AirBnB may soon be the next company to start competing with Priceline and Expedia.
Development of the flight-booking feature is early, and the company is considering various routes to break into the business, said people familiar with the plans. Airbnb may acquire an online travel agency or license data from a provider, such as Amadeus IT Group SA or Sabre Corp., said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unfinished products. Within the company, the project is simply known as Flights, the people said.
Airbnb aims to get Flights off the ground before it pursues an initial public offering, which is likely in the next 18 months, the people said.
Adding Flights certainly adds to the story AirBnB could tell around its IPO.
AirBnB has recently expanded into different areas:
Last month, it added tours, restaurant reservations and other travel services with an initiative called Airbnb Trips. The startup, which was valued at $30 billion by investors this year, has said it wants to be a destination for planning a person’s entire vacation, not just a place to stay.
It makes sense for AirBnB to become a more broader travel company. AirBnB has a unique p2p fueled position. If the company can leverage that into a strong market position in other travel fields, the opportunity could be immense. (Also, it would make sense to think about bringing p2p organization to other travel fields as well, like local tours.)
While margins in online travel arer higher on the rental side than with flights, this is still promising.
Just a few days ago, news came that Ctrip is buying Skyscanner and thus attacking the Priceline/Expedia Duopoly.
AirBnB, with its unique inventory, can, in theory, even more upset the status quo – asymmetric competion. Like with Ctrip, it is very likely that AirBnB will acquire a company to jumpstart this.
The question now is which company?