We need some help from the Community, please, if Airbnb is to remain an important channel for us. So, thoughts, please?.
We switched to the new Airbnb service fee inclusive pricing model as we now use a channel manager eviivo here in the UK. Our rates plan through our channel manager was comparable, giving broadly the same pricing for all OTAs. We use limited syncing between Airbnb and our channel manager. Airbnb guests would pay a marginally lower price than guests through other OTAs. The point is that we have tried to treat all OTAs the same now. But we have no reservations at all now through Airbnb, not a single one. We started our hosted B&B business last year and our success made us instant Superhosts using only Airbnb. Airbnb got us on the map and we like the idea of guest reviews – a pity other OTAs don't have them!
We joined a channel manager in August 2018 and all our guests now come mostly through Booking.com, some through Expedia and some through our own website set up for us by the channel manager. We are for some reason still Superhosts ( for the fifth quarter in succession) - our last Airbnb guest was two months ago – we have 9.8/10 review scores on B'com and 5/5 on TripAdvisor and Expedia. Why aren't we getting any Airbnb bookings any more? We could probably fill our target capacity through these other OTAs and certainly do at present. But we would much rather have more Airbnb guests.
We have today gone back to separating the guest service fee from our pricing to see if that makes a difference. Will this work? What do people think is going on? Should we give up on Airbnb and just use the other OTAs?
Separate it. You have to be proactive and update the listing adn keep it fresh otherwise you go to the back of the Line. I manage everything myself, I dont use channel managers. This is a Job treat it like a Job.
@Nina75 Using a channel manager is no easy option. Limited syncing is not for convenience but due to the complexity of a channel manager's systems trying to make a single system interface with the very different approaches and systems of the whole range of OTAs. As you will be aware all other OTAs use a commission/service fee inclusive price. Airbnb is unique among major international OTAs with its quaint charge of service fee to the host and to the guest. Airbnb also insists you list each room in a property separately unlike all others. This makes it difficult to present a complete property where several rooms are on offer. On one of our many attempts to make things better we switched to service fee inclusive pricing because Airbnb has a 'recommended' label against that option on its website. Note that we still have to manage everything else on our Airbnb listings with limited syncing.
It is a pity you feel the need to patronise me with your final comment of "This is a Job treat it like a Job." My wife and I can only achieve the high guest approval ratings that we do receive because we treat it like a business and a job - even if we are only offering hosted accommodation in our family home. We work very hard online and offline.
@Nina75 In my earlier reply removed as spam, it would seem, I made the point that using a channel manager is no easy option. With limited syncing of our Airbnb listings we still have to manage them, update and refresh them. The only syncing are the rates and availability. A channel manager has given us a much broader market access and we can achieve the capacity we require without Airbnb. So, why should we care, you might ask? Well, our initial success was founded on Airbnb guests. We also like to see guest reviews before they arrive, even though we have instant booking activated.
Your final sentence does feel a little patronising. We work very hard, my wife and I, to make our hosted accommodation business a success, as we would hope our reviews illustrate. We work hard online as well as offline, engaging as much as we can with our guests.. The experience justifies the hard work.
@Ian323 My guess is that wrapping the fees into the base price has dropped you in the listing results and that's the reason. Unless that is done for 100% of the properties, then in effect, it penalizes you, because your listing seems to be more expensive, when it isn't.
I fear you may be right. Reading the first comment to this thread from Nina suggests that if we don't very regularly refresh our website that will have some impact as well. We have now switched back to separate pricing despite Airbnb stating on the Payments & pricing/service fee tab that the service fee inclusive pricing is 'Recommended'. That is why we switched. Maybe Airbnb are only recommending the switch to people who use channel managers and who are marketing to the whole panoply of OTAs?
I sense that Airbnb are caught in a cleft stick. They are losing the battle for a distinct pricing methodology. Every other OTA that matters works on a gross price to the potential guest with commission or service fee, whatever you want to call it, deductible when paying the property. I have to conclude from our experience that Airbnb has lost the battle and should really switch all of its client hosts to the service fee inclusive pricing. Giving hosts the option is a recipe for disaster if the website is responding to searches according to price in an area.
The whole matter reminds me of the Betamax versus VHS war in the 1980s where Sony finally had to pull the plus on its videotaping standard, even though its was technically better. Betamax died a death because Sony didn't have the courage to drop it sooner. Perhaps a better analogy would be the battle between standard gauge and broad gauge railway track in the UK back in the nineteenth century. Brunel's Great Western had a gauge of 7 feet and 1/4 inch whereas standard gauge was 4 feet 8 and 3/4 inches. Everyone loved travelling on Mr Brunel's "billiard table" as the track from London to Bristol was affectionately known by some. But the railway company that was his legacy lost the standards war. On one weekend in the 1890s navvies from London to Penzance changed the whole mainline from broad gauge to standard gauge. The Directors of GWR bit the bullet. Maybe that is what the bosses at Airbnb should do with its pricing strategy?
