British aversion to Airbnb?

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

British aversion to Airbnb?

Just an observation which piqued my interest... 

 

Our Airbnb is in Mallorca, and although Mallorca is popular with Brits, it's pretty rare that we receive British guests. It's not a big deal, we're rather well booked year round, with roughly 99% from Europe or North America, and the vast majority come from Airbnb. It's not a criticism, just an observation. 

 

One could argue that a country villa just isn't a "British" thing, but if you look closer, that isn't necessarily the case. 

 

So, I've looked at the British travel forums to see where the "sweet spot" is, and surprisingly observed that many Brits do in fact seek "non resort hotel" accommodation, but one rather disturbing trend which seems to be uniquely British is that in addition to Airbnb's competition like VRBO, many Brits seek STRs on really obscure villa rental websites that often turn out to be scams.  It's a common complaint on British travel forums.

 

When people ask about villa rentals on UK travel sites (e.g. TripAdvisor), it's rare that anyone suggests Airbnb (which incidentally has the largest catalogue of villas on Mallorca, by orders of magnitude).

 

Instead, people recommend VRBO or Booking.com or more often, other obscure websites like "Joe's villas" (i just made that name up). And if anyone mentions Airbnb, there's often a barrage of comments suggesting that most Airbnbs are scams (which in practice, couldn't be farther from the truth). 

 

As for hosting here, it's a foregone conclusion that you need at least to be listed on Airbnb, because they deliver the bookings, even though there's some "issues" with Airbnb hosting. And that's why they have the largest catalogue of STRs here. And if a guest is looking for a place here, Airbnb (or VRBO or booking.com) really should be their first stop. They have a reputation to protect. 

 

Yet VRBO isn't well known (in mallorca) bookings are few, so many hosts just aren't listed with them. Booking.com is popular, but mainly for hotels and flights and things. Also a bit dangerous for hosts, since you can't screen guests. you have to take what they give you, so many hosts don't list with them either. 

 

So, what's the story? Are Brits uniquely averse to Airbnb for some reason? If so, why? In my experience, it's hugely popular with everybody else. 

 

Just curious. 

24 Replies 24
Trude0
Level 10
Stockholm County, Sweden

@Elaine701 : Hope you don’t mind if I ”hijack” this thread:

 

Does anyone get Norwegian guests?

 

I’m Norwegian, but living/hosting in Sweden. Lots of Swedes visit Stockholm of course, but I’ve only had 1 group out of about 60. I get more Finns and Danes (population and travelling distance = approx. the same).


Again I wonder, if it is my listing that does not particilarly attract Norwegians, or if Norwegians tend to use Airbnb less than many other nationalities? 

Mariann4
Level 10
Bergen, Norway

I hardly attract Swedes @Trude0 😅

I've had one group from Sweden. They turned out to be Cszech. I however have had quite a few groups either studying in Sweden taking the oportunity to see Scandinavia. Or about to start studies or taking a long detour home after studies in Sweden. But no actual Swedes.

Quincy
Community Manager
Community Manager
London, United Kingdom

Hi @Trude0, I hope you're well 😊

 

According to the info I have at hand from the last 3 months, there were under <1000 bookings from both guests from Finland and Norway. 

 

Here's a list from where most guests came from when they booked a trip to Sweden. 

 

1. Sweden

2. Germany

3. United States

4. France

5. Great Britain

6. The Netherlands

7. Italy

8. Spain

9. Switzerland

10. Finland

11. Norway 

 

I hope this helps!

 

Quincy 

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Trude0
Level 10
Stockholm County, Sweden

@Quincy Thanks for sharing, interesting!

 

I can share my own statistics from Oct-Jan + bookings for Feb-March:

 

Germany: 3

United States: 1

France: 1

The Netherlands: 1

Dubai: 1 (but guest does not seem to be native UAE)

 

(And then I recently had a booking from a Swiss couple, but gave them the option to cancel and find somewhere else, as I've had issues with the water pressure in the shower, and did not want to risk them being unhappy.)

 

Finland and Norway are of course the smallest (in population) of the mentioned countries, Denmark (not in your list) around the same size. So quite logical that they would be low on the list. Still, I normally get some Swedes, Danes and Finns, but hardly any Norwegians. Oh well.

