Payments update: Retiring the Group Payments feature

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Group Payments Article.jpg

 

When we introduced Group Payments, we were trying to create a simple way for guests to split booking costs when traveling in a group. This arrangement meant the person organizing the trip wouldn’t have to pay all of the money up front, and hosts would have more visibility into who’s staying in their home since they’d be able to see profiles of everyone who contributed.

 

But we heard from you that holding your listing for 72 hours while waiting for all of the guests to pay was inconvenient. We considered the overall usefulness of this feature and its impact on the whole community and have decided to remove it in mid-September 2018. Any existing reservation that was paid for with Group Payments will be honored; we’re simply preventing new reservations from being made with Group Payments. We appreciate your feedback and will continue to work to build the simplest, most beneficial tools to support your hosting success.

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71 Replies
Jess in
Eugene, OR
Level 10

Just my 2 cents, and too late apparently, but having a 72 hour window was the problem. 3 whole entire days to collect your group's funds together? That's an insane amount of time for a host to wait. On the flipside, a group payment option is an incredible help to groups booking.

Why demolish a good concept rather than change it til it works? How about a group payment option within 12 or 24 hours?

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater...

Jessica & Henry in
South Korea
Level 10

Just another example that Airbnb does NOT listen to host voices and feedback. Did anyone at Airbnb stop to think about WHY hosts hated the group payment so much? 

Rebecca in
Florence, OR
Level 10

I agree with @Jess. The concept of Group Payments was a good one - Why not just give the group 24 hours to pay? Why were the original terms so generous to the guests at the hosts' expense (a running theme around here lately that is only getting worse)? And why ditch the entire group payment when it could be adjusted to benefit everyone, including Corporate's bottom line?

 

Tying up our listings for what could turn into 4 days (or even beyond, as one host has reported) was the problem - Not the group payment option itself. The fact that the 72 hour 'hold' on our listings was deemed reasonable by Corporate concerns me - What property owner running a  short-term rental business would find this acceptable? This suggests to me that someone or more than one someone at Corporate is out of touch with the ins an outs of the short term rental business. Which supports my repeated statements in this CC that there needs to be some sort of Advisory Board or Committee formed which meets regularly with Corporate, whereby successful, experienced hosts (including TRADITIONAL, home-sharing hosts); experienced, long-term Airbnb guest users in good standing, and commercial operators are included and invited to share what is and is not working for them.  This would be FAR more effective than those Q & A meetings, which leave many hosts feeling even more frustrated, ignored, and unheard than they did before the Q & A. 

 

Just a thought.

Online Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Online Community Manager

Hello @Rebecca@Jessica & Henry and @Jess

 

I hope you are all having a good start to the week. Thanks for your additional comments here.

 
I understand you might be a little surprised to hear this news.
 
I think it is important to not overlook the amount of negative feedback which has been shared on this in the CC, particularly earlier in the year, but even last week I saw a discussion where hosts were questioning the use of this feature to hosts.  There were a number of different key points that were highlighted by hosts, in addition to what has been mentioned above. All of which I read and fed this back to the team who have been working on this.
 
As you have mentioned, one of the key pieces of feedback provided was on the length of the booking window and modifying this would have sufficed, however it is not necessarily that simple. However much, I agree this would of been great.
 
I believe there are many things the team have to consider and take into account when there is so much feedback on features like this. I imagine things like what are the main difficulties people are having, what possible solutions are there to make it work better and data is important factor too. I don't know the specifics, but closing a feature will be looked into carefully and the feedback given by our community is really important to this. 
Therefore, something that sounds easy like reducing the booking period, might actually not solve all the difficulties. Also, it maybe that more time is needed for the feature to be really improved, so in the mean time, with the best interests of the host community at heart, this decision was made.
 
The feedback given here by the community has been instrumental in getting the team to look further into this and so I hope you will see that your feedback is being listened to and that you words are important. 
 
As I say, personally I am going to be hopeful that a similar feature will be introduced in the future. Perhaps if you have specific ideas around this, you might like to share them. 
 
Thanks again for your thoughts.
 
