Updated: Mar 29, 2021
Why your Airbnb should be listing on multiple booking websites.
Airbnb is a great place for people to begin their holiday rental journey and indeed it is a growing marketplace that attracts millions of guests annually. It is easy to get started and there is a wide community of hosts ready to help if you need advice or guidance with your new business. For those of you who want more out of your Airbnb business, should seriously consider listing on multiple booking websites.
Unless your calendar is completely full of bookings and your price is already higher than that of your competitors, keep reading. By the end of this article you should have an understanding of the different booking websites and the pro's and cons of listing your property across multiple websites and every reason to go ahead and do it. This is not aimed at first time Airbnb hosts but towards people who have been doing it for a while that are looking for other ways of filling up their calendar and improve their business.
“Unless your calendar is completely full of bookings and your price is already higher than that of your competitors, keep reading.”
More channels means more bookings
If you're happy with your current occupancy rate and how much rent you're charging, feel free to continue doing what you're doing. This article isn't meant for everyone and it has been written specifically for people looking to get more out of their Airbnb business and take the all important first step towards having complete control.
Booking channels like Airbnb have broken down a major barrier to entry for a lot of hosts that they would have struggled to overcome. Before Airbnb, you would have to do all of your own marketing and customer acquisition which made it much harder to start your own holiday rental business.
Now that Airbnb takes care of all of that for you, it is much more feasible for a lot of people to list their property for rent and start attracting guests straight away. However, that only goes so far and after a while you will find that your occupancy rate will level out well below the 90% goal you should all be aiming for.
Listing across multiple booking sites such as booking.com, Homeaway (Stayz), Expedia, Tripadvisor, Flipkey to name a few are a great way to help you to push yourself towards that 90% occupancy rate you really want to help you to get the most out of your holiday rental business.
Why do extra booking channels mean more bookings?
Surprise! Not every traveller in the world uses Airbnb. For those of us in the community, that may be a shock but it is true. Simply by having your listing on other platforms where non airbnb travellers are looking is the best way to find new guests and fill up your calendar.
To illustrate this point numerically, consider the statistics below provided by similarweb.com. The image below shows Airbnb.com and it's subsidiaries as having 80 Million visitors every month. That is a lot of guests looking for accommodation and if you click the image, you can check out some of the other statistics about Airbnb including their ranking in different countries and categories.
Although Airbnb's 80 Million monthly visitors is impressive, it is nothing compared to the 448 Million monthly visits that booking.com receives. That is more than 5 times the amount of visitors compared to Airbnb so as you can see, Airbnb has a long way to go until they are even close to matching booking.com. Even if Airbnb catches up to booking.com, there are still going to be people who use one or the other and you shouldn't be missing out on those eyeballs. Eyeballs equal bookings, keep that in mind.
Although traditionally booking.com has been set up for hotels more than stand alone apartments, they have for some time now allowed people to list their own properties in much the same way as Airbnb does. Their technology is still geared towards hotels but it still works just as well as Airbnb for finding guests.
If you consider adding your listing to booking.com as well as Airbnb. you will be exposed to over 6 times the amount of eyeballs and remember, eyeballs equal bookings.
Where are your guests coming from?
Another thing that you should consider is the location of your guests or the majority of tourists that visit your local area, not just your place. I know the Gold Coast, has a significant portion of overseas visitors every year 19.4% of all overnight visitors are from overseas (You can see the full stats here). Also consider that a significant number of international tourists visit from Asia and Europe which don't necessarily use Airbnb as heavily as domestic and American tourists do. When you consider macro economical factors such as the falling Australian dollar compared to many Asian countries, it would be ridiculous not to capitalise on the influx of overseas tourists searching for places to stay here on the Gold Coast or elsewhere in Australia.
If your listing isn't on the websites that tourists are using, how are they supposed to find you? Remember eyeballs equal bookings.
Doesn't booking.com charge more?
This is a really common objection I get when we tell our clients that we are going to list their property on booking.com as well as Airbnb and it is sometimes difficult to explain.
The answer is No, Airbnb costs just as much as booking.com when you break down the numbers and consider the whole picture.
Airbnb is a great advocate of the fact that they only charge hosts 3-5% of the rent as their booking fee which in isolation is amazing. However, if you have recently booked anything on Airbnb as a guest, you would have noticed an additional service fee is attached to the total price of the booking. This service fee is usually between 11-14% of the rent depending on location. As a general rule, the total % ends up at about 15% or very close to it.
Now a lot of people look at that and think that's fine, I still only pay 3-5% so it is still better for me to be on Airbnb, right?
At best they're on even ground before you consider the larger audience (Monthly viewers) of booking.com compared to Airbnb. Eyeballs equal bookings.
I'll use my favourite example to illustrate my point.
You have an igloo that you rent out for travellers. You know it is worth some money per night but you don't know exactly what that is. You know it is a steal at $100/night, amazing at $150/night, fair at $200/night and extortion at $250/night. Everybody goes through this process when they start out.
Over time, you find out that the type of guests that are attracted to stay in your igloo are most happy with what they get paying $200/night. At that price, your guests are happy, your occupancy rate is high and they see the value for money so they leave great reviews. In other words, they think it is good value for money.
