The Airbnb Monopoly

Airbnb new cancellation policy

A personal insight from CEO, Ryan Luke 

What’s wrong with the Airbnb monopoly? The words “It’s only going to get worse” might still be ringing in your ears, if you’ve been in my circle over the last couple of years. And while I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, my deliberate repetition comes with good intention. 

Of course, a message so bold and seemingly terrifying in our industry, can only be related to Airbnb. I can’t deny that as an industry, we have a lot to thank this OTA for; but it’s also true that of late this leading giant has been taking the piss.

Its recent announcement? Well, Chesky’s only gone and confirmed a ten-fold increase to host-related cancellation fees that don’t count as “unavoidable emergencies” in their books.

Yes, you read the right. A TEN-FOLD INCREASE.

Basically, there’s a high likelihood of hosts getting fucked over. Unless we start doing something about it now… 

Airbnb monopoly and hosts

THE POWER-MAD MANIPULATORS.

I’m going to skip ahead and answer the question that many of you might be thinking about right now. 

“Why does Ryan shit on Airbnb across so much of his content, when he owes a lot of his business success to the platform?”.

First of all, you’d be right to assume that Airbnb has its uses. I don’t condemn its existence entirely; and I do believe that it’s helped put our incredible industry on the map.

But what screws up my zen vibes, is when Airbnb insists on dominating an entire sector; and leaving little room for hard-working short-term rental companies who want (and deserve) to build their own brands, the off-the-back of more direct bookings. 

As hosts, we’ve been playing digital ping-pong with this OTA for years. They hit us with rising commission fees, we hit right back (often while stomping our feet); they claim to “see” us, and then they hit us once more with the same shit – at fuller speed.

For this reason, hosts end up with this love-hate relationship with Airbnb; whereby they hate the platform’s unreasonable fees (that fluctuate nearly every 6 months!), yet convince themselves into believing that they NEED Airbnb to survive. All the while, Airbnb is introducing more and more ridiculous policies that push innocent hosts into a deeper hole; and ultimately, rinse their bank balances dry. 

This new ploy to “protect guests” is just another way of ensuring that they “remain” the industry’s big boys. Playground bullies spring to mind… 

airbnb's guest protection policy

THE SAVAGE TEN-FOLD INCREASE. 

Airbnb’s latest policy is to protect guests from last-minute cancellations.

While this is a noble cause (and we all care for our guests, obviously), the company has hiked their host-related cancellation fees, times ten. Meaning from $100, to an eyewataring $1000 fee (per cancellation!). 

Worst of all, Airbnb’s list of “unavoidable cancellations” from the hosts’ part, doesn’t include a number of common issues. Such as accidental double bookings – hey, tech fails on us sometimes –  and hosts finding out that their guests are unreliable/ have a bad track record.

Safe to say, this will put a huge number of hosts off from taking longer stay bookings, for the fear of cancellation reasons and these unreasonable fees. This works in complete favour of Airbnb’s – undeclared but obvious – plan of keeping larger market shares to themself, so that the larger short-term rental companies don’t swoop in to take their business.

I’m not denying that Chesky cares for guests – I’m sure he does, on some level. But to claim that this new policy is all in the name of guest protection and nothing else, is nothing short of corporate bullshittery. 

There’s a pretty in-depth report covering more about the ins-and-outs of Airbnb’s new cancellation fees.

hosting guests with luke stays

PLAY YOUR GAME. WIN THOSE DIRECT BOOKINGS. 

The sad truth of the matter is, Airbnb (however delightful their advertising may seem) does not give two hoots about hosts.

For them, their customers and the people who fund their business are guests. Please understand this before building your entire short-term rental company around this platform and blindly handing over the control of your entire livelihood. 

Airbnb has the power to cut you off within seconds.

With commission fees likely to rise, and even more unreasonable policies that I’m sure are on the horizon, your best bet is to start working on your direct bookings strategy and be rid of this unhealthy attachment at last. Airbnb plays a good game when it comes to manipulation and instilling fear within hosts – but invest the time and effort in generating more direct bookings, and you’ll no longer need this OTA for your bread and butter. 

Making the transition isn’t easy and you’ll certainly encounter some hiccups along the way. 

Since my short-term rental company Luke Capital Group decided to make the switch to more direct bookings, it’s been a process of trial and error, but we’ve absolutely seen massive results along the way. In fact, I’m stoked to have cut down our dependency on Airbnb massively. 

If you’re interested in discovering more about direct bookings from the experts (including myself and my circle of brilliant industry leaders who talk the talk and walk the walk), then the team at Luke Capital Group and I continue to share loads of value-packed content and tips across all our channels. In fact, we’ve got plenty of exciting launches and opportunities coming up. 

I also run a private Facebook Group that’s full of engagement – and where I’ll be sharing plenty more of the good stuff. So, do swing on by to become a member, if you haven’t already. 

Of course, I don’t want to let you go without sharing some quick, actionable tips that’ll help cut your reliance from Airbnb a little faster. So, here are my final takeaways for you:


1) Get yourself I-PRAC Approved to prove that you’re a short-term rental brand that guarantees 100% trust and professionalism, according to the industry’s highest standards. This will immediately make your brand more trustworthy (one of the biggest reasons guests book directly with STR providers, and not Airbnb) and you’ll notice a sharp rise in your direct booking rates. Make sure you market your I-PRAC approval properly, too! This will be your biggest USP. 

2) Get yourself a direct bookings website if you don’t have one already. Boostly do a great job and at an exceptionally reasonable cost; and will even help you out with the copy if you need. Ensure your SEO game is strong here too (Luke Capital Group offers lots of advice around this across our content, training, and in our Facebook Group).

3) Join my FREE Facebook Group with loads more hosts just like you, who join in on the industry conversations, discover news insights, tips, and hacks from myself and my expert team. We cover everything from marketing, to setting booking rates, and creating a trusted brand (that always bags more direct bookings in). 

private FB group for serviced accommodation

I’ll see you on the other side – stay safe from those pesky regulations till then. 😉 

Keep building and bettering –