Exploring the Vision: Airbnb’s Comprehensive Host Services Marketplace on the Horizon

Thibault Masson

Updated on:

airbnb host service marketplace

Airbnb hosts and property managers, the rumors of a marketplace for free and paid services launching in 2024 have piqued your interest, and for good reasons. As competition in the vacation rental industry intensifies, Airbnb seems poised to launch a game-changing platform to help you streamline your hosting experience and exceed your guests’ expectations. Our Rental Scale-Up team has meticulously analyzed previous and current projects, including Host Assist, BookingSuite’s App Store, and Airbnb’s co-hosting marketplace built on Luckey’s tech, to flesh out what this marketplace could offer, how it would work technically, and what its business model could be. Join us as we delve into the exciting possibilities that could transform the Airbnb ecosystem for hosts like you.

Takeaways

  • Airbnb is exploring launching a marketplace offering free and paid services for hosts aimed at enhancing the platform experience and value proposition.
  • CEO Brian Chesky highlights the potential of tapping into the vast Airbnb economy and integrating thousands of companies into an app store-like marketplace.
  • Airbnb has explored various marketplaces to connect hosts with property managers and services, with mixed results informing the development of future comprehensive service marketplaces.
  • The company’s trajectory includes previous and new Co-Host Marketplaces and the unfulfilled Host Assist initiative, highlighting shifts in focus and lessons learned in their pursuit of supporting the host community.
  • Competitors like Booking.com and HomeAway faced challenges in creating successful host-service marketplaces, emphasizing potential pitfalls and obstacles that Airbnb must address.
  • Booking.com’s BookingSuite App Store offered tailored software solutions and guest experience tools but ultimately failed to gain traction and was discontinued.
  • Airbnb can learn from Apple App Store’s success by focusing on platform strategy, quality control, developer support, network effects, and a revenue-sharing model.
  • This approach can help create a thriving ecosystem of service providers and hosts, increasing the marketplace’s value for all participants and creating a strategic moat for Airbnb.
  • Airbnb’s service marketplace could offer cleaning services, co-hosting and property management, guest experience enhancements, and software solutions, with a diversified business model for revenue generation.
  • Leveraging Luckey’s co-hosting technology, seamless integration with Airbnb services, personalized recommendations, secure data sharing, and a scalable platform for service providers, Airbnb can build a robust and user-friendly marketplace that meets diverse host needs.

Exploring the Vision: Airbnb’s Comprehensive Host Services Marketplace on the Horizon

Airbnb is reportedly exploring the idea of launching a marketplace of free and paid services for hosts, offering a wide array of products catering to various hosting needs, such as cleaning, co-hosting, and guest experience enhancements. This fascinating concept, based on comments from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell, and supported by insightful articles from Skift and Rental Scale-Up, presents a significant opportunity to refine Airbnb’s platform and strengthen its value proposition for hosts.

In a speech, Brian Chesky emphasized the potential of this marketplace, stating, “There’s a huge opportunity for a suite of services. Most will give away for free to get our moat deeper because that’s the key, but some we could charge for.”

Chesky also highlighted the vast Airbnb economy, home to thousands of companies that could be integrated into an app store-like marketplace. He said, “There are billions of dollars flowing through them,” indicating the potential for Airbnb to tap into this thriving ecosystem.

As the article unfolds, we will discuss how Airbnb could leverage its expertise in creating interfaces. As Chesky puts it, “We’re really good at making things pretty integrated” and “We’re going to design the best interfaces for marketplaces” to develop a comprehensive suite of services for guests and hosts, ultimately enhancing the overall platform experience.

Airbnb’s Previous and Existing Efforts: Connecting Hosts with Services

Over the years, Airbnb has experimented with various marketplaces to connect hosts with property managers, co-hosts, and other essential services to streamline the hosting experience. Although some of these initiatives have experienced greater success than others, the lessons learned from these ventures can inform the development of an even more comprehensive service marketplace for hosts.

In this section, we will delve into Airbnb’s previous and new Co-Host Marketplaces and the unfulfilled Host Assist marketplace to understand the company’s trajectory and vision for supporting its community of hosts.

Airbnb’s previous and new Co-Host Marketplaces

Airbnb has announced plans to launch a new marketplace in 2024, with one of the possible services being the connection of hosts and co-hosts. This isn’t Airbnb’s first venture into creating a co-host marketplace, but its new iteration differs from the previous one. Let’s explore the evolution of Airbnb’s co-host marketplaces, highlighting the changes in focus from individual co-hosts to professional property managers.

Airbnb’s First Iteration of its Co-Host Marketplace:

In 2016, Airbnb introduced its first co-host marketplace to connect property owners with local individuals who could help manage their listings. The responsibilities of these co-hosts included tasks such as guest communication, check-ins, property cleaning, and addressing issues during the guest’s stay. The primary goal of this initial marketplace was to assist property owners who lacked the time or resources to manage their listings independently. This marketplace closed around 2019, as product market fit and payment systems were not working as hoped. 

Airbnb co-hosting marketplace

Airbnb’s Current Iteration of its co-hosting marketplace:

Recently, Airbnb has shifted its focus from individual co-hosts to professional property managers. Building on the technology from Luckey, a French property management company acquired by Airbnb in 2018, the new co-host marketplace connects individual hosts with “local partners,” such as property management companies. This marketplace is available in select markets, including France, Canada, Spain, and the UK.

To qualify as a local partner in the new marketplace, property managers must have an overall guest rating of at least 4.8 out of 5. This ensures that only high-quality property managers can participate in the program, offering hosts the best support for their listings. No exclusive territory is given to any partner, fostering a competitive environment among property managers in the marketplace.

Airbnb professional co-host marketplace

Host Assist: An Unfulfilled Service Marketplace for Hosts

Airbnb previously attempted to create a marketplace called Host Assist, which offered a collection of apps designed to simplify sharing space with guests. Host Assist partnered with external companies to provide key handovers, keyless doors and remote locks, and cleaning services. Some selected partners included KeyCafe, KeyNest, August Home, IglooHome, RemoteLock, Yale Real Living, Danalock, and Properly. Despite these partnerships, Host Assist was only available in specific geographical locations and faced limited service offerings.

Host Assist allowed external companies to access hosts’ Airbnb accounts and manage various aspects of their listings. Hosts could grant access to their accounts, view app settings, and remove apps as needed. However, Host Assist failed to gain traction among hosts and was eventually put on hold.

Host Assist continues to operate in the background even today, though Airbnb ceased its promotion several years ago. Factors that might have contributed to the limited growth of Host Assist include restricted service availability, geographical limitations, and competition with Airbnb’s own products and services. Despite this setback, Airbnb can learn from its past efforts and use the experience to develop a more comprehensive and successful service marketplace for hosts.

Airbnb host assist app store

Exploring Competitor Efforts in Building a Service App Store for Vacation Rental Hosts

Creating a successful host-service marketplace has proven challenging, as evidenced by the failures of Booking.com’s BookingSuite and HomeAway’s discontinued marketplace. These examples highlight the potential pitfalls and obstacles Airbnb must overcome to establish a thriving marketplace of services for hosts.

Booking.com’s BookingSuite App Store aimed to be a convenient hub for hoteliers to find tailored software solutions for their properties. The platform offered personalized recommendations based on property type, size, location, past performance, industry benchmarking data, and products and services focused on improving the guest experience, such as guest communication, upsell, and promotional tools. Despite seamless integration with existing Booking.com accounts and scalable features for technology solution providers, the BookingSuite App Store failed to gain traction and was eventually discontinued.

bookingsuite app store

Drawing Inspiration from the Apple App Store

As Airbnb looks to expand its services, it could take inspiration from the highly successful Apple App Store. By adopting some of the strategies that have made the App Store successful, Airbnb could create a thriving marketplace that adds value for hosts and attracts a variety of service providers. Here are some key strategies that Airbnb could consider implementing:

Platform strategy:

Airbnb’s service marketplace for hosts would operate as a platform connecting hosts with a wide array of service providers. This approach would allow Airbnb to focus on building the infrastructure and tools necessary for seamless integration between hosts and service providers while outsourcing the development of new services to a diverse array of hospitality entrepreneurs.

Quality control:

To ensure high-quality services, Airbnb could adopt a similar approach to the Apple App Store and vet service providers before they join the marketplace. This would help maintain high trust and satisfaction among hosts and guests alike.

Developer support:

Airbnb could extend resources, guidance, and promotional opportunities to service providers, similar to how Apple supports app developers. This would help service providers grow their businesses within the marketplace and create a thriving ecosystem of service providers and hosts.

Network effects:

By fostering a large and diverse ecosystem of service providers and hosts, Airbnb could create network effects similar to those seen with the Apple App Store. As more hosts and service providers join the platform, the marketplace’s value increases for all participants. This growing network effect could create a strategic moat for Airbnb, making it difficult for competitors to replicate their success.

Revenue sharing model:

Like the App Store, Airbnb could take a percentage of each transaction completed through the service marketplace. This would create an additional revenue stream for Airbnb while incentivizing the company to invest in the growth and success of its service providers.

Imagining Airbnb’s Service Marketplace for Hosts

When envisioning Airbnb’s service marketplace for hosts, we could expect to see a wide range of services available, catering to the diverse needs of hosts and guests. To overcome the challenges faced by previous attempts in the industry, Airbnb would need to create a platform that is easy to use, integrates seamlessly with existing Airbnb services, and offers a comprehensive suite of services.

Services offered in the Airbnb Host Marketplace:

Cleaning services:

The marketplace could offer various cleaning services, allowing hosts to choose from professional cleaners or cleaning companies based on location, availability, and pricing. Hosts could rate and review cleaners, ensuring that high-quality cleaning services are easily identifiable.

Co-hosting and property management:

Hosts could be provided with various co-hosting and property management options. These services could include listing optimization, guest communication, check-in and check-out management, and maintenance coordination. Hosts would be able to choose from professional property managers or individual co-hosts based on their needs, location, and budget.

Guest experience enhancements:

The marketplace could offer various tools and services to enhance the guest experience, such as personalized welcome guides, keyless entry systems, and noise monitoring devices. Hosts could select and customize these offerings to create a tailored guest experience that sets their property apart.

Software solutions and tools:

The platform could offer various software solutions and tools to assist hosts in managing bookings, pricing, and guest communications. This might include integrations with popular property management software (PMSs), dynamic pricing tools, and messaging platforms that streamline host-guest interactions.

Possible Business Model for Airbnb’s Host Service Marketplace:

Drawing inspiration from the successful Apple App Store model, Airbnb’s service marketplace could generate revenue through various strategies, including:

  • Commission-based model: Charging a commission on transactions made through the marketplace, with different rates for one-time transactions and recurring subscriptions.
  • Affiliate commissions on hardware sales: Earning affiliate commissions on hardware products, such as noise monitoring devices, keyless entry systems, or smart home technology, by partnering with manufacturers or retailers.
  • Featured listings and promotions: Offering service providers paid featured listings or promotions for increased visibility and reach.
  • Subscription fees for premium features: Introducing a premium subscription model for hosts, granting them access to exclusive features, tools, or services within the marketplace.
  • In-app purchases and add-ons: Enabling service providers to offer in-app purchases or add-ons for advanced features, customization options, or priority support, with Airbnb taking a percentage of the revenue.
  • Developer support and resources: Charging a nominal fee for providing developers with resources such as APIs, SDKs, and technical support, encouraging innovation and growth within the marketplace.

By adopting this diversified business model, Airbnb’s service marketplace could create a thriving ecosystem that benefits both hosts and service providers while generating revenue through commission fees, featured listings, premium subscriptions, and in-app purchases.

Tech: How the Airbnb Host Marketplace can leverage its former Host Assist and Co-Host Marketplace 

To make the service marketplace work seamlessly, Airbnb could develop a robust technical infrastructure by implementing best practices learned from Host Assist, Booking Suite’s app store, and Airbnb’s current co-hosting marketplace built on Luckey’s tech.

Leveraging Luckey’s co-hosting technology:

Building upon Luckey’s existing co-hosting marketplace infrastructure, Airbnb could expand the platform to include a broader range of services, such as cleaning, guest experience enhancements, and software solutions. This would allow hosts to access comprehensive services to support their hosting endeavors.

Seamless integration with Airbnb services:

Just as Host Assist integrated selected partners into the Airbnb platform, the service marketplace could be designed to allow for a smooth integration of third-party services with existing Airbnb features. This would enable hosts to access and manage various services from their Airbnb dashboard easily.

Personalized recommendations and categorization:

Borrowing from Booking Suite’s app store approach, the marketplace could offer personalized recommendations for hosts based on their property type, location, past performance, and industry benchmarking data. Services could also be organized into different categories, making it easier for hosts to find relevant solutions for their needs.

Secure data sharing and single sign-on:

Taking inspiration from the Booking Suite’s App Store and SSO (single sign-on) product, Airbnb could create a secure and compliant system for transferring data between hosts and service providers. This would allow for a more relevant, personalized, and connected experience, with hosts able to share their data using their Airbnb credentials.

Scalable platform for service providers:

Just as Booking Suite provided a scalable platform for hotel technology solution providers, Airbnb’s service marketplace could offer a similar platform for service providers targeting the vacation rental market. This would enable them to reach new customers and markets through integration with Airbnb, including secure data connection and fee collection.

By combining these best practices from Host Assist, Booking Suite’s app store, and Luckey’s co-hosting marketplace, Airbnb could create a robust and user-friendly service marketplace that integrates seamlessly with existing Airbnb services and offers a wide range of solutions for hosts.

Conclusion: Airbnb’s Marketplace for Hosts: A Promising Idea, but a Challenging Execution Ahead

In conclusion, Airbnb’s plan to launch a marketplace of free and paid services for hosts is an attractive idea that could transform the Airbnb ecosystem and benefit hosts in numerous ways. However, as we have seen through past experiences, such as Host Assist and Booking Suite’s failed or stunted attempts, executing this vision successfully will be challenging. Nevertheless, with Airbnb’s unmatched capacity to leverage entrepreneurs and build several network effects, the potential for a thriving service marketplace is significant. It remains to be seen whether Airbnb can make this vision a reality, but if they do, it could create a strategic moat that solidifies Airbnb’s position as a leader in the short-term rental industry.

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