I’ve always believed that marketing is 90% psychology. The big brands will tell you the same – in order to successfully market a product, one has to get right into the consumers’ minds and manipulate their thoughts.
The word “manipulate” may sound aggressive to some. But given that the very definition of it is to “influence people’s thoughts for an advantage” – I’d say it’s pretty accurate. No matter how pious or noble a person claims to be – if you’re in business, some form of manipulation is involved.
Now, most people use these manipulative marketing tactics for good. To make the world a better place, to promote a positive message and make a difference – to change the lives of consumers or the industry at large.
Other companies (and we all know one) are not quite as righteous in their marketing ploys. Think quick-fix weight loss pills, a surgery that replicates Instagram filters, and £1 cheeseburgers that are filled with crap. You get the idea.
This brings me to where we currently are.
In my years of operating in the serviced accommodation industry, I’ve never seen a marketing ploy quite as manipulative as this. One that’s attracting hosts like blind sheep – because, as human beings, they’re quick to jump on a trend purely to feel like they “belong”.
That ploy goes by the name of “Superhost Status”. Who knew that a bit of alliteration could potentially cause so much unnoticed damage to an entire industry. It’s laughable, really.
If you’re sitting here wondering, “Well, I’m an Airbnb Superhost” – let me tell you that while this sounds delightful, it basically means fuck all. I might sound like the bad guy here – but let me break it to you: this entire facade is a fantastic marketing ploy strategically set by the industry giants. In fact, it’s one of many.
And you’re just another puppet. Dancing along to their music.
Newsflash: There’s Nothing “Super” About Being a Superhost
I can’t name you a single host I know with 50 plus properties who has an Airbnb Superhost status.
And if they do, let me tell you – they don’t give two fucks about it.
Let’s just revisit Airbnb’s Help Centre, where they outline the process of becoming a Superhost in very little detail (the detail is scarce because it’s very easy to become one).
The website defines a Superhost as “Top-performing hosts. Their listings feature a special badge that lets everyone know they’re extra awesome”.
Take a second to read the above again – and recognise that you’re being spoken to as though you’re a 5-year-old at the dentist.
The Special Badge of Airbnb
Basically, if you’re on your “best behaviour”, Airbnb will reward you with a “special badge”, – which you get to plaster all over your social media and market for free.
It gets worse. After Airbnb has manipulated you into thinking that you need Superhost status, they bluntly outline what the requirements are. See below:
Completed at least 10 trips or 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
- Maintained a 90% response rate or higher
- Maintained a less than 1% cancellation rate, with exceptions made for those that fall under our Extenuating Circumstances policy
- Maintained a 4.8 overall rating (based on the date the guest left a review, not the date they checked out, over the past 365 days)
Allow me to dissect this in bullshit-free terms for you.
Basically, in order to achieve this shiny Superhost status, you need to work Airbnb as hard as a gardener works a lawnmower on a summer’s day. This leaves little time for your direct bookings strategy, meaning that Airbnb gets to pocket even more commission fees from hosts like you – who are slowly getting more and more hooked to the OTA.
This then becomes a never-ending cycle, and before you know it, Airbnb has dominated the entire short-term rental industry, and guests start referring to your property as an “Airbnb” rather than by your brand name. They may as well walk around with a stapler and staple a “property of Airbnb” sign to your forehead – while asking you to pay for it.
If this sounds like madness to you right now – that’s because it totally is. Please wake up.
FROM SUPERHOST TO SUPERBROKE
Yep. Superbroke is what you’re headed for if you continue playing into the marketing ploys of Airbnb.
Every poorly-considered write-up plastered on Facebook, Instagram, and an email sequence that celebrates your Superhost status is just more clicks on their website – and fewer clicks on yours. The industry experts have already predicted (and I 100% back this up) that this is just another step towards increasing hosts’ fees from Airbnb – and once they have you right where they want you, they WILL ask for higher commissions.
Given the current landscape, which is still largely unpredictable and needs to “settle” into a new norm, this could be poison for your short-term rental business. Within months (perhaps less), your business could evaporate into nothingness, and Airbnb won’t think twice about it.
You’re just a number to them.
Their priority is pleasing guests – and you’re just a stepping stool for that purpose.
Several credible sources, particularly from AirDNA and IGMS, have clearly outlined that Superhost status doesn’t even necessarily mean an increase in revenue. However, what it does is a guarantee that the hosts are even more accountable for maintaining certain standards – as set by the OTA.
An eye-opening statistic from Airbnb is as follows:
“Achieving Superhost status doesn’t mean an automatic increase in listing views. On average, hosts who become Airbnb Superhosts only noticed a 5% increase in weekly views of their listings”.
The argument from Airbnb and Airbnb fanatics is that Superhost status drives hosts to improve hospitality standards for guests – but any self-respecting host will do this anyway.
More importantly, this is something they’ll do to forge better relationships between them and their guests – not to boost the OTA’s reputation.
If the same amount of time and effort was poured into creating engaging content, building a direct bookings website and investing in your trust marketing strategy, you’re guaranteed to build a more sustainable and profitable short-term rental business that isn’t a slave to Airbnb. Doesn’t that sound a lot more appealing than virtually waving a Superhost status badge all over your socials?
You’ll Never Have a Short-Term Rental Business Unless You Wake Up
It’s not too late.
I understand the hype around Airbnb’s marketing messages, and I can even accept how a Superhost badge might seem appealing at first. But if, after reading the above and the thousands of other articles that support direct bookings businesses, you continue to market the OTA for free – then please accept that you do NOT have a short-term rental business.
And with that attitude, you might never.
If making a bit of money from Airbnb listings is your goal – then that’s perfectly okay. Airbnb has its uses for sure, and it’s not the “enemy”. But on the road to building a sustainable STR brand, it’s undoubtedly a massive hurdle – and one you’ll have to jump over.
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there that’ll help you become less reliant on Airbnb and create an STR business that you can actually call your own. You’ll bask in the joy of sharing posts about your growing property empire rather than a badly designed Superhost badge that thousands of other hosts are using anyway.
In fact, I’ll hook you up with three opportunities right now:
1) Join my property coaching club, “Room 22”, where we share advice, support and tips from industry experts about building a serviced accommodation business. It’ll cost you no more than a daily takeout coffee.
2) Be quick to check if any of my 10 franchise licences are still available. We’re partnering up with aspiring property entrepreneurs to help them scale their businesses – for a shorter-term contract and a fee that’s been reduced by 75% (a gift to you from me).
3) Continue following Luke Capital Group and me on socials, where we try to share as much valuable content as possible. Especially on this Newsletter – this is where all the brain babies are born. 😉
In the meantime, keep building and bettering –