If you’re looking for a business partner in the short-term and vacation rental space the 800lb gorilla is Airbnb. Many homeowners and entrepreneurs use the platform to either make extra cash flow or scale their real estate business. Airbnb has made it easy for hosts to reach a large number of people looking for short-term stays and don’t want the traditional “Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn.” If you got what I just did there you and both might be showing our age. 😃
Because Airbnb is one of the major defacto places for people to search for short-term rentals, it’s also one of the first platforms people go to host their properties for guests to book and stay. Some hosts use Airbnb because it’s the only online travel agency (OTA) they’ve heard about that allows them to host their property. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
Should You Only Host on Airbnb?
If you’re a host who’s doing short-term rentals as a business and only plan to use the Airbnb platform my question to you is why? If Airbnb is the only platform you host your properties on isn’t that like putting all your eggs into one basket? Do you think they have just as much skin in the game when something goes wrong in your business? Well, recent history shows that by hosting on a single OTA you’re putting yourself at more risk. And additionally, if you don’t know your history you’re damned to repeat it.
Who has the most control in this partnership?
Last year after the shutdowns started during the pandemic Airbnb unexpectedly canceled bookings and refunded guests without prior agreement from the hosts on the platform. This allowed guests to cancel their reservations irrelevant to the hosts’ cancellation policy. Now if you were a guest then you’d love a refund for a trip you couldn’t make or have second thoughts about because of COVID. But if you were a host seeing all your reservations instantly disappear, you’d not be so happy. Especially if the income generated from those reservations were how you put food on the table.
I’m not here to debate whether or not the decision was right or wrong but it showed that Airbnb did not care much, if at all, about the impact on the hosts when they executed that decision. And if you were only hosting your property on Airbnb the impact on your business have been massive. Had you been on VRBO and/or Booking.com as well there would’ve been some redundancy in place. Airbnb has a policy called “Extenuating Circumstances Policy and the coronavirus (COVID-19)” which you can read more about here. On the flip side, Airbnb did create the Superhost Relief Fund to provide some relief for hosts that qualified and they also provided information on how hosts could find other relief programs like the CARES Act.
Does Airbnb really have your back?
Pandemic aside, because that’s a very extreme example, this is not the only case of Airbnb favoring the guests over the hosts or implementing changes that impact hosts in a negative way. There are numerous cases and posts online where guests have calmed something to be true and Airbnb took the guest’s word as gospel without getting the other side of the story from the host. In some cases this meant a refund to the guest, in others it meant the host ratings being tarnished by false negative reviews that would not be removed from the platform.
And then there’s the process that a host needs to go through to remedy guest issues and damage to the host property. Simply go to the forums and communities to find out what others are saying and distill yourself. I find these types of incidents more troubling since I hear about them more often, even before the pandemic. Fortunately for me, I’ve not had a guest issue that needed Airbnb to help resolve. 🤞
Spread The Love and Lower Your Risk
Is Airbnb the devil? NO! But history has shown that their business gold seems to revolve around the number of guests they have on their platform so they treat the guests as such. I do feel that Airbnb has heard the outcry from hosts and is slowly trying to improve the situation but I would never think that Airbnb has my business’s best interest at heart. This is why I leverage multiple OTA’s to list my properties and if you’re serious about this I recommend you do too. I list on Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com using a property management software called OwnerRez. Airbnb brings in a good amount of the reservations but not by much. It varies month to month but on average it’s roughly 50% Airbnb and 50% VRBO & Booking.com combined. But there are months when I get 28+ night stays from Booking.com.