well their hotel pages rank when they finally launch them, though maybe by that point in time Google's search results for travel will be so ad heavy & otherwise undifferentiated most people skip Google in the value chain in the same way many product searches start at Amazon.com. When Airbnb offers hotel pages they could also easily add car rental & flight booking options.

The other thing to note about some of the other travel brands is in some case the companies make each destination less differentiated by leveraging the same inventory and technology across site after site after site. What's the difference between going to Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Travelocity.com & Orbitz.com? And then Booking.com sort of splits their traffic 3 ways between using Priceline in the US, Booking in Europe & Agoda in Asia.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 05:51:26 PM by aaron »

ergophobe

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2018, 09:59:18 PM »
The lack of Airbnb ranking in organics may be biz strategy as much as anything.

Although, I am seeing them more and more now that I'm looking. For terms I checked, they are crushing VRBO and almost going head-to-head with TripAdvisor.

Quote
Eventually they will offer tons of hotel booking options

AFAIK they still don't have any Sabre integration, which makes it a non-starter for most hotels. They have created a "multicalendar" for property managers, but they still don't have anything (to my knowledge) that works with hotels.

The question is whether they will dilute their brand and chase the big money or not. Once they offer hotels, they are basically just another OTA and won't be offering anything special. Meanwhile, the OTAs are all going the other way - it's easy to list your small AirBnB/VRBO property on Booking.com. TripAdvisor is practically an OTA, offering direct bookings for hotels and having bought Flipkey.

More and more there is less and less to differentiate any service from any other.

Quote
However it remains to be seen what sort of organic opportunity that will represent as Google keeps eating more of the search result interface for the big money hotel related keywords.

And with Google Hotel Ads, once again Google is cutting out the "affiliates" (i.e. the OTAs). For simple purchases (simple round-trip flight, simple room in a generic hotel), I still find Expedia a smoother experience than using Google. But for a complex flight, Google Flights crushes it. Google Hotel Ads direct connection to the hotel booking engine is sapping the mojo from the OTAs

Quote
"to appear in Google’s meta-search, businesses must pay a price per click that is often three times as much as for keyword searches.

Yeah, but the ROAS is way higher. It's currently underpriced relative to PPC Google Ads

aaron

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Re: AirBnB now most visited travel site in the world (SimilarWeb study)
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2018, 12:38:09 PM »
Quote
AFAIK they still don't have any Sabre integration, which makes it a non-starter for most hotels. They have created a "multicalendar" for property managers, but they still don't have anything (to my knowledge) that works with hotels.

The question is whether they will dilute their brand and chase the big money or not.
I don't think they have much of a choice here. If the other platforms are adding inventory which parallels their inventory then they are going to have to branch off in the other direction to sell the narrative of growth which is needed to publicly list their company at a $40 billion valuation or such.

They may want to wait to do it until after the IPO or sort of concurrently with the IPO so they can sell it as the next big growth market while not absorbing the risk of it bombing. A great move for Airbnb would be to acquire TripAdvisor to be able to make a big push into hotels all at once - it is probably the most differentiated of the third party hotel sites due to the early focus on reviews.

Expedia is worth maybe half of what Airbnb will try to IPO for, Ctrip slightly more than half & Booking a bit over double that. There's no way Airbnb sits in their niche without expanding horizontally and maintains their current valuation. Their CEO keeps talking about broadening the market by having guided tours & other travel services. From a branding perspective it would be hard to be seen as a full range service provider which just happens to be missing flights, rental cars & hotels, which are perhaps the three biggest travel related services.