Homestay service Airbnb is the sixth most preferred accommodation booking site, with almost 5% of Australians using the service in the past year, according to data released by Roy Morgan Research.
A total of 607,000 Aussies named using Airbnb at least once from the 12 months prior to being surveyed, according to the Roy Morgan survey.
Airbnb connects people who have a spare room or empty house with those seeking a place to stay and the homesharing network has been making gains against both the hotel industry and other providers, including bed and breakfast providers.
In the Roy Morgan survey Airbnb ranked beneath more well-known accommodation booking services, including Flight Centre, Booking.com, Wotif, Webjet and Expedia.
However, Airbnb triumphed over Hotels,com, Helloworld, Stayz and Jetstar Holidays.
In the six months to December 2015, 5.3 million Australians (27.1%) reported having heard of Airbnb, with a further 7.7% saying they would consider using the service.
Airbnb is most likely to be used by those in the 25-34 age brackets and least likely to be used by those aged over 65.
In response to the survey, Airbnb’s Australian country manager Sam McDonagh said the number of Airbnb Australian listings doubled to more than 70,000 last year, with 30,000 Aussies expected to use Airbnb to book accommodation next week.
“Australians are some of the most prolific users of Airbnb in the world, choosing to stay in interesting and unique homes right across the globe, experiencing destinations as a local,” he said in a statement.
“We welcome the figures released by Roy Morgan Research showing more and more Australians are deciding to book some of our 4,000 castles, 700 igloos and 2,800 tree-houses, in Australia and around the globe.”
Better regulation needed, says accommodation industry
Weak discretionary income growth for Australians is expected to boost accommodation providers in the sharing economy as travellers choose cheaper accommodation on sites like Airbnb over luxury hotels, according to a recent IBISWorld report.
However, Accomodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro told SmartCompany this morningthe rise of providers such as Airbnb has left governments at federal, state and even local levels struggling to deal with what he believes is a “non-compliant product”.
“There’s been a lot of publicity about Airbnb and its been in the mainstream media a lot and the reason is the debate around whether this new platform is on level playing field with incumbent operators,” he says.
“The reason its non compliant is it doesn’t follow the same stringent procedures as hotels, motels … a class one building being listed as a house on Airbnb can’t obtain public liability insurance.”
Munro says the impact is felt the most in regional areas where smaller accommodation providers struggle to compete with a multitude of individuals listing their homes.
“Our view is that we’re fine with competition as long as the level playing field is maintained regulation existing or needs to be changed,” he says.
“We understand the public like it [as] its cheaper. Things are always cheaper when they’re not paying the same tax.”
“It’s akin to driving a car with no seatbelts, ABS or safety features. Going further it’s the car you’re unable to insure.
“We think it [Airbnb] always will be cheaper doesn’t mean it’s safe.”