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Airbnb customers most likely to return for more

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), August 2014-September 2016, n=30,084 (inc. 10,727) who used travel agent. * NB: travel agents include booking sites and tour operators.

Much has been written about how online accommodation marketplace Airbnb has disrupted the tourism industry with its ‘share-economy’ business model (Roy Morgan weighed in earlier this year). Now, new Roy Morgan data reveals that the San Francisco-based company continues to wow Australian travellers: indeed, more than eight in every 10 Aussie holiday-goers who used Airbnb in the last 12 months would consider doing so again for their next trip, a higher proportion than any other travel agent or booking service.

But first, some context: 38% of Australians use a travel agent (including booking sites and tour operators) at least once in an average 12 months. Flight Centre (used by 9% of the population) is still flying the flag for bricks-and-mortar travel agencies in top spot, just ahead of online accommodation booking website, (8%). (5%) is the third-most popular travel agent, with Airbnb (4%) nipping at its heels. Question is, can they expect return business from these customers?

In the case of Airbnb, almost certainly: 83% of holiday-goers who used Airbnb in the past 12 months would consider doing so again, ahead of 76% of Flight Centre customers and 75% of customers. Seven in every 10 people who used would consider booking through them again on their next holiday.

Top 10 travel agents with highest likelihood of return business


* NB: travel agents include booking sites and tour operators. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), August 2014-September 2016, n=30,084 (inc. 10,727) who used travel agent. (75%) and Agoda (74%) can also be confident of some return business from recent customers, while Helloworld (73%) and Escape Travel (71%) were the only other bricks-and-mortar travel agents in the Top 10.

Since 2014, when Roy Morgan Research last reported on this topic, there have been some noteworthy developments. The aforementioned Airbnb and Helloworld are new entrants to the Top 10 travel agents with the highest likelihood of return business, as is hotel booking site Trivago (67% of their customers report that they’d consider using them again next time).

Meanwhile, STA Travel (62%, down from 73%), (62%, down from 69%) and Zuji (64%, down from 66%) have lost considerable ground since 2014.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Regardless of how many customers a travel agency gets through its doors (or website), what ultimately matters is whether these same customers are satisfied enough to use the agency for their next holiday. As the latest Roy Morgan figures show, the ever-popular Flight Centre can count on more than three-quarters of its recent customers coming back for more. Meanwhile, Airbnb is impressing its customers so much that almost 85% are likely to return! Having just launched their brand-spanking new Airbnb Trips initiative, which offers holiday activities such as tours or culinary experiences, they are clearly planning to expand their influence even further, encroaching on more conventional travel agency territory.

 “Nearly 80% of all holiday-goers who used a travel agent in the last 12 months say they’d consider using one for their next holiday too: encouraging news for industry players, if they play their cards right. What’s more, a customer satisfied enough with a travel agency to use it again is also likely to be a good source of word-of-mouth promotion, recommending it to any friends or family planning a holiday—a kind of knock-on effect.

 “Customer loyalty and return business are an important way for travel agents to future-proof their business in the ever-changing, intensely competitive tourism sector, and Roy Morgan’s deep data can help them lay the ground work for continued success.

“Likewise, identifying those Australians most likely to be receptive to their brand is crucial for travel agents wishing to build relationships with both existing and potential customers, and Roy Morgan’s ground-breaking profiling tool Helix Personas can help them do exactly that. For example, people from the inner-city dwelling, high-earning New School Cool persona are 165% more likely than the average Aussie to use Airbnb on their next trip, attracted no doubt by its ‘hip’ factor as well as its innovative approach to holiday accommodation.

“In contrast, Helloworld holds particular appeal (twice the national average) for Rural Rewards: mostly older, conservative couples based in the country and enjoying their new-found freedom as empty nesters. This group would appreciate Helloworld’s bricks-and-mortar stores, and its full-service capabilities, spanning flights, accommodation, holiday activities and even cruises.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%