@Mark116 This is a fresh reply that hopefully won't be removed as inappropriate content before you read it. I am sure you are right. IMHO, Airbnb is losing out to the other OTAs who work on gross pricing for the guests without the complicated service fee to the guest and fee to the host. If you go to Settings, Pricing and Payment, Service Fee you will see Airbnb recommend –yes, recommend – gross pricing as opposed to the classic net price with guest and host service fees added. With local Value Added Tax on the service fee many of our guests aren't quite sure what they are paying.
We have now ignored Airbnb's recommendation and re-set our pricing as net of their guest service fee. Immediate test show that we are more visible on searches. I still believe that when we switched to a channel manager some algorithm in Airbnb's system reduced the number of serious searches we got. It is either that or paranoia on my part.
@Ian323 I agree with @Mark116, unless an entire platform uses the same pricing structure, those whose pricing appears high, simply because the guest fees are included, will be at a disadvantage. Most guests aren't thorough readers, they tend to look at base prices and pretty pictures and might totally miss reading that your price includes guest fees.
I read your post before I replied to Mark116 who makes a similar point about how Airbnb orders properties in a search. You add the thought that how guests interpret pricing is as important. Most marketers would surely agree with you that people searching for properties in an area will psychologically overlook notes that about service fee inclusive. Besides a lot of Aibnb guests have trouble understanding what they are paying for, particularly when you have to factor in as well local taxes - 15% Value Added Tax on the service fee but usually not on the accommodation fee here in the UK.
Do please read my analogies and interpretation of the situation Airbnb finds itself in that are in the reply to Mark116's post. The difference between tangible and intangible assets is that when you switch the railway to another gauge you will have all the infrastructure, apart from the locomotives and rolling stock. In this digital world what does any company have if it holds out against the power of network effects? For how long will hosts remain loyal to a system that can't make up its mind how it wants to treat pricing?
Thank you for helping me to understand.
@Mark116 @Sarah977 @Nina75 I have just posted replies to you, the three people above in this discussion who have bothered to respond to my request, only to see my replies disappear, apparently as 'Inappropriate content'. This is bizarre. I have been challenging Airbnb's approach to service fee inclusive pricing and its shortcomings for our property and business. Why are these postings considered 'inappropriate'?
Why have all three polite appropriate and logical replies been reported and removed as 'Inappropriate content'. Maybe what I am saying is too close to the truth?
Would someone who knows please tell me what is going on?
@Ian323 Were you notified by the moderators that your posts were marked as inappropriate content? They wouldn't be removed simply because you were critical of Airbnb policies- we have a lot of latitude here and there aren't many shrinking-violet hosts here who are afraid to speak their minds. There are sometimes glitches where posts get inadvertently marked or simply disappear. Perhaps you could ask @Lizzie or @Stephanie, who are moderators here. Just go to the envelope symbol on the top bar of these pages and there you can send them a private message.
@Sarah977 Thanks for that advice, Sarah. You are obviously a regular on this community. All three replies disappeared and I have yet to follow that up. Life is too short so I have moved on and posted fresh, shorter replies. If you read the reply to Mark116 above in the discussion thread you will get the gist of my response to you. Airbnb needs to require everyone to post grow, service-fee-inclusive prices or none at all. If you are right that the systems ignores gross or net and just sees pricing then we have surely lost out on that count. We have now re-set our pricing to the old way – net of service fee – to see if that will make a difference.
As I pointed out to Nina first in the discussion thread. Why should we care? We get almost as much capacity as we can handle from other OTAs. Airbnb's service got us off the ground and we do like reviews, of guests a feature and benefit not found on other online travel operators. So, we would like to continue to have a good source of bookings – guests – from Airbnb.
Hi @Ian323 ,
Sorry to hear your posts have gone walkabout! Sometimes the spam quarantine incorrectly flags content. I will have a look in the filter for you and see if I can retrieve the missing posts.
Maybe you are not getting bookings from Airbnb because you have this on your property description:
Review scores: 9.8/10 on (Website hidden by Airbnb) 4.95/5 on TripAdvisor; 5/5 on (Hidden by Airbnb) and Expedia ...and guests go searching elsewhere for a better deal ?
A quick google of your place name reveals 5 alternative booking places with free cancellation and you have moderate set on Airbnb.