I have just realised – belatedly, I know – that there are some Airbnb hosts who actually pay attention to the somewhat ludicrous ‘price suggestions’ that Airbnb email to them or show them in the sidebar when they are adjusting their calendar.
The last thing I want to appear to be here is smug but I promise you that I always assumed that all hosts simply ignored these. It turns out that I was hopelessly wrong.
What Airbnb is doing here can be seen as the same as any sort of company advertising. All businesses, large and small, work hard to influence the behaviour of their customers and their suppliers.
This is why, for example, the air is smelling wonderfully of fresh bakery goods when you go into the supermarket. That’s not an accident. It’s to persuade you that as a good and conscientious householder/spouse/mother you should be buying delicious fresh bread.
When you see a magazine or website article extolling the virtues of a certain product, it’s more than likely not because the writer has psychic powers that have determined that you need that product to have a fulfilled life. (Although this might be the impression you get). No, the chances are that it’s a sponsored (paid-for) article or that the writer is making money somewhere along the line for endorsing that product.
That’s nothing weird. That’s our society. That’s what people do. That’s what companies do.
All day long we are bombarded with advertising – subtle or otherwise – telling us how our life, sex life, health, looks, style, home, car, teeth, family, vacation, body, complexion, odour, kitchen, brainpower, relationship, intelligence, working life, finances, figure, organisation, creative skills, cooking ability, mental health, hair, home, wealth management, addictions, leisure time, hobbies … heck, you name it … all can be improved or enhanced if only we will buy their product.
And really, we know very well that’s not true.
Owning a Porsche will make me feel as though I’m the envy of my neighbours. It will make me feel good. But it’s truly not going to solve all my problems. Especially when I have to find those monthly car payments.
We all resist advertising every day.
We know that it’s advertising agencies and brand managers trying to influence us. We’re not daft. So why is it, that when Airbnb give their hosts ‘pricing suggestions’, hosts take them seriously?
Of course, there are probably several reasons.
But here’s the one that I believe is most likely. There are many Airbnb hosts who simply aren’t business people. They have been seduced by the Airbnb claim that ‘almost anyone can host’. They read a little about it and believe that all they have to do to be a successful host is offer a clean (ish, often) bed in a reasonably furnished room and that’s that.
‘What a great way to make some extra money from our spare room’ they think. Or their second home. Or that retirement property they bought because the price was good but they don’t need it yet. Or the granny flat above their garage. Or the finished basement that no-one in the family has ever really used.
But having the room / apartment and the desire to make money using it doesn’t make them into business people. It doesn’t automatically convey a strong business sense OR a knowledge of the hospitality business.
Airbnb was founded in August 2008. That’s quite a long time ago – certainly long enough for the business to evolve. And evolve, it has.
The original concept was along the lines of couchsurfing – basic and cheap accommodation offered by amateurs. Even the name suggests ‘airbed’. Early guests did indeed sleep on airbeds in hosts’ living rooms, even kitchens.
But how many successful companies genuinely haven’t moved on since 2009? Airbnb has and it is justifiably proud of the variety of accommodation it can offer the traveller – private islands, luxury treehouses, exotic dome houses, palatial villas, tiny homes, glamping experiences, deluxe apartments, gypsy caravans, plush yachts … and more.
Even so, there’s still plenty of room within the system for the retired lady who simply wants to rent out the spare bedroom in her home.
And if Airbnb can help these hosts, who aren’t business people remember, with price tips then they’re going to. The host gets a ‘helping hand’ and the guests get really cheap accommodation.
The only hosts who are going to be persuaded by price tips are surely the ones who haven’t done their homework financially.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.