Now let's consider two examples of where you list your property on Airbnb and Booking.com.
In one case, you list your property on Airbnb at $200/night. That means that after every night it is booked, you make $194, great. However, your guests are paying $224/night which is more than they what they would really like to pay for what they get and their perception of value for money goes down.
Two things will happen, first your reviews will be less glamorous and people will begin making comments about the quality of the listing for what they paid. Second, your occupancy rate will drop because people aren't willing to pay the extra money for your igloo.
In the second example, you list your property on booking.com for $200/night which means you're earning $170/night (less money in your pocket). Guests come and stay and as you had found out, they are really happy to have paid that amount of money to stay in your igloo. Your reviews are amazing and your occupancy rate remains nice and high because you are correctly targeting the price point of your market.
Consider the third option where everything evens out. You list your property on Airbnb at $178.5/night and on booking.com for $200/night the guest always pays the same amount that they are happy with and you end up with the same amount of money in your pocket (Or very close for the math wizards out there) every night your igloo is booked.
I like to use this example to help explain the bigger picture of the different fee structure of Airbnb and booking.com. It doesn't really matter who pays for the commission, as long as you're hitting your perfect price point to maximise occupancy rates and guest satisfaction. In other words, you can add the difference to your listing on Booking.com so you earn the same amount, the guest pays the same amount and the booking channel takes their cut.
Some people still argue that an extra $24 isn't much extra to pay and that guests won't even flinch at the difference and that may be true for a 1 night stay. However, when you consider a 4 or 5 night stay, the extra $100-$125 becomes significant and you could see why some price conscious guests may not book your igloo and go find another one instead.
At the risk of beating this topic to death i'll give one final quick example, consider the situation where you're driving down the road looking for fuel. You find two service stations on either side of the road. One advertises fuel for $1.00/litre (Wouldn't that be a dream) and the other has fuel advertised for $1.12/litre. Which one has a line of cars out onto the street to save a couple of dollars?
Why doesn't everyone do it?
Most people don't list on multiple platforms because they have simply never considered doing it and if they have, they believe it is too hard and they will just stick to what they are doing.
There is some truth to that, things do become more involved and you need to be aware of them before you go and list your property across multiple booking websites.
If you have read this far, I'm guessing that you're actually keen to help grow your Airbnb business and you're serious about making the most out of it. You've only got 365 days in a year so you need to make sure that you're doing everything possible to make sure that you book as many of those nights as possible.
Like I said, Eyeballs equal bookings.
What you need to know before you list on multiple booking websites
Before you jump right in, let's go over the basics of listing on multiple platforms. If you're reading through this and I missed anything or you want more clarification, leave a comment below and I'll make an addition or give some extra info in another article.
Remember when you signed up to Airbnb, they asked you to make sure your calendar is always up to date? It is OK if you don't, but the reason they ask is that it is one of the worst things to happen as a traveller to book you accommodation only to find out that it isn't available. They're left scrambling to find a new place to stay and they may not be able to which can be a real downer on your holiday plans. It happened to me once and definitely made the start of our holiday less enjoyable than I would have liked.
If you're only listed on Airbnb, this is fairly easy to avoid. Simply make sure if a guest wants to extend that you make those dates unavailable on your calendar as quickly as possible and only confirm the extension once it is done. However, things get a bit tricky when you have multiple booking channels in addition to Airbnb, you need to keep you calendars updated on all websites every time a new booking comes in or is cancelled. Doing that manually is a horrible way to spend your day and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Double booking can also be an expensive mistake because if you have to cancel a booking through any of the channels, you will most likely have to cover the difference for the guest to stay elsewhere or pay a penalty, not to mention suffering a hit to your ranking in search results on that platform.
There is a simple way to stay on top of your bookings which is called a calendar sync, or an iCal link. This is a simple link between your calendars on the different platforms so every time something changes, the other calendars are updated. Different booking channels have different links and they all work a bit differently. Some update instantly, others update periodically an it is important to understand how each one works.
one you know how the synchronisations work, it is simple to set them up. If you want to know more about how to do it, send me an email and I'll be more than happy to help.
Different booking channels have different payment methods and if you're used to the way that Airbnb does payments, it may take you a while to adjust to the way other platforms do it. Booking.com will take credit card payments from guests in most countries (Including Australia) however, in other countries they still require you to take manual payments which can be a pain, especially if the credit card declines. The other difference between Airbnb and Booking.com is when you get paid. If booking.com is taking credit card payments, then they hold the money until the following month and pay it all out on a month by month basis. The exact timing can vary depending on where you are but as a general rule, you should receive the previous months payment by the 15th of the next month.
Fees & Pricing
Like in the example I showed above, different booking channels offer different commission rates and have different fee structures that can be confusing. It is important to understand how the fees work and what exactly you have to pay and how. Understanding the fees is really important to be able to set your prices competitively to make sure you keep your occupancy rates high without losing any money.
