Airbnb and freetobook

Airbnb connecting to hotelsIn an open letter this week to boutique hotel and B&B owners, Airbnb have just announced that going forward they want to ensure that small business owners have access to their community of travelers. Airbnb has always been a favourite of thousands of freetobook customers; over the years a large number have registered with Airbnb and use it as a great source of bookings. It’s good news that small hotels, bed and breakfasts and unique properties are now officially recognised and welcome to the Airbnb site.

Freetobook has always been a supporter of unique, independent, interesting and diverse accommodation; these are values we share with Airbnb, so its no surprise to us that so many of our customers enjoy bookings from them. Together we celebrate and support diversity, uniqueness and personal hospitality; after all, despite our size we too are a family business passionate about our customers and what you do.

There is another reason we support Airbnb for our customers. Over the past years the big OTAs have gotAirbnb API connection bigger, they continue to grow, and their commissions are cripplingly high to so many small businesses. Compared to the OTAs Airbnb has a far lower commission to accommodation owners, which gives you a welcome choice.

At freetobook we support diversity of bookings, encouraging our customers not to have all their eggs in one basket and to be over reliant on one big OTA. Airbnb is a competitor of the large OTAs and therefore an additional independent source of bookings that can help make the booking environment healthier with more players.

Thousands of freetobook customers already list on Aribnb and update their availability using our iCal feature. We are in discussions to enrich the functionality of our connection with Airbnb and help our customers get even more out of the Airbnb connection. Further news of this will be announced in the future.

Now that they are expanding their customer base to include boutique hotels and B&Bs, Airbnb are looking for new properties to list. If you’re interested in lower commission and diversifying your booking sources, check out Airbnbs list of standards to make sure it’s the right fit for you and your property. Airbnb are selective about the properties they include so you should read their creteria before registering (see 1 below)

If you are interested in becoming an Airbnb customer (or already are one) you can link your availability from your freetobook diary (you can only do this after you have an Airbnb listing).

Just to recap:

  1. First you need an Airbnb account, check Airbnb criteria here
  2. If you fit their requirments then request an account as a professional listing “hotel”.
  3. After requesting an account Airbnb will check if you meet their criteria and approve or reject your request.
  4. Once you have an Airbnb account you can update your availability using freetobook iCal

23 thoughts on “Airbnb and freetobook

    1. Hi Felicia, at this time its just an iCal connection which works for thousands of propeties but a better connection would be great. If you want, please feel free to prod Airbnb to improve the connection with freetobook. We are doing our best to move them in this direction as we are sure it is better for so many of our freetobook customers and Airbnb too !!

  1. Does this mean that there is now a two way link updating both calendars as with other OTA’s (Booking.com Laterooms)?
    It has been a problem to date keeping Airbnb updated, so if this saves any further confusions I will be happy to use the service.

    1. Hi Peter, at this time there is just an iCal link. As we say in the blog we are working to get a full two way connection as good as the other OTAs but this is in the hands of Airbnb – if you want, please feel free to prod them to improve the connection with freetobook. We are doing our best to move them in this direct as we are sure it is better for so many of our customers and Airbnb too !!

      1. Looking into joining Airbnb through FTB as we already have the channel manager working with Booking.com/Late Rooms.
        When you update Ical, does it update the main calendar we currently use or do I have to run with two calendars.
        Want to avoid double bookings!

  2. How much is the airbnb commission? The guest also pays a commission to airbnb, do our prices have to reflect this extra payment? We’d appreciate a lot more information, this blog is very vague.

    1. Hi, You set the prices on Airbnb, that is upto you, you could make your rates to them lower knowing that your commission is lower but its up to you. Airbnb commission to the property is 3-5% and they charge the guest a service fee which varies, rougly 9-12% (they tend to charge a lower % service fee if the booking is higher value but its their alrorithm that sets their service fee so we don’t have exact figures). Hope that helps answer your questions.

    2. This is the big difference that is not mentioned at all here. Airbnb charge 14% on top of your rate to the person booking your accommodation. It is very vague – it “apparently” varies from 5 – 15% and the only information I can find on this is that it depends on the value of the. Poking. However all bookings I have had through them have been 14% and ones I have booked up to 18%. This is not unusual for this type of OTA but just bare it in mind.

      1. Yes you are right the service charge percentage is opaque. I do also agree that it depends mostly on the value of the booking (a high value booking with be charged a lower percentage) but there may be other factors.

  3. Hello. I currently use Freetobook, bookings done directly from my website and Booking.com, which works very well and no worry with double bookings. Which is why I have not advertised with Airbnb to date. I have just looked and it still does not seem possible to add them as another channel.
    I think I would be interested in working with Airbnb if there was a way to link all together to avoid any double bookings etc.

    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Julia

    1. Yes we are pushing Airbnb to hurry up with a full connection, that said we do have thousands of customers using the ical to update Airbnb. Its really up to you and what you are comfortable with. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. We currently have one listing with Airbnb and update our Freetobook calendar manually. Airbnb’s listing format is that a listing is for one unit. If you have, say, 4 units you need to have 4 listings. Will the new classification as a “professional hotel” change to accommodate more than one room?

    1. That is a very good question and I don’t know the answer to that. It has also been in the back of my mind to try and find out. One thing some original Airbnb hosts have been complaining about is hotels listing each room which then makes it look like there is lots of choice when in fact it is all one hotel. So my guess is they will fix this and have it as one listing but I don’t have any evidence of this just now.

