Are you looking for great Airbnb alternatives? Glenn Carter, a fellow Airbnb Host and owner of the Casual Capitalist sharing economy website, recently informed me that many of his community members were asking how they can fill up Airbnb vacancies with non-Airbnb bookings. Having greeted several Guests via non-Airbnb platforms himself, he kindly offered to write an article about Airbnb alternatives and competitors for Hosts. To kickstart this topic, I thought I’d share my own experience in this matter.
I love nature.
In Quebec, long before Airbnb ever existed, there was Cottagesrental.com, which specialized in chalets rentals. Even if our Montreal listings are booked solid all year round with Airbnb, for our Stylish Country Home by the Lake, I currently use this other option as an Airbnb alternative for my bookings.
For a flat fee of $150 a year, I list our place commission-free on this old school website, channelling a crowd that is a little different from Airbnb’s. Most users are local weekend travellers in search of cheap deals and about 50% of them decline my offers because my prices are often beyond their budget. But hey, I’m all good with it this since my secret goal is to target high-end Guests who will see my listing on this platform and pay top money for our home. And you know what?
For me, CottagesRental is just another source of exposure for my listing but what I dislike about this website is that it’s still stuck in 1999 with no trust system in place. Nothing is automated – making bookings harder to manage. I have to collect my $500 deposits manually, which is always a pain. Pricing via the calendar is non-existent which explains why potentials Guests don’t know my day-to-to prices before contacting me. Even if it’s not my favorite option to book Guests, I still keep my listing on it because it’s very popular in Quebec, particularly in the chalet market, and I would be missing some great financial opportunities if our home was not featured on it.
When I started double-listing in mid-2013, about 25% of our bookings came from Airbnb and 75% from CottagesRental. At the time, Airbnb barely had any presence in the country but as years passed, Airbnb became more popular outside of cities, even surpassing CottagesRental. Proof of this is that I’ve noticed countless new Airbnb listings opening up in our area. Most Airbnb Hosts would be terrified of such competition but hey, I embrace it because it brought us even more Airbnb Guests. This year, I’d say that about 75% of our bookings came from Airbnb and 25% from CottagesRental.
Considering that our country home generates a multiple 5-figure revenue a year both on Airbnb and CottagesRental combined, with such numbers, it still makes sense to list on both platforms.
There are countless Airbnb alternatives, rivals & competitors for Hosts.
Depending on where you live and what type of listing you offer, you can find several Airbnb alternatives & rivals, targeting specific niches, that could compliment your Airbnb bookings.
You want to list your $10 million property on a private island? Make sure to check Luxury Retreats. You are gay, bi, lesbian or trans and you want to host more rainbow Guests? Take a look at Misterbnb who specializes in the queer market. You are into fetishes and you love to host sex parties? Good for you! Kinkbnb will fix you up with that. You’re a colourful host wanting to greet people from all walks of life? Innclusive and Noirbnb will bring you colourful Guests. You dream of becoming a Super Host in China? There’s a Chinese Airbnb for that and it called Tujia. You’d love to host long term students in Europe? Erasmusinn might be your solution. You are hosting “illegally” in fear of getting busted? Overnight allows you to host “undercover” so that you can review booking requests before showing your listing privately to any potential Guests.
The list just seems endless.
It simply becomes impossible to list all Airbnb alternatives & competitors since countless new platforms keep appearing to target specific niche markets.
By the way, as lovely as Airbnb is, I have to inform you that there have been many horror stories of Hosts getting shut down by Airbnb. In Europe, Airbnb terminated Hosts with multiple listings with no precise reasons. In Asia, Airbnb has removed a Super Host with no explanations. In America, Airbnb ditched New York Hosts with more than one listings for purely political reasons. These shutdowns are just the tip of the iceberg hiding many secrets that Airbnb doesn’t want us to know and listing our home on multiple platforms might be the best way to protect ourselves from Airbnb dependency as Hosts.
Now that I’ve scared you real good, time to introduce Glenn Carter to see what he has to say about this subject.
Glenn is a sexy Montrealer who likes to run his sharing economy blog undercover, so he sent me this cartoony headshot of him. I told him it came across as shady but with the Quebec government bullying outspoken Airbnb Hosts with huge tax bills, he currently enjoys hiding in his bed under the covers.
Cute pic Glenn. What’s up? 🙂
Hey Dany, thanks for having me. The truth is, I’m way better looking in cartoon form than real life! But other than that, my sharing economy writing and advocacy has always been about my community members, not me. And, as you know well, being a public face isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I certainly commend you for your work on that Dany.
Today, I want to start by saying that I love Airbnb because it’s where I got my start in the sharing economy. It’s also why I started the Casual Capitalist in the first place: to teach people about the growing sharing economy and how to make money using it.
I still use and sell on Airbnb, and I am so grateful for it. I mean, what’s not to love? Airbnb has welcomed over 100 million guests since 2008, and is present in 34,000 cities and 191 countries across the globe. Did you know that Starwood-Marriot, the world’s biggest hotel chain, has 1.1 million hotel rooms? In all, Airbnb has over 2 million listings available. In 8 years, Airbnb has overtaken the largest hotel chain in the world, and it doesn’t even own a single piece of property! Well, except for their amazing headquarters in San Francisco:
There’s no doubt about Airbnb’s supremacy in the home-sharing market and its juggernaut status within the sharing economy in general. However, we as Airbnb hosts and entrepreneurs, shouldn’t keep our heads in the sand about other tools available to us.
Just a few weeks ago I had a community member, Marg, email me:
“Glenn, I just had a couple Airbnb cancellations in a few days because of a festival rescheduling, do you have any suggestions?”
