Airbnb vs Booking.Com for Guests & Hosts: The Pros and Cons


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If you’re travelling as a couple or two friends, then two of the most common options for budget accommodation are Airbnb and Booking.com. Having travelled extensively using both sites, we think that both sites have their own unique pros and cons for travellers and hosts. We have also rented a private room in our apartment and have a view on which platform is better to use for hosts. If you’re considering either staying in Airbnb or Booking.com for an upcoming trip or debating which one of Airbnb vs. Booking.Com is better for listing your property, read on as we’ve highlighted the pros and cons of each platform!

Airbnb vs Booking.Com for Guests

The Pros of Using Airbnb for Guests

1. Airbnb is typically the most affordable option

If your decision on whether to use Airbnb or Booking.com is primarily based on cost, then you will nearly always get better value for money by finding a place on Airbnb.

This is especially true in major European cities, where you can find affordable places to stay in a prime location while many budget hotels will be on the outskirts of town. We’ve used Airbnb in many expensive places such as Reykjavik and Copenhagen which has made our trips much more affordable!

Reykjavik is an extremely expensive city so finding ways to save money is a must!

2. You meet locals and get great recommendations

How many times have you stayed in a budget hotel and gotten good recommendations about places to eat?

Chances are they’re sending you to the restaurant in their lobby or somewhere across the road! This definitely isn’t the case with Airbnb as many hosts are long-term residents of the city that you’re visiting and have an excellent knowledge of things to do and places to visit.

Furthermore, we generally find that many hosts are very hospitable and we often end up having a cup of tea or coffee with them during our stay and getting to know them!

3. You usually get access to common facilities

One of the great things about staying in a private room in an Airbnb is that you will often get access to common facilities such as their kitchen and laundry.

This is great if you’re travelling on a budget as it allows you to cook your own meals (rather than eating out all the time) and wash your clothes without paying a premium surcharge that hotels often charge.

In some places, common facilities can be even more awesome – our Airbnb in Gozo had an amazing balcony with brilliant views of the surrounding countryside!

Living rooms can be a factor in choosing between Airbnb or Booking.com
You can get access to comfortable living rooms in Airbnbs!

Read enough and decided that Airbnb wins in the battle of Airbnb vs Booking.com? Then, click here to find an Airbnb for your next holiday!

The Pros of Using Booking.com for Guests

1. For many places, you don’t need to pay in advance

One of the big disadvantages of Airbnb is that you have to pay the full amount of your stay when booking.

This can mean you’re paying for accommodation months before you use it and you are only eligible for a refund if the host allows it in their booking policy (however, Airbnb does allow for a full refund within 48 hours of booking regardless of the host’s cancellation policy).

On the contrary, many hotels on Booking.com don’t require upfront payment meaning you can book accommodation without paying a cent!

2. You can get great deals if you book in advance

Whilst Airbnb is usually the cheaper option, you can often get some amazing deals on Booking.com if you book in advance. Many budget hotels are significantly discounted which is quite different from Airbnb where there are never explicit sales on accommodation.

You can even get great deals if you’re booking within a shorter timeframe but are not travelling during a peak period. During our time in Bulgaria, we got a great deal on a really nice boutique hotel because we were staying mid-week rather than on the busier weekends!

Black Sea in Bulgaria
The view of the Black Sea from our room in Sozopol, Bulgaria

3. Booking.com requires minimal effort

One of the nice things about booking a hotel through Booking.com is that once the booking is done, there’s little you need to do before arriving. This is unlike Airbnb, where you need to contact your host, make sure that they’ll be home when you arrive and possibly get specific instructions about how to get to their property.

Sometimes, particularly after a long flight, it’s nice not to have to worry about any of that and simply be able to check into a room with minimal hassle.

Read enough and decided that Booking.com wins in the battle of Airbnb vs Booking com? Then, click here to find a place to stay for your upcoming trip on Booking.com! 

The Cons of Using Airbnb for Guests

1. You need to be flexible as a guest

One of the most important things to remember when using Airbnb as a guest is that it’s not the same as a hotel so you need to be flexible sometimes. Check-in hours might be restricted or if something breaks down, it might not be possible to fix it straight away.

