It had to happen at some point, but it was assumed there were many years of steep growth still to come for Airbnb.
The number of people booking a room on the platform grew just 3.3% last year, falling from 7.9% in the previous 12 months, and even higher in previous years. (That data is based on a survey of 4,000 consumers (paywall) in the US, UK, France and Germany.)
It dampens predictions of how much Airbnb can hurt the traditional hotel industry.
Fascinatingly, however, awareness of Airbnb has shot up as bookings have slowed; 80% of people knew about Airbnb in 2017 compared to 52% in 2015.
The conclusion is the ‘easy growth’ of selling Airbnb to people once they’ve been made aware of it is now coming to an end.
Two other questions in the report: how much is Airbnb a mainstream replacement for hotels, or is it in fact a bit more niche than many had forecasted? And, has the lobbying against Airbnb by the hotel industry made an impact? The FT reckons the former a bit, but not so much the latter
This Bloomberg article has the signs of a story placed by Airbnb. It attempts to divert the focus from the slowdown in the western markets by focussing instead on annual growth of bookings in Latin America (150%) and Asia (80%). The report also claims Airbnb is on course to achieve 17 months of sustained profitability.
The timing and nature of the article suggest’s Airbnb is genuinely worried about what impact signs that it’s slowing down in western markets will have on its plan to float next year.