Airbnb to hold superhost week initiative ahead of preparation for potential IPO

Worldwide: Airbnb is to hold a superhost week in December to celebrate its 600,000+ superhosts, amid growing speculation that it is preparing for an IPO in 2019.

A host can become an Airbnb superhost by hosting at least 10 trips and having an average rating of more than 4.8 out of five stars and the rental platform has reported that the number of superhosts has gone up by more than 50 per cent since 2017.

Airbnb currently has more than five million listings in 81,000 cities worldwide and it said that its superhosts also earn 22 per cent more than hosts without superhost status.

In February, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the company would add “14 more benefits” for its most successful hosts, including custom URLs for their listings, more visibility and exposure on the platform, as well as increased promotion.

Though there has been little sign of these benefits so far, Airbnb said it would put its superhosts “front and centre” on its website and make it easier for users to find and reserve listings from superhosts.

Furthermore, in the week beginning 10 December, Airbnb will have a different superhost assume control of the company’s Instagram feed and share their stories with Airbnb’s more than 3.5 million followers. The company also hopes to release a sequence of videos showcasing the stories of superhosts which will be shared on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Airbnb superhosts are widely considered to be one of the company’s most valuable assets so, as it reportedly prepares itself for a potential public offering next year, Airbnb is doing its best to keep its superhosts happy and loyal to it.

Some people believe however that Airbnb is risking alienating some of its hosts by changing the qualifications for superhost status, and by launching new products like Airbnb Plus in February.

Before this year, a superhost was required to have 80 per cent of their reviews at a rating of five or more stars but that has changed so guest ratings below four or five stars will now have more significance in attaining the status.

It is not yet clear how Airbnb will ensure it promotes its Airbnb Plus listings and Airbnb superhosts in equal measure.

San Francisco-based superhost and Hostfully CEO and co-founder, David Jacoby, told Skift not all superhosts have Airbnb Plus listings, and not all Airbnb Plus listings are managed by superhosts.

He said: “I’m glad they want to promote those Plus listings more, and that they want to promote superhosts, but how will they manage the difference between the two?”

Jacoby said Airbnb should be paying more attention to professional property managers if it is to continue to increase its inventory of quality homes against industry competitors such as Booking.com and HomeAway.

He said: “It’s really hard for property managers to become superhosts because they manage many, many properties. If they have just one cancellation, they can lose their status as a superhost.”

In summary, superhosts drew up a list of what they would like to see on offer to them.

This included exceptional customer service for hosts, greater promotion and exposure that would lead to more bookings of their listings, customised URLs and a wider selection of extra perks, such as travel vouchers, free professional photography, discounts on smart home products and access to tax preparation support.

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