The answer to this question is simple yet I hadn’t written about it. Until now. There are so many other amazing options out there for us as home-sharers, and today I want to share with you our experiences with three of them. These are not Airbnb replacements in any way, but rather supplements. And they all have the potential to help you up your side-income game. Let’s begin.
HomeAway / VRBO
HomeAway is a vacation rental marketplace with over 1 million listings across 190 countries and it was recently acquired by Expedia for a $3.9 million deal. I started using HomeAway in 2014 as a supplement to my Airbnb listing in Davenport, Florida. Overall, I found that HomeAway was useful in filling in some gaps in our calendar, but Airbnb still brought in over 80% of our guests.
HomeAway originally acquired VRBO in 2006 and also owns a number of other vacation rental sites. You can easily cross-list your property on a number of different sites with ease. I never did this because I felt that it was unnecessarily complicated being on too many platforms, so we just retained HomeAway and Airbnb.
My only problem with HomeAway was the cost.
You can either pay an annual subscription of $349, or a pay-per-booking feature of 8%. Now Airbnb charges their standard 3% fee to hosts, which can add up if you get a lot of bookings. So, it’s up to you to do the math of which HomeAway payment option works best for you. We started with the pay-per-booking feature, which we maintain, because we only get about five bookings per calendar year on HomeAway.
In the end, HomeAway did prove useful as an Airbnb supplement. We had no problems with the guests we connected with through HomeAway, and they were no different from the majority of our Airbnb guests. I consider HomeAway a professional vacation rental website with guests looking for a standard vacation experience – beach, sun, attractions, etc. – whereas in Airbnb you can also find this, but it’s more about experiences than standard vacations. My Airbnb guests’ reasons for traveling varied greatly – a getaway, conference, vacation, festivals, concerts, etc. but with HomeAway, all the guests have been vacation and sunshine-seeking types with one thing in mind – relaxing under the sun!
Tansler came to my attention after an email from Mikey, one of my community members.
“Hey Glenn, have you heard of Tansler?” Mikey asked me.
No, I hadn’t heard of Tansler, so Mikey educated me. Mikey said that he had used Tansler for a few months, and had a good experience so far. What grabbed my attention most about Tansler was that this wasn’t your regular vacation rental marketplace. There is a twist! Tansler is a reverse-auction home-sharing platform similar to HomeAway, with 50,000 listings worldwide. But, the twist is that renters are able to choose the price instead of hosts.
My first reaction: “You’ve got to be crazy if you think I’m going to let someone else pick how much they are going to pay me!” But Mikey explained to me the process.
First, renters on Tansler choose their price and destination before browsing through a list of properties. Renters will see the properties’ listed price as well as the potential savings if the host accepts the renters’ offered price. Renters can add as as many properties as they’d like to their “auction cart.” These offers are then sent to hosts through the Tansler platform. This is where the reverse-auction comes into effect.
The selected hosts then have only 24 hours to accept or deny the renter’s offer. Simple as that.
“OK, maybe my comment earlier was a little harsh,” I told Mikey. As a host, if you don’t like the price offered, you simply don’t accept it. You are not committed to accepting offers.
After checking out their site I found some interesting incentives as well, such as any host who lists gets an automatic $75 travel credit. Cool, I’m in! Tansler also created a referral program that can earn you more travel credits if you refer hosts or guests.
Kid & Coe
As a parent of three, I know the stress of traveling with kids. So when I heard about Kid & Coe from my friend Jessica in Toronto, I almost did a backflip.
Let me explain.
Kid & Coe is a home-sharing platform similar to the ones discussed above, but caters to the family market with child-friendly homes. Kid & Coe was founded by Zoie Kingsbery Coe out of a common frustration among parents: the lack of child-friendly vacation properties. Jessica, a mother of two, told me that in searching for a vacation home in Mykonos, she was frustrated by the lack of child-friendly locations. After a few minutes searching Google, Jessica came across Kid & Coe. Jessica booked a property almost immediately.
“This house had toys, bunk beds, games, and all the child-friendly kitchen accessories” Jessica explain to me. As any parent can attest to, this is a huge piece of mind when traveling with young kids. And, you’ll save on luggage costs when you’re not carting 10lbs of toys and sippy cups.
So what about becoming a host on Kid & Coe? If your house is teeming with toys like mine, although mine is almost exclusively princess apparel, why not consider listing on Kid & Coe? Instead of putting all that stuff away for a guest, why not embrace the fact that a toy bomb went off in your home and list with Kid & Coe?
Okay, maybe tidy up a bit.
Needless to say, on my next family trip, I am going to test out Kid & Coe. And, Jessica has now listed on this kid-friendly home-sharing site and is waiting for her first booking. I’ve asked Jessica to report back to tell us about her experience so stay tuned for that!
In sum, although the Airbnb basket is massive, we shouldn’t be putting all our home-sharing eggs in there. As with any small business, and hosts are certainly small business owners, we need to explore opportunities to expand our customer base, even if we have a good thing going with Airbnb. I know I certainly do!
But if I can expand my customer base by thousands of potential renters in only a few minutes, my question to you becomes: “why not?”
Happy listing everyone!
Glenn is a writer and sharing economy enthusiast based in Montreal, Canada, who is the author of Secrets of the Sharing Economy, a book that shows people how to make money in the sharing economy. Glenn’s passion is to teach people how to get a good profit in the sharing economy through his blog, The Casual Capitalist.
By the way, as you might have noticed, Airbnb has a steep learning curve and it will cost you lots of time and money to try to learn everything on your own. I currently offer a lot of free Airbnb information via email to empower all types of Airbnb users. There’s so much more to know and there’s so much we can get into on the tactics.
So I’ve created this free email course. It’s totally free and you just need to enter your email below to sign up.