Airbnb relaunches hotel strategy and approaches rival OTA model
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has repeatedly stressed the importance of flexibility, saying in the company’s second quarter earnings call, “flexibility is now an integral part of travel.”
In May, the company added options to provide flexibility for customers, giving them the ability to search without fixed dates, destinations or property settings.
Today, Airbnb is testing a new API-based display that gives channel managers and distribution platforms the ability to load multiple pricing plans for Airbnb properties – creating flexibility for travelers and hosts and potentially making the platform more attractive to traditional hotels – and more directly in competition with online travel agencies such as Booking.com.
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Italy-based RoomCloud, a channel manager and booking engine for hotels and rentals, began discussing pricing plans with Airbnb in April and began helping with beta product development in July, according to the marketing manager. of the company, Silvia Gualano.
“The main objective of Airbnb is to offer it to hotels,” explains Gualano.
“It can work for hotels and apartments, but it’s even more interesting for hotels because they are more used to working with rate plans on other OTAs like Booking.com or Expedia. So it’s as if Airbnb wanted to offer a general OTA, not just for vacation rentals.
Gualano says that owners can set a series of pricing plans – for example, offer a room only and a room with breakfast – and Airbnb will display a maximum of two, the cheapest option that is refundable and the option the cheapest which is not refundable.
To simplify the launch for its properties that wish to participate, RoomCloud copies the same rate plans that appear on Booking.com and sends them to Airbnb. The company owns one property directly with the new pricing plan and is integrating others, one at a time.
“Our support team is doing this right now, but going forward we have indicated to our customers that they can do it all on their own,” she says.
San Diego-based Cloudbeds is also in beta testing.
“Airbnb needed to expand its capabilities from a distribution perspective to include the ability to load interest rate products, and this API is exactly that,” said Sébastien Leitner, vice president of partnerships for Cloudbeds.
Leitner says the API was born in part from requests from hotels and also because it allows Airbnb to be more competitive by accessing more rates from its properties.
“I think Airbnb is really trying to put everything into hosting. It’s the biggest story for me, ”says Leitner.
“Airbnb is always great, super excited to get on board as many vacation rental deals as possible. They’re not slowing their growth from a vacation rental perspective, they’re just adding to that. They really are on a mission to sell any type of housing.
Leitner notes that Airbnb is also speeding up work at HotelTonight – by acquiring procurement and market managers. A long list online of open positions at HotelTonight seems to confirm this – which is a notable change from Chesky’s May 2020 announcement in a memo to staff that, due to the pandemic, the company should “reduce our investment in activities that do not directly support the core of our host community.”
We are suspending our efforts in transport and Airbnb studios, and we must reduce our investments in hotels and luxury. ”
Where does Booking.com go …
Host co-founder and chairman David Jacoby says new pricing plan strategy is another example of Airbnb following Booking.com’s lead – as evidenced by changes Airbnb has made to its structure tariff for hosts and guests.
“And Booking.com has been a bit of a leader – maybe because of its hotel inventory – on multiple pricing plans as well. So that’s another Airbnb example that I don’t mean to copy, but follow in their footsteps, ”explains Jacoby.
“Booking.com has always done this, and lately they’ve been promoting hosts and property managers a lot to have multiple pricing plans to show that flexibility.”
D-Edge Property Solutions is another distribution technology provider that works with Airbnb to test new pricing plan solutions. The company’s analysis found that Airbnb is gaining distribution shares for its hotels, and Léa Vernet, head of partnerships, says offering more granularity in pricing will likely boost Airbnb even more.
“This will make Airbnb more attractive, because it will put Airbnb on par with any other OTA… hotels will be able to play around with their rates and offer online with the same features as Booking.com or Expedia,” Vernet said. .
IDEAS Chief Evangelist and Development Director Klaus Kohlmayr says the pandemic has only increased the value of flexibility in the eyes of consumers, and over the 20 years that traditional hotels have offered the Choice of refundable and non-refundable rates, this type of pricing strategy has been shown to generate conversions.
“That’s why he’s still here,” he says. “It’s a fact when you show multiple options, people react positively. As a consumer, you want to be able to choose what is right for you.
And to add Gualano: “Travelers will now be able to rediscover the pricing logic that they are used to finding in other OTAs. Especially in this time of uncertainty, this will ensure greater confidence and serenity when booking.
* PhocusWire has reached out to Airbnb for comment on this topic, but at time of publication the company has not responded.