Can Airbnb compete with the OTAs?
It’s becoming harder every day to differentiate between Airbnb and traditional online travel agencies. And now the agreement that allows Siteminder, a leading hotel distribution platform, to list hotel rooms on Airbnb is blurring that line even more. But can Airbnb compete with the OTAs?
Airbnb gained recognition as an online marketplace to rent short term rooms, apartments and homes. They also listed more unusual accommodation like boats, tree houses and even igloos! Later some boutique hotels started to list their inventory on the growing platform, however these were all independent efforts. Now with this Siteminder agreement, Airbnb clearly intends to become a dominant player in the global hotel distribution economy.
SiteMinder currently has more than 28,000 hotels and their customers will soon be able to apply to be listed on Airbnb through the channel manager. If approved by Airbnb, SiteMinder will add Airbnb as an online channel for distributing room rates and availability. SiteMinder noted that not all properties will be accepted though. Airbnb is looking for hotels that offer unique design, links to local experiences and high-quality photography only. It hasn’t explicitly excluding branded hotels but the qualification criteria favours more “experiential” properties first and foremost.
The service is due to launch this month but apparently the company has already been testing the offering in select markets. Interestingly they said the partnership will not require hotels to sign contracts and it will manage all transactions made through its own site.
Airbnb revealed it will be charging hotels a commission in the range of 3% to 5% per booking, a number dwarfed by OTAs fees that can charge up to 30%. However, their usual guest ‘service fee’ will also be applied which is typically between 5 and 15%. The hotel won’t have any control over the final price.