Do you think that Booking have an advantage versus Airbnb because of their scale? Like you said, if we play 6-7 years out when the inventory is more or less the same, granted you’re probably not going to have as many individual homes on Booking as you will have on Airbnb because of the history. Because of Booking’s scale, the genius program, 800n room nights per year. How can Airbnb compete against that?

I would say that it’s probably not something that they should try to directly compete their scale and their size. Booking is huge. Booking is very successful. They spend an enormous amount to drive the traffic. I would say that whilst Booking certainly has huge brand awareness in pretty much every country, I think they’re the number one OTA in just about most of the western Europe and most of the Americas and even APAC, as well. You can’t necessarily compete against their scale and they’re just a huge machine with a lot of cogs turning. That would be the wrong way to compete just directly against them.

I think you’ve got to really focus on the things that Airbnb has and can bring to the table, which is focusing on some of those brand and community pieces that I think Booking lacks. Again, Booking is a platform that was really built for professionals and is now trying to figure out how to get into this home sharing and individual rentals space. I think they’re finding that that’s actually quite hard. They’ve got these huge account management and sales teams and so on that are there to support hotels and big people with 5,000 rooms or a thousand properties and so on. When you’ve got someone with one property, how do you ensure that they’re having as good experience as some with a thousand. I think that’s where Booking is finding some difficulties at the moment, as well. Whereas Airbnb is coming from a slightly opposite way. Ultimately, I think Airbnb has a stronger brand, a stronger community. I think that’s going to play a big part in winning out in that space, as well.

How different do you really believe demand is, though, between Airbnb and Booking?

Again, there’s certainly a significant portion of that traffic that’s going direct to Airbnb that I think is a huge player.

Is it more than 50 percent? I think Booking claimed that 50 percent of the bookings now are potentially genius customers directly on the app.

Yes, I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but I understand what you’re saying. Which is as the populations get significant in size, then you’re ultimately looking at the same people and that’s certainly valid. I think there’s still plenty of way to go in terms of the travel space. In terms of also just what you see booked outside of OTAs. We’re obviously still talking about competition in terms of OTAs, but there’s a huge accommodation business that’s book through other means. Traditional travel agents, different things, as well. There’s a long way for all the OTAs and so on to go to actually be working or competing against those players, as well.

What would you say the biggest challenge for Airbnb is for the next five to seven years?

I think in the next five years, as we’re ignoring the whole Covid-19 situation, which every person in travel is feeling and it’s a certainly difficult time. I think Airbnb’s biggest challenge is how they maintain that sense of identity and community as they continue to scale and continue to grow. I think they’ve certainly shown some growing pains over the years with that. Seven or eight years ago, very much the new kid on the block. It was exciting, it was new, very much the early adopters working with it. They’ve had to grow into a significant business with many thoughts of employees. It’s how you keep that personal and local feel but at a global level. I think that’s going to be a big challenge for them going forward.

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