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Think Millennials Prefer Airbnb? Think Again

Millennials—those in the 20- to 36-year-old age group—seem to be the primary focus, sometimes the exclusive focus, of all manner of consumer product and service companies. Sure, that’s partly because they’re expected to spend $200 billion in 2018. But it’s also because they have a lifetime of spending ahead of them.

They are the future. And what they want, the rest of us will get.

So what do they want? A new report by Resonance Consultancy, an advisor in real estate, tourism, and economic development, surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. millennials to find out. And some of its findings are surprising.

According to the Future of U.S. Millennial Travel Report, although 52 percent of millennials use home-share services like Airbnb at least occasionally, it was actually among their least favored lodging options. Here’s how their preferences broke down:

  • Full-service hotel (53%)
  • Stay with friends/family (42%)
  • All-inclusive resort (41%)
  • Upscale luxury hotel (35%)
  • Camping (33%)
  • House/villa rental (32%)
  • Cruise ship (29%)
  • B&B/small inn (23%)
  • Apartment/condo rental (23%)
  • Limited service/economy hotel (21%)
  • Boutique hotel (20%)
  • Own vacation home (20%)
  • Timeshare condo/home (17%)
  • Hostel (15%)

According to those findings, reports of the imminent death of traditional hotels are premature if not downright false. And the widely held assumption that millennials prefer Airbnb-type accommodations looks to be laughably off-base. They’d rather sleep in a tent than book Airbnb.

To be sure, Airbnb is relatively new compared to other lodging options. There’s still time to increase its share of the millennial market, and reason to believe it will do so.

But at this point, millennials have expressed a strong preference for the luxury and comfort provided by full-service hotels (their first choice), all-inclusive resorts (third choice), and upscale hotels (fourth choice). This is in spite of the fact that a recent Federal Reserve survey determined that the net worth of U.S. millennials was between $2,093 and negative $38,915. That’s low, and as they gain firmer financial footing, they should be even more disposed toward higher-cost traditional hotel stays.

Reader Reality Check

What’s your prediction for Airbnb: dominant player or niche service?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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