Lizzie
 
Jess in
Eugene, OR
Level 10

Thanks for your reply @Lizzie. Kudis for passing along CC feedback. It is good to know that the project team is taking host feedback into account. It would be excellent if host feedback would be taken more into account BEFORE new roll outs occur, to prevent such a bungle in the future. If it was SO bungled that it couldn't even be fixed easily apparently. Hopefully AIrbnb will learn from this lesson and make changes that impact hosts in a much more measured and careful way in the future.

 

I would give my suggestions, but having read all the posts from earlier in the year regarding this feature, I think there were many, many excellent suggestions from hosts that would more than fix the issue from our end, so there is plenty of feedback there to go on that I don't need waste my time summing up for anyone here.

 

I just think the main takeaway instead is... when new features are rolled out,  ellicit host feedback and improvements before it is deployed,  instead of issuing mea culpas and taking back the features  after the fact. And after screwing hosts over by hijacking their calendars for 3-6 days at a time for a year. It wasn't that difficult of a problem to anticipate in the first place, and just demonstrates the fact that they really are clueless when it comes to being sensitive to the needs of their bread and butter, their hosts. Quite amazing, really.

Cindy in
California, United States
Level 2

Excellent decision by Airbnb. Group payments was not a good feature.

 

 

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

Glad to see that this has been eliminated. Responsible adult guests should be able to work out their group trip arrangements between themselves without involving hosts or the platform. If you can't trust your family or friends to pay you directly for their share of a trip you are booking, why would you want to go on vacation with them?

Mark in
Jersey City, NJ
Level 10

Good.  This was a mediocre idea that was implemented in the worst possible way. 

 

I'm not convinced people traveling together need the ability to split payments....but if they did, the answer would be to allow the split, but on the same 24 hour timing, there is no reason why anyone who is booking a trip needs several days time to pay.  

Julie in
Brisbane City, Australia
Level 1

The .... do it yourself holiday property rental was a fantastic way to look after your own investment ....... you did the work and you got the $return ..... very simple . 

Now you do All the work ..... You pay All the $ money and you Do Not receive the $ financial Return .  Find a Good Property Manager they will do the Work for the $Money instead of You 

Level 9

That is pathetic! I as a host would not have been fazed by that time lag! As a user of airbnb organising friends from Australia and USA it was a godsend as I didn't then have to do AU to USD conversions etc.

Bring it back!!!!!! to quote the Coodabeens champions which you in Ireland wouldn't understand! Look up AFL and Coodabeens and they have a segment about what should be brought back from the past. BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Cathie in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

I never had to deal with a group booking, and as a guest in a group, just paid along with others, straight into the bank account of the booking friend; simple!

 

One issue that was of concern with the group payment was the holding of dates across busy dates on a regional calendar when demand was high. The other was the opportunity for an “out of reach” $$$$  property, being paid for by a group for a party weekend. Great if you want parties, not great if you are deliberately pricing your property to avoid the party weekend away from uni.

 

I thank you @Airbnb  & Lizzie for getting this one right. But agree with others, a  consultative approach from the home owner / hosts in the coal face is a requirement. Too many professional tenancy and commercial property manager decisions have been taking precedent.

👍🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

Roger in
Taiwan
Level 1

I imagine that the future helped guests and hosts.  We just needed a 24 hour time limit instead.

 

I think others agree.  Cheers!

Jim in
Bali, Indonesia
Level 5

It seems to me that there is a very simple solution...

 

1. Give hosts the selectable choice to offer this option... or not, and if they do, with a selectable timeframe option of 24 hrs, 48 hrs or 72 hrs.

 

If a host doesn't like this option for their they don't have to offer it. If they want payment in 24hrs, they select it.

 

Everybody happy!

 

Easy!

เชา เพง Shaopeng in
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level 2

Such a bad idea.... 

Elaine in
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level 9

I've had groups wanting to book a house I manage on behalf of a friend, but because they all get paid at different times of the month, they tend to struggle to get all the money collected on time.  As I was certain they genuinely wanted to book - and this was actually before the group booking system was put into place  - what I did was to block off the dates for them manually , until such a time that they all had their money available.  This actually meant it was blocked off for over a month, not just the mere 3 days being discussed here.  As a caring host, I was happy to help this group to be able to book the accommodation they needed to have while they were to be attending a course together. 

