Airbnb outselling Expedia in 2019

Airbnb has eclipsed the performance of Expedia in the first quarter of 2019, selling ten million more room nights than the world’s second-biggest OTA according to industry sources.

The Wall Street Journal reports figures from several industry insiders showing the home share giant sold 91 million nights to Expedia’s 80.8 million in the first three months of the year.

Both were dwarfed by Booking Holdings, which sold 217 million room nights over the period.

It is hard to quantify if this is the first time Airbnb has outstripped room night sales on Expedia, with both organisations unwilling to comment on the financials.

While Airbnb’s gross bookings figure of US$9.4 billion is well behind Expedia Group’s US$29.4 billion and Booking Holdings’ US$25.4 billion, those figures include the two big OTAs’ airline and cruise sales – products Airbnb doesn’t sell.

Q1 2019 Online Travel Agency Financials


Gross Bookings


Revenue Growth


Room Nights




30+ percent






(-3 percent)






21 percent






(-10 percent)






4 percent






(-23.8 percent)





$376 million

(-1 percent)



* MakeMyTrip’s March 31 quarter was its fiscal fourth quarter 2019. Source: Skift – The Wall Street Journal and public company financial filings

Skift reports that while Airbnb seems to have achieved strong revenue growth, it is unclear if that represents decelerated growth compared with the first quarter of 2018.

“There have been some reports that Airbnb’s growth is slowing either because of the law of large numbers, or regulatory hassles around the globe,” said the media outlet.

“It is difficult to determine Airbnb’s revenue based on its $9.4 billion in gross bookings because Airbnb recognises revenue when guests check in for their stays, and not when the property is booked. 

“So, for example, Airbnb may have generated revenue in the first quarter for bookings made in the third or fourth quarters of 2018 and may not recognize revenue on some of that $9.4 billion in first quarter gross bookings until July or September.

“That means the $9.4 billion in gross bookings isn’t a reliable base number from which to compute Airbnb’s revenue”.

Differences in how revenue is created also make profitability comparisons difficult.

Booking and Expedia are likely to earn more per room night than Airbnb, for example, as the average daily rate of their listings is generally higher and the customer service cost low.

But Airbnb is believed to spend considerably less on marketing than Booking, Expedia or third-biggest OTA Ctrip, and has a stronger brand reputation with which to lure new and repeat customers.

Skift says: “What’s clear is that Airbnb has solidified its position as a fourth major player in online travel globally.

“And, if you include Google, which doesn’t disclose much about its travel advertising businesses, then that would make for a handful of leading global competitors.”


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Andrew North
Andrew North
4 years ago

I have given up on AirBNB bookings.

That company seems to attract snowflakes in the main. Their customers don’t just want accommodation, they want servitude. They expect that you are available to answer their every whim at any hour.

In short, they want accommodation that comes with a slave.

They also seem to have unrealistic expectations of what they get for their money – 5 star accommodation but only want to pay a 3 star price.

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