If anybody still needed proof that Airbnb is running veritable circles around the traditional hotel industry, look no further than the two entities’ most coveted properties. For the incumbents, it’s downtown ritzy highrises that ooze decadent luxury; for the newcomer, it’s treehouses.
Airbnb released a breakdown of some of the most frequently wishlisted properties on its site, and the results show the stunning divide in how people used to travel and what Airbnb’s younger clientele are willing to spend their vacation budgets on. The company noted that many of its users would intentionally avoid big hotel experiences in favor of more unique lodgings, including lighthouses, igloos and even Mongolian yurts.
However, the property that received the most selections from Airbnb’s would-be lodgers was Atlanta’s Secluded Intown Treehouse, which features three separate rooms strung together by rope bridges and surrounds a 150-year-old Southern short-leaf pine tree called the “Old Man.” Prospective treehouse campers better hope the money grows on the Old Man’s branches, because reservations start at $350 and, like the trees around it, they only go up from there.
The Airbnb data also revealed that the service’s users overwhelmingly avoid large independent properties, like villas, preferring instead smaller lodging in more exotic locales. However, the majority of users wanted to take their travels to sunny, warmer destinations over alpine regions. In particular, locations with access to world-renowned beaches — such as Belize City, Belize; Okinawa, Japan; and Savannah, Georgia — drew the lion’s share of attention among Airbnb’s users.
It’s a near-certainty that executives from the traditional hotel industry are as interested in Airbnb’s most popular properties as everyone else, and it begs the question of why Airbnb would release that information freely and ostensibly give its competitors some insight on how to beat it at its own game.
Or, alternatively, Airbnb knows that it’s working off of such a different paradigm than traditional travel, it doesn’t matter if it plays with its cards facing up.