Airbnb has taken the tourism market by storm by offering an alternative to poorly run and unpleasant hotel accommodation.
The website works by allowing individuals to advertise their spare rooms, caravans, sofas, tree houses, or boats as rooms to let.
People with spare space are then able to benefit from the revenue of having someone stay in their own home, and travellers are able to make the most of luxurious accommodation without the high premiums and poor service of hotels.
At the outset of 2012, the Airbnb website had been used by just 1 million people, but by the end of this year that figure had reached 4 million and the service keeps growing.
At present, 150,000 people stay in a room advertised by Airbnb each night, and this equates to nearly 55 million in a year.
Hotel chain Intercontinental achieves 100m nights a year, which means that this small startup is close to reaching parity with the industry leaders.
Airbnb takes around 12% of the cost of all bookings to generate a profit from this ‘sharing economy’.