Domio’s 2018 Alternative Accommodations Survey
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The launch of Airbnb Plus in February marked another evolution in the travel industry and a further blurring of the line between short-term rental accommodations and hotels. By moving upstream to spotlight better quality listings, Airbnb is serving a growing class of traveler that is looking for an alternative accommodation without substituting the luxuries and amenities of a hotel.
But are travelers ready to use Airbnb Plus as they would Expedia and book alternative short-term rental accommodations on a platform alongside traditional hotel rooms?
The team here at Domio wanted to find out and take the pulse of travelers as they consider hotels versus alternative accommodations in 2018.
To do so, it commissioned a Google Survey administered to 500 U.S. respondents aged 18+ and weighted for the U.S. population by age, region and gender. Here’s what we found with the results of Domio’s 2018 Alternative Accommodations Survey.
As you travel in 2018, will you stay in a hotel or short-term rental?
Over 33% of respondents noted that they will stay in a short-term rental via booking on Airbnb and other sites while traveling this year. That number is up again year-over-year when compared to a Morgan Stanley study from last year, which noted 25% of travelers planned to stay in a short-term rental in 2017 — up from 19% in 2016.
When breaking out that 33% further, we found that over 23% of U.S. traveler will stay in both a hotel and short-term rental in 2018 and 10% will stay in short-term rentals exclusively.
Millennials, between the age of 24-35, were the most likely to say they will stay in an alternative short-term rental accommodation while traveling in 2018 (40%). Meanwhile, women (35%) were more likely than men (31%) to note they would stay in a short-term rental while traveling this year.
I’m more likely to book and stay in a short-term rental in 2018 if I’m traveling by/as a ___.
When it comes to what type of traveler may be interested in an alternative accommodation in 2018, those planning group travel were the most likely to be headed towards a short-term rental.
Over 38% of respondents said they are most likely to book and stay in a short-term rental in 2018 if they are traveling with a group bigger than two. Traveling as a couple was the next-most-likely reason to book a short-term rental (31%).
Interestingly, men may view short-term rentals as a bit more original and romantic than women. Men noted that they’d actually be the most likely to book a short-term rental when traveling as a couple (37%). Comparatively, only 26% of women noted they would be more likely to book a short-term rental in 2018 if they were traveling as a couple.
U.S. travelers are less likely to book a short-term rental while traveling solo in 2018. However, when it comes to solo travel for fun, Airbnb’s and other alternative accommodations can still be a fit.
Close to 18% of respondents noted they were more likely to book and stay in a short-term rental if they were traveling by themselves for leisure versus the nearly 13% that said they would book and stay in a short-term rental while traveling for work this year.
However, it is worth noting that this 13% is certainly on the rise as companies such as Google enable their employees to simply book and expense short-term stays while traveling for business. Not to mention the growing segment of solopreneurs and young workers who prefer to mix business and pleasure during their travels.
What are the top reasons you’d have for booking a hotel over a short-term rental during a trip in 2018?
So what are the reasons U.S. travelers may still be hesitant to use a short-term rental in 2018 rather than a hotel? It turns out that the reasons today may be a bit different than they were only a couple years ago.
A separate Morgan Stanley survey released a little over two years ago found that the reasons for not using an Airbnb were either not being aware of the short-term rental option or being turned off by the privacy and safety concerns of staying in this type of alternative accommodation.
In 2018, the number one reason for still booking a hotel over a short-term rental while traveling is cost (42%). Cost you say? While some would argue that the number one benefit short-term rentals provide is lowering travel accommodation cost by increasing lodging inventory, it seems even those planning stays in short-term rentals are getting cost conscious.
However, this is more likely an illustration that short-term rentals have created enough awareness and similarities to hotels where travelers are simply picking an alternative accommodation or a hotel simply based on cost alone (more on that in a second).
The next reason to hold off booking a short-term rental during a trip in 2018? The lack of service amenities and rewards that are often lacking at these alternative accommodations. Nearly 24% noted they’d book a hotel over a short-term rental because of a lack of amenities at the alternative accommodation. Meanwhile, 22% said they would pass on the short-term stay due to not having onsite support. Furthermore, another 22% are still planning to book hotel stays based on their current reward programs.
All of these reasons came above safety concerns in our findings for the U.S. traveling population with booking a short-term rental (21%). Note: When you breakout the findings by gender, women did identify safety (23%) as a bigger reason than amenities (22%) for choosing a hotel over a short-term rental.
That said, it does appear that the majority of travelers view the horror stories of spy cameras and even host attacks at short-term rentals as exceptions rather than the rule. Of course, as short-term rentals are further professionalized and vetted, there is even less distinction between safety at an alternative accommodation versus a hotel.
It’s also possible that with the majority of travelers planning to stay at a short-term rental when they are traveling in groups versus traveling alone in 2018 — safety may be a lower concern.
What is the top reason you’d have for booking a short-term rental over a hotel during a trip in 2018?
On the other side of the coin, why are travelers planning to book short-term rentals over hotels while they travel in 2018? As we mentioned, we wanted to come back to cost.
With travelers noting cost (34%) was the top reason they have for booking a short-term rental over a hotel during a trip, we get a clearer picture that folks are viewing hotels and short-term rentals as equals. Quite simply, they’re willing to trade a short-term rental for a hotel room, or vice-versa, on cost alone.
Next on the list of reasons for opting for an alternative accommodation over a hotel was space (29%). With travelers noting that they’ll be staying in short-term rentals the most this year with groups of two or more this makes sense. In fact, the size of group hosted in short-term rental versus the likely size of the group hosted (or allowed) in a hotel came next on the list as well (27%).
Size and space-related reasons beat out some of the more unique qualities of staying in a short-term rental versus a hotel. Cooking while on vacation may not be on the top of traveling to-do’s for everyone, but some travelers enjoy the option and potential cost savings (25%). In addition, 17% of respondents noted that the local experience of staying in a short-term rental within a city was a top reason for booking it over a hotel.
In conclusion, we are certainly seeing a shift in the mindset of travelers when it comes to choosing a hotel or alternative short-term rental accommodation. Overall, travelers are much more comfortable with the idea of swapping a hotel stay for an alternative rental accommodation in 2018 than they were just three years ago.
As Airbnb moves into Expedia territory as a traditional OTA and lists alternative accommodations alongside hotels, even more travelers will begin to view them as equals in 2018 and beyond.
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