Since 2016, I’ve spent $26,243 on 50 bookings with Airbnb. (Yes, I looked them up and added them.) I spent that same time period with Amazon — $10,434 — and probably more than I’ve spent with any one company in that period.
So I should have, like, Ultra-Adamantium Elite status with Airbnb, right? Unfortunately, no, as Airbnb does not have a loyalty program. There’s no elite status to earn, points to receive upon check-in, or welcome gifts to receive.
I don’t even get a cool badge next to my username, despite spending a small fortune with the vacation rental giant.
But there’s hope: Airbnb just announced a new loyalty program called Superguest, which is defined on its website as “a new guest membership program that provides benefits throughout your stay.”
Yet, there is also bad news. This announcement was made back in 2018 and there has been no official update since then.
So, what’s the deal? As competition heats up in the vacation rental space, cleaning fees and traveler’s patience soar disappointing fare wears thin, will the platform deter its most frequent customers from building an Airbnb loyalty program?
outlook is not looking good
Why hasn’t Airbnb introduced a rewards program in its 15 year history?
“Airbnb is both a noun and a verb around the world, and we’re proud of our global platform,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Liz Debold Fusco in an emailed statement. “Our focus for the year ahead is on improving core service and beginning to build the foundation to expand beyond core.”
I really love the first part of this statement, because it’s so blatant. Airbnb is too successful to bother with a loyalty program. Does Kleenex Have A Loyalty Program?
No, because the word “Kleenex” has become practically interchangeable with the word tissue. what are you gonna do, buy puff?
in spite of everything Uproar over cleaning fee And speaking of an “Airbnbbust,” the company posted its best fourth quarter ever, with $1.9 billion in revenue in 2022, according to its shareholder letter.
Without a loyalty program, Airbnb continues to grow, and dominate the competition. So what’s the point of adding one?
i’ll be the first to tell you Airbnb’s Competition There is no smell yet. I did a head-to-head analysis Compare it to major competitor Vrbo And it wasn’t even close. Airbnb is simply better.
Airbnb’s business is not commercial travel
Another major factor reducing the chances of an Airbnb loyalty program? business traveller. Or rather, the lack of business travelers staying at vacation rentals.
Large airline and hotel rewards programs were created to attract and retain business travelers, who spend a lot on travel. Capturing these frequent travelers is highly valuable, so travel rewards programs are willing to offer them expensive perks like first class upgrades and extra award points.
Compare this to Airbnb, which doesn’t have a clear foothold in the business travel space, despite some efforts to attract corporate travel bookers. Without these big spenders, a loyalty program may not make sense.
That said, some holiday guests are staying longer in Airbnbs, possibly due to the rise of remote work and digital nomadism. Nearly one-fifth of nights booked in 2022 were made by guests with reservations of 28 days or more, according to the company’s latest shareholder letter.
So the question will be whether long-term staying guests are comparison shopping with the platform’s competitors or are happy booking through Airbnb.
I don’t need no stinkin’ badges
My spending on Airbnb has plummeted since the pandemic.
It’s not just because I’m less travelled. In fact, I actually lived in a hotel in Seattle during the pandemic.
It may sound crazy, but I calculated how many IHG One Rewards points and elite status benefits I would earn and determined that it didn’t make sense to book an Airbnb with the same price.
Airbnb may not have much competition in the vacation rental space, but it does in the lodging space. That is, guests (like me) who want a loyalty program can always stick with a big brand hotel.
Would I like a badge next to my username for the thousands I’ve spent on Airbnb? Yes. Do I need a cool avatar with a custom sword or something? Also yes.
But do I have to wait for Airbnb to launch a loyalty program so I can earn them? Probably not.
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Article Ask a Travel Nerd: Where’s My Airbnb Loyalty Program? Originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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