We have found Airbnb a regular source of bookings, they have good local agents, trained in the USA and based in France, (we are in Languedoc) and are positive and helpful in getting adverts and photos etc accurate for you (though their search engine on their site is still limited and has errors).
But to depend financially on just one booking service is too dangerous although most of the other online booking agencies seem much worse and more expensive. The Airbnb model, we pay 3% for credit card fees and they add 10% to the clients payment, seems fair and works. Interestingly we get repeat clients who book again through Airbnb rather than come to us direct and pay us less, they tell us this is because it is so simple to book through Airbnb from their mobile, one tap to find us, one tap to book and one tap to pay (I am writing about this trend on other blogs and groups and am working to change all our marketing to adopt this).
My observations tell me that this, mobile apps, is the direction that Internet marketing (and advertising) is taking.
The recent “merging” of Facebook and Tripadvisor (well serious snogging) and the proposed takeover of Bing by Facebook next month will make a formidable Online Travel Agency – OK the agency is supposed to be Expedia, but check the shares, Expedia spawned off Tripadvisor last year (but did they) it looked good for the Nasdec ratings, but now Facebook is in the equation, we are dealing with some “interesting” developments.
Then there is Google, who detest Tripadvisor (read last years court cases) – they have apparently shelved a lot of Google labs initiatives, but hotelfinder http://www.google.com/hotelfinder/#search;n=;si=b85c2544 is alive – couple this with Google places and their social networks (bigger than facebook if you include Youtube) and the gloves could be off.
But will it get us more bookings – well, no – these (and other ) giant consolidators of accommodation supply are all map driven through applications designed for mobile – all we end up being is a pin on a map, surrounded by many other pins. With little opportunity to advertise our individual services and charms. Unless we pay the application for advertising (which is the sole purpose of Googles’ and Facebooks’ existence.
Super Internet sites will be a second or third level of information delivery and only of use as a follow up once the potential client has found us through an app – and then mostly not referred to anyway. Websites could by next year be as relevant to our marketing strategy as being on page ten of a current Google search.
I wonder which on will buy Airbnb ?
And then there is Skype (owned by Microsoft) – International; find/book/pay – tap/tap/tap and it’s done.
The bottom line is, that to be visible and to get clients all B&B (and hotel an vacation rental) owners are going to have to pay, this means the customer pays more.
And now there came an Amazon……..