Airbnb’s full-service aspirations get another airing

Anyone in the travel tech sector tasked with organizing the office Christmas quiz should take a look at CB Insights’ freely available Mapping the State of Travel Tech report.

You could ask colleagues:

  • How many $100-million-plus travel tech deals have taken place since 2013?
  • Which is the most active travel tech startup investor?
  • How many deals have corporates and/or their venture arms signed this year?

(Answers at the end)

There is a wealth of data in the report going back to 2013, with lots of links to CB Insights research. It was also discussed in a webinar which took place last week, revealing some fresh-to-market forward-looking trend predictions from CB Insights.

Luxury leanings

“Luxury” is one of two global travel tech categories to watch, with the definition covering upmarket vacation rentals and private jet bookings. Airbnb and AccorHotels are named as incumbents which are entering into the luxury vacation rentals space via their acquisition of Luxury Retreats and OneFineStay respectively.

Accor has also bought and/or invested in Square Break and Travel Keys, giving it more than 10,000 luxury rental listings and signalling its commitment to competing with Airbnb.

The private jet booking business which gets a slide is Victor, a UK-based B2C jet charter platform which has raised $38 million so far. During the webinar the presenter created a customer journey of someone taking a private jet to a luxury rental to illustrate how luxury travel works in practice. Clearly “fly cheap, stay chic” is a forgotten tagline.

Tours and trips

The other sector to watch is “tours, activities and information”. No surprise there, although Virgin Galactic’s inclusion in this segment might be a stretch, even in the context of it being “an activities provider”. It is also a bit odd that Virgin Galactic is seen as “travel tech” when other businesses such as Lyft and Uber are not.

Nonetheless, moving on from whether or not a short trip into the stratosphere and a few minutes of weightlessness counts as travel never mind tech, the presentation settles down into the familiar T&A arena of booking platforms, online travel guides, virtual concierge services and itinerary recommendation engines.

Get Your Guide, Klook, PlacePass, Trip Guru , TourRadar and Withlocals are namechecked before Airbnb Trips gatecrashes the T&A conversation with Airbnb Trips and its purchase of Trip4Real.

CB Insights also takes an Airbnb angle on TripAdvisor buying La Fourchette for $140 million and Priceline buying OpenTable for $1.6 billion.

The argument goes that these two deals – which were announced within a month of each other way back in 2014 – show  that “OTAs are betting on restaurant bookings”; food and drinks is currently the most popular category for Airbnb Trips; Airbnb entered restaurant bookings this year via an investment in and partnership with Resy.

Neither the webinar nor the slide deck make the relationship between Airbnb, luxury travel and tours and activities explicit. But the webinar presenter references a CB Insights study – Airbnb Strategy Teardown – Expert Intelligence –  which provides the connection.

“Airbnb reimagined travel accommodation, creating a niche in the industry. Now it’s expanding its inventory, targeting luxury and business travelers, and going up against Priceline, Expedia, and others. Its success will hinge on competing with these giants while retaining the identity that set it apart.”

Context

The evolution of Airbnb into a full-service travel agency is clearly something the existing full-service travel agencies are aware of, while the peppering of references throughout the CB Insights data to AccorHotels also puts Airbnb into the competitive orbit of hotel chains.

Restaurant bookings and Trips remain a small part of Airbnb’s overall business. Without transportation options Airbnb will remain an accommodation provider with some nice local service add-ons, arguably more of a threat to AccorHotels and booking.com than Expedia.

But even those struggling with the office travel tech Christmas quiz know that it would be relatively straightforward for Airbnb to add flights (even though the team from legal might raise some concerns, as they do, about package travel regulations in source markets where such considerations exist).

There is at times an inevitability around Airbnb becoming a full-service OTA, like there was an inevitability around Google Travel, and Amazon Travel. Possibility and probability are sometimes uneasy bedfellows in travel tech.

PS: The answers to the questions above:

How many $100-million-plus travel tech deals have taken place since 2013?  25

Which is the most active travel tech startup investor? 500 StartUps with 16 investments

How many deals have corporates and/or their venture arms signed this year? 67

Related reading from tnooz:

Airbnb: Friend or foe to the tours and activities industry? (Sept17)
Airbnb wants to reinvent every aspect of travel (Aug17)
Singing from the same songsheet? Airbnb Trips versus the current chart-toppers (Nov16)

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for Tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports.

For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology.

Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

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  1. Valentin Dombrovsky

    “The other sector to watch is “tours, activities and information”. No surprise there, although Virgin Galactic’s inclusion in this segment might be a stretch, even in the context of it being “an activities provider”.

    Ah-ha, remember us trying to get Virgin Galactic on board at Excursiopedia – would be nice to sell their tickets at T&A platform. 😉

     
 
 

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