AirBNB and BOOKING.COM - Pros and Cons


  • Leader

    I’m thinking of adding these two listing sites, but I don’t know a lot about them. I haven’t considered them for the last few years, and I know things change. One thing that now tempts me is that I can adjust my price for those platforms separately from the other listings or my website.

    So here is a broad question: Based on your own personal experiences, what are the PROS and CONS you see with these two listing sites?

    Thanks,

    Jenny


  • Advisor

    @Jenny-Oest I have tried both in the past and found that the guests coming from these sites are very different from the guests I get from VRBO or direct.
    With Airbnb they tend to be ‘flakier’ and less able to follow directions or read the t&c/house rules. I only put one property on Airbnb and I think I never integrated with MyVR because at that time I wanted to control pricing and availability.
    That said, this year, when every single booking cancelled, I put my other two places in Chicago on Airbnb in hopes of getting something. It was a good thing because almost all of my few bookings since September have come from them. It’s been a challenge because every single one had extra guests (more than they booked for). I also had to fend off about a dozen booking requests (and even cancel bookings) for locals who wanted to have a party.
    I still won’t integrate with MyVR, though I have the calendars integrated. I won’t fully integrate because for now I am only accepting bookings via Airbnb for the next 90 days. Not that this matters right now because all of the bookings I got from them were very close in (2 - 3 weeks prior to arrival).
    The pros of it are that I’m getting bookings - hooray!
    And that I don’t have to deal with the taxes, as they’ve got a deal with our city, county & state to collect and pay those. This has made my accounting during the pandemic really simple - though it has meant I don’t really record things fully in MyVR because I’m not fully integrated - so at the end of the year I won’t have a fully accurate picture of my financials (maybe I will put “handling Airbnb taxes within MyVR” on my to do list for 2021 … )

    Regarding Booking.com - I was fully integrated for some time, though I only got 3 or 4 bookings if I remember correctly. I did have them on Booking without integration for some time as well (in both Greece and Chicago) and I found that these guests tended to have an “i’m booking a hotel” mentality. I also found the fees from B.com at the time to be very high. I do know that now there are alot of vacation rentals on this site, so if may have changed since I used it. At that time it wasn’t very well known in the US and my inquiries were mostly for Greece.


  • Explorer

    We have been on AirBnb for five years. The guests are typically not as “seasoned” as our VRBO clientele. In 2019 our typical VRBO guest spent 50% more that our AirBnb guests.

    The factors playing into that were length of stay and choice of accommodations. We have a couple of one room Guest Houses that rent very well on AirBnb and Booking.com. The rest of our portfolio is 3 to 5 bedroom homes in the $1.5MM to $4.5MM range.

    Booking.com is the biggest online presence in Europe. Our last European guests left in February, but we have still had a few bookings. Their specialty is really Hotels, so we don’t see a ton of activity from them. Be wary, Booking.com does not verify Identity like VRBO and AirBnb do.

    There are some great features built into MyVR’s channel management.

    We currently have the Strictest Available Cancellation Policy with AirBnb, which costs 5.0%. We offset that by increasing our rates 5.6% for the AirBnb channel.

    You cannot get the strictest policy immediately, so I have two Booking Policies set up. One with free cancelation up to seven (7) days and the other with 50% refund up to 60 days, no refund inside 60. After the first ABB booking at each new property, I move to the stricter policy.

    We also pick up 15% of the 20% Guest Fee for Booking.com. Our rates are 17.7% higher on Booking.com


  • Newcomer

    Airbnb is our largest source of business (~55% and more in past), which is fairly typical in an urban market. While we have some gripes about it, we generally rate the channel highly. You need to make sure you have the appropriate risk management processes in place (e.g. use MyVR partner Autohost).

    Booking.com is maybe 5% on average, but it’s the channel that gives us the largest headaches. Quality of bookings is very low - we cancel 50-65% because of payment issues (i.e. typically fraud attempts). But… we still use them. Don’t use them without strong risk management and fraud presentation measures in place (e.g. use Radar, one of the features of Stripe for payments). We use the highest fraud prevention measures and block any pre-paid cards.

    @carole said in AirBNB and BOOKING.COM - Pros and Cons:

    That said, this year, when every single booking cancelled, I put my other two places in Chicago on Airbnb in hopes of getting something. It was a good thing because almost all of my few bookings since September have come from them. It’s been a challenge because every single one had extra guests (more than they booked for). I also had to fend off about a dozen booking requests (and even cancel bookings) for locals who wanted to have a party.


  • Explorer

    Jenny, et al;

    I was on Booking for a couple of years and think I got one (1) inquiry and Zero (0) bookings.

    I’ve been on AirBnB for about three (3) years. Years 1 & 2, I saw one (1) booking per year…but…for some reason, in 2020 (Covid) I got as many bookings from AirBnB than I did from VRBO.

    My experience this past year is that ALL but one (1) of those AirBnB rentals paid significantly (15% higher than my website and/or VRBO), were much better guests than VRBO (cleaner, better communicators, treated the house spectacularly).

    If 2020 was any indication, I’d gladly recommend adding AirBnB to your portfolio.

    The one “Con” is: AirBnB collects the State Sales Tax for Florida but DOES NOT add your local/county tax and that AirBnB has no avenue in which you can add it as an “add on”. AirBnB suggests that you send guest a separate request after they book for the local tax amount.

    What we’ve done is bump our rate on AirBnB by the tax rate (plus the 3% service charge AirBnB charges for credit card processing). For us that’s 7.21% total so we add 8% to cover.

    Another potential “Con” with AirBnB is that you do not see any payment until after the guest has checked in, and it usually shows up around the 3rd day after check-in. That could be an issue if a stay violates something early on or does damage to the point you need to evict say on day 2. I don’t know how that would be resolved with AirBnB.

    Hope this helps.

    Happy 2021 (it can’t be worse than 2020!!!),

    John 🙂


  • Explorer

    @sebastien-long Yep. Just had our first ever Fraud cases. Both came through Booking.com. As noted, they do not have an identity verification process in place, whereas with VRBO-Homeaway and AirBnb they require you upload ID.

    TripAdvisor is the odd one. I actually had them cancel a $14k reservation booked by the CEO of a German Automaker for Concours week in Pebble Beach as “Fraud Risk”. The guy still showed up and ended up in a hotel. Other than that, we’ve had no issues.


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