Ryanair to challenge Airbnb with private room rentals

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Ryanair is to take on Airbnb by offering private rooms and homes on its website, its latest bid to boost revenues by selling directly to the tens of millions of budget-conscious consumers who use its website.

Ryanair will launch the new Ryanair Rooms service in October, offering everything from 5-star hotel rooms to hostels and spare rooms in private homes. It will add at least two partners to Booking.com, currently its exclusive accommodation partner.

“We see this as a natural progression towards Ryanair.com becoming the Amazon of air travel,” chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said.

Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, flying 106 million journeys last year, and management says it wants to leverage this base to compete with fast-growing web firms.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said Ryanair would charge commissions to accommodation suppliers of under 10 percent compared to up to 20 percent charged by some online aggregators.

Ryanair is entering a fragmented holiday lettings market, with the four largest companies – Airbnb, Homeaway, Tripadvisor and booking.com – controlling a market share of less than 25 pct between them, according to a company called Tripping.com, a search engine for holiday villas and short-term lets. 

Ryanair last October replaced car hire partner Hertz with online brokerage CarTrawler. It has said it plans to mimic Amazon by harvesting detailed customer data to push targeted offers by email and smartphone app in real time.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)