The peer-to-peer rental market, think rental sites like Airbnb or HomeAway, is exploding.
“It was about $30-$31 billion in 2016, and we forecast that growing to almost $38 billion by the end of the decade," explains travel researcher Douglas Quinby.
Quinby, of PhocusWright Travel Research, explains that the industry is changing, as well as growing, with a new focus on a more hotel-like experience. He says many sites now include “…things like 24/7 check-in, a virtual concierge, daily cleaning.”
Some now even guarantee super soft sheets, plush pillows and other luxury treats. Other sites now target specific demographics.
“There are niche platforms for African American travelers. There are platforms for gay and lesbian travelers,” Quinby said.
Stefan Grant got into the niche business after he says he rented a home for a weekend and the neighbors called police alleging a robbery. He was angry, but then laughed off the incident, taking a selfie photo with the officer once the mishap was cleared up.
After that, Noirbnb was born. He says anyone can use the site, but it’s geared toward African American travelers.
“I don’t think it’s as much of a separating thing as it is a, ‘You know what?" he said. "Why not create a platform for people who understand our experience and can really cater to that market?’”
Quinby says he sees the value in the niche startups, but there are challenges: “Are they going to be able to build enough of a marketplace to build enough supply and demand to be really significant businesses?”
No matter what, Quinby says it always comes down to the basics.
“All shoppers, you want more choices, you want more options, you want better prices,” he said.