If these sort of things bother you then it’s probably best to book a hotel however in our experience these minor inconveniences would never be enough to stop us from using Airbnb!

2. Staying in an Airbnb has an element of risk

While we’ve never had any issues using Airbnb, you do occasionally hear newspapers reporting horror stories about travellers’ experiences with Airbnb. There is always going to be a small element of risk when staying in somebody else’s house, however, this can easily be avoided with some basic research.

We always stay with people that have had their profiles verified and have at least at a couple of positive reviews. Also, always make sure to research the neighbourhood of the Airbnb before booking to make sure it’s appropriate for your stay – you don’t want to end up in party central if you’re after a quiet weekend away!

3. In some cities, private Airbnbs are causing housing affordability issues

One of the main issues that travellers have with Airbnb is that in certain cities it’s causing housing affordability issues as landlords are listing their apartments on Airbnb rather than renting them to long-term local tenants. This means that in certain cities such as Berlin or Lisbon, governments are cracking down and banning short-term rentals of whole apartments on Airbnb.

You need to be careful if choosing to book in larger cities as whole apartments might be listed illegally and could be shut down before you arrive. While some travel websites, suggest avoiding whole apartments on Airbnb, we still use them in less-visited cities, particularly in Eastern Europe, where there can often be an oversupply of rental properties.

If you do want to book an entire property, just make sure to do it ethically. Pay attention to who the host is, see if he or she is an actual person and not a holiday letting agent, and make sure that person doesn’t have numerous properties available for rent. There is a big difference in staying in the apartment of a local looking to make some extra cash compared to patronising a large business profiting off of short-term lets.

Cool Things to do in Berlin
Awesome Street Art in Berlin!

The Cons of Using Booking.com for Guests

1. Budget hotels can often be sterile and less spacious

One of the problems with using Booking.com is that if you’re on a budget a lot of the places tend to be less spacious and often sterile and lacking in character.

One of the things we love about using Airbnb is that every place is unique and has a homely atmosphere which is quite a contrast to many budget hotels which will usually have quite a similar feel to each other.

2. Budget hotels are usually poorly located

Another issue with budget hotels is that they are often not located in the neighbourhoods that you want to stay in. When booking accommodation, one of the most important considerations is ensuring we’re centrally located and can easily get around.

The cost of being in the centre of town, ultimately means that many budget hotels are located further away from the city centre and this means that it will take longer to get around and you will probably pay more for transportation during your stay.

3. Booking.com is nearly always more expensive than Airbnb

At the end of the day, when we’re travelling, we tend to be out and about exploring for most of the day so we don’t want to spend excess money on accommodation when we’re barely there. That means we’re always looking for the most budget-friendly room that is well located and clean. In nearly all places that we’ve visited, if Booking.com is consistently more expensive than Airbnb.

Airbnb vs Booking.com for Guests: The Verdict

If you’re deciding whether to use Airbnb or Booking.com for your upcoming trip then it’s important to consider what’s important for you.

If you’re on a budget, value meeting locals and getting their recommendations and having access to additional facilities then we’d recommend finding an Airbnb for your upcoming trip. Click here to find an Airbnb for your next trip!

If you value flexibility, convenience or are simply travelling to a place with limited private apartments then we recommend booking accommodation on Booking.com. We suggest not leaving it until the last minute as you can find great bargains if you book in advance. Click here to find a place to stay for your upcoming trip on Booking.com!

Airbnb vs. Booking.Com for Hosts

When we lived in London, we rented the spare room in our apartment on Airbnb for over a year. We never used Booking.Com because we felt that Airbnb had a number of advantages over Booking.Com for hosts.

The Pros of Using Airbnb for Hosts

1. Better screening and control of guests

On Airbnb, hosts are able to have full control of who stays at their property as well as get a better understanding of who will be staying with them. Airbnb allows you to turn off instant book so you can accept or reject each guest based on their profile and their previous reviews. Airbnb also has a full verification system so guests need to upload forms of ID and hosts can reject guests if they aren’t fully verified.

