Thursday, November 15, 2018
Airbnb Australia’s host and community operations manager Matthew Olson addressing QLD accom managers

What happened when Airbnb met Gold Coast resort managers

Resort News heard from more than 100 accom managers at a marketing masterclass in the Gold Coast last week, where Airbnb unveiled its hope for managers to become hosts. 

At the ‘Explore new avenues to increase your booking revenue’ event, Airbnb and Google explained how accom managers could leverage their platforms in future to gain online bookings. They spoke about guest data, future trends and the future of their companies. 

General audience consensus seemed very positive in response to both talks from Google and Airbnb and there were lots of questions from managers directed at both companies, although Airbnb’s representative did not stay behind for the Q&A.

A show of hands revealed that
some of the accom managers present
(approximately 15-20%)
are already Airbnb hosts 
and some have been
for a few years.

Prior to the speeches, several accom managers at the event told Resort News they felt pressure from both OTAs and Airbnb to lower their rates due to competition.

A common sentiment many of the managers shared with us was that Airbnb hosts outside of the management rights industry were quick to drop their prices without understanding the knock-on effect that may have on the wider industry.

One female manager said she felt that if everybody stood their ground and held their prices, the market would strengthen but when ‘mum and dad’ drop the rate on their granny flat, it means the market has to follow suit to compete. 

One manager said: “If you can’t get a hotel in the Gold Coast for under $100 a night, guests will pay. But if they can find something similar for $45 on Airbnb, we can’t match that with our expenses.”

Another added that he found he couldn’t match the price of the Airbnb market after receiving a prompt that said his rate was 35 percent too high and he should reduce it to secure a booking. 

One manager, who revealed
he was also an Airbnb host,
asked whether the other
manager/hosts had been adding
a cleaning fee to their Airbnb listings.
(Many said they had not.)

Apparently, guests booking through Airbnb are quite willing to pay a cleaning fee to ensure their room is cleaned. So managers listing their rooms on the site could, hypothetically, drop their room rate and add a cleaning fee so the overall amount charged is the same. The room would have been cleaned either way, but the Airbnb guest doesn’t know that. 

Airbnb Australia’s host and community operations manager Matthew Olson addressing QLD accom managers

The revelation here is that different platforms require different packaging.

Everyday hosts, who are not in management rights, aren’t necessarily including cleaning fees and airport pickups in their nightly rate. Spend some time looking up what’s available in your area and see what’s on offer. You’ll be surprised. After a quick search among ‘Gold Coast private rooms’ on Airbnb we found some hosts offering free bicycle use but charging for laundry and coffee, others requesting deposits for keycards, charging extra for meals and airport pickups. 

Traditional accom managers are used to having certain quality inclusions, whether it’s housekeeping, transfers, breakfasts or even things like room amenities but it might be a good idea to include them as add ons if you decide to list on Airbnb. It’s probably best to talk to your channel manager about how you can start streamlining your online presence. 

Some notes from the Airbnb talk:

  1. Pick the correct category for your room. Particularly in management rights, not all units, rooms or suites were made equal. Airbnb has a plethora of categories designed to help guests sift through what they want. Importantly, international guests might be using different search terms. For instance, guesthouse, bed and breakfast, guest suite and boutique hotel are all different categories on the site and more will be rolling out. Make sure your listing is in the right place.
  2. One tip from HiRUM co-owner (and event MC) Sylvia Johnston was that ‘serviced apartments’ are known as ‘vacation rentals’ in the US. She also noted during the Q&A that managers should remember “you are not selling your property or resort on Airbnb, you’re selling an apartment or room”. 
  3. Airbnb Australia’s host and community operations manager Matthew Olson, who delivered the talk on Thursday, acknowledged that the company’s 24/7 service has historically needed improvement but that they are working on it at the moment with recruitment and training. 
  4. Mr Olson mentioned the ability for hosts to become verified by Airbnb Plus, making it easier for guests to find ‘established’ quality accommodation on the site. Ms Johnston noted that managers may be able to leverage this with their unit owners as newly refurbished apartments may qualify for Airbnb Plus while older units may not.
  5. Mr Olson also described the ability for hosts to review guests, which is something managers cannot do on OTAs and this elicited some chatter amongst the audience. 

Regarding commission fees from Airbnb as it begins to target hotels and more traditional accom providers in its host network, Airbnb itself did not comment. According to announcements made by the company back in February, Airbnb charges hosts (including hotels, etc.) between three and five percent commission and charges guests 15 percent. Ms Johnston noted during the Q&A that she does not think Airbnb will hike its commission fee any time soon. Google representative Elliott Knight had no comment on the matter. 

‘Commission fees’ certainly call the role of OTAs into question: if Airbnb is able to win over sharing economy-adverse managers and maintain a three to five percent commission fee, will it rock the OTA commission duopoly? 

Not to be overshadowed by the controversy of Airbnb, some very interesting tidbits came up during Google’s talk, which you can read about here.

Resort News was happy to host the Explore new avenues to increase your booking revenue event at Q1 last week and would like to thank the event’s key sponsor HiRUM Software Solutions as well as all the guest speakers, including Google’s Elliott Knight, Airbnb’s Matthew Olson, Snapshot’s Calisha Allsworth, TrustYou’s Brigitte Creencia, CartStack’s Brett Thoreson, and HiRUM’s very own Sylvia Johnston. 

What has been your experience with Airbnb? Comment below to start a discussion. 

 

About Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke
Rosie Clarke is the editor of Resort News and Accom Management Guide as well at their digital home, accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions.

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