 

It does not seem that Norwegians are more negative towards Airbnb than Swedes, Danes and Finns - based on the input from @Elaine701

 

 

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Trude0 @Huma0 @Mike-And-Jane0 

 

We've had a number of Norwegian guests who've booked on Airbnb. Swedish, Danish and Finnish too. Not uncommon. 

 

Actually we get quite a mix of various nationalities from all over the world, although Germans are the most dominant guest nationality we receive. 

 

I sense it's naturally proportional to the overall slice of tourism each nationality holds (Germans are statistically the largest, though north America has been growing rapidly in the past 2 years, both statistically and in terms of our bookings).

 

Except for Brits, which statistically hold a larger share of the tourism market here than say, Norwegians yet outside of the popular British resorts, are rarely heard or seen (and very seasonal - the British resorts here are mostly closed up from November through March).  While that suggests some sort of cultural aversion or insularity, as I mentioned previously, it also appears to be influenced by British media to some extent (particularly with respect to Airbnb, which is the overwhelmingly dominant platform for STRs here). 

 

Still, I don't sense Norwegians or Scandinavians in general exhibit any aversion to Airbnb or STRs. In fact, it appears as though continental Europeans in general tend to dominate the market here (although again, North Americans seem to be steadily increasing their share). 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

I've seen a huge increase in guests from the USA in the past year. I always had a lot of American guests when I still did short stays, but since I switched to long stays, I only had the one every now and again. In the past year, that has definitely changed.

 

Not counting a repeat guest that books with me direct, and a couple, also repeat guests, coming for a short stay, I've hosted 16 long term Airbnb guests in the past year. Nine of those were American.

 

To give you a comparison, I think I've only hosted 3 or 4 long term American guests since I started in 2016, whereas I can't even count the Brits who have come for long stays. There have been so many. However, this past year, I've only had one Brit. There's been a real shift.

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Huma0 

 

You're not alone. Americans seem to be travelling to Europe in droves right now.

 

Especially to Mallorca. 10 years ago, most Americans had never heard of Mallorca, but over the past decade, many prominent American celebrities have been either filming here, visiting regularly, and/or buying homes here, and post about it on social media, which naturally spreads like wildfire. So the visibility is much higher now. It's become a somewhat "hip" destination for Americans. 

 

We've had more Americans booked in 2022 than in our entire history. An American guest just checked out yesterday in fact. And so far, even more American bookings for 2023!

 

Yet, despite the 2 or 3 resort towns (seasonally) popular with Brits (e.g., Magaluf), we've never had many bookings from Brits, which is why I'm curious about it. 

 

So, aside from an overall increase in tourism here (except for Brits), the most obvious shift seems to be lots more Americans  -Airbnb is very popular with the yanks, and so far, they've been really good guests. So you won't hear me complaining about it 😉

Dora486
Level 10
Frigiliana, Spain

Hi there, we’re also in Spain and I’d say about 40% of our guests are from the UK.  The rest are from all over, USA, Canada, South Korea, Northern Europe.  We started off with mainly Spanish guests but that was during Covid times, it’s rare now, I think they’re travelling further afield.   

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Dora486 

 

Yes well, Brits in Costa del Sol ... no surprise there! 

 

But do Brits book your place on Airbnb or mostly on other platforms like booking.com? 

 

 

Dora486
Level 10
Frigiliana, Spain

Ha ha, we’re hardly a typical Brits Abroad or Bargain Hunting Brits type destination as we’re in a little inland village.  No kiss me quick hats here.

 

We only use Airbnb so can’t comment on other booking sites.  It’s been very successful for us and I’ve been a superhost since we started.

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Dora486 

 

Well, it seems some Brits are booking on Airbnb. 

 

My interest was piqued because not only do we host few Brits, but so many Brits seem to book on obscure internet sites which often turn out to be scams ...and money gone. Unnecessarily. And I suspect that for Brits, those experiences may influence the British opinion of STRs in general (just speculating) 

 

Airbnb is far from perfect, but outright scams are pretty rare, and Airbnb does at least get your money back when it does happen (and is famously guest-favouritist in most other ways). 

 

And for hosts in our patch, if you're not listed on Airbnb, then you're likely struggling for bookings to some extent. So, Airbnb is the first place hosts list here. Everything else is just ancillary, backup. And that explains why Airbnb has by far the largest catalogue of places (in this patch anyway). 

 

Yet Airbnb consistently gets some pretty nasty press in UK tabloids, which I presume scares many Brits away. 

