‘Professional’ Airbnb Hosts Set to Vie With Short-Term Rental Giant

  • Airbnb may need to compete directly with its “best and largest hosts,” according to a new report.
  • The top 1% of short-term-rental hosts control 23% of all active listings, according to AirDNA.
  • Some are looking to strike out on their own, setting up a showdown for the future of the platform.

The biggest hosts on Airbnb seem poised to bite the hand that feeds them, according to a new report published on April 6 in short-seller Edwin Dorsey’s newsletter, The Bear Cave

“The company will now need to compete against its best and largest hosts,” Dorsey wrote, as professional Airbnb hosts build out their own direct booking platforms and offer deals to incentivize guests away from booking on Airbnb. 

The continually growing demand for short-term stays might be a driving factor for hosts to go rogue. Analytics site AirDNA reported that the number of nights booked by travelers in 2022 was the highest amount it’s ever recorded. 

It’s a trend that poses a potentially huge threat to Airbnb, as the top hosts in the short-term-rental industry represent a large share of the bookings pie. In 2022, AirDNA reported that across both Airbnb and its rival Vrbo, the top 1% of hosts operate 23% of all active listings and generate 28% of total revenue.

Most hosts use Airbnb’s split-fee structure, in which hosts pay a 3% service fee and guests pay 14%. 

Airbnb stock dropped as much as 6% on Thursday after the Bear Cave report was published, Reuters noted. The stock market was closed on Friday for Good Friday. 

Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment.

Hosts want to cut out the middle man

Top hosts have spoken out recently about their desire to leave the platform. In December, influencer couple Sara and Tony Robinson told Insider they were planning to “quit” Airbnb and funnel their $1.3 million portfolio into direct bookings. (The couple would still leave a few of their 22 listings on the platform, they said.)  

Their top concern was “more control” over their business, and the ability to keep part of the booking fees Airbnb charges them through the platform. They planned to use tools like WiFi capture, which saves guests’ emails when they stay on their properties, and direct marketing campaigns through Instagram and Facebook. 

The couple admitted, however, new hosts might not be able to replicate their strategy. They told Insider it would be “pretty difficult” for a newer host to get a “decently filled calendar right off the bat without using something like Airbnb and Vrbo.” 

Alaska resident Amie Somer echoed the Robinsons in her insistence on using direct bookings for her $1 million Arizona home, where she landed $50,000 in bookings in her first year. Her main concern was not relying solely on Airbnb and Vrbo. 

“I don’t want all my eggs in one basket,” she told Insider.

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