On Wednesday, Airbnb released a list of 17 rapidly growing neighborhood destinations across the world which showed just how the travel network is different from regular hotel chains.
None of the 17 spots were traditionally popular tourist destinations such as New York, Paris, or London. Instead, the three neighborhoods with the highest levels of growth were located in New Orleans, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Melbourne, Australia. Airbnb declared that “this year’s trending neighborhoods share a few consistent themes” and noted how the destinations offered things such as “glorious green spaces” and “food options” galore.
The growing appeal of destinations like these show that Airbnb travelers are not just regular tourists looking for a cheap overnight stay in someone else’s apartment. Instead, they want to explore places off the beaten path where finding a proper hotel can be difficult.
For example, the neighborhood with the second highest Airbnb growth rate is the Kampung Baru neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur, which grew 976 percent in 2016. Airbnb calls it “an oasis within Malaysia’s bustling capital city” and “an old-fashioned area nestled in a modern metropolis,” Charles Ngo notes, adding that while the city is developing with the addition of hotels and offices, Kampung Baru “has so far succeeded in maintaining its idyllic kampung vibe.” Kampung Baru may offer urban amenities, but it still has a unique charm and is not just another tourist trap.
Hotels have expressed concerns about Airbnb’s business over the years. But the fact that travelers are using Airbnb to find out of the way locations shows that these hotels should not just view Airbnb as a competitor. In fact, a European luxury hotel chain recently struck a deal with Airbnb which would encourage travelers to stay at the hotel. The chain also intends to create a series of tourist experiences which Airbnb users can discover such as chocolate making.
Airbnb did observe that these growing neighborhoods could continue to grow and become major tourist destinations. But if that occurs, we could see tourists move away from those spots and attempt to find the next place somewhere off the beaten path.