By The Hospitable Team
Not sure which OTA platform to choose to list your vacation rental home—Airbnb or Booking.com? With more than 6 million active listings and global brand identity, Airbnb may seem like a logical choice. But with over 28 million listings globally, Booking.com is now the largest vacation rental platform in the world.
Both platforms are popular among travelers and have millions of daily visits, so it’s better to take a closer look at both to see which is best for your vacation rental business. In this blog, we compare Booking vs. Airbnb to make it easier for you to decide which website to go with.
Booking.com vs. Airbnb: How Do Guests Differ?
Each of these platforms attracts a specific audience. Airbnb is popular among Millennials who are more interested in authentic experiences. They are looking for unique rentals with a “home-away-from-home” atmosphere where they can live like a local in their chosen city or town. Airbnb guests prefer rental properties that offer one-of-a-kind, Instagram-worthy experiences, such as themed houses, castles, forest cabins, or yurts.
Airbnb guests know they will be staying on private property, so they tend to chat with hosts before they book a place to learn more about the requirements and house rules. As a result, they know exactly what to expect during their stay and almost always end up having a good experience and give hosts positive reviews.
Airbnb users are eager to ask questions about your property and expect fast answers. So communication with guests may take up a lot of your time, especially during a peak season. But you can automate conversations with your guests using vacation rental software like Hospitable.com, which has a question auto-detection feature. Our tool uses artificial intelligence to recognize questions on more than 20 common topics and instantly send a personalized response.
Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.
On Airbnb, hosts can also leave a review for their guests and give them a star rating, which is visible on a guest’s profile. This feature is extremely useful to hosts because it allows them to check past reviews of a traveler before accepting a reservation. Airbnb hosts can vet their guests and decline reservations if guests have a low rating or no reviews. Hosts can do it after they switch off the Airbnb Instant Book feature.
Booking.com has always been a website for promoting hotels, resorts, and lodges, and not private vacation rental homes or individual rooms. Everything has changed in recent years, and now Booking.com is attracting more vacation rental properties, but the platform’s users might still be more demanding.
Guests on Booking.com focus more on convenience and might expect a place with hotel-like amenities and standards, for example, 24-hour check-in. Chances are you will end up with a negative review for the same amenities that may give you a positive review on Airbnb. Booking.com hosts don’t leave reviews of their guests on the site, and all incoming reservations are automatically accepted. That means you could end up with a problematic or badly behaved guest.
Booking vs. Airbnb: Commissions
Both Airbnb and Booking.com charge hosts a rate per each booking they receive. So it’s crucial to understand how much you will pay in fees for using both sites.
Airbnb has two fees: the Split Fee and the Host-Only Fee. The Split Fee is divided between guests who pay around 14% of the listing price to Airbnb and hosts who pay around 3%. With the Host-Only Fee, hosts pay around 15% of the booking rate, and guests aren’t charged any fee to book. The Host-Only Fee has become mandatory in most countries but not in the United States.
Booking.com doesn’t charge guests any fee to book. But it charges hosts an average commission rate of 15% of the total booking price, which hosts need to pay back at the end of every month. This is about the same rate as the Host-Only Fee on Airbnb.
Booking.com vs. Airbnb: Host Payouts
Airbnb takes a more direct approach and automatically collects guests’ payments on the host’s behalf. It pays them to the rental owner through the chosen payout method 24 hours after guest check-in.
Booking.com gives hosts an opportunity to choose from two payment solutions: payments by Booking.com and online payments. Hosts can choose to have Booking.com facilitate all of their guests’ payments and receive guaranteed payouts by bank transfer for all their reservations. Hosts can also allow guests to choose between paying online or at their property (meaning Booking.com only deals with online payments).
How Do the Cancellation Policies Compare?
Airbnb currently has several cancellation policies that hosts can choose to use: Flexible, Moderate, Firm, Strict, Strict Long-term, Flexible Long-term, Super-strict (30 days), Super-strict (60 days), and non-refundable option. Each of them varies depending on how soon to the check-in date guests are allowed to cancel and receive refunds, and each policy has its pros and cons. Still, cancellation rates on Airbnb are quite low because the guests make a payment when they book your place.
On Booking.com, there are not as many options for hosts when it comes to cancellations. Booking.com recommends that hosts allow guests to cancel for free until one or two days before check-in. Alternatively, hosts can choose non-refundable policies, where guests won’t get their money back if they cancel. You can also charge a deposit or prepayment or choose to hold a pre-authorization amount.
Most Booking.com listings don’t have a prepayment requirement and have free cancellation. It’s very convenient for guests and not fun for hosts because, as a result, cancellation rates are higher on Booking.com. That means that hosts need to adjust their calendars regularly and ensure correct availability dates in their Airbnb and Booking.com calendars.
Doing it manually can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you have multiple listings. A good solution is using vacation rental software with a channel manager feature like Hospitable.com. Our tool will take care of managing your listings and synchronizing your calendar across all your platforms and will automate almost all routine operations, saving you a lot of time.
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What about Host Protection?
Renting out your property short-term will help you earn extra income, but it’s important to protect your rental property against damage and yourself against personal liability claims. Airbnb protects property owners through AirCover for Hosts. It’s top-to-bottom protection that gives hosts $1 million in damage protection and $1 million in liability insurance.
Booking.com has also launched two initiatives: free liability insurance for its partners for up to $1,000,000, available globally, and a procedure called “damage deposits by Booking.com.”
Booking vs. Airbnb: Where Should You List Your Rental?
Should you list your rental property on Airbnb or Booking.com? It’s really up to you. Both platforms provide an amazing opportunity for property owners to start the STR business and get additional income. But if you want to maximize your reach and secure more bookings, it’s better to use a multi-channel strategy and list your property on several platforms.
You may use Airbnb as your primary platform and list your property on Booking.com to get access to a wider market and increase your pool of potential guests. And using vacation rental software will help you ensure you stay on top of syncing availability between the two platforms.
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