Recently, we noticed that the Airbnb raise prices incrementally with each website visit!
As any language learner will know, staying with locals is a great way to practice the language and get to know the culture better. Sites like Airbnb and Wimdu became popular with Generation Y travellers looking for alternative experiences to expensive hotels, budget hostels and generic B&Bs. Likewise, hosