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eMarketer Lowers US Airbnb Forecast

Competition increasing from hotels and online travel sites

June 6, 2018 (New York, NY) – While Airbnb has benefited from a surge in overall digital travel bookings, its growth is being hampered by increasing competition and guests’ concerns over safety and security. As a result, in its latest forecast on shared lodging users, eMarketer has lowered its projections for Airbnb usage.

In 2018, Airbnb will have 38.4 million users* in the US, up more than 13% over 2017. However, in its previous forecast last year, eMarketer projected Airbnb would have 43.2 million users this year. In fact, eMarketer is now expecting Airbnb to add just 6.1 million users in the US by 2021, far fewer than the 17.6 million previously predicted.

“Airbnb saw healthy growth in its infancy because it was often more affordable than hotels,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Jaimie Chung. “However, user growth is plateauing as competition from online travel agents like Expedia and Travelocity grows. Travelers also have lingering concerns about security and privacy following several high-profile incidents.”

eMarketer expects Airbnb to focus on mobile engagement by both new and current users, as the company taps artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to create a more robust app. The likely goal is to capture more of the 54.3% of smartphone users who research travel—or the 31.6% who book trips—via smartphones.

Digital travel sales in general in the US will grow 5.0% this year to reach $200.43 billion**.  About 35% will come from mobile, while 65% will come from desktops and laptops.

“Desktops and laptops remain relevant in the travel industry because comparison shopping is easier on a bigger screen,” Chung said. “In fact, eMarketer has lowered its mobile estimates, as mobile travel bookings have not grown in line with other industries—likely due to consumers’ preference for making these larger purchases on desktops and laptops.”

While more than 80% of the 147.2 million digital travel researchers will use a mobile device to plan a trip this year, a smaller percentage will use a smartphone or tablet to actually book the trip. About 64% of the 122.0 million travel bookers will use a mobile device.

* individuals ages 18+ who have used their Airbnb account for lodging services at least once during the calendar year

**Digital travel includes airline, car rental, cruise, hotel, accommodation and transportation. It includes all leisure and unmanaged business travel sales booked using the internet via any device, regardless of the method of payment or fulfillment.


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

About eMarketer

Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world. eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy.eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research including; forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally. In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.


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Posted on June 6, 2018.