On Booking.Com, once you list your property, you have no control over who is actually staying at your property. Once a guest books, the reservation is automatically accepted. This was a big disadvantage to us as hosts, particularly as we were sharing our apartment with incoming guests.

2. Lower hosting fees on Airbnb

The pricing model on Airbnb favours hosts while on Booking.com it favours guests. This means if you list the same property on both websites, you will typically pay less as a guest if you book on Booking.Com which means the host ends up paying more. A

s hosts, if you are looking to minimise the amount you pay to the platform, then Airbnb is definitely the better option.

3. Streamlined payment process on Airbnb

One of the big advantages for hosts using Airbnb is that the payment process is extremely streamlined. When a guest books a property, Airbnb typically charges them instantly. The payment is then released to the host 24 hours after the guests check in to the property.

On Booking.Com, guests have the option of paying in cash which adds additional burden for the host to collect payment. For payments that are processed online, hosts either need to collect payments manually if they want to receive it as soon as possible or wait once a month to collect it via bank transfer.

The Pros of Using Booking.Com for Hosts

1. Access to a wider market

Historically, Airbnb has only been used by a certain type of traveller, while Booking.com and similar hotel booking sites have been used by a larger market.

This means that if you are a host in a less visited area, listing on Booking.com will likely allow you to have a much larger pool of potential guests. While we never had this problem in London, it is certainly something that is worth considering depending on your location.

London has a huge range of Airbnbs available

Airbnb vs. Booking.Com for Hosts: The Verdict

If you’re deciding between Airbnb vs. Booking.Com as a host, then I personally recommend using Airbnb as your primary platform for the reasons outlined above. Listing on Booking.Com is a good option if you want access to additional guests however you’ll need to make sure that you stay on top of syncing availability between the two platforms.

Do you prefer to use Airbnb or Booking.com? What are the pros and cons of using each? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!  

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Michael is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When not obsessively searching for flight deals, Michael likes being ultra-competitive at table tennis, gazing at street art, and contemplating life while sipping a dram of fine single malt whisky.

Comments

  1. I like to point out few disadvantages of using Airbnb: 1- you cannot get on the phone with Airbnb and resolve any issue with the host
    2- if you are late posting a review, you are not allowed to post any after certain date of your stay
    3- Their so called customer service, is no customer service at all!
    4- if the host didn’t like you for some reason like(offering service ), he will leave a bad review and you are stuck with it like myself!
    5- I was traveling since May 4th of 2018, I never got the chance to leave a review for my host who I stayed in his apartment 4 nights, I was surprised to find his review which was not true at all! I contacted Airbnb but they ignored me completely with 4 messages already!
    6- Booking.com was absolutely amazing when I got on the phone with them to change my hotel and I got full refund after deductions of the nights I stayed in! I am not advertising for Booking but I write my own experience!
    I hope you post my comment on your blog

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Donna. It’s possible to have a bad experience with a host, however, the review system is there to give full transparency to all users. You can actually reply to a review on your Airbnb profile for up to 30 days after it’s posted. It’s next to impossible to get any kind of review removed from your profile as the system is designed to develop trust between hosts and guests!

      Reply
    • Donna, regarding #1 & #3 – that’s not true. (or perhaps it once was, but things have changed in the last year?)

      I had a situation where the host of the property wasn’t there and was non-responsive to multiple messages and calls, leaving me stranded for hours outside on the street, growing increasingly desperate. Luckily I was able to book at a hostel for the night after a few hours of searching (nearly every property in town was sold out!). When I called Airbnb support to report the issue, the agent had me to send her screenshots of my numerous attempts to contact the host so she could investigate the issue and within 24 hours had arranged a FULL refund for me.

      As you could imagine, given my experience, I’m still a bit wary about booking through them — but I was greatly impressed with Airbnb’s customer service.

