21 December 2016

Airbnb Flights

Before we get into details, please have a look at these two links;
  • Skift - Airbnb Is Really Building A Flight Search Engine 
  • Bloomberg - News about intentions of Airbnb

Skift Take by Dennis Schaal;
Turns out it is more than a trial balloon, after the announcement of possible flight search at Airbnb Open last month. The margins are tiny in flight search, not sure why it would be better than any other OTA, other than it has lots of traffic coming to Airbnb.

How Airbnb has changed the way we travel?

Simple. They offered a new, different and genuine way to stay in the cities we visit. We loved this from host to guest concept. If you go for a room it is far less expensive than a hotel room. This may not suitable for all but if you go for an entire apartment, it is a better option than any hotel, especially if you are travelling more than two people.

I travelled to Amsterdam this month with my friends and we stayed in a nice, centrally located apartment. It cost €50pp/night, which was less expensive than a 3-4 star hotel option. We had the luxury of being in a "home" with a nicely decorated living room, two bedrooms, comfy beds, a fully equipped kitchen, wi-fi and so on.

It was like staying at a friend's place while s/he is away.

How I booked our tickets?

Like many of you, first I searched through online platforms to see all available schedule and price options. To be sure about the prices I also checked the websites of the selected airlines because sometimes you can catch a better deal. After all, I booked via an OTA, bavul.com, which was nearly 20% cheaper than the website of the airline we flew.

The decision process for many leisure travellers is more or less same.

So the idea of offering flights, too, is fine and has a potential, especially when you have such a traffic, but at the end of the day, it depends on how it is going to work. Google, the most visited site in the world has Google Flights, which facilitates the purchase of tickets but it is not the best. As written in one of the above links, Kayak.com has no worries because they know that their product superior to Google Flights.

That is why Dennis Schaal has a point.

Airbnb has been looking for some other initiatives to boost business. Last month, the company made it possible to book local experiences and tours. Again from host to guest. Such a nice idea.

When it comes to aviation, obviously things are different. To be successful, Airbnb should find a way to change the way we book like they did before. Offering flights like an OTA will not make a difference. I would go and have a round of talks with the hosts, in this case, airlines, to explore potential opportunities, not cents.

Good luck Airbnb!