I get a lot of questions about why I sole-source my short-term rental property listings on Airbnb's platform, and recommend that my clients do the same thing. In simple terms: it is wise to align yourself with the market leader, and Airbnb has 72% of the house-sharing market right now.
It is best business practice to listyour short-term rental property on a single platform. This is known as solesourcing. You may choose Airbnb, VRBO, or Bookings if you live outside the United States. As I mentioned previously, Airbnb is the platform that I prefer. Sole sourcing removes the headache of keeping track of multiple calendars across multiple platforms while reaping rewards for your listing by maximizing a single platform’s algorithm.
I realize the decision to commit to asole platform may seem counterintuitive. You may be thinking, “As a host, if Ican list my property ten different places for free, shouldn't I do that? It’s free marketing and broader exposure. Shouldn't I be on all those platforms?”
The answer is no. Why? Because Airbnb is a search engine for spaces, much like Google is a search engine for websites and information. By listing your rental on multiple platforms, you are diluting your search engine optimization. This results in low-rank placement across multiple platforms. The lower your rank, the fewer people will see your listing.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this concept. If my short-term rental property is 100 percent booked for a given month with 50 percent of my bookings through Airbnb and 50 percent of my bookings through VRBO, does either platform consider my listing as fully booked? No. Is my listing making all the money it can for Airbnb? No. And their platform algorithm knows that. The Airbnb algorithm rewards listings high-occupancy rates by placing them higher within search results, which means more guests view your listing.
If you are diluting your listing across two platforms, neither algorithm is going to reward you. Most people do notunderstand this and consistently do the wrong thing. I coach all my mentees to focus on making one platform’s algorithm really happy. This approach helps their listing rise to the top of search results and generate the most bookings and highest revenue possible.
Have you heard the expression that you can't sell the same house twice? You certainly cannot book the same night atyour short-term rental twice! Listing platforms are economic animals. Airbnb ultimately wants guests to find and book accommodations as quickly as possible to generate service fees from the host and the guest. They are constantly changing their algorithm to drive revenue and booking ease.
Airbnb is also at war with the otherbooking platforms for market dominance. So, as a business, they want to reward you as a host for bringing in revenue for their company. In addition to financial motivation, Airbnb does not want to lose any percentage of their market presence. They want to reward you for being their sole partner. This keeps your listing and its revenue stream on their platform.
If you are currently fully booked on VRBO, I am not saying to remove your listing from their platform. However, if you are succeeding on VRBO, do not add your listing to Airbnb. To optimize your success, you have to commit to one platform. Both platforms are viable, but I prefer Airbnb.
If you are a new short-term rental host, I recommend listing with Airbnb. The company’s size, exponential growth,and the host of third-party software tools created to plug into their platform will make your journey to success faster and easier.