When asked about their use of the poster child for the so-called sharing economy, only 12% of British holidaymakers said that they had used Airbnb.
Airbnb, the global platform which allows individuals around the globe to rent homes or rooms to travellers, is worth an estimated $30 billion. In September it raised $555 million dollars, with Google’s dedicated investment arm taking a stake.
It is widely seen as a disruptor, prompting not only global hotel chains to rethink their business model but also driving a change in the how online travel agencies market their accommodation inventory.
The relatively low take-up by Brits comes as a surprise in light of the brand’s profile, although last year’s World Travel Market Industry Report found that only 3% on Brits used Airbnb.
This suggests that Airbnb’s marketing initiatives in the UK are starting to raise awareness.
Looking ahead, the report found that less than one in five of those who haven’t yet used Airbnb would consider doing so in the future, with three in ten saying they had no intention of using the platform. Nearly half (48%) were undecided.
Repeat use might also be a concern – of the 12% who did use Airbnb only 60% said they would do so again.
The global travel industry is divided on whether the wider sharing economy is having an effect on its business, with 47% of trade respondents saying their business was unaffected by the trend. Of those who were seeing an impact, 32% said it was negative, 21% positive.
Compared with 2015, the sharing economy is growing in influence. Last year the percentage of industry respondents unaffected was 58%. However, last year’s sample was less enthusiastic with only 16% talking in terms of a positive impact, while the negative impact was felt by 26%.
World Travel Market Senior Director Simon Press said: “This is a fascinating snapshot into how the travel industry sees itself and how consumers see the sector. More than half of us who work in the industry are seeing our business change as a result of the sharing economy, even if the level of influence on British travellers at least is limited.
“But Airbnb is an incredibly well-funded and run business which will mature and develop over time. It has a global reach and is undeniably a significant player in the travel industry.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.