      Reply
  2. Your blog suggests that Booking.com only books hotels but it doesn’t. I have an appartment that I rent in France (in a city that has not yet banned it!) and I use Airbnb and booking.com. For the host Airbnb is brilliant, easy to use, does what it says and it pays the host on the day the guest arrives. Communication with the guest is great and arrival times etc are all sorted. Booking.com is hell! Their website is set up for hotels and doesn’t really cater for the private renter. Plus guests are much less responsible – they don’t bother to check with the host about arrival time etc because they assume it is like a hotel (which they must know it isn’t!). Yesterday I waited 5 hours for a guest to arrive (I don’t live on site) and despite repeated requests through the website they hadn’t bothered to confirm their eta or call to say they were late. Plus Booking.com keeps the money for six weeks and sends you ridiculously complicated invoices (still trying to work it out) and they charge the host the commission. If a guest books after 15th of the month for example 16th July, the host will receive the payment 16th September. Ouch.
    Last final gripe – my appartment is in France in a seaport with loads of fabulous seafood restaurants. On the booking.com website they ask you if there is “a” restaurant, and the drop-down box gives you the option of the following cuisines: American (does America have a “cuisine”?), African, Argentinian, Asian, Australian. Speechless.
    Also re previous comments as a host you can’t contact booking.com at all (really difficult and time -consuming!
    So that’s my view!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your sharing your experience Imogen. This article focuses mainly on comparing the two platforms from the experience of a traveller. However, I agree with you completely that as host (we are Airbnb hosts!) Airbnb is by far superior to Booking.com.

      Reply
  3. I use both platforms, and used to hold an even opinion on both, but a recent incident with booking.com has challenged my previous good impression on the website. My group of three unfortunately booked a place on booking.com that contains lots of hidden fee, which doubled the nightly rate that was shown to us. Neither booking.com or the resort offers any compensation, and their response was basically “it’s the other party’s fault”, and that “they can’t do anything about it”.
    The review system on booking.com is basically a joke. The default sequence of review is “recommended”, which booking.com has all the incentives of only showing you the positive reviews. Many customers mentioned the place as a scam, but these reviews were not actively shown by booking.com. AirBnB on the other hand, offers a much more real and trust worthy review system: nobody can post retaliate review (since reviews are only visible after both host and guest have reviewed), always sorted chronologically, and no editing of the review is allowed. AirBnB also makes it almost impossible for host to charge hidden fees.
    Also, booking.com has recently added lots of things to pressurise you into booking right away – such as the “almost sold out!” , “only 1 room left”, etc. Extremely annoying. Sadly, AirBnB might be on the following as well by using “xxx’s place is almost always booked”.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience using Booking. Very useful things to look out for when using Booking.com!

      Reply
  4. I’m new on Airbnb and I’m outraged with the dishonesty of the reviews on it! I’ve been using Booking.com for 10 years and had just one case of wrong assessment based on reviews. While on Airbnb all reviews are fantastic and noone mentions the disadvantages of the property. I read that the ratio bookings/reviews is important but I can’t find where is the number of bookings.

    Reply
    • Hi Tsvetelina, there are different standards applied to Airbnb vs Booking.com rating systems. Booking.com operates on a traditional star system. A ‘5-star’ rating on Airbnb will usually apply as long as the room is as described in the description, is clean and easy to access.

      Reply
      • Nice to see some feedback as thinking of putting my property on Airbnb but have no one to talk through how it works. Do I understand that booking.com charge 15% commission while Airbnb charge 3%. I rent my property to Contractors.I have a problam today that all of a sudden my water is not heating up. trying to get an Electrician to fix it can be difficult as the earliest they can do isTuesday when my Contractors are due Monday. How would I deal with this problem on bookings.com or Airbnb?; because my Contractors have been hear before I call them direct but via booking.come or Airbnb would this be more complicated?

        Reply
        • Hi Joan! Airbnb doesn’t help you maintain the property and I suspect Booking.com doesn’t either. You would still need to call contractors directly. From a hosting perspective, I use Airbnb only as I think the system is much better (automatic payments, better screening of guests)!

          Reply
  5. I’ve been an Airbnb host for one year and absolutely detest Airbnb. They have ruled against me with some very offensive and in cases crazy guests, which has cost me money but also caused me to be slandered publicly. So I have just terminated my account with them.

    I have just started with Booking.com and so far, so good.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience Lauren. It’s a shame that you have had a bad experience with Airbnb as I think their booking system is designed much better for hosts. Glad it’s working out for you on Booking.com!

