Dissatisfied with Airbnb and other short-term rental companies, many hosts have created their own direct-booking websites to boost business and end years of frustration with the original online marketplace for lodging and its competitors, according to CNBC.
Some of these websites have been in the works before the pandemic struck. Many, CNBC said, were unhappy with Airbnb’s reimbursement policies.
One month ago, PYMNTS reported some guests contended that the homesharing company was making them jump through hoops to get a refund.
CNBC reported that while these independent websites lack access to millions of customers provided by Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway and Booking.com, they provide hosts with the power to market their properties.
It’s the latest challenge for Airbnb.
PYMNTS reported the pandemic has forced Airbnb to lay off 1,900 employees, 25 percent of its workforce.
“The hold that Airbnb had a few years ago is no longer quite as strong,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, told CNBC.
In response, Airbnb said its platform offers many benefits, including 24/7 customer support, insurance and property damage protection, and user identity verification tools.
Consider Gianrené Padilla, who told the outlet he started his short-term rental business in January. He listed his properties in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Airbnb, Booking.com and HomeAway.
But after seeing Airbnb enact its extenuating circumstances policy in response to the pandemic, he made creating a website a priority. The site was live on April 23.
“We felt like Airbnb is doing what any rational business owner would do, which is ensure the survival of their company,” Padilla said. “That’s totally respectable, but we should do the same for us.”
Host Carlos Roman told the network he created his website last year. He acknowledged it’s not easy. All of these independent sites must advertise, establish payment systems, write rental contracts, and maintain their website or hire someone to do it.
The other option is to establish a website with multiple hosts.
That’s what host Jim Borthwick did. He launched LetsConvention.com in 2018. It connects hosts with properties near convention centers with frequent business travelers.
“Our main mantra is to have this thing be a website that’s built by hosts for hosts,” he said.