Markets continue to emerge in the most surprising places. And they appear with greater regularity, since the advent of the sharing economy, exemplified by the enormous growth of room-rental service Airbnb.
Airbnb’s success and steady growth, even on a global scale, comes as no surprise to influential investors and financial leaders like Anton Levy, Managing Director of General Atlantic. Levy was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Airbnb. Taking a position on the company’s board of directors is another expression of his confidence in Airbnb’s growth. He’s very fortunate to have that position because getting a room through Airbnb over the New Years Eve holiday weekend may be impossible. Levy may be forced to spend the night in his seat on the board.
When Airbnb began, it was a small company and had to work hard to get attention, renting out couches and bedrooms in modest apartments. Luckily the technology that made posting beds for rent and processing rental fees possible was becoming ubiquitous at that time. This small, somewhat irreverent, and insanely innovative startup persevered, and today it’s operating in 150 countries. The company recently announced that on New Year’s Eve 2015 they expect to have over one million guests use their booking service. It’s the largest number of visitors the company has served on one day since its beginning!
Over the New Year’s Eve holiday Airbnb hosts in cities around the world will be housing large numbers of guests: New York expects 47,000, Paris will host 45,000, London is welcoming 35,000, and 25,000 guests will greet the New Year down under in Sydney.
Many travelers first developed an appreciation of Airbnb because it provided an affordable alternative to expensive hotels. The properties they offered were often more attractive options in coveted locations that afforded a more intimate experience of local neighborhoods than a large hotel could provide.
However, over time, the variety and cost of Airbnb properties have changed, and many of them are a far cry from the frugal selections the startup featured when it began. Many of these destinations are in luxurious resort destinations. The most expensive property available over the New Year holiday is located in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This beachfront villa has a swimming pool, five bedrooms, and services 12 guests. The destination features a daily maid service, a personal butler, and a fresh basket of fruit on arrival.
It’s too late to rent this destination for this year, but if you start saving your money, you might be able to ring in the New Year in style at a luxurious Airbnb resort next year. Or maybe next year you’ll be able to rent an Airbnb room on Mars….