 

...and precious few nice words for Airbnb on the UK travel forums too. Yet ironically, those same people often recommend those obscure little websites... 

 

(?) 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

My repeat long term guest is from Lisbon. I've travelled there many times for work over the past few years, and noticed in more recent years that there were a lot of American tourists (the Madonna effect), but then I was staying at a hotel near downtown in a touristy area. 

 

My guest says now there are Americans everywhere, not just downtown and in the popular spots, but in every local cafe in residential areas. I have no idea though if those people are staying in Airbnbs, but it's interesting that they are staying not just in the spots where you find a lot of hotels. 

 

I wonder if there is somewhere we can see statistics, e.g. a breakdown of Airbnb bookings by nationality...

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Huma0 

 

I understand that Portugal is a magnet for American pensioners. I know one American couple that are set to move there as soon as they hit retirement age. Apparently the retirement visa conditions are very favourable for Americans. 

 

Perhaps many of the Americans you find there are actually resident (?) 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

Ah, that might be true, but I am guessing we are then talking more about people retiring to the Algarve and other coastal resort regions. In Lisbon, I noticed a lot of American tourists of all ages, but mostly a bit younger (30s, 40s). I will ask my Portuguese guest but she's in Paris at the moment.

Trude0
Level 10
Stockholm County, Sweden

Interesting topic.

 

My listing is a tinyhouse/guest house on my property, in a suburb 20 min from Stockholm. I think many choose to book it either to have easy access to nature (woods, lake etc at a few minutes’ walking distance), or just to be in a calm location close to Stockholm. I’ve hosted around 60 stays, and only one group were Brits.

 

I’ve been assuming that what my listing offers, is just not that interesting to most Brits. 

But it could of course also be that Brits don’t book via Airbnb in general, no matter what type of listing.

Mariann4
Level 10
Bergen, Norway

I'm in Norway's second biggest city @Elaine701 . I've hosted for eight years going into my nineth. We see quite a few Brits over here. And we are one of the closest markeds towards GB being on the west coast of the country.

 

I've had ONE group of Brits during my hosting career. Three very sweet, very young, guys taking the last vacation as a group of besties after leaving school to start different universities. 

 

But they are here. I don't know where they stay. A family member used to be a receptionist in a city center hotel. Didn't get much Brits there either.... 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

My listings are in the UK, and private rooms in a homeshare, so obviously completely different to yours. However, a lot of Brits from elsewhere in the UK do visit London, especially for weekends, theatre, shopping etc as well as for business trips. When I was still doing short stays with a one or two night minimum, I did get a few of these, but they never made up a large proportion compared to American, Asian and European guests.

 

Since I switched to long term stays, meaning the majority of my guests are not holiday makers but coming for business or study, again, I do get some Brits, but they are a minority. These days, if I get a UK based guest, it is usually one who is either relocating/in between homes or a student coming for an internship. I haven't worked out the percentage they make up, but I know it's a small number (except for during the first 1.5 years of the pandemic, during which time they were pretty much my only guests).

 

I had never considered your question before. All my friends here seem quite familiar with Airbnb and I know some of them have used it (not always resulting in good experiences), but I would have to ask to see how most of them feel about it as they always ask me about hosting, but don't generally talk about their guest experiences. That leads me to think that they don't use it much. One of my friends though has always said she prefers VRBO and doesn't bother with Airbnb.

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

'@Elaine701 I dont think Airbnb advertises a huge amount in the UK (or if they do I don't see the ads). They also are not very smart in that they allow their biggest whole home competitor (cottages.com) to advertise on Airbnb which suggests they  have given up competing.

I think the British Pschye prefers the upmarket sounding sites like Cottages.com or Sykes cottages than Airbnb which seems to have a younger demographic. add to that the bad press Airbnb gets in a certain newspaper  and I guess I see why.

Interesting to hear other views.

Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

Airbnb advertises extensively in the UK @Mike-And-Jane0 

 

Online, on advertising hoardings on national TV and on radios etc in the UK .

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Helen3 

 

I have to say I haven't seen a great deal of Airbnb advertising here in general of late, but it does frequently pop up if I am using YouTube. As I don't usually watch or give a 'like' to videos about STR, holidays etc. I wonder if the algorithm on YouTube is picking up something else, or it's just targeting as many people as possible with those ads.

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