Skift Take

Booking.com, with its hotels, vacation rentals, flights and wider array of brands, is a larger and more well-rounded company than Airbnb. Booking seems to be making gains at the expense of both Airbnb and Expedia.

Although online travel agencies looked to taking advantage of a potential surge in travel demand this summer, Airbnb and Expedia’s momentum showed signs of slowing in June.

That’s according to June visitor numbers that data intelligence firm Similarweb provided to Skift.

As you can see in the accompanying chart, visits to Airbnb.com globally declined almost 1 percent to 98.38 million in June versus May, according to Similarweb estimates. When looking at Airbnb’s June visitor numbers compared to a year earlier, Similarweb saw a 0.72 percent increase in visits to Airbnb, but that would hardly be a sign of robust momentum.

Visits to Expedia.com fell nearly 2 percent month-over-month in June to nearly 96 million, but visits were up a tepid 0.66 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to Similarweb estimates.

An Expedia Group spokesperson said: “When looking across various Expedia Group points of sale, Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Vrbo.com, we continue to see positive indicators for leisure travel this summer with continued interest in city, business, and international travel helping to shape travel recovery.”

Booking.com, on the other hand, showed significant strength.

Similarweb estimated that global visits to Booking.com increased 4.75 percent in June to almost 590.9 million compared to May, and surged 26.6 percent compared to June 2021.

There were likely multiple factors tied to the traffic trends. Inflation, rising fuel prices, and fears of recession probably caused some travelers to reconsider or alter trip plans. Booking.com is strongest in Europe, which had a sluggish travel recovery a year ago, and so it had ground to gain, and took advantage of the opportunity.

Booking Holdings declined to comment. Airbnb didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Online Travel Agency Site Visits in June

CompanyJune VisitsChange Vs. MayYear-Over Year Change
Expedia95,985,687-1.9 Percent0.66 Percent
Airbnb98,389,265-0.97 Percent0.72 Percent
Booking.com590,887,0814.75 Percent26.66 Percent

Source: Similarweb

If true, there are undoubtably a variety of factors tied to Booking’s gains versus competitors, including the fact that Booking’s strength is in Europe, which didn’t experience as healthy a travel comeback a year ago as markets such as the United States, where Airbnb and Expedia.com are stronger.

The purported softness in the U.S. for Expedia and Airbnb coincides with other signals.

A BTIG report found traffic declines for Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com in May 2022 versus May 2019, before the pandemic.

In addition, U.S. occupancy numbers in vacation rentals stood at 39 percent in the third quarter, according to Key Data Dashboard, down from 45 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

A Bernstein research note Monday argued that the travel recovery in the short term is shielded from recession fears and fuel price volatility that is gripping other sectors.

“Consumer confidence and real disposable income may be dropping but travel seems protected by a combination of pent-up demand, excess savings set aside for express purpose of travel, a skew to the more protected luxury consumer, and consumers saving money elsewhere,” Bernstein wrote. “Travel has always ultimately been cyclical and ongoing pressures will have to at least lead to trading down, but for now travel feels like the most buoyant end of consumer spend.”

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Tags: airbnb, Bernstein, booking.com, expedia, future of lodging, online travel newsletter, travel recovery, vacation rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: A restaurant in Mykonos, Greece in summer 2020. Booking.com is doing well in Europe, likely taking back some market share. Natalie Sym / Unsplash