Airbnb hosts are building their own direct booking websites in revolt

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. John vanguard Hasselt | Corbis | Getty Images

short-run rental hosts are banding together and launching their own direct-booking websites in an attempt to diversify their clientele after years of mounting frustration with Airbnb and other short-run rental providers. Some of these websites were already in the works. But many hosts have recently prioritized their own direct-booking websites after a churning past two months, as the coronavirus pandemic spurred widespread cancellations and many grew dysphoric with Airbnb ‘s reimbursement policies. Although these autonomous websites lack the consumer basal that comes with a large avail such as Airbnb, they give hosts more power when it comes to how they trade name and commercialize their properties. Direct-booking websites besides offer hosts an avenue where they can rent their properties to guests at a cheaper monetary value while generating a higher profit than they can when a interlocutor such as Airbnb is involved. additionally, they offer hosts more control over situations where guests request refunds, induce damage or complain about a property, according to numerous short-run lease hosts who spoke with CNBC. competition from these raw direct-booking websites represents the latest challenge for Airbnb, which has endured a sturdy 2020. The company had lined up bankers to lead a public offering, which would test whether Airbnb could live up to its $ 31 billion individual commercialize evaluation from 2017. But as the coronavirus decimated travel around the world, the company alternatively raised $ 2 billion in fresh debt fund at a evaluation of $ 18 billion and announced major cost-cutting initiatives, including plans to lay off 25 % of its staff, or closely 1,900 employees. “ The clasp that Airbnb had a few years ago is no farseeing quite as potent, ” said Henry Harteveldt, travel diligence analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. “ Hosts that are very unhappy with Airbnb have options — not just listing on competitors like HomeAway but having their own independent, free-standing websites. This is a wake-up call. ” A spokesperson for Airbnb said that using the platform offers many benefits that hosts can not get on their own. “ Airbnb is a residential district fueled by reliance and that hope starts with the industry-leading tools we provide every host on our platform : 24/7 customer support, policy and property damage auspices, and exploiter identity verification tools. ”

Seizing control

Gianrené Padilla is among respective Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a way to diversify their commercial enterprise. courtesy of Gianrené Padilla As the coronavirus pandemic spurred lockdowns on travel, Airbnb instituted a policy in March that allowed guests to cancel reservations in April and May for broad refunds, costing some hosts thousands of dollars. Airbnb then reimbursed hosts a share of the payments based on their cancellation policies. But many hosts had lenient policies in place before the pandemic, and consequently received little or no compensation from the company. That inspired many to take matters into their own hands. Gianrene Padilla started his short-run lease business in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in January, and he lists his properties on Airbnb, and HomeAway. He always had plans to launch his own web site, but after seeing Airbnb enact its extenuating circumstances policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he made it a priority. Padilla and his team used Squarespace and their property management software serve Lavanda PMS to build out their web site, which launched on April 23. “ We felt like Airbnb is doing what any rational business owner would do, which is ensure the survival of their company, ” Padilla said. “ That ‘s wholly estimable, but we should do the same for us. ” Alexandra Greenawalt is among several Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a way to diversify their clientele. courtesy of Alexandra Greenawalt In North Palm Beach, Florida, Alexandra Greenawalt found herself having to do a lot of her own marketing to keep her property booked after the coronavirus wiped out the vacation market. As she was already doing so much hustle to keep her property interfering, Greenawalt decided this was the right time to contract a webmaster and build her own web site, which launched on April 27. Greenawalt has been a longtime exploiter of Airbnb, and she became an Airbnb host last year. But after hosting for a year, Greenawalt knew she wanted a way to book her frequent guests at lower rates and without giving Airbnb a cut each meter. The company typically keeps between 14 % and 20 % of each book, plus other fees. “ I do think Airbnb has a stead in my occupation to bring me clients, and I ‘m felicitous to pay them a share, ” Greenawalt said. “ But if people find me organically, I can make a little moment more money on my calculate booking. ” additionally, Greenawalt ‘s Salt+Sea Sanctuary website includes a video tour of her property, a feature that Airbnb does not have. “ You ca n’t have video on there, which is frustrating because a fortune of times people want to visualize what the space is like sincerely, ” she said. Carlos Roman is among respective Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a way to diversify their business.

