- Airbnb is in the early stages of developing an air travel booking service that will compete with Expedia and Priceline, according to reporting by Bloomberg.
- Internally the project is called “Flights" but Airbnb is still hashing out the execution details. The company is planning to possibly acquire an online travel agency or licensing data from a provider such as Amadeus IT Group SA or Sabre Corp., according to anonymous sources speaking with Bloomberg.
- The same sources said that the goal is to launch the new service before Airbnb’s expected IPO within the next 18 months.
Airbnb continues an impressive expansion beyond its home-sharing service to become a sort of one-stop travel planner. In November, the company enhanced its app with a travel platform called Trips that created three areas of focus: Experiences, Places and Homes. At the time of Trips's announcement, Airbnb hinted that Flights and Services would arrive at a later date, and the Bloomberg report gives a more concrete picture of what they may look like.
Airbnb is now valued at $30 billion by investors, per Bloomberg, and could see an IPO within the next year or so that would pour in more cash for the development of end-to-end travel services. Studies from Hitwise, an arm of Connexity, recently found that monthly visits to residential rental and home-sharing sites including Airbnb are up 70% over the last three years while visits to hotel aggregators like Booking.com and Hotels.com are down 7.9% and visits to hotel websites are down 3.6%.
More travel-booking services like Expedia might feel similar pressure if Airbnb makes more aggressive moves into their market. Airbnb also isn't alone in building out its offerings beyond booking a night to stay: Google announced a standalone mobile travel app also called Trips in September that similarly combines hotel reservations, food suggestions and day-planning into one service. Google's parent company Alphabet is an investor in Airbnb.