Airbnb's capability for growth is much greater than any traditional hotel chain but it can also disappear faster than you can type "enforcement of municipal zoning and/or condo board rules."
According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb is close to raising $1 billion in financing that values that short-term vacation rental company at $24 billion.
When it last raised money in 2014, a $450 million investment valued the company at $10 billion, so more than doubling the size of the valuation in just over a year is a significant accomplishment. Especially one in which Airbnb has been losing battles to attorneys general, city councils, and statehouses. At the same time, though, by its own numbers it has more than doubled the number of listings on its site, and it has a name recognition other seven-year old companies would kill for.
Last year we compared the value of a listing on Airbnb to that of a hotel room operated by each of the top publicly listed hospitality companies, as well as sometimes rival HomeAway, which is also public.
While hotels and short-term rentals are very different businesses, to consumers they’re often interchangeable and compete head on when it comes to offering a place to stay for the night. And as hotel brands have moved toward an asset-light strategy, it’s no longer a matter of owning the physical hotel room versus just listing one on a website. Last year we wrote:
In an asset-light strategy, hotel brands make money from management contracts and a double-digit share of gross revenues. Airbnb collects fees from the host and the user, and HomeAway offers a mix of plans, from the more traditional subscription to a percentage of each booking. In the end, they all offer the promise of a night’s sleep with a varying array of comforts and amenities. And users discover and book them in much the same way.
Airbnb has the advantage in any matchup here. As a non-public company it’s metrics are designed to impress investors and watchers, not satisfy the strict oversight of Securities and Exchange Commission, which requires greater transparency into a business.
What’s a Room or a Listing Worth?
|Hospitality Brand||Number of rooms/listings 2015||Market cap/valuation 2015||Value of room 2015||Number of rooms/listings 2014||Market cap/valuation 2014||Value of room 2014|
|Hyatt||156,875||$8.14 billion||$51,888||147,388||$8.42 billion||$57,128|
|Starwood||348,117||$14.05 billion||$40,359||346,063||$14.97 billion||$43,258|
|Hilton||715,000||$27.68 billion||$38,713||678,630||$21.86 billion||$32,211|
|Airbnb (adj.)*||720,000||$24 billion||$33,333||330,000||$10 billion||$30,303|
|Marriott||715,000||$21.1 billion||$29,510||675,623||$16.15 billion||$23,903|
|Accor||480,000||$12.6 billion||$26,250||455,985||$8.55 billion||$18,759|
|Airbnb||1,200,000||$24 billion||$20,000||550,000||$10 billion||$18,181|
|Wyndham||600,000||$10.09 billion||$16,816||600,000||$9.3 billion||$15,500|
|InterContinental Hotel Group||722,575||$9.87 billion||$13,659||686,873||$7.93 billion||$11,545|
|Choice Hotels||500,000||$3.24 billion||$6,480||500,000||$2.71 billion||$5,420|
|HomeAway||1,100,000||$2.95 billion||$2,681||890,000||$3.87 billion||$4,348|
Source: Company filings for all except Airbnb, which is self-reported.
The two numbers for Airbnb represent best and worst-case scenarios. Hosts often list a property multiple times, both as a private room and a whole unit, but it can’t be booked both ways at the same time. When Skift did a data scrape of the New York market, we saw a wide discrepancy — our numbers were 40% less than Airbnb’s numbers — between what it stated on the website and what our data dive revealed. Because of that, we’ve provided both an adjusted number based on a ‘Skift discount’ and one based on Airbnb’s numbers. The actual number of listings is probably somewhere in between.
So Who’s on Top?
The ranking is unchanged from last year, even if the value of rooms/listings has fluctuated.
The market caps at Starwood and Hyatt have declined, but their rooms still have the greatest value. And despite impressive market gains, Marriott and Hilton are still sandwiched between the best and worst-case numbers of Airbnb. HomeAway trails at the bottom — an Airbnb listing is worth anywhere from seven to 12 times as much as a similar listing on HomeAway — despite having a similar number of listings as Airbnb and greater transparency because it’s a public company.
In theory, the “value” of a listing at HomeAway and Airbnb should be worth a fraction of a room at a Quality Inn or a Marriott. The former are not constant and they’re not available 100% of the year. The volume of listings fluctuate by season (summer rentals), opportunity (a big event in town), and need (the host needs to make some extra cash). They can disappear overnight. This is changing, though, as HomeAway and Airbnb are more about professional landlords than one-off hosts.
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Photo credit: Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb (R) and John Donahoe, CEO, eBay a Fortune Brainstorm. Fortune Live Media / Flickr