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Airbnb Shuts Down Travel Affiliate Program: What It Means for Hosts


Mar 13, 2021 by Laura Agadoni
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Airbnb's (NASDAQ: ABNB) travel affiliate program didn't even make it a year. Benefiting travel bloggers and Airbnb hosts and guests, the Airbnb Associates program launched in May 2020 and will end March 31, 2021. What happened? What's next? And what does it mean to real estate investors?

What was the program?

The Airbnb Associates program gave influencers and bloggers with large audiences a chance to earn money for themselves and make money for Airbnb by promoting travel and Airbnb hosting. Influencers and bloggers enrolled in the program would embed links on their website or social media pages, with the goal of those links leading to people booking stays, experiences, or going to hosts' pages.

Influencers and bloggers would earn 25% (or 30% for over 500 bookings) when a guest would book a stay or an experience through their content. They'd also earn money for referring hosts to Airbnb.

Now that the program is over, how will Airbnb hosts get traffic?

The new program for hosts

As one program ends, another begins. A new Airbnb program has launched and is designed to benefit current hosts and attract new hosts (at the expense of the bloggers and influencers who have been cut out).

Called the "Made Possible by Hosts" marketing campaign, Airbnb is trying to catch the hearts and vacation dollars of its audience by showing videos using real photographs of guest stays that hit home (home away from home, that is). The ads come complete with a cute dog and a Guns N' Roses-inspired song.

Airbnb's apology of sorts

Airbnb had a tough time during the coronavirus pandemic. Second-quarter revenue for 2020 was down 67% from the same time in 2019. Hosts were often frustrated and angry during all the confusion, often not appreciating the way Airbnb handled refunds. (The company allowed guests to cancel bookings and receive full refunds.)

Partly to appease its hosts, 4 million of them, and partly to get more bookings, Airbnb is working hard to create a market for its hosts, accomplishing this by focusing on not just travel but "meaningful experiences."

Airbnb is still going strong

Airbnb was able to enjoy some success during the pandemic. One way was by marketing itself as a "staycation" destination. In the same manner, Airbnb's new ad campaign highlights the importance of people and amenities rather than focusing only on the destination. The campaign demonstrates how a good host creates pleasant memories for guests.

When Airbnb went public

Airbnb had a successful initial public offering (IPO) in December 2020, with a valuation of $47 billion. But with that IPO comes shareholders who need to be kept happy. To do this, Airbnb needs to be profitable and grow, so it needs to keep its hosts even happier.

The Millionacres bottom line

Although bloggers and influencers aren't happy about the travel affiliate program ending, Airbnb still has hosts' backs. The new worldwide ad campaign that highlights Airbnb hosts is scheduled to run throughout the summer season.

Meanwhile, if you're a host, check out this guide on how to make money with Airbnb.

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LauraAgadoni has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Airbnb, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.