Editor's Blog

Battle of the tech giants, Airbnb versus Expedia and Booking.com

It is a favourite pastime in the hotel industry to lament the often extortionate fees and commission levied by the OTAs on hoteliers, but most concede that they are a necessary evil, improving occupancy rates even if average room rates take a hit. Technology moves so fast it is hard to know how or when the dynamics might shift, but Airbnb’s latest announcement is worth digesting. The home-letting platform has penned an open letter to boutique hotel and B&B owners in an attempt to bring more of them onto its platform.

Announcing its plans to try and diversify away from the private residence lettings that dominate its listings today, the letter, titled ‘Airbnb is for everyone: An open letter from Airbnb to boutique hotel and B+B owners’, called for independent hoteliers to advertise, claiming it is a cheaper alternative to travel agents Expedia and Booking whose 30% fees are “too high”.

Airbnb had commissioned independent research firm David Binder Research to interview owners and managers of traditional B&Bs, inns and boutique hotels to gauge the state of the market prior to the letter. Some 49 hoteliers shared their insights with the research firm finding that half of the respondents have used Airbnb in the last 12 months to list properties, and 65% said that they would be more likely to use Airbnb after learning that it charges a maximum fee of 5% to all hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts.

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It also found that the majority of respondents said that Airbnb’s new tools to list and manage rooms would make them more likely to use it. I would welcome your comments and letters on what this may mean for your business. Is it a compelling proposition or simply another OTA to worry about? Would you shift entirely off the likes of Expedia and Booking.com if consumer take-up was wide-reaching enough?

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