“Our system was designed for a much smaller company which grew like crazy,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, who co-founded the home rental platform in 2008, recently admitted.
Indeed from the outside, the rental giant looks like it’s thriving: It has just bounced back from the pandemic low of losing 80% of its business in eight weeks in 2020 to experiencing one of the most successful IPOs in history.
However the rental giant has received an increase in complaints over the past couple of years from both hosts and holidaymakers alike, some of which were compiled in a particularly damaging report from The Bear Cave substack earlier this year.
At the core of the issue is that guests feel like they can get a better (and cheaper) experience at a hotel than in someone’s spare room, yet hosts, of course, want to earn more money. I have to say, from a personal perspective, I agree with this. My mum opted for Airbnb a decade ago because we like to cook and experience a “home away from home” vibe. Six months ago I wanted to Airbnb in Barcelona but the cheapest option was $150 a night. I ended up finding a gorgeous hotel in the center of town for $55 a night. Why would I pay 3x the amount when I can have breakfast and my bed made for me each day of a 4 day trip?
“A lot of people were introduced to our service from a pricing standpoint,” said Chesky. “The more affordable Airbnbs are, the more bookings we get.”
As one X user pointed out earlier this year, on the platform formerly known as Twitter, hotels don’t make you do chores and there’s a good chance there will be a bar on site.
This is something that profit-hungry hosts might be advised to keep in mind when charging guests a premium to make their own beds and take out the trash.
“We want prices to move and to be more competitive vis-à-vis a hotels—that is really important,” Chesky said, adding that he encourages hosts to look at the going rate for hotels in their area “so they have a sense of what travelers are getting on other platforms.”
“When our hosts provide better deals, they tend to make more money,” he added.
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