      Reply
    • Hi Laura, I am having the same issue. Rules don’t matter and the most they do is put something negative in the guests’ profile. Doesn’t help me when I’m shelling out hundreds to fix or right the situation. Also doesn’t make me feel very good knowing house rules don’t amount to anything – “arbitrary amount” are the words they used when I asked to be compensated for things like multiple dogs in a pet-free home, checking out 7 hours late or the guests trashing the place. I am currently online looking for a new platform. I would rather loose a percentage in fees than hundreds of dollars in the matter of a few guests. Would love to hear if it is still going well.

      Reply
  6. I prefer the ability to pay at the time of my stay with booking.com. I’ve had very good experiences with apartment style accommodations through them, as well as regular hotels. Usually the cancellation policies are very clear; Only once did I mistakenly reserve and pay for a non-refundable/changeable booking; luckily I didn’t have to cancel or modify it.
    On a recent booking I received an email from the owner asking for arrival information, as well as giving some extra information. Very helpful

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing Jon! I agree that being able to pay at the time of your stay is definitely one of the big advantages of Booking.com over Airbnb!

      Reply
  7. I have been a frequent user of Booking.com and Airbnb, but next year in the 4 trips I will only use Booking.com. I think I will not use Airbnb again. I am a guest only and, from the guest’s perspective, Airbnb gives very few guarantees of a restful holiday, and allows the host to reject a reservation based on such simple aspects as skin color, nationality or gender. This is not permissible in a civilized society today, at least according to the values in which I believe and why I grieve. At Booking.com, as in any commercial service, what is put up for sale, should be sold to any person without authorization. It is not acceptable for someone to enter a bookstore to buy a book and the bookseller refuse to sell to that particular person, choosing to sell the other. At Booking.com, what is exposed for reservation is actually for reservation by anyone who has money (or credit card) to carry out the business transaction.

    On Airbnb, in most cases, the properties are available for booking, but… I have to ask the host if he wants to rent to me. Sometimes I get a ‘no’, without apparent justification (they do not like me (?), they prefer someone other than me (?) – and is this permissible in civilized and democratic societies like those we believe to live?) Or the houses are falsely exposed to reserve but they don’t have a real intention to do so. They say ‘no’ and some time later you find the same property available for rent with a higher price. That’s speculation (and deceit). On Booking.com this never happens. If it is presented for booking, I know that in less than a minute I have the matter resolved and the booking is effectively completed.

    Finally, there is a much bigger problem (I would say dread) with Airbnb, from the perspective of the guest (which, as I read in the comments above, delights the hosts): the possibility of canceling the reservation, with little time in advance, creating problems impossible to solve when we have a booked trip (plane, car rental, other bookings before and after, and lots of money involved), with no margin for maneuvering or alterations. If the host wants to cancel, Airbnb assures us that we are safe because they return all the money and the host is penalized. But if I am a few days away, I do not want the money back nor does it bring me any compensation that the host is penalized. All I want is a house in the place and time I made the first booking, and sometimes, with a few days in advance, every property is already booked or only the houses with exorbitant prices remain. That is, by Airbnb I can have all my vacations ruined and nothing will be done to solve the problem. What Airbnb says is: take the money and go home or find a solution on your own.

    On Booking.com, there was a situation of canceling a reservation of an apartment by the host and the customer service was relentless: we exchanged many emails, we often spoke on the phone, but the concern was always to find an alternative. They never gave up finding an alternative, with the guarantee that if I had to stay in a more expensive apartment or hotel, I would be compensated for the difference, as well as the price of the taxi ride that I would need to go from the first place to the new one. After a lot of negotiation, everything went well, the price stayed the same and I felt that they bothered to “save” my vacations. From then on, I decided not to use Airbnb again because I definitely feel more secure using Booking.com.

