Traffic at Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia seems to return to historical patterns after summer of “Revenge Travel”
Entering the seasonally weaker fall and winter periods, Similarweb data shows that the year of “Revenge Travel” seems to have returned to historical norms; Q3 saw normal seasonal declines across the board, in the U.S. and the U.K.
- ABNB September Web Traffic declined 19% from August and was down 3% from September 2019. Expedia’s September Web Traffic declined 15% from August and was down 21% from September 2019. Booking September traffic fell 21% from August and was down 11% from 2019. Q3 saw ABNB traffic fall 27% from Q2 and was down 20% year over year. Q3 saw Expedia traffic down 35% from Q2 and down 19% year over year. Q3 saw Booking traffic down 23% versus Q2 and was down 21% year over year.
- U.S. converted traffic for a peer group made up of Expedia, Booking, and Airbnb was down 18% in September, but was up 10% from September 2019. Q3 saw a decline of 7% from Q2, but it was up 10% over last year.
- Consumers are shifting to OTAs from vacation rental brands, potentially indicating more price sensitivity and potential trouble for vacation rental companies like Airbnb and Vrbo.
Monthly Traffic hits wall in September
The chart below shows traffic from Airbnb, Expedia, and Booking since January 2021. While traffic is following historic patterns with a September decline to be expected, the recent drop year over year could indicate a potential drop in travel demand beyond normal seasonal patterns. One reason for this could be the recent decline in consumer confidence amid high inflation and the bite of higher interest rates. It does seem that the summer of “revenge travel” (consumers choosing to spend discretionary income on travel rather than other things, and ignoring the economy and higher prices) has given way to a more muted fall and winter travel outlook.
Notably, in the chart below, ABNB September Web Traffic declined 19% from August but was up 12% from the prior year. Expedia’s September Web Traffic declined 15% from August but was up 24% from the prior year. Booking September traffic fell 21% from August but was up 12% from the prior year. Q3 saw ABNB traffic fall 27% from Q2 and was down 20% year over year. Q3 saw Expedia traffic down 35% from August and down 19% year over year. Q3 saw Booking traffic down 23% versus Q2 and was down 21% year over year.
United States converted visits down in September, in a seasonal retreat
A look at Similarweb data on converted visits in the U.S. (visits that end up in a purchase) is reflected in the chart below. Traffic to Expedia, Booking, and Airbnb checkout pages declined 18% in September versus the prior month, but was up 9% versus September 2019, and was up 10% from last year. Q3 was down 7% versus q2 but was up 10% from last year. However, the trendline is starting to deteriorate as you can see in the chart below. Converted traffic seems to be returning to historical fall traffic patterns, but the rate of decline is accelerating, with September down 18% from August, with August down 2% from July and July down only fractionally from June.
Consumers shift to OTAs from direct bookings
There seems to be a shift in demand toward online travel agents (OTAs) and away from vacation rental brands. This generally has occurred in the past when consumers have become more price sensitive. They spend more time shopping for deals and price comparing. It is a potentially negative indicator for vacation rental demand. Vacation rental demand soared during the pandemic, which led to additional capacity added to the system by renters wanting to capitalize on the strong demand. That trend may have run its course.
In addition, with much being made recently about fees and the hassle factor of booking at a vacation rental site where they may charge cleaning fees and assign the renter certain chores like taking out the trash, there appear to be some signs that the vacation rental market may have lost a bit of its luster.
You can see in the below chart that OTAs have gained share at the expense of vacation rental and direct bookings.
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Report By: Jim Corridore, Senior Insights Manager
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