Courtesy of Carlos Roman Carlos Roman, a San Diego host with about 30 properties, decided to launch his own web site last class after years of haggling with Airbnb over guest complaints that he says cost him thousands of dollars. Having that web site protected Roman ‘s business after Airbnb enforced the extenuate circumstances policy. Although he lost numerous Airbnb-booked reservations, he was able to handle all of his guests who had booked immediately through his web site. With many of them, Roman was able to provide travel credits or rebook their trips for late dates at no cost. For any guests who demanded full refunds, Roman was able to refer them to their sign and keep the sum they had agreed to. “ At least having the control, we were able to be more confident in our put, ” Roman said. “ The biggest benefit was just not losing out 100 %. ” Jim Borthwick is among several Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a way to diversify their business. courtesy of Jim Borthwick

Building alternatives

While some hosts are building their own websites, early hosts are banding together to build alternatives to Airbnb. Jim Borthwick, a short-run rental horde with properties in Indianapolis, Indiana, launched his booking web site in late 2018. The web site is geared toward connecting hosts with properties near conventionality centers with guests who travel frequently for occupation. charges guests a 10 % service fee and charges hosts a nominal fee, Borthwick said. The web site has 50 properties from about a twelve hosts in locations such as Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. Borthwick said he is looking to add more hosts to the booking market. “ Our chief mantra is to have this thing be a web site that ‘s built by hosts for hosts, ” Borthwick said. Na’ím Paymán is among several Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a way to diversify their commercial enterprise. courtesy of Na’ím Paymán In March, short-run lease host Na’im Payman and his team launched, a engagement web site that aggregates properties and allows guests to book rentals without taking a commission from the traveler or the server. Payman is a host himself with 250 properties spread across the United Kingdom. Hosts who use can list for unblock or they can besides purchase Zeevou ‘s distribution channel management software, which helps short-run rental hosts list their properties on multiple services, including Airbnb, or their own web site. That software costs approximately $ 50 per month per unit, but the price varies depending on how many properties you list. “ If you ‘ve been a master of ceremonies the survive two months, you realize that you ‘re not in restraint of your own occupation, ” Payman said. “ This is about giving control spinal column to hosts. That does n’t mean taking control from guests. It ‘s equitable about rebalancing the ability dynamic. ” These sum book websites built by hosts pose a bigger terror to Airbnb than individual websites built by hosts, Harteveldt said. “ If a crowd of hosts get together and put their inventory into their own web site, one that acts more like a collective — the more cities, more properties, more kind in price, the greater the attract of that web site, ” Harteveldt said .

Not all easy

Hosts who choose to build their own websites gain more control over their business, but besides a lot of new work, say hosts. They have to set up their own payment systems, draw up their own lease contracts, and maintain their web site or find person to do it for them. “ It ‘s a snowball of sour, ” Roman said. “ If it ‘s just one person running a business, starting a web site will make it so that you ‘re no longer a one-man shop class. ” Having their own web site besides forces hosts to do their own commercialize. This means hosts much end up buying ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram and Yelp, spending money on electronic mail marketing or evening printing business cards. With websites such as Airbnb, being listed on the service is its own form of free market, hosts said. Polina Raygorodskaya is among several Airbnb hosts who recently launched their own direct-booking websites as a room to diversify their business. courtesy of Polina Raygorodskaya Polina Raygorodskaya has direct-booking websites for her properties in North Conway, New Hampshire, and in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. As separate of her market, she ‘s actively involved in Facebook groups that cater to people who are probably to travel to the regions her properties are in, including groups for nature-lovers and skiers. “ certain, you spend your own clock time market, but you ‘re marketing for yourself, ” Raygorodskaya said.

Despite the drawbacks, hosts say having their own web site is just another tactic to diversify their business and reduce their reliance on Airbnb and early booking sites. “ Airbnb, and any early channel, does n’t provide any sense of identity, ” Padilla said. “ You limit your singularity and your identity in substitution for extra exposure and release market. With our web site, we sacrifice free exposure and free marketing for more exemption. ”

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