Booking.com clearly operates in Airbnb's shadow in short-term rentals. Although long-term stays are currently a hot commodity, Booking.com is tardy in enabling such capabilities. That's a fitting symbol for the current state of play.
Online Travel This Week
Imagine you are Glenn Fogel, the CEO of both Booking Holdings and Booking.com, and on December 9 your company was the clear market leader in online travel with an $86 billion market cap. The next day Airbnb burst onto Nasdaq and its stock at one point that day reached a $109 billion valuation, and flirted with $100 billion all day.
OK, at market close Tuesday, the two rivals' valuations were a dead heat — $89.6 billion for Booking Holdings and $88.6 billion for Airbnb. Stock prices go up and down, but the point is that Wall Street thinks Airbnb will be a formidable competitor for Booking, or might even claim the top leadership rung.
That raises the question: Does Booking have what it takes to compete with Airbnb in short-term rentals?
Or perhaps, the question might more appropriately be: Does Airbnb have what's required to challenge Booking as a well-rounded lodging-booking company, let alone a full-service online travel agency?
Booking, which prided itself for years on having an ample but mostly under-the-radar short-term rental business, primarily in the form of European apartment-hotels and similar inventory at the time, clearly trails Airbnb in short-term rentals today by an order of magnitude.
Dan Wasiolek, a Morningstar analyst, estimated that