Dinah in
Icod de los Vinos, Spain
Level 2

I find all the negativity on this conversation a bit depressing.  Not saying that I have not been guilty of it too. I can be just as negative!  So I just wanted to say that 99% of the time air bnb get it right.  They have been a lifeline for us and we have had a great time being hosts.  So thanks for all you do and for listening to us, even if we don't always like your response.   There are sooo many worse organisations to work for.

Rebecca in
Bondi Beach, Australia
Level 1

I am disappointed hta the group payment function will be discontinued without a trial of a reduction in time to contribute payment within a much shorter time - say 12 hours. I host a 8 bedroom house and a 12 bedroom house, and group payment function is a convenient and easy way for my guests to book.I am happy, as a host to wait for payment. Rebecca

Downtown Rentals in
Toronto, Canada
Level 2

I completely agree with others that it’s a

grest concept but the 72hr window was the problem.

i can’t believe how Airbnb does not listen at all

Melissa in
Tampa, FL
Level 1

There is no need for group payments. With applications like Zelle and Venmo the primary guest can book via their credit/ debit and friends can pay them directly. It was insane to have guests take 3 days to pay. I’ve had reservations cancelled due to payment issues and my listing was off the calendar for days. 

 

Keep that aspect simple and don’t over complicate booking process please!

Duane in
Stroudsburg, PA
Level 6

Why not give guests the ability to get pledges before they book. The only thing that bothered me about group payments was the 72 hours. Most of the ones we got were well less than 72 hours however.

 

Is it really any different than when a group books and can't only get the money for the first payment and than cancles because they can't make the final payment?

 

As was said by others, just another good idea that's being removed because of one flaw with the system. 72 hours is just too long to wait.

John in
Miami Beach, FL
Level 2

Group payments are not the problem, it’s the implementation. It would have been nice to have groups confirm the reservation. If one or two members didn’t pay their portion then that amount would have to be paid by the remaining members.  

Jiw in
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level 10

Great news!   This was super annoying.  Also it facillitated the type of group where some backpackers meet up at some location and then decide to 'team up' and share an AirBnb in some other place to save costs.  These are then peopel without much of a relationship together leading to all sorts of problems.

Theresa in
El Paso, TX
Level 2

I think group payment are great!!!!   It help making the payment  where the group all can put thier money in to make the rental for the house.   I had one group participate and it was excellent.

 

Jennifer in
Missoula, MT
Level 2

I complained about this feature and am glad it was removed. People pay instantly when they book. Why should a group have more time to pay and meanwhile block your listing, whether for 12 hours or 72. It is not my problem how they coordinate and how they get repaid by their friends. My listing was tied up for several days, they finally all paid, and then promptly canceled. It was more aggravation than it was worth.

 

The only way I could see this working where it did not negatively impact the host would be to allow one person to pay and then others could copay and the original person would get reimbursed by AirBnB. But it seems like more trouble than it would be worth.

Dennis in
Seattle, WA
Level 2

As a host, I wasn't a fan of this feature, so I won't miss it. Nevertheless, it's pretty common at restaurants these days for a group to hand the server a bunch of credit cards and let him/her figure it out. My point is that it's convenient for guests, who have come to expect flexibility. The length of the delay was the problem for hosts, so shortening it might have been the better fix.

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Jennifer Actually, guests have 24 hours to pay now. I agree that the payment should be instant.

Grayson in
Big Bear Lake, CA
Level 3

Why not force the booking guest to pay in full up front when they are ready to reserve. Then create a feature for the booking guest to request payment from their friends. The split wouldn't hold up the booking. The booking guest would be 100% on the hook for the funds. But ABB could facilitate the split without the host having any inconvenience. 

Chuck&Carole in
Portland, OR
Level 5

Doesn't seem possible right now to reply to a specifc post, but i will say:

thanks so very much Lizzie! 

