Why doesn’t Airbnb have a loyalty program?
Since 2016, I’ve spent $26,243 on 50 bookings with Airbnb. (Yes, I’ve gone through them and added them up.) That’s more than I’ve spent with Amazon over the same period – $10,434 – and probably more than I’ve spent with any one company in the past. during this period.
So I have to have, like, Ultra-Adamantium Elite status with Airbnb, right? Unfortunately not, because Airbnb does not have a loyalty program. There is no elite status to be earned, points to be accumulated, or welcome gifts to be received at check-in.
Although I’ve spent a small fortune on the vacation rental giant, I don’t even get a cool badge next to my username.
But there is hope: Airbnb has announced a new loyalty program, called Superguest, defined on its website as “a new guest membership program offering perks throughout the trip.”
Even so, there is also bad news. This announcement was made in 2018 and there has been no official update since.
So what’s the problem ? As competition within the vacation rental space mounts and travelers’ patience with cleaning fees and disappointing rentals dwindles, will the platform throw a bone at its most frequent customers to make it an Airbnb loyalty program?
Prospects are not good
Why hasn’t Airbnb introduced a rewards program in its 15-year history?
“Airbnb is a name and a verb around the world, and we are proud of our global platform,” Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco said in an emailed statement. “Our goal for the coming year is to perfect the core service and begin to lay the groundwork to expand beyond the core.”
I actually like the first part of that statement, because it’s so cheeky. Airbnb is just 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 some Puffs?
Despite all the hemming on the cleaning fee and having an “Airbnbust,” the company posted its best fourth quarter ever in 2022, with $1.9 billion in revenue, according to its letter to shareholders.
Airbnb continues to grow and dominate the competition, without a loyalty program. So why add one?
Airbnb’s business is not business travel
Another major factor reducing the likelihood of an Airbnb loyalty program? Business travellers. Or rather, the lack of business travelers staying in vacation rentals.
Major airline and hotel rewards programs were designed to attract and retain high-spending business travelers. Catching these frequent travelers is very valuable, which is why travel rewards programs are ready to offer them expensive perks like first class upgrades and extra reward points.
Contrast that with Airbnb, which, despite some efforts to attract business travel bookings, doesn’t have a clear grip on the business travel space. Without these big spenders, a loyalty program might not make sense.
That said, some vacationers are stay longer at Airbnbs, possibly due to the rise of remote working and digital nomadism. Nearly a fifth of nights booked in 2022 were made by customers with reservations of 28 days or more, according to the company’s latest letter to shareholders.
The question, therefore, will be whether customers pursuing long-term stays are making comparison purchases with the platform’s competitors or whether they are happy to book through Airbnb.
I don’t need a stinky badge
My spending on Airbnb has fallen off a cliff since the pandemic.
It’s not just because I travel less. In fact, I lived in a hotel in Seattle for much of the pandemic.
It may sound crazy, but I calculated how much IHG One Reward Points and the elite status benefits I would accrue and determined that booking an Airbnb at a similar price just didn’t make sense.
Airbnb may not have much competition in the vacation rental space, but it does in the lodging space. In other words, customers who want a loyalty program (like me) can still stay at a big brand hotel.
Would I want a badge next to my username for the tens of thousands I’ve spent on Airbnb? Yes. Would I like a cool avatar with a custom sword or something? Yes too.
But am I going to wait for Airbnb to set up a loyalty program to be able to earn them? Probably not.
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