Surprise! Airbnb comes in dead last as Millennials’ preferred accommodation

It’s not often that hotels have something to celebrate when it comes to the sharing economy, but a recent survey of Millennials placed Airbnb dead last as a preferred accommodation type.

The results come from the Resonance Report’s 2015 Portrait of the U.S. Millennial Traveler which profiles the habits of 1,189 recent travelers in the all-important 74 million adults aged 18-34. This demographic is prized by travel marketers for its appetite for trends and its growing disposable income without such pesky anchors such as children and mortgages.

Tnooz covered the familial structure of these travelers last week; but what are their preferences when it comes to other areas of travel?

The report’s tease suggests that this group is more complex and nuanced than the broad marketing brush gives it credit for:

This enigmatic group has been identified, stereotyped and analyzed in myriad and often contradictory ways. They’re selfish and they’re sharing; they’re lazy and they’re entrepreneurial. They’re labelled “boomerang” kids, yet some are just barely old enough to have left their parents’ home in the first place.

Across the board, though, we discovered that Millennial travelers don’t easily fit any single stereotype we’ve heard about. In fact, Millennials who travel are quite different than Millennials as a whole.

The biggest difference from common wisdom is that shared accommodation listing services such as Airbnb were the least popular choice for accommodation. And that’s despite the fact that 40% of the surveyed Millennials used the service often or regularly yet only 11% said that it was a preferred option, eclipsed by hotels (54%), friends and family (37%) or camping (24%).

For hotels, this heartening result must be backed up with a complete understanding of what this specific demographic expects from the hotel experience. Of course, different surveys feature different results, but one commonality is now the full expectation of free internet access.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.09.42 AM

Another twist is that privacy came second to internet in this particular ranking. Another common theme in the “targeting Millennials” rulebook is that this demographic covets large social spaces over large rooms. This means that the rooms can get smaller while the social areas grow. While “privacy” is a broad term that also could mean a desire to simply escape, there is still nonetheless an innate desire for privacy within this demographic.

The blog announcing the report pointed to an emerging hotel brand named Drift that combines the local hospitality of Airbnb with the standardized amenities of hotels to create an Airbnb-focused hotel experience. A modern hotel, according to Drift, “doesn’t provide the traveler with their experience – it only creates a space to encourage it.” That’s the new reality of the Millennial traveler.

The popularity of “all-inclusive packages” should also be noted, given that this hotel package has traditionally been seen as less desirable by the in-the-know generation. Perhaps there is now a time for design-forward hotels to reconsider how food and beverage play into the wider picture for guests of a certain age.

The bigger picture reveals that shorter, cheaper trips are in vogue with the Millennial traveler, likely due to the fact that they are only just beginning on the career path. Cars, buses and trains are therefore a more popular means of conveyance as well.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.09.59 AM

Those surveyed were filtered by income and travel habits, so respondents had an income of at least $35k and had travled more than 75 miles from home in the past year.

NB: Surprised kid image courtesy Shutterstock.


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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick is the Editorial Director for tnooz, where he oversees the editorial and commercial content as well as emerging businesses like tnoozLIVE. Prior to this role, Nick has multi-hyphenated his way through a variety of passions: restaurateur, photographer, filmmaker, corporate communicator, Lyft driver, Airbnb host, journalist, and event organizer. Outside of work, Nick enjoys exploring the emerging world of crypto -- and the actual world with his dogs Rick and Loki.



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  1. kaw

    Insufficient sample size.

  2. lara dunston

    These survey results perfectly match the conclusions I’ve been coming to about millennials, although admittedly I’m very much focused on the Asian market these days as both a travel writer and someone who crafts bespoke itineraries for travellers (many of them millennials), and is in the process of developing a travel business.

    The only thing I’d add to that, which I’ve covered in a blog post just today is that despite the abundance of information at their finger tips on their smart phones and tablets, on the whole (and of course I generalise), they are terrible travellers.

    I’ve never met so many people of the “last minute generation” who arrive in places without organizing a single thing or doing an iota of research, so they end up missing out on a lot of the experiences, activities, restaurants, etc that drew them to that destination in the first place.

    On the plus side, while they might not have the most extraordinary experiences due to this, I find they’re a pretty relaxed bunch and tend to have the attitude of “oh well, I’ll be back, I can do that next time.” Which I find refreshing. Far better than the boomers with their “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences and bucket lists that see them racing around continents, counting countries and ticking shit off, but rarely experiencing anything at a deep and meaningful level.

    Once again, I admit to generalizations here. I can give examples of exceptions but this is by and large my experience of observing them and dealing with them regularly.

    • david

      OK maybe partly true but also many travelling and depending on their gadgets slavishly for ALL info, directions, tips etc. miss out on any adventure or surprises. Also OBSERVATION and appreciation of your new surroundings is limited when your eyes are glued to a device instead of enjoying the moment and local people and surroundings! Many emphasise the benefits of technological advances but few the drawbacks and cost to us as humans!
      Also zooming about on segways is a sad reflection of the choice by many under 30. Costly and a sure way to miss many details and experiences + possibly having an accident! STOP SEGWAYS as tourist transport in all cities! They are not even cool or hip any longer but a dangerous nuisance and not needed.

  3. Tobie

    I am largely sceptical of this survey. I believe that the mere fact that this survey does not apply to me or many of my millennial peers means that we are a generation that is more difficult to define than almost any other.

    Thus anything written about “why all millennials” this or that is very risky.

    I have a sense that this survey was commissioned by a hotel chain or lobby (I might be wrong, it’s just the feeling I get). The parameters of the surveyed group might have something to do with that as it might be a group that can afford hotels.

    In the findings where does Couch Surfing fall? This is a very popular method of travelling for the less wealthy/more social traveller.

  4. Brian

    It has been my experience that Airbnb users appreciate the variety of accommodation available and that the hotel industry has become wary, defensive and sometimes unscrupulous in their respond to this competition. I am also aware that some are actually starting to list hotel or motel spaces on Airbnb in an attempt to keep up.

    • Vinnie

      We went to LA last year when we had a bad experience with Airbnb booking. Just woner if theres someone check the accommodation before owners advertise it? We were as if in a jail, came from a long distance. And the way they have the pic is different from when you are at that place.

      • Justice For all

        I can understand your viewpoint. However, checking the acccomodation is one thing, but they will have to check the specific room or apartment that the person(s) is/are staying. I once checked into a Mariott Hotel in a Caribbean Island. My knowledge of the hotels were good. However, my room was big and clean and looking onto a carpark and into a person’s backyard. Just some food for thought

  5. George

    While Hostels here in the US experience upwardly of 70% FIT travelers from abroad, I do believe that Hostels and Hotel groups that pay attention to common areas, group activity options and low-cost, shared space lodging will come out far better than those who do not. This is an exciting time to be in the Hospitality business!

  6. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    I will add a single comment to this. Survey’s do not reflect performance nor behaviour.

    • lara dunston

      That’s one school of thought and there’s certainly some research that backs that up but there’s also a lot of research that supports the opposite. As I said in my own comment above, it’s impossible to generalize. While what you’ve said is true for some people, it’s not for all.


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