Airbnb escalates efforts to lure hotels away from OTAs

George Sell By George Sell
15 March 2018 | Updated 15 March 2018

US: Airbnb has written an open letter to boutique hotel and B&B owners in an attempt to lure them away from the major OTAs.

The letter begins: "We know that many of you are thinking about the best ways to market your rooms online. We've heard from you directly and through our work with the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals and we've conducted our own research. Time and again, small business owners told us that the fees charged by travel agents like Expedia and Booking - which can be as high as 30 per cent - are too high."

While not offering information on what commission it would actually charge, the letter says: "Airbnb offers lower fees compared to online travel agencies (OTAs) that may charge commissions of up to 30 per cent."

It lists the claimed advantages of listing on Airbnb which include no long-term contracts, control over when inventory appears on Airbnb and access to "our global community of guests from more than 191 countries".

The letter continues: "Not every property is right for Airbnb. We look for hosts who provide personal hospitality to guests and things like locally relevant or unique amenities and local maps with personalised recommendations. Our full criteria are available here. We know countless boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts both meet and exceed these expectations, and many are already using Airbnb to offer the kind of local, unique and authentic travel experiences that Airbnb is known for. Going forward, we look forward to working with you and are available to answer your questions."

Editor's Comment

By specifically referring to Expedia and Booking.com, Airbnb has upped the ante in its efforts to attract listings away from the major OTAs and on to its platform. It is heavily focusing on commission rates - but it is notable that the letter doesn’t refer to Airbnb’s rates.

There aren’t many hotels paying 30 per cent to the major OTAs - they have been cutting they rates to become more competitive, while at BHN we have been contacted by hoteliers who have listed on Airbnb and claimed that, once a charge to the guest is included, they have been paying similar commission rates to those of the OTAs.

Whatever the current numbers, this increased competition is good for hoteliers as it should have the effect of driving down rates across the board.

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