Airbnb was founded a decade ago. Then, in 2008, most tourist apartments were on the coast and were rented by phone or through agencies. Only ten years later, there are 22 million advertisements of tourist homes around the world on the main internet platforms. The figure does not imply that all are unique residences: many are offered on more than one platform. But the total number far exceeds 10 million residences. Airbnb, with its variety of offer, offers 5 million. To put that figure in perspective, five of the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental, Wyndham and Accor) offered fewer than 4 million rooms worldwide in December 2016.
On his website, Airbnb talks about how he has "empowered millions of people around the world to free and monetize their spaces, passions and talents." And they certainly have. The sector has moved from the famous collaborative economy to professionalization in a few years.
Managers of tourist housing multiply today in the sector and gather in their portfolios from a few homes to thousands. Most take the management of third-party properties, but the larger ones also own their own homes. Its management focuses on the relationship with customers, cleaning and maintenance, and marketing and distribution on the Internet.
According to the survey, Airbnb shares the domain equally with Booking
In Europe there are some 7,000 professional managers of tourist homes. 37% began their work less than three years ago and another 32% have been working since 2010. Almost 70% was born in the wake of the Airbnb foundation, especially in urban areas, where this type of rents hardly existed.
This data comes from the first survey of managers of tourist homes across Europe that Transparent has made, a Spanish start-up that analyzes all ads for tourist homes to digest and sell the data. The survey, answered by 513 European managers (just over 7% of the total), is made public here for the first time.
Airbnb has been the champion of success and criticisms in the sector. Now, however, Airbnb is no longer the omnipotent leader in distribution for professionals. According to the survey, the domain is shared equally with Booking. Between them, they dominate 60% of the distribution. The third big leg, with 26%, is the direct deal between the agency and the client, without intermediaries. The HomeAway website, well established in the United States, has a residual role in Europe except in France, where it controls 21%. Throughout the world, the countries with the most tourist housing offer are, in order, the United States, China, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia.
More professionals, more Booking
The survey shows that the more professional the manager is, the more he trusts Booking, which until recently was an exclusive hotel channel. Its movement towards the apartments is similar to what the large hotel chains have done: "The world is changing in this direction, as has Booking, which has opened a section specializing in apartments," says Stefano Bettanin, president of Property Managers Italia , the main Italian association, with 150 companies and 66,000 homes. And more platforms that will arrive, for example from China, according to the managers.
"We do not represent the private owner who advertises his house in the portals, but we accept who does it in a professional manner"
Professionals have detected that there is a sector of tourists who prefer this model: "With the emergence of the Internet and the democratization of tourism, people move more, before it was more difficult to travel," says Patricia Valenzuela, director of Fevitur. They are people, according to industry sources, who value privacy more, the price for those who move in groups or families, space and services, such as cooking.
Among the largest management companies, with more than 100 apartments, Booking controls 34% of the distribution. Airbnb is only third, with 26%, even behind direct sales, with 28%. Airbnb is on the other hand dominant among managers that manage less than 10 properties.
The collaborative spirit
Airbnb maintains the Collaborative initial spirit: the hosts can rent their own house, a room, chat with future guests, refuse them or block variable days. That less professional part is still controlled by Airbnb. But many have moved towards professionalization: "We do not represent the private owner who advertises his house in the portals, but we accept those who do it professionally," says Bettanin. "This does not mean that they must have 20, 30 or 50 homes, they may have 1 or 2, but the important thing is that they are autonomous, have a society and follow all the rules," he adds, that is, they do not do it as a bonus. in black and that is clear when the housing is available.
According to the Transparent survey, the growth of the number of homes of these companies is extraordinary: in the last 12 months they grew by 27% on average, but in the next 12 they expect to do it by 63%. Among the large countries, Spain expects a smaller increase in residences, with 20%, and the United Kingdom, the largest, with 93%.
The associations ask the administrations for clear rules of the game where every apartment has its license. 88% believe that following the regulation is important or very important. If they manage to make all platforms oblige owners to put their license number and other legal information and confirm them, it will be a victory. Owners who want to stay by below the legal radar they will have it more difficult: "The rules must be the same for everyone, you can not play a football game where a goal is three times bigger than the other one", says Bettanin.
The battle for responsibility over the future of historic centers is also played here
The interests are clearly crossed. The associations press to clarify a sector that already has hotel chains among its protagonists: Accor bought Onefinestay, Wyndham acquired LoveHomeSwap, Hilton has purchased participations in tourist housing companies, Meliá builds 80 apartments in Zaragoza, the creation of BeMate. "There is a movement of the large hotel chains to get involved in this sector through acquisition or directly," according to sources from the British Association for short-term accommodation (STAA, in its acronym in English).
Meanwhile, the administrations have not found an acceptable model: "In each autonomous community there is a different regulation", says Valenzuela. The battle for responsibility for the future of historic centers is also played here. For the managers, the municipal governments can not hide their guilt: "The politicians hide and say that people leave the center because it has turned into tourist housing and no one lives, but this phenomenon is not the last 3 years, but from 10 or 20 years ago. The real reason why people leave the center is the lack of policies for citizens: in Venice, for example, there is difficulty in transport, you can not find supermarkets, there are no parks or schools ", defends Bettanin.
Professionalization does not stop with the management. From the United Kingdom there are already new companies that provide more services to this sector: "There are already emerging secondary suppliers for the industry, which offer insurance or mortgage services" to these companies, according to STAA sources.