Mikaela Reyes
Mikaela Reyes

What I Learned As An Airbnb Host

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In January 2018, I became an Airbnb host. (Come book Casa Baltazar on our listings here and here!) It’s my first time being a host, but even so, I’ve noticed recurring booking patterns among my clients. These are great examples of how cultural nuances (Filipino tastes and Philippine infrastructure) play to behavioral patterns. Here are 3 highlights:

Big Groups

The “Eastern Collectivism” culture manifests in the Philippines in the form of families, “barkadas” (large friend groups), “tropas“, you name it. It manifests itself in large bookings for Airbnbs! Guests will book for HUGE groups, hardly any less than 10 guests. Airbnb’s limit for booking one property is 16. Our capacity is 32, so I’ve often had to send special offers to accommodate >16 groups.

On average, our bookings have been for groups >12 guests. But I’ve definitely gotten requests for more. A few times, I’ll be asked for accommodations for 40-50. One time, I got a request for 80!

The two common cases include big family reunions (often booked by Filipinos from overseas) and company teambuilding activities. The most interesting cases were requests for weddings! (Still working kinks out on that last one but we’ll see how Casa Baltazar 2019 pans out ;))

Product request: Can we give users the ability to book more than 16 guests, please?

Low Credit Card Penetration

After finalizing a price with a guest, a common question I’ll be asked is “How do I pay?” After answering that payments are made via credit card through Airbnb, they’ll follow up with “Can I pay via bank transfer?” I’ll send them my phone number and we’ll transact elsewhere.

Many will choose to transact offline, via bank transfer, which makes a lot of sense. In the Philippines, credit card penetration is at a 3% low. Meanwhile, approximately 73% of Filipinos remain unbanked. Cash is still kiiiing/queen!

Product question: Can we allow guests to pay more readily via bank transfer, including banks from foreign countries?

Cultural Disconnect with Technology

This is an interesting one. But first, for context:

There is a gap between well-designed interfaces and how Filipinos traditionally transact bookings for large spaces. Before the onset of these booking sites, the most common ways to book would be via text, phone or word-of-mouth. A price will be negotiated between the two parties, not based on number of guests but based on fixed rental rates.

On Airbnb, it’s a little different. When a guest goes on Airbnb, the only way to request a booking is to input Check In & Check Out dates, input the number of guests and then click “Request to Book.”

Still, I will get bookings that show a request for just 1 guest (I highly doubt this person wants to have a whole 32-max beach house to themselves). And the #1 most common first message I will get is “How much for x dates for x # of guests?” On my sassy days, I tell them to go to the listing again to re-input the right number of guests. Oops.

Airbnb is already such a well-designed interface (the founders were designers!) I wonder what’s missing.

Are you an Airbnb host in the Philippines? Are you an Airbnb host from another country besides the U.S.? What patterns have you noticed that feed into a people’s culture? I’d love to hear more.

BONUS

The #1 amenity request? Not fishing. Not banana boats. KARAOKE.

Every so often, there will always be someone asking about karaoke!!! Given this data, I don’t think it’ll be a horrible idea to invest in a machine of our own. I feel it will boost our booking rates up by 110% or more! Hmm… stay tuned, folks. 😉

PLUG: COME STAY AT CASA BALTAZAR. It’s a beachfront, we’ve got a pool, rooftop deck & full kitchens and can accommodate up to 32 people in our airconditioned rooms! Also I earned superhost status in less than 6 months so you know we’ll take care of you. 😉