    I do not have any problem (contrary to what is said in some comments above) with the reviews on the Booking.com: just go through all the reviews and the negative aspects are there all highlighted. Incidentally, Booking.com separates the negative aspects so that they are clearly visible.
    Finally, Airbnb has an annoying way of presenting prices: the price that initially appears (in ascending or descending order) is never the final price. It is tiring and confusing.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jose and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a poor experience with Airbnb. There are definitely pros and cons of both platforms and it sounds like you’ve unfortunately experience all of the negatives of Airbnb without any of the positives!

      The discrimination in particular is unacceptable and you really should report it to Airbnb if you have experienced it. Unfortunately like a lot of companies that grow quickly they are playing catch-up in dealing with ethical issues.

      I also agree completely that Airbnb should do more when guests have their booking cancelled last minute and if peace of mind is what you value most then Booking.com is the way to go, particularly for short trips.

      Reply
  8. HI – I have just started to rent out four rooms in my own house in Liverpool – about 20 mins from city centre. At first I started with Air B’n’b and things were good – then booking started to drop off around November / December and I was encouraged to try booking.com. As a host you can charge more with booking.com – although market forces tend to dictate you will never get too much more. At first booking with booking .com were off the scale – I mean almost too much. A word of warning about anyone wanting to swap sites and lives in a city – make sure you get the house details right at the start – booking.com is alot more detailed and complicated than air b’n’b and needs more time. Also note they also do not check any of your details after they have been completed. On the first night I put in the wrong number of rooms available and had to deal with four unhappy guests who thought they were good for the night ! People also seem to book way more in advance with booking.com but can also (and do) cancel at will, as there is no punishment for doing so (unless as a host you put them in place – which you are discouraged from doing so by booking.com). One thing that people need to bear in mind – it would appear that if you go with one then switch to another the one you left will cut you off – I have not had one booking with air b’n’b since I started to take bookings with booking.com – it could be a co-incidence, it could be I am too booked up for air b’n’b people, I am not sure. Ofcourse the delayed payment system of booking.com is a bit of pain, especially if you a small ‘one person show’ – as alot of people are in this buisiness. If you consider how much money booking.com must make off this delayed payment – globally – it should be illegal, then ofcourse they charge you 15% comminsion, which is a bit steep.

    Reply
  9. your behind the time – i’m a host on on booking.com and i’m not a budget i’m a private home in the heart of hollywood ca. – there are three other places on my street that rent rooms – booking.com has made a real effort to sign smaller privately own properties – as a host i do much better on booking.com than airbb

    Reply
  10. I tried to verify my profile as a guest in Airbnb in Mars 2019.

    They want send them a photo with my passport and then an selfie and a robot compares these two photoes. I tried numerous of times several days in a row but the answer from the robot was that I was not the same person.

    I called airbnb but they could not help me.

    So I chose accomodation via booking.com that did not require any photoes.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience Argirios. Uploading a photo of yourself and your passport makes it more secure and provides comfort for guests. It’s a shame Airbnb couldn’t help you get it sorted!

      Reply
  11. I am a host and using both AirBnB and Booking.com for more than 5 years and seriously thinking about dropping Booking.com as besides the standard booking fee they now introduced a new additional cost in amount of 1.4% for payment collection. I do not like their style by imposing me their opportunities all the time as if anyone using these opportunities has profited a lot and I should do the same. Costly and useless. I do not like most of the guests I get through booking.com reservation system. My property has maintained a high review score (9.7 out of 10) all these 5 years and I am finally done. Each time when I receive new booking I pray it is from tourists and not locals. We have very strict house rules (no parties, no visitors, no shoes inside, no pets, silent hours from 11 to 9) and because of our rating and level of cleanliness (10 out of 10) we started to receive lots of bookings from local guests who absolutely do not read house rules. On AirBnB I can have a control over who I let in and guests must accept house rules before they book. I like my AirBnB guests, they come from distant places and are eager to know about my country, traditions culture. A different world. But now there is a big problem. Local guests have discovered AirBnB as another alternative platform to book their stay without understanding the true essence of AirBnB. And they do not read house rules even if they tick the box they have read and understood. They even do not read description. Millenials. Unfortunately.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience TT. As hosts, we also preferred using Airbnb however think both Airbnb & Booking.com can be good options for travellers as long as they obviously respect where they’re staying!

