Sonder vs. Airbnb: What Are the Main Differences?

sonder vs airbnb

By The Hospitable Team

Sonder and Airbnb are well-known brands in the hospitality industry that have been the biggest game-changers in the vacation rental market in recent times. They cater to a slightly different target audience and aren’t regarded as direct competitors.

In this blog, we’ll compare Sonder vs Airbnb: their business models, types of property, features, and offerings to help you get a better understanding of how Sonder differs from traditional vacation rental platforms.

You may also want to check out our blog article, where we compare the travel meta-search engine HomeToGo vs. Airbnb to help you determine whether it’s a good website for you.  

Listing your property on different websites can significantly increase your visibility and booking opportunities, but managing vacation rental listings on multiple platforms can be very challenging. Then, you’ll need vacation rental software with a channel manager feature like Hospitable that will allow you to automate your hosting routine and manage all your channels as easily as one.

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Sonder vs. Airbnb: Business Models

Airbnb is a global marketplace that connects hosts who want to rent out their properties and travelers looking for unique places to stay where they can live like locals during their trips. The company doesn’t own or manage any properties listed on the platform and allows hosts to set their prices, cancellation policies, and house rules and run special offers. Airbnb acts as a middleman and earns a commission for each booking completed on the platform.

Launched in 2014, Sonder has a different business model. The company owns and manages its properties and registers them as hotels (although they typically are apartments). Interestingly, you can find Sonder properties listed on other vacation rental platforms, such as Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com, and it’s among the largest hosts on Airbnb.

Currently, Sonder operates in more than 40 cities across 10 countries. It has 9,000 units located in popular tourist destinations, such as New York, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, Dubai, London, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Mexico City, Ottava, Montreal, and more. 

The company doesn’t work with individual property owners—instead, it partners with 

  • Institutional owners
  • Hotel owners
  • Private equity funds
  • REITs/property companies
  • Boutique and family office firms
  • Entrepreneurial developers

According to Sonder, they sign multi-year fixed leases, mixed leases, or revenue shares as the anchor or sole tenant in your current properties and development projects—this means they essentially “own” their vacation rental properties.

As you see, individual hosts aren’t eligible to partner with Sonder, but you don’t need to rely on Airbnb or Sonder to attract potential guests. With vacation rental software like Hospitable, you can create your own direct booking website in minutes. It’s a popular alternative for individual hosts who want to become more independent from OTA platforms and don’t want to share their revenue with them. Most importantly, your Hospitable website will be listed on Google Vacation Rentals.

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Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, and your guests get the best experience.

Sonder vs Airbnb: Types of Property and Target Audience

Airbnb allows hosts to list entire places, private rooms, and shared rooms and classifies listings into more than 60 different Airbnb categories based on their style, location, nearby travel activities, or other factors. Travelers can choose from budget-friendly rooms, treehouses, yurts, and tiny homes to luxury mansions and castles. Properties listed on Airbnb typically attract young people, business professionals, digital nomads, solo travelers, families with children, and groups of people.

Unlike Airbnb, Sonder doesn’t include any shared units or shared rooms and offers only entire, private units typically located in bigger buildings with security. The selection of places to stay is also less unique than Airbnb’s offering and is restricted to apartments, condos, villas, rooms, and suites.

Sonder’s target audience is much more specific than that of Airbnb. The company targets young travelers who look forward to hotel-like amenities but prefer not to book a traditional hotel room. They want larger accommodations with a better, more secure, and more reliable experience over renting from an individual host. These are digital nomads, business professionals, and solo travelers.

Sonder vs Airbnb: Amenities

Airbnb recommends hosts provide essential amenities—the basic items guests expect for a comfortable stay. They include toilet paper, hand and body soap, one towel and one pillow for each guest, and high-quality bed linen for each guest bed. But hosts who want to make their listings stand out also add popular features and amenities that guests want: WiFi, a kitchen, a pool, a hot tub, air conditioning, a washer or dryer, a TV, a fireplace, and more.

Sonder guests can expect the same level of comfort they would typically have at their home during their stay. All Sonder properties are fully stocked and offer guests the following amenities during their stays: stocked kitchen, fresh towels, toiletries, fast WiFi, air conditioning, keyless entry, and digital concierge. There are luggage storage options for guests who arrive before check-in or wish to explore the neighborhood further after checking out. Guests can also book housekeeping services during their stay for a small fee.

Final Thought

As you see, Sonder and Airbnb are different in many ways. Airbnb is a marketplace that actively searches for individual property owners to list their vacation rentals on their website. Customer service at Airbnb depends on the listing and the host’s level of involvement, and it isn’t consistent within the platform.

Sonder is an accommodation provider—the company owns and manages its properties and registers them as hotels. Sonder short-term rentals are beautifully designed and are typically located in larger buildings with security. Their guests can also access on-site amenities like a fitness room and food and drinking facilities. Sonder takes this approach to ensure consistency in guest experience and maintain the high level of customer service that sets the company apart.

HomeToGo vs Airbnb

HomeToGo vs. Airbnb: Which is Better for Hosts

Airbnb competes with different websites, including online travel agencies and travel meta-searches like HomeToGo. In this article, we’ll compare HomeToGo vs. Airbnb and discuss their business models, features, and commissions to help you determine whether it’s a good website for you.

Airbnb vs. Renting: Which Option Is Better?

Airbnb vs. Renting: Which Option Is Better?

One of the main discussion points between real estate investors is the debate about whether you should list your property on Airbnb or choose traditional long-term renting. Which strategy is more lucrative and can generate better ROI? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each.

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Vrbo vs. Airbnb: What Is Best for Your Rental?

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