The Path to Sustainable Hosting
By reading this article, you will:
- Understand the biggest liability in your short-term rental business and how you are at risk
- Learn how to diversify your lead generation and get more bookings
- Receive a cheat sheet of the 52 listing sites to advertise on in order to protect and grow your rental business
What If Your Rental Income Was Cut Off Tomorrow?
Think about it for a second: You are an entrepreneur, and your rental business just got shut down. No warning. No explanation. This scenario unfolds for only one reason: you are dependent on a single listing site, like Airbnb, to advertise on.
“What can I do?” “Why does this happen?” “How can I prevent this?”
We have read and heard too many stories of hosts getting shut down and locked out by the listing sites on which they have become dependent. The truth is, most hosts rent out the home they own and live in. The supplemental income they earn by renting out their extra space is a financial lifeline.
Take Kelly Kampen, a highly-decorated Airbnb Superhost and Airbnb ambassador in Asia. One August morning Kelly picked up the phone to an Airbnb representative reading a script in a monotone voice, informing him that his account had been terminated.
As his nightmare began to unfold, these were the thoughts that were racing through his mind:
“I am absolutely crushed. I have no idea what I could have possibly done wrong. They will not even tell me. I have given so much to the Airbnb community.”
“My account is to be terminated on August 15th, but I still have to honor guests until next week. Am I even covered under AirBNB’s insurance since they canceled my account & liability?” 
“Hedge your income with other services,” Kampen warned other hosts. “I am already on 9flats, Flipkey and others [but] prior to this I never put any serious thought into other services.” 
This is the exact message he received a few minutes after he got off the phone with Airbnb:
As key stakeholders in the Sharing Economy, home sharing hosts depend on their rental income to:
- Pay the mortgage
- Pay bills
- Afford to stay in their home
- Pay for their children’s education
- Keep them afloat between jobs or use it as a springboard into a new career
- Reinvest in their home
- Fund passion projects
- Fund personal travel
For these hosts, the Sharing Economy is real and it is here to stay. The idea of home sharing is old, but the industry is still in its infancy. Taking the steps to declare Listing Site Independence is for the host who doesn’t want to receive a call from Airbnb or any other listing site saying,“please listen to me carefully, your Airbnb account is being terminated” and have their income stream go up in smoke as a result.
How Am I At Risk?
Guests can cancel without any notice, this is nothing new. A short-term reservation made weeks in advance could flop, or a long-term guest leaves midway through because of a family tragedy. Life happens, and as a host you never know when you might miss out, so posting on multiple listing sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Homeaway is essential for attracting more qualified leads in a pinch.
Updates to Terms and Fees
Listing sites are constantly updating their Terms of Service and adjusting fees. The landscape is rapidly shifting, so you don’t know if the site you are dependent on will make a sudden and impactful change to your bottom line or even deactivate you altogether. When hosts list on multiple listing sites, the sites themselves must think twice before making changes that may upset their users.
Regulation of Short-Term Rentals
In most cities, Airbnb is illegal, unregulated, or pending legality. New legislation and taxation are constantly being discussed amongst officials at the neighborhood and city level. There are many unanswered questions, and it is the consensus amongst the hosts that regulation from city councils and the hotel lobbyists will be Airbnb’s biggest challenge.
Airbnb is the target of scrutiny and regulation for city officials and if your neighborhood began regulating or outlawed Airbnb tomorrow, can you say for sure how that will affect your hospitality business? It would likely kill it fast and put you at risk for large fines.
How To Build A Strong Foundation For Your Rental Business
There are hosts who have been actively sharing their homes for years, and others who have been hosting for just a few months. A report on home sharing, recently conducted by LearnAirbnb.com, uncovered that the number one complaint by all hosts was not getting enough bookings. Does that sound familiar?
Now, rookie and veteran hosts alike are coming up with creative ways to:
- Take control of their independent hospitality business,
- Stand out amongst their competitors
- Market their listing effectively to prospective guests on multiple listing sites
To increase the visibility of their listing and get more bookings, hosts are testing the waters and posting their listing on multiple sites like HomeAway, Airbnb, FlipKey, 9Flats, and more.
Also, hosts are tapping into online travel agents like Booking.com, and established travel companies such as TripAdvisor.com, for distribution and are having great success. After speaking with multiple hosts, we discovered that Booking.com has been the strongest source of traffic to their listing and for bookings. In fact, 90% of rentalpreneur Ricky Neckles’s bookings come from Booking.com, not Airbnb.
The idea of Listing Site Independence is a best practice in the vacation rental marketing industry and was made popular by guru Matt Landau of VacationRentalMarketingBlog.com. It is a pillar of sustainable hosting, and as millions of individual hosts turn their homes into a hospitality business, the same lesson applies.
From Hobbyist to Hospitality Entrepreneur
Here are a four marketing tactics hosts are using to diversify lead generation (exposure to potential guests) and wean off major listings sites:
Hosts are making social media accounts:
(Chicago Superhost, @AirbnbChi)
Using drones to take pictures:
Launching a website for their home:
Running targeted Facebook ads (SpaceAgent.io), and more.
In general, diversifying your lead generation is a smart business practice and will lead more traffic to your listing. You will not be entirely reliant on one listing site, and you will get more bookings!
Why is this true? Well, it’s a numbers game, more leads results in more bookings.
Trying new listing sites to see which are a good fit and which produce results will inevitably defend you from your local competitors and build up your home sharing business.
Remember, this is not just a haphazard investment in marketing your space. Posting your listing on multiple marketplaces is a pillar of sustainable hosting; one that provides short-term profit potential with long term growth and sustainability in mind.
Airbnb and HomeAway Are Not the Only Gigs in Town
The moral of the story is that you should never find yourself in a situation where you are married to solely Airbnb or any other single-listing marketplace. Taking the steps to declare Listing Site Independence is about sustainability and weathering the storm. Listing your property on multiple sites is the only way to protect your home sharing business from getting squashed and unexpectedly losing your income stream.
Yes, Airbnb might be driving the most traffic now, but that may not always be the case, and they are not your only option either! In the grand scheme of things, home sharing (and Airbnb) makes up a small portion of the entire short-term accommodation market. To be successful, you must diversify the listing sites you use to generate leads.
Declare Listing Site Independence NOW! Download the FREE Cheat Sheet
We’ve done all of the hard work for you and have found 50+ home sharing and short-term rental listing sites for you to post on so your business stays safe!
We have broken it down into a few main categories:
- Top 10 Listing Sites: These are the top listing sites that are the most established and will drive the most traffic to your listing.
- Niche Listing Sites: Home sharing is a community driven movement. These listing sites are founded by, and created for, specific types of hosts and travelers.
- Professionally Managed: Professionally managed listing sites are for hosts who want a totally hands-off experience. Typically for the more high-end listing, these sites take a larger fee, but manage everything while you collect the checks.
- Homestay and Home Exchange Listing Sites: Homestay and Home Exchange are alternative forms of hosting, but still a viable option if you are interested in opening up your door to the world!
- More Options: This list is for listing sites that are not for specific communities nor rank in the top 10.
To get your copy of the one-of-a-kind “Listing Site Independence: A Cheat Sheet” please do the following:
- Enter your email and first name into the box below
- Click “Download the Cheat Sheet”
- Check your email inbox for an email containing the document.
- Share this post with other hosts using the social sharing buttons on the left!