      Reply
    • I am a host and have been very disappointed with Airbnb. The HOST has no voice in the case of disputes. Airbnb recently refunded a guests 100% of their rental rate when they cancelled just before their arrival date. This guest had cancelled a reservation in the past. My cancellation policy is strict. Airbnb totally ignored my policy. I lost a substantial amount of money during my peak season thanks to Airbnb overriding my policy. I am cancelling my listing and plan to never use their services. They use foreigners to make these refunds who have no regard for the hosts. Awful customer service for the hosts. Don’t use them.

      Reply
  12. I have used both platforms extensively as a traveler over the last 8 years and I would like to share my personal experience.

    I used Airbnb a LOT for many years till 2017. I had a few poor incidents with different hosts – a host made me wait 90 minutes, one host didn’t have wifi and we were booked there several nights and it was so stressful, another incident involved searching for an apartment for over one hour in Bosnia, not to mention the rules of some of the apartments requiring us to take the trash out and throw it in the dumptser 200 meters away. Usually we don’t have a problem with this but when it is sub zero temperatures in Iceland and you are lugging a bag of trash, it makes you question their crazy house rules a bit- especially when these apartments charge you for a cleaning fee!!

    Still, I continued because Aibnb had exciting and unique accommodations that Booking.com did not have at that time. So in 2017 I had a nightmare when my card was used in a fraud on Airbnb and I was charged 3000$. That is when i realized how horrible and non existential the customer service of Aribnb was. They do not allocate a dedicated representative for my case. Every time I got a reply from their customer service agent, it made me feel it was actually a bot. The person (or bot) was not even reading my email and just replying with standard drafted responses. Ultimately I got my money back but Airbnb deduced 150$ for no reason. WTF? When the booking was never made by me.

    Have you ever realized that if you are stranded with an Airbnb host during your actual travel, you have no chance of getting through to a customer agent. Your only chance is to get in touch with the local police. This is actually a frightening thought. If you have booked an apartment from a single person host, and they cancel or you don’t manage to find it, you are stuck in a foreign country in odd hours trying to find another accommodation. In contrast, you can always find an alternative with booking.com with the same host.

    When all this was happening, Booking.com started introducing more experiential stays – Camps, lodges, apartments that were only available earlier on Airbnb. If you check the rates on both, Booking,com is cheaper for the traveler because they do not have the service fee and the cleaning fee that Aibnb has. Because of Airbnb fraudulently charging my card, having zero customer service and having a high service and cleaning charge, I have exclusively used Booking.com in the last 2 years without even bothering to check Airbnb. For me Airbnb is a thing of the past and I don’t think I will be using it anymore. Booking.com has always had fantastic customer service ( from the Traveler’s point of view) and I will always continue to use them in the future

    Reply
  13. Hi, I am the host renting a condo apartment. Simple question; considering pros and cons for 2 platforms (Airbnb and booking.com) which platform should I try first ? I am fully aware that there is no ideal solution and always we will have some challenges on both sides but just to make it short I would appreciate your practical advice.
    Key criteria before deciding with which platform I should go I think should be;
    1. good quality of guests needed – control of it (airbnb ?)
    2. pricing for the hosts and guests – differentiation – on very average what is the renting price % difference between Airbnb and booking.com ? – for the hosts and guests respectively
    3. commission for the agency – 3% Airbnb vs. 15% booking.com ? – any hidden extras ?
    4. payments for the hosts speed – is ot really 24 hrs with Airbnb ?
    5. cancellation policy for the host and the guests – ?
    6. ?

    Many thanks.

    Reply
    • As a host, I recommend Airbnb. The pricing you set yourself and the commission paid is less than Booking.Com. You get paid 24 hours after check-in from the guests and there is flexibility to set the cancellation policy based on what you prefer.

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  14. Hi, I found the article and the comments above very interesting. I am a host on Airbnb and found this article while deciding if I should add booking.com. As a host, I have decided to stick with Airbnb for a number of reasons
    1. The guests are verified and its easier to work out who they are. On the one occasion i felt uncomfortable about a guest, the help from Airbnb (which admittedly is email based) was very good.
    2. Yes you can get a bad review. But if you are renting regularly the good reviews just make the bad review look odd.
    3. Airbnb pay out the day after they guests move in and I have never had an issue with late payment. I would go crazy waiting weeks for payment!