  5. We started using Airbnb last year, but only allocate one of our rooms to them, at this stage. The benefit of managing your calendars manually is that you can decide how many rooms you allocate to which OTA, and not have all your eggs in one basket.
    And yes… you decide what rates you charge. There is quite a lot of flexibility. The down side is that payment is made directly by Airbnb, not the guest, 5-7 days AFTER departure, so the money is sitting in Airbnb’s account, gaining interest, not yours! There is no ‘deposit’ system, so if a guest cancels, you are out of pocket. Win on the swings, lose on the roundabouts!

  6. I was with AirBnB or almost 3 years and got precious little from them in that time – certainly less than £1000 in total but even using iCAL you have to manually put in ALL your rates into their system and it honestly takes a lifetime to enter particularly if you have different rates for different days.

    This of course might be resolved by a proper XML link but as Craig has said, posting rates straight off the basic F2B rates template (which is wonderful, by the way) will not work too well since to match rates with elsewhere, will require you discount the standard rates to allow for a matched customer end price.

    I paid AirBnB 3% commission and they took my rates and added 15% to them every time. So if F2B creates an AirBnB price calculator that sits between our standard night rates and an Assumed AirBnB sales price, that would be the way to do it – so you might have 2 Percentage boxes 1 : AirBnB Commission Charged to you [ you can add your % charged] 2 : AirBnB Markup on Standard Rates [you add the standard % markup – assume 15%].

    Example : If your Direct Sales Price is £100 for a room on a specific day, your net price to AirBnB (if 3% commission) is £97. AirBnB take your Direct Sales Price of £100 and add 15%, so the guest pays AirBnB £115.

    I was asked more times than i wanted to why they were paying £115 for a room we would sell direct for £100. They often saw it that it was US ripping them off, and to explain how AirBnB worked was a nightmare and some reviews I got reflected it in a negative way. So the Calculation would need to work backwards from an assumption of having the AirBnB final sales price as close to £100 as possible. I am tired today, but I am sure Craig’s algebra is well up to snuff to work out what your target ‘AirBnB sales price would be £100/1.15 (100+15%) = Sales Price x 0.869565. So, even though your Direct Sales Price is listed as £100 your price to AirBnB would need to be £86.96 from which AirBnB would charge you 3% commission of leaving you with £84.35 nett.

    Compare that with Booking.com’s 15% commission a £100 room would net you £85.00 meaning you are more out of pocket from AirBnB than a comparable Booking.com booking AND AirBnB’s terms are too lenient in favour of the guest where they can routinely cancel on the same day and you only get 50% of your nett rate back. Booking.com would classify a late canceller as a no show and allow you to get full payment on the booking provided you have set your T&C in your favour.

    Finally, I found AirBnB guests feckless in their timekeeping and on more than one occasion guests arrived at 23:30 hrs still expecting to check in – AirBnB pays little heed to Partner T&Cs particularly regarding arrival and for that matter, departure times.

    After too much hassle from one lot of guests, I discontinued using AirBnB in 2016 and the level of work I had to do to get the meagre AirBnB bookings dropped to zero and the ‘lost’ bookings were easily replaced by solid booking.com and Expedia bookings.

    Finally, their guest communications must seemingly be undertaken via the AirBnB portal and so you are forever having to log into it to communicate so you do not miss a message. AirBnB penalise you if you do not reply to queries promply even though many of the queries are specious and often at odds with your Room Offer – it was not unusual for 5 or even 6 persons to arrive at my premises for a 4 person maximum suite and never expect AirBnB to be around to help you resolve that – their partner support is apalling.

    So, if you do get involved with AirBnB bear in mind that your T&Cs will be much weaker as well as your margins and you are on your own to do all the hot-wire style negotiation if there is any breach.

    1. Thanks for your insight Nikki. Some very interesting experiences from a well established B&B. Airbnb pricing will be an issue where a property is listed on Airbnb, the big OTAs and also direct. Nikki is right to say its going to be difficult to have the same prices accross the board especially when we don’t really know exactly how much Airbnb will add to the customer’s bill as a service fee. That said computers are great a doing sums so it should be an easy fix if we all put our minds to it. I also have a feeling Airbnb will hope or plan that properties de-list from the OTAs and go with them exclusively which puts an end to pricing problems on Airbnb vs OTAs.

      It is also interesting to hear that Airbnb customers are different from OTA customers. Given the history and development of Airbnb this is not surprising. The customer base will probably change as Airbnb expands their product their customer base will also change. I imagine this could cause some friction with existing members. Perhaps in the end some few years from now we might expect Airbnb customers to be the same as OTA customers ? We have noticed that the big OTAs are also going for typical Airbnb product so both are going after each others customers and products.

      I do think guest communication has been improved with apps. With an app it is easy to go back and forth with information so it shouldn’t be quite the issue it used to be. That said Nikki has highlighted another difference between OTAs and Airbnb namely who deals with the customer. OTAs handle the communication where Airbnb hosts are expected to do the communication. Many of our customers might prefer it that way but its a key difference.

      We do know of some of our customers who have the majority of their bookings through Airbnb and are happy with it so there are probably some differing views on the OTA vs Airbnb. We think the new competition should be good for everyone and give more choice to customers and properties.

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