In March Airbnb ran ads on a hotel-industry trade site promoting its low fees compared to Booking, Expedia, and others. However, recent reports speculate that Airbnb is testing charging hoteliers more to remove booking fees for guests.
Tech companies are often timid about trash-talking competitors; the industry is small enough that a competitor one day can be a partner or acquirer the next. But as Airbnb prepares to go public, the stakes are high and the blood-lust is growing.
Both companies charge hosts a fee when a room is booked through their platforms. Booking’s fees average 15 percent. Airbnb charges 3 percent, a fact it eagerly promotes. In March the company ran ads on a hotel-industry trade site promoting its low fees compared to Booking, Expedia, and other peers. In tandem, the company commissioned a survey of 49 boutique hotel and bed-and-breakfast owners, showing that the hoteliers believed the fees charged by Booking and its corporate peers were too high. Alongside the survey, Airbnb published an open letter to hotel owners welcoming them to Airbnb, a platform that has historically competed with boutique hoteliers.
But Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings is quick to note that Airbnb also charges customers a fee, called a guest fee, that averages 9 to 12 percent, meaning its take is roughly on par with Booking’s. “Together, I think that’s 15! How’d that work out? That’s amazing math, isn’t it?” Fogel muses.
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