    As a guest, I did have the experience of been left stranded in that I ended up in a house in Venice in mid August with no air conditioning and no working shower and an Airbnb “host” (who had 25 properties in the city) making himself unavailable. Add to this been a saturday of a Bank holiday. I arranged a new Airbnb property the next day to move into and by that evening, Airbnb had confirmed that they hadnt paid out the first guy (the 24 hour rule helping) and I got a refund. Obviously you need your head about you but if its a large tourist area (like Venice) you will always find a plan B.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience! In the future, I would recommend trying to avoid staying in Airbnb rentals that are run by large agencies. As you’ve experienced, they tend to have worse service and can have a poor impact on the local economy.

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  15. As a host I have to say Airbnb is not the way to go. They have poor customer service and no set of rules or rights for the home owners. House rules (even when costs for breaking them are listed) are not required for guests. The most Airbnb offers to do is put a bad note on the guests’ profile so they can monitor if it happens again. Same thing with check-outs: can’t force the people out and can’t get compensated for paying off your next guests to come a half day late. So far I’ve had at least a handful of complaints and have ended up paying several hundred out of pocket for everything from door repairs and guests refusing to leave to paying cleaners to deal with dogs (in a no-pet home) and entire meals left on tables and trash everywhere.

    I have a home in a rural area of Mexico where no one uses receipts and there is no such thing as getting someone to come give an estimate of repair. Therefore, according to them, I am never able to fully collect on damages done or extra services (like having cleaners come twice because someone refuses to leave). They still don’t promise full payment with receipts. I gave one receipt and only got half. Seems half of the cost is standard with Airbnb. I asked for rules I need to follow to ensure payment and get different answers from each rep, as well as some being honest and saying there really aren’t any. I would DEFINITELY not list any place that you could get in serious trouble, like an apartment building, because Airbnb won’t help with house rules. They say any amounts requested are “arbitrary”.

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  16. Another Pro to Booking.com : Price match policy.
    AirBnB doesn’t have that.

    I recently made a booking at AirBnB which gives lower total (because of a promo discount) than AirBnB. About a week later I noticed that the total rate has gone down about 30-40% (!) at both Booking.com and another room provider I also use, with generous (hotel like) cancellation option.

    I can no longer cancel this AirBnB booking because a 50% deduction will incure.

    How I wish I have chosen to book with Booking.com.

    Reply
  17. Hello, thank you for all these feedbacks. I did not find any comment or experience regarding the insurance in case of damages to the property by guests. I understand that airbnb has one while booking.com none. Can this also be considered a real plus for airbnb? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Bob, That’s a good point. It doesn’t seem like Booking offer any insurance while Airbnb does, however, I’m not sure how easy it is to make claims compared to having a third party insurance.

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  18. Great post Michael, thank you. I am a host on Airbnb, Booking as well as listing on my own website. I’m curious how others in my situation approach setting rates, given that Airbnb charge the bulk of their commission to guests and Booking is the opposite. Using the same rate across all three of these platforms makes the Airbnb listing much more expensive for the guest, as the guest pays another 15-16% on top of the listed rate. I’ve opted to adjust the rates by platform, so a guest booking on any platform roughly pays the same after commission. It requires a bit of juggling to keep things at parity. Having experience with both platforms, I would agree with Michael’s pros and cons list. A a few other disadvantages I have experienced with Booking are that they had some serious issues with calendar syncing (causing errors and double bookings, etc.) and they were unresponsive to complaints by the community, whereas Airbnb’s calendar syncing worked (for me) flawlessly. I ended up having to disable calendar syncing and do it manually, which is a bit of a nightmare. Lastly, Booking also cancelled one of our guest’s bookings a week before they were due to arrive (and suspiciously a Booking Genius guest booked the exact room and dates within minutes after the cancellation – hmmm) and Booking told the original guest we had cancelled their reservation, and I had to deal with the distraught guest.

    Reply

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