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About 60 million people have used Airbnb to find an alternative to a hotel.
Now, some hotels are using Airbnb to find new customers.
Managers at boutique hotels say they use the platform similarly to the way they use booking services like Expedia and Priceline, which typically charge hotels a 10% to 25% fee per reservation. Airbnb, by contrast, charges hosts a 3% fee.
Airbnb has already established itself as a booking agent for bed-and-breakfasts and hostels, so much so that hosts have options to categorize their listings as "bed and breakfasts" or "dorms." Boutique hotels are another step toward becoming not just a platform for booking rooms in other users’ homes.
Hotels are a big business. Online travel agents account for 13% of global hotel bookings, according to Phocuswright.
Expedia, which owns Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Orbitz, did $5.8 billion of business last year. Priceline, owner of Booking.com and Kayak, did $8.4 billion.
Both companies list Airbnb as a competitor in their SEC filings.
The Box House Hotel in North Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which offers apartment-style suites, lists at least five of nine rooms on Airbnb; The Riff in Manhattan, which recently converted from hostel to hotel, lists one private room in a "hipster hotel/hostel;" and The Union Hotel in Gowanus, Brooklyn, advertises "plush carpeting floors, quilted custom beds, penny-tiled bathrooms, and deco chandeliers," and concludes, "Cutting edge is an understatement."
Airbnb's New York City manager, Wrede Petersmeyer, told Fast Company that Airbnb permits listings for rooms in hotels as long as they're clearly portrayed as such.
Airbnb has more than 2 million listings on its platform, arguably making it by number of rooms the largest hotel chain in the world. Even while competing with Airbnb’s peer-to-peer rental business, smaller hotels could utilize Airbnb's large-hotel-chain visibility by appearing in its search results.
That helps explain why last month Expedia announced plans to acquire Airbnb competitor Homeaway for $3.9 billion...