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Airbnb vs Booking.com | The Key Hosting Differences

Airbnb vs Booking.com | The Key Hosting Differences

Converting a part/all of your property into a vacation rental is a really cool way to make some extra money especially if you are one of those people who enjoy hosting. It is also a really good way to take your first steps into real estate without really hurting your wallet.

Once the rental space and experience you are going for are decided, the next step is to actually list the property. With the wide array of local and international options available it can be very confusing for beginners. Effectively keeping some property owners out of the business altogether.

Airbnb may seem like an obvious choice but Booking.com (now the largest vacation rental platform in the world) is quite a close contender.

In this article, we have put together a list of factors to consider when you decide where you should list your property. We also do a comparison of Airbnb vs. Booking.com, to make it easier for you to decide which platform to go with.

Embedded content: https://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lmHydTGGVw&list=PLeHwxh773b65b1hrOCtmS-gB0vzg7QdY1&index=9

Ease of listing a property:

  • Since Airbnb as a platform is designed with underused properties and shared spaces in mind it is easier to list rooms and homestays here. You can opt to list your property as a whole or as individual rooms just as easily.

  • Booking.com mainly focuses on hotels and listing homestays can be quite taxing. Listing individual rooms can leave you feeling quite drained especially for first-timers.

Booking frequency and traffic:

According to most property owners who have listed their property on both platforms Booking.com wins the battle of booking frequency by a significant margin. This is mainly due to retargeting and cross-marketing on Booking.com’s part.

Marketing focus:

  • Being the market disruptor, Airbnb’s marketing message is focused on customer experience and has built its own ‘cult culture' as there are people who only look into Airbnb rather than exploring other options.

  • Booking.com aims at securing as many bookings as possible for its properties and its hosts have its hard-core marketing and retargeting practices to thank for this. Guests who book through Booking.com are sure to get email reminders for property reviews and suggestions of other, similar properties to visit.

The differences in marketing tactics directly affect the type of guests from each platform that visit properties, of course guest experience too has a major role to play.

Airbnb Guests Vs Booking.com Guests

All about the guests:

The website through which they book the property plays a key role in the types of guests and the expectations they have of the holiday rental.

Guest-Host Interactions -

  • Airbnb guests tend to chat with hosts and discuss requirements, house rules, etc. before actually showing up at the property. While this allows hosts to make a good first impression and give guests an insight into exactly what to expect during their stay. However, hosts who handle multiple properties may find this quite taxing especially during peak seasons.

  • Most hosts from Booking.com usually meet their guests for the first time when they check in. This could go well most of the time but the chances of there being gaps between what the guest expects from the property and service are quite high.

First Impressions -

  • Airbnb has a guest reviewing system where hosts review their guests based on their experiences. Additionally, hosts can decide based on reviews from other property owners whether they would accept these guests. Some hosts maintain that guests feel obliged to cooperate and adhere to house rules for this reason.

  • Booking.com on the other hand, maintains no inventory on guest behavior and hosts don’t really have a clue about what they are in for unless the guest communicates with them beforehand. As there is nothing that would prevent problematic guests from using other properties on the platform some hosts may end up with guests that other properties may have banned.

Guest Expectations and Reviews -

  • Since Airbnb guests have a clear picture from the hosts of what to expect due to prior communication with hosts, they almost always end up having a good experience.

  • Hosts maintain that guests from Booking.com seem to expect hotel-like amenities even when they book homestays which means that chances are they will end up with a negative review for the same amenities that may give them a good review in Airbnb.

Commissions and Pricing:

The pricing and commissions models for both platforms cannot be more different. While Airbnb charges from both hosts and guests, Booking.com charges from only the hosts.

Airbnb has two types of charges:

  • One is the split fee where hosts are charged a fixed 3% commission when bookings are made. A further 13% is charged as guest commissions. So, if you list your property at $100 to Airbnb the site will charge customers $113 which may take the competitive edge away from your property.

  • The second is the host-only fees (which is mandatory in most geographical locations) where the host bears the commission which is 15% of the total amount.

Booking.com charges a minimum of 15% from its hosts as commissions. We say minimum because hosts can opt to pay a higher commission in exchange for better visibility on the platform.

For property owners who end up listing at the same price at both platforms, hosts may end up receiving more from Airbnb for each booking.

Airbnb vs. Booking.com Cancellations


Guests -

  • Since no financial commitments must be made to Booking.com before actually reserving a place, hosts find that they have more last-minute cancellations.

  • Fewer people cancel out on Airbnb hosts because payments need to be made in full to confirm the booking and most people only pay once everything has been confirmed.

Hosts -

  • It is easier and, in most cases, cheaper for hosts to make cancellations for whatever reason on Booking.com as the platform would direct guests to properties nearby with similar amenities and ratings with property owners having to cover only the extra costs incurred.

  • Airbnb however, makes it more difficult for hosts to cancel and can penalize the hosts heavily for it, making it one of the main reasons most hosts prefer other platforms to Airbnb

Damage control:

  • In case of a bad experience with guests, Airbnb hosts can review their guests so that other hosts are forewarned. In case of property damage, they have the option of making claims of up to $3,000,000 via Aircover for hosts. However, all receipts have to be submitted to Airbnb and they decide whether the receipt is claimable. According to most hosts, replacement of stolen goods such as ornaments or guest towels, etc. are non-claimable.

  • It is pretty straightforward with Booking.com; they have no claimable budget for damages. The only action if any that can be taken is that hosts can block said guests from visiting their property in the future.

Airbnb vs Booking.com - Who should you go with?

It really is up to you. If you are a first-timer and are looking to start slowly perhaps with a spare room in your house or a recently converted shed you should consider Airbnb due to ease of listing and the fact that you will be able to enjoy a few off days in the mix.

If you are however a hotel owner and looking to make a living out of it perhaps Booking.com is your best bet as you will be sure to receive more bookings that way.

Or, since there is nothing stopping you from doing it perhaps you could go with both.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!