Be sure to always list in your home currency. We have made the mistake in the past of listing in USD instead of AUD. Every time our currencies fluctuated, we would either lose bookings because our price was too high or lose money because our price was too low. By pricing in your home currency, you are less susceptible to the fluctuations. However, you should keep an eye on the fluctuations because if the AUD is performing strongly internationally, your prices will begin to look expensive to international guests. On the other hand, if the Aussie dollar plummets, overseas travellers will see it as a bargain. This is a good place to start looking if your occupancy rate changes significantly. There is some software available called price labs that helps you to set competitive prices automatically so you never have to manually update them.
If you want to sign up to a certain booking platform and you need to know more about the fees or you want help setting your prices, let me know in the comments below and I will be able to answer your questions.
Booking and cancellation policies
Make sure if you're listing on a new booking channel to pay attention to the settings you choose for cancellation and bookings. Try to keep your policies consistent across platforms so that you don't get confused if someone asks.
I wrote an article here that talks about the importance of high quality photography that mentions the correct sizing and quality of photos to use on Airbnb. Be mindful hat this may not apply directly to other platforms and be sure to check the guidelines for the platform that you want to list on.
Communication and response time is really important to ensuring good reviews and guest satisfaction. Each booking channel has their own way of doing things, some are via email others in an app or online instant messages. Make sure you know how you get messages and be sure to stay on top of them to keep yourself up to date all the time.
One of the great things about Airbnb is the cover they offer if in the unlikely case that someone does the wrong thing in your place and causes damage. It worth noting that if you read the Airbnb terms and conditions, this host cover is not actually an insurance policy and as such is not governed by the same legislation. Although it does offer up to $1Million in cover, it is up to their discretion if they pay out and how much they pay out.
We strongly recommend that all of our clients take out an insurance policy that covers their property for short term rentals. Currently there aren't many that offer this service, I am aware of only two, Terri Scheer and one other. If you already have home and contents or landlord insurance, make sure you check with the provider to see if you're covered for short term rentals as most policies won't pay out for short term insurance.
If you're using other platforms in addition to Airbnb, they may not have the same host cover and it is essential that you have a policy to stay safe. I found competitive quotes through BJS Insurance Brokers when compared to normal landlord insurance, the difference was nominal.
How many listings do you have?
If you have multiple listings it can become difficult to keep track of them across multiple booking channels and we would advise that you find a channel manager (Software) to help keep your bookings and messages all in one place. If you want help with anything to do with listing on multiple booking channels, get in contact with us here and one of our friendly team members will be more than happy to help you through the process.
Which booking channels should you use?
A big part of me wants to say all of them but there are hundreds of different channels out there that you could use so sticking to the main ones is usually the best option. For our clients, we make sure that we list their property across at least three booking channels and normally more.
Every one of our listings is on these three channels:
These three are the bare minimum that we recommend and we normally have a consultation with our clients to find out what other platforms would suit their purposes and their listing before adding others.
Be aware that some platforms have a minimum number of listings before you can list which is why having a management company can be a great option to help you to list on as many of the major channels as possible if you have less than their minimum number. It is well worth considering which channels will be right for you before going through the process of listing your property.
Make sure you consider things such as:
Popularity. Like we spoke about previously, the two most popular booking channels for western countries are Airbnb and booking.com. The best way to determine the popularity of a particular booking channel is to visit this website and search for the website of booking the channel you're interested in. Each channel is ranked by popularity in different countries which is also an important thing to note.
Guest demographic. Consider who your target guests are and which platform they are likely to use. If you want to attract Asian tourists, consider Jalan.net which is the third most popular accommodation website in the world receives 36 Million monthly visits from Japanese eyeballs. One thing to be aware of if you're advertising on a foreign platform that you should consider having your listing translated into the local language to increase the appeal.
Fee structure. Just because Airbnb and booking.com charge 15% that doesn't mean they all do. Some charge much less, especially the smaller ones that focus on a niche market.
Local knowledge. Although Airbnb and booking.com are very popular across the western world, it is important to find any edge you can in your domestic market. Find any smaller platforms that service your domestic market and make sure you're listed there
Niche markets. If your holiday home has a unique aspect such as luxury or pet friendly accommodation, make sure you seek out the websites that service your niche. Think holidaypaws.com.au if your place is pet friendly. People will normally pay more to bring along their furry friend so make sure you capitalise on your strengths
I am putting together a step by step tutorial like the one I did for Airbnb on how to list your property on other listing platforms so please leave a comment below to let me know which of the booking platforms you would like to use most so I get to that one first.
The ultimate goal
The goal of this is always to increase your revenue by filling up your calendar with the most bookings possible. By increasing your exposure to a larger pool of eyeballs, you will most definitely increase your bookings. Maximising your occupancy rate is always the first step we take with our clients and this is how we do it. Only once we have achieved our target occupancy rates do we begin the process of increasing the offering to guests to increase the yield per booking.
This article should have given you a good idea of how to achieve that but like most things, it can be easier said than done. If you want help with any of the information in this article or anything to do with your Airbnb business, please don't hesitate to get contact me via email and I will be happy to help you.
P.S. If you're looking to take your Airbnb earnings to the next level and implement the same strategies the big hotels have been using for years to dominate the market...
Thanks for reading, Jack Murphy.