Although the vacation rental market is becoming more and more competitive, there are two leaders in the market: Airbnb and Booking. If you are a homeowner who is thinking of renting out your home or one of its rooms for the vacation stay of a stranger who wants to get to know your city, you may be wondering which is the best option.

Today, we confront them to find out which is the best alternative from the point of view of the owner of a house or apartment: Airbnb Vs Booking. That is the question.

But… Which is better? Booking or Airbnb?

So far, Booking.com has always led the way when it comes to leaders in the digital accommodation market, with more than 28 million accommodation options. What started out as a small Dutch startup back in 1996 has now become one of the largest travel eCommerce companies in the world.

Airbnb, on the other hand, tells the story of two design students who, one day, realized that they could not pay the rent for their apartment. At that time, it was 2008, and these two Americans had a great idea: to create a website where they could rent the space they did not occupy in their home (and at the same time get a couple of inflatable mattresses). Thus, Airbnb was born: ‘Air bed and breakfast’. Air bed and breakfast, literally. Today, this small invention of university students is expanding around the world, growing like crazy and offering -in addition to accommodation-, experiences and restaurants to book at the click of a button. It currently has more than 5 million hosts.

In the same way that Airbnb is slowly but surely getting its head into the hotel sector, Booking.com has also gradually expanded its presence in the vacation rental sector over the past few years.

Airbnb vs. Booking.com: a comparison in 12 keys

It is undeniable that either of the two platforms are perfectly suitable for hosting any home that wants to convert to hosting, but what are the most notable differences between them?

Let’s see…

1. Traffic

The first and most important thing that a user should focus on when publishing their property on a hosting website is, indeed, the traffic that the selected platform reports. In our case, Booking.com, without a doubt, wins this game.

According to Semrush data, Booking.com obtained, from organic traffic, 271.8 million worldwide. Meanwhile, Aibnb.com obtained only 20.8 million. Keep in mind that Booking also offers hotel rooms, not just vacation rental rooms or apartments. It therefore has a wider audience.

In other words, Booking wins.

2. Comissions

In the case of Booking, you pay a fixed percentage for each reservation you receive through its platform, varying depending on the country and sometimes also on the type of accommodation or location. To know the percentage that would apply in your case, you should register on the platform (it is usually between 10% and 25%).

In the case of Airbnb, there are two types of commissions, which are generally lower than those of booking:

  • The split fee between host and client. In this, the host pays approximately 3% of what the client pays (although if you have accommodations in Italy, for example, you will be charged more). On the other hand, the guest will pay the service fee which is usually 14% of the booking subtotal.
  • The exclusive fee for the host: it is usually between 14% and 16%.

Point for Airbnb

3. Activation time

In the case of Airbnb when placing an ad for an accommodation, you will have to verify your identity in order to do so. As a basic requirement, you will need to provide your personal information, a photo of an official identification document, and sometimes a selfie. In addition, hosts may be asked to verify their identity periodically for legal reasons. Airbnb’s idea is that you complete this entire process in 10 easy steps. And, if you have all the information available and comply with all the regulations, activation should be immediate.

In the case of Booking, you will have to register as a collaborator. Once you have done this you will have to go to the registration page and log in to register your accommodation following the steps they recommend. Once you have registered your accommodation and provided the necessary information, you can click on save. Now it is Booking’s turn to review your accommodation and give you the official confirmation, although it is possible that during this process they may ask you for some verification. Once you have received the confirmation from the platform, you can access their extranet to configure the rates and edit any other aspect of your accommodation that you need.

In our opinion, the process is much faster on Airbnb than on Booking.com. Perhaps the fact that Booking.com is a much more rigorous platform, more complex and with more travel, means that it requires a longer approval process. Airbnb is, in essence, a much simpler platform than Booking.com: in just half an hour you can be ready.

Point Airbnb

4. Control of information

In this sense, we can say that Airbnb is a much more friendly platform than Booking.com. Booking.com allows you to manage your own content, write your own descriptions and even introduce yourself as a host. On Booking.com, however, everything is in a structured format, answering questions that, little by little, design an automatic text based on your answers.

Point for Airbnb

5. Amount of information about the property

Without a doubt, the most exhaustive control of the property will be generated by Booking.com. Even when you already have an active listing, it keeps asking you improvement questions to add to your descriptions.

Point for Booking

6. Tenant control

If you live worried and anxious about who is going to visit and occupy your home, then, without a doubt, the best option for you will be to rent your home through Airbnb. On Airbnb, the host can talk to the renter before deciding whether or not to accept the renter’s accommodation request. However, Booking.com is a much more hotel-oriented platform, so if the accommodation is available, it will be rented automatically without further consideration.

Point for Airbnb

7. Proceso de check in

It is true that, if you have also used Airbnb, you may have noticed a slight complication when it comes to coordinating the delivery and return of keys, arrival and departure times, etc.

At Booking.com, however, this process is more reminiscent of a hotel. You book and forget about it until the check-in date arrives. That is when, depending on the accommodation you have selected, you will have to specify certain issues.

Point for Booking

8. Cancelation risk

Airbnb follows the methodology of charging their tenants at the time the reservation is confirmed, so the cancellation rate is quite low: you only book when you have it clear.

In Booking.com, however, you can allow cancellation is free up to maybe even 1 day before, this makes that in many occasions “just in case” bookings are made. Although you can also avoid this without giving the option of free cancellation (which can generate some rejection to the guest), asking for an advance payment or with a pre-authorization in which you retain a certain amount of money from the client to make the full charge later (you can retain this amount as a guarantee if the client does not show up or return it in full). Keep in mind that if your room is non-refundable, you will also have to pay a fee.

Point for Airbnb

9. Time of payment to the platform

Airbnb pays the owners the amount of the reservations as the tenants move through the accommodation (24h). Booking.com’s methodology, on the other hand, is a bit different. In this case you receive the payment once your tenants have checked out, usually on a weekly or monthly basis (on or before the 15th of each month), depending on the location of your accommodation.

Point for Airbnb

10. Promotion and offer options

Booking.com is constantly inviting you to make promotions of the month, of the week, for the Chinese public… it is a much more complete platform in this sense. In this way it promotes the attraction of more customers to the platform and its accommodations. Airbnb, however, lags slightly behind on this point.

Point for Booking

11. Usability for the owner

In this game, Booking wins by a landslide. The platform has a website (admin.booking.com) and an app (Pulse) specifically for use by owners, so that they can seamlessly separate their user experience from their work as owners.

Meanwhile, Airbnb does not have a specific app for owners, but has a section within the website itself.

Point for Booking

12. In-platform SEO

Booking is much more developed in this regard, in addition to having SEM options to appear higher in search engines. In this sense, maybe their 12 years of difference have had something to do with the SEO. 😉

Point for Booking

¿Booking or Airbnb? Well…it depends

As you can see, although we did not look for it, both are tied in this Airbnb Vs Booking “fight”.

Does it mean that they are equally good? Not necessarily. Choosing one or the other will depend on the importance you give to each of the criteria we have proposed. Which one do you prefer?



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