TORONTO — In recent years, the topic of Airbnb has become one of the industry’s most controversial issues. But as millennials continue to fuel the popularity of this residence-sharing online community marketplace, hoteliers are becoming more interested — and invested — in understanding the impact.

At Tuesday’s Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC), held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Lyle Hall of HLT Advisory moderated one of the day’s best-attended breakout sessions. Chris Gibbs, assistant professor at Ryerson University and Scott Shatford, Airdna, discussed the growing influence of Airbnb, touching on its size, growth and next area of focus.

“Like it or not, it’s a topic that’s been discussed at a lot of forums,” said Hall, in introducing the session. “There are those who believe it’s here to stay, while others see it as a flash in the pan.” According to Shatford, Airbnb is growing at a fast pace, with market growth of 50 per cent in Europe, 20 per cent in the U.S. and three per cent in Canada. The fastest-growing market, said Shatford, is Asia. “Every summer we see a spike in growth,” he told the audience.

Citing statistics from a recent Ryerson University study, Gibbs told the packed room that in 2015, the average daily rate for hotels was $193.68 while the Airbnb ADR was $124.05, explaining that most users of Airbnb do so for vacations as opposed to business and that convenience, overall value for money and a home-like feeling are the key factors fuelling its growth. Until recently, growth in Airbnb has traditionally been driven by the leisure market, but Shatford warned Airbnb is now investing more in the business community.

As for the future of Airbnb, Shatford believes its popularity will continue to grow. However, “the struggle will be new supply.” On the other hand, Gibbs cited regulation as the next big topic as government will need to level the playing field.


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