Why you should think twice before signing up to AirBnB Plus

AirBnB Plus is the flagship program that AirBnB introduced back in February. A quick recap for those not in the know, the AirBnB Plus program enables hosts to pay a $149 fee directly to AirBnB so that a member of their team can come to your property, tell you what you need to do to reach the AirBnB Plus threshold and take some photos. Once you are done with the changes they request your listing will go live in the AirBnB Plus category on the website separating it from other listings giving it a ‘higher level of prestige’.

As the AirBnB Plus program has been live and kicking for the best part of half a year now, I thought I’d share some knowledge from various host discussions and groups regarding what it can really mean and whether it is right for you as a host. Spoiler alert, I am not a fan personally but will go into the reasoning behind this.

The Initial Fee

The initial fee for AirBnB Plus seems like a money grab and opportunistic at best. AirBnB takes 3% off the host of any booking they have, they take a further 6-20% from a guest service fee. Meaning that effectively AirBnB makes 9-23% of any booking amount that a host creates on the platform. The type of listings which will be attracted to going into the AirBnB Plus category are listings that will be predominantly popular with hosts who are at the top of the game – either professional managers or Superhosts.

The revenue that AirBnB makes off these hosts is likely to be in the thousands of dollars per year category and yet you want them to pay a $149 fee to apply to a program which relinquishes control of their listing to AirBnB and limits what they can do with their listing?

Inferior Photos

AirBnB are taking the freelance model when it comes to photographers they hire for the plus program. They are working with local photographers with little to no vetting on experience or professionalism and the community seem to not be happy with some of the results. To get a decent listing performing well on platforms like AirBnB, photos are super important. Chances are that hosts are already putting effort into their photos and are happy with the way they look. Having someone come and take photos who is not a seasoned pro and has little care and desire to see your property in the best light can lead to mixed results.

A further issue with the inferior photos is that you don’t have a choice. You have to accept them and you have to accept the captions and the way that they are ordered. You have zero control about the layout and this is unacceptable. AirBnB is dealing mainly with superhosts, seasoned veterans of the host community who care deeply for their listing and the whole AirBnB experience. They should know better.

Cookie Cutter – No Control

The AirBnB Plus program operates off a strict set of guidelines. You need to have certain amenities, a certain number of pillows etc. If you do not then this will be pulled up in your report after the initial visit. You will then be given time to rectify the situation. Does this create a standard playing field for properties or does it make properties lose some of the uniqueness they offer?

The team managing AirBnB Plus tend to be slow to respond and show a lack of care and utter disdain to the people who have ponied up the $149 fee to be part of the platform. All of this so your listing becomes un-editable and may look worse than it did before. The question is, is it really worth it? That I guess is down to the type of host you are.

The Fee is a Joke

Circling back to the opening point of this article. As part of a closed Facebook group for professional hosts, I can see a lot of the discussion about all things AirBnB. What is surprising is a post that popped up over the past days which led me to write this article in the first place. AirBnB are PAYING people to do the fixes needed to get in the plus program. Those with fear of missing out are of course doing everything quickly to become part of the program but for those who dilly dally, dilly dallying might just be worth it.

You can see here that this host did not make the changes that AirBnB requested and they have offered to give her $700 to do the changes. The host would have paid $298 for their 2 listings to be considered for the program but AirBnB now decide to give here $402 extra dollars. Lesson here? AirBnB Plus is something AirBnB need more than you need it as a host. Don’t believe the hype and do your own research if it is right for you.

Another example here that AirBnB is simply using the funds from AirBnB Plus applications to assist the people who are dilly dallying. Dragging your heels isn’t something that I’d usually recommend but if you are planning on doing AirBnB Plus it might just be worth dragging your heels. It would seem AirBnB are pushing towards their IPO and are wanting to be able to put in their prospectus that they are cornering the luxury end of the market. The surge in AirBnB Plus listings will be evidence for this.

AirBnB Inc.

There are no real stats about the benefits of AirBnB Plus. A lot of the hosts who are part of the program have made grumblings about bookings dropping or not seeing any benefit to being part of it. AirBnB itself and Brian Chesky seem to focus on the number of AirBnB Plus listings without putting out any real statistics on the benefits of the program itself. The fear of missing out and bogus prestige setting being created by such a program is attracting the bona fide AirBnB superhost loyalists but whether it goes more mainstream is questionable.

Just remember, AirBnB is a corporation and will do what is best for the corporation. The fee for the AirBnB Plus program in my opinion is completely unjustified. Make your own decisions on the matter through research to see whether AirBnB Plus would be a good program for your properties.