Airbnb’s business is hitting a wall as travelers grow more skittish over whether the home-sharing service is safe, according to a new study.
A spate of high-profile incidents, in which Airbnb hosts or guests were the victims of crimes, as well as growing concerns about privacy, have recently gotten in the way of growth, according to Morgan Stanley’s third annual study of the hotel and leisure industry.
As a result, Morgan Stanley is lowering its Airbnb forecast for 2018. It expects demand for Airbnb to account for 6 percent of the lodging industry by 2020 compared to its previous forecast last year of 9 percent growth.
The number of travelers using Airbnb “is flattening sooner than we would have expected,” Morgan Stanley said, adding that privacy and safety “are material and growing barriers to adoption.”
In October, cops in Florida said an Airbnb host had secretly videotaped his guests for two years, during which his profile amassed more than 40 reviews. In September, an Airbnb guest was found naked in the bed of his host’s 7-year-old daughter in Minnesota.
Morgan Stanley’s report, which surveyed 4,000 people in the US, Germany, France and the UK, also claims that Airbnb has reached a saturation point with more than 80 percent of travelers aware of the company, suggesting that there is not much more room for Airbnb to gain new users.
A source close to Airbnb, which will likely go public next year, claims that the company’s bookings have in fact grown by more than 50 percent this year and that the company is profitable, reaching that milestone in the second half of 2016.
“The third quarter of 2017 was the single strongest performing quarter in Airbnb’s history,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Kaelan Richards. “There have been more than 260 million guest arrivals at Airbnb, and we are proud to support 40,000 NYC hosts.”
The hotel industry, which has done its part to sow fears about Airbnb, is seizing on the Morgan Stanley findings with a new $750,000 ad buy on television and social media outlets this week starting on Monday, The Post has learned. The campaign is focusing on New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami and other major travel markets.
The spots are paid for by the Hotel Association of New York City and highlight some of the more salacious headlines involving Airbnb.
But the industry’s tactics could be paying off.
“The lobbyists and opponents of Airbnb may be gaining traction,” according to the Morgan Stanley report.
“The hotel cartel’s tired tactics haven’t worked before,” Airbnb’s Richards said, “and they won’t work this time either.”