I don't want my space to be blocked off at all for any amount of time, until the guest has paid. if people are not prepared to pay, don't book yet! it's inconsiderate and rude.  i am a really busy hostess, and if someone cancels, and those days open up, and are now being held for someone that may or maynot come thru with payment....guess who loses?

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Grayson @Grayson   Doesn't seem necessary to me for guests to have to have Airbnb facilitate requesting payment from the rest of their party. We live in a high-speed digital age. The guest doing the booking can easily send a screenshot of the total payment to all their group, and their friends or family can do an instant online transfer for their share to the booker. If they're too lazy to do this themselves, which takes minutes, they'll probably be too lazy to read the listing description, clean up after themselves or bother to answer host messages.

Staci in
San Mateo, CA
Level 2

We NEED groups to have “Group Payment” options!!! This is a business imperative for more enterprises to allow Airbnb for corporate approved travel.

And yes, we also need visibility for exactly “who” will be in the property at all times as well as timely payment. 

Please find a solution to allow group payments or it will negatively impact corporate travel adoption. And I can only speak for myself but I prefer corporate travelers to recreational.

Stopping this program outright is a cop out. We need solutions that benefit both corporate business guests and hosts.

Rosan in
New York, NY
Level 2

Hi, it’s was a great tool in NYC the only problem was the time but if there was to reduce it to 12-24 hours to finalize the process 

Steve in
San Diego, CA
Level 2

I agree with @Jess!  Perhaps it could be like any other inquiry and would not be guaranteed until paid in full.  Groups could take as long as they want, but if they really want to book there would be incentive to do it quickly before another group swooped in and took the spot.  This would not put hosts at risk as they would have the option of accepting another booking if a group was taking longer than they liked and/or they had a better offer. 

Ricardo in
Havana, Cuba
Level 2

It makes perfect sense, at least for me.👍 but as another user already suggested it would be better to allow hosts to offer this option or not, it's up to us if we want to wait 24, 48, 72 hours or even more...

Carol in
Lethbridge, Canada
Level 1

There were many good reasons to not continue with the group divided payments... ie. how did you determine how much each needed to contribute when someone could opt out during the waiting for the payment period...who would pick up the non payment and if someone didn't want to stay the full time, did they get to pay less?. In theory it sounded good but in practice it did not work and I want to thank the team for listening to our needs.

 

Wesley in
Austin, TX
Level 1

I don’t understand the downside of having group payments.   Can we bring it back?

Jeff And Jenny in
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Level 1

Not a good idea at all. It will discourage people from booking. Air bnb is driving me crazy and I get most of our bookings from bookings.com anyway. 

Imogen in
Netherlands
Level 4

I'm still not sure why there needed to be a calendar block at all. 

 

If ABB supports the the concept of a split payment model, why not earmark your own money to the host's pending earnings? The balance can be collected from other guests in the usual way, with a caveat that after X days of non-payment the booking guest's card will be charged for the outstanding amount. 

 

I realise this is a blow to ABBs cash flow but as booking fees are held sometimes months in advance it would balance out anyway, surely? And small hosts whose livelihood depend on reliable payments wouldn't be affected. 

Jim & Rinette in
Ottawa, Canada
Level 2

Do the major hotel chains offer a group booking option? Not! 
I am sure that any adult group (and there in lies the problem) can come to an mutual understanding of their accomodation needs before tying up 2, 3 or more spaces before deciding which one fits the need of the entire group. Come on, make a decision - then book, but don't tie up my calendar while you surf for 72 or even 24 hours in order to gain a concensus from your travel buddies.

Level 5

Agree with Jim, Bali, Indonesia.  Give the host the option.

 

Hosts should also be given more options on cancellation.  

 

Hosts should be given more flexability in many areas.

Bettina in
The Hague, Netherlands
Level 2

Dear Aibnb Team,

Very disappointed to hear this feature is going to be discontinued.

I have booked using group payment and it was fantastic, it meant I wasn’t out of pocket 5000€. Other expenses from the same trip I still haven’t been reimbursed from people joining the trip. It meant one thing less to worry about collecting.

Also as a host I have had people inquiring whether I could hold dates for a week until they had collected all funds. I think this really was a simple way to collect funds and put some pressure on group members to pay their cut!

Lisa in
New Orleans, LA
Level 2

I liked the group payment. My space will accommodate three adults, and this allowed each to pay. I hate to see this option removed. The biggest complain was simply the 72 hours which many people had an issue with, not the option.  Possibly shorten the time to 24 or 48 hours and bring back the feature. 

Gabriel in
Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands
Level 2

Honesty, I really don’t care to be involved in the whole splitting of the reservation. Airbnb does not need to mitigate that. When I travel with a group, we sort that out amongst ourselves like adults. I don’t care to know that it is being split three/four ways. It’s none of my business. PayPal and other money transfer platforms are available for these types of things I personally don’t care to be involved in that. 

Colleen in
Davis, CA
Level 2

I have had guest groups and it would have been really nice to see all the guest profiles and have all of them see my House Rules.   

I agree that it would be nice for hosts to have the option to accept group payments and choose how long the guests have to get it together.  

It would be great if Corporate would reconsider this option based on current feedback on WHY hosts didn’t like the initial group payment format.  

Karen in
San Francisco, CA
Level 2

I agree with Rebecca that the Q and A event are very unsatisfying--never really thought corporate was listening to hosts.  An Advisory Board or Committee representing the various types of hosts would be great.  Anyone with an idea or concern could approach the AB directly.  Then, depending on the issue, the AB could solicit input from hosts, guests, etc..  Following a discussion of the input, the AB could ask for a sit-down/face to face with the relevant Airbnb department to discuss whatever recommendation resulted from the relevant audience, e.g. hosts, guests.  

Maya in
Toronto, Canada
Level 2

As a host and a traveller, the feature was useful.  I think the big feedback from hosts was the 72-hour period.  Could it not have been reduced to 12-24hours?

Michelle & Ray in
Kimberley, Canada
Level 9

I'm having a hard time understang some of the comments. When this was implemented, hosts made it overwhelmingly clear that it was inconvenient and unfair to hosts, for many reasons, including the time frame was too long and blocking the calendar at all was unfair because if the payment failed, the host got nothing and had their calendar blcoked, preventing other paying guests from booking. Another very valid concern was that some hosts set their rates at a level that weeded out problem guests. This "feature" took that right away. 
Now that it's been done away with, we are hearing complaints that it was removed. I don;t get it. I'm relieved it's gone, for all the reasons above.
I had a split payment booking that dragged on for days, only to have it fail because someone didn't pay. My calendar was blocked and in the end, I got zero $. It also gives the "cancel penalty free within 48 hours" a bit of an extension, doesn't it? 
It was not right and I'm glad to see it gone.

Sarah in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Michelle & Ray  I suspect the hosts who are bemoaning the elimination of group payment never experienced having their calendars held hostage for 72 hours, only to have the reservation cancelled due to guests changing their minds, or failure to come up with the payment. They were probably lucky enough to have it all go smoothly and made good $ from these groups.

Jennifer in
Katy, TX
Level 3

This was a great move, well done for removing this method of payment. This is how it played out in my case: not only did it tie up the dates during a very busy time of year, the second guest never paid. And I was the one left explaining why to the  paid guest as she assumed she had secured the property. 

Best leave the guests to sort out their travel arrangements amongst themselves prior to booking without Airbnb being the intermediary.

Michelle & Ray in
Kimberley, Canada
Level 9

@Sarah Must be. It the only thing I can figure, because it was terrible for me. they held my place hostage for 3 days for a busy time and then ended up failing  for non payment and I got nothing for it. Luckily, I was able to get it booked on another platform to make up for it, but that's not always the case.
Meanwhile, the guests have no penalty at all for holding your place and are free to go do it again to you or someone else.

Lisa in
Whangaparaoa, New Zealand
Level 1

As a guest, I recently used the group payment and everyone (in my group) loved being able to pay this way, plus it was easy.

 

As a host, I can understand that 72hrs might be too long but I think 24hrs could work. 

 

I agree with Jim, the host could decide which group payment window they want, or if they will accept group payments at all.

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