Expedia’s announcement that it is to buy HomeAway for $4 billion to fill a gap in the ‘alternative accommodation’ sector was always bound to prompt a reaction in the market.
The sector, headed by Silicon Valley darling Airbnb, is among the most talked about in the travel sector due to its disruptive potential to mainstream hospitality providers and retailers.
And so the timing of an announcement today by Priceline highlighting Booking.com’s already well-established footprint in this area is explained.
Priceline’s communication says it is “revealing data in response to growing consumer trends that see holidaymakers look to a more diverse range of accommodation than ever”.
A first-ever revealing of room stats by the global giant, claims it offers more than 820,000 unique properties that have 21 million bookable rooms worldwide.
This makes Booking.com Priceline Group’s largest global business and claims to have more unique places to stay than any other digital travel brand in the world.
Total Bookable Rooms
Total Bookable Hotel Rooms
Total Bookable Vacation Rental Rooms
Total Bookable Rooms in Other Unique Categories of Places to Stay
The company also said 6.6 million of these bookable rooms go “beyond the traditional hotel” to include 30 different category types from vacation rentals, apartments, villas, igloos, boats and even tree-houses.
It adds within the last year 285 million booking.com guests have stayed in these accommodations and contributing to a total of over 1 billion since the site’s inception.
Booking.com goes on to point out how these alternative properties are available to be booked on real time, in contrast to what is obliquely referred to as ‘other similar sites’.
“Contrasting the model of other websites that offer unique accommodations, the experience on Booking.com isn’t one of simply classified ads that requires a constant back-and-forth of negotiations with the seller,” the release states.
“All rooms on Booking.com are instantly confirmed at the moment of booking. And unlike other similar sites that charge experience-seekers booking fees, Booking.com ensures a completely fee-free experience for travellers all over the world.
Darren Huston, president and chief executive of the Priceline Group and chief executive of Booking.com, said: “As consumers strive to create new experiences while travelling, they are looking for places to stay that reflect their personalities, passions and ambitions. That might mean staying on a boat docked in the South of France, a treehouse in Costa Rica, a villa in Indonesia, an apartment in Madrid or a Riad in Morocco.
“For several years, we have been working behind the scenes to expand our offerings beyond the traditional hotel to help people experience the world in the way they want to that’s easier than anything else out there. We are excited to today unveil our progress on this quest to bring diversity and uniqueness to travellers everywhere.”
Booking.com said vacation rental properties, which launched villas.com in May 2014, expanded 66% year over year and other unique accommodations categories like boats, ryokans, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, grew by 32% during the same time period.
Huston added: “We expect the growth that we’ve seen in the vacation rental and unique accommodation market to accelerate over time as consumers realise the depth of options and the ease of making reservations on our mobile and desktop sites.”
Booking.com bookable room data – the highlights:
· In the last twelve months, vacation rentals on booking.com have increased 66%, accommodating 28.6 million people
· In the last twelve months, unique accommodations properties (all category types outside of hotels + vacation rentals) have increased 32% accommodating 137 million people
· Guests have booked hotels in 214 countries and territories, vacation rentals in 197, and other unique categories in 208 countries and territories
· Guests have visited 38,000 cities for hotels, 34,000 for vacation rentals and 51,000 cities for all other unique categories, worldwide
· Spain is the leading country for guest house bookings; Italy for bed & breakfasts and farms; United Kingdom for hostels and inns; and Sweden for boats
· United States is the leading country for hotel bookings