DIRT CHEAP: Why Airbnb’s Strategy is Bad News for the Vacation Rental Industry

Airbnb, originally founded as a company pairing transients and college kids with hard-up property owners and subletters desperate for cash, is quickly making moves in the multi-billion dollar vacation rental industry. If they are going to succeed long term, though, they’ll need to drop their current global marketing approach, which is: DIRT CHEAP.

Rent from people in “your property location” from $20/night

Vacation rental owners with respectable quality standards should be asking themselves the questions, “What is the quality of renter that I can expect, and what am I supporting if I enroll my property in a global campaign enticing people to rent from $20/night?” These are important questions that vacation rental owners should be taking very seriously as regulation of short-term rentals starts to take hold. Unfortunately, Airbnb is beginning to leave a stain on the home rental industry - one that may take some time to come clean.

“Airbnber’s” tend to be a drastically different crowd (not to be confused with "trendy" or "savvy") than traditional vacation rental clientele compromised of families, professionals, and responsible adults. Airbnber’s tend to use properties hard and frequently “fly under the radar” with their age and/or group type and size. Not all Airbnb rentals are necessarily bad, but there is no question that overall there is a significant difference in renter quality, responsibility, and accountability. Owners or their property managers need to monitor Airbnb reservations heavily, and face an uphill battle if there are issues. Airbnb is notorious for favoring renters, and holding them accountable for unacceptable behavior or damages is extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible. Permanent residents in areas where Airbnb’s are prevalent are becoming more and more frustrated, and frankly, disgusted.

Airbnb is making conscious efforts to improve their reputation and offerings with the Airbnb Plus product line, a selection of homes verified for quality, as well as their review system, which allows owners to rate guests. They have a long way to go, though, before convincing the general public and regulatory agencies that they are truly a company focused on quality standards.

Ingrid Genest is a travel blogger specializing in alternative lodging trends, marketing, and advertising including Vacation Rentals, Inns, B & B's, private rooms, and sublets.

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