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August 20, 2016

Airbnb is quickly becoming a crucial company within the travel sector and may even become the fourth largest online travel company by the end of this year, according to research firm Phocuswright.

Looking at news and reports on the company’s business performance and funding, Phocuswright has built its own estimates for Airbnb that indicate the company’s gross bookings for 2015 valued at around $7.5 bilion.

This, in combination with the website’s continued growth, could put it behind the three major travel companies of Expedia Inc, Priceline Group, and Ctrip, when it comes to gross bookings.

Phocuswright’s research also found that one in three travelers from the United States stayed at a home-based unit last year, a sharp increase from the one in 10 American travelers that were staying in these types of accommodations back in 2011.

Airbnb has been looking to expand its services beyond rentals to tap into increased travel experiences for its users, with the most recent news indicating a travel app they were testing out for a possible release this November.

Though the test version was pulled from the Google Play Store this Tuesday, some possible features the app could contain include detailed travel itineraries, city guidebooks, and local listings like happy hour deals.

 Courtesy of Airbnb

According to Bloomberg, the company secured a $1 billion debt facility in June of this year towards its expansion, working on features like its “magical trips” to offer users restaurant services, art tours, meals made by personal chefs, bicycle rentals, and more.

“Airbnb has played a pretty big role in making alternative accommodations mainstream,” Douglas Quinby, vice president of research at Phocuswright told Travel + Leisure. “Travelers are now looking for the right place to stay in the best location that fits the bill, which might not necessarily be a home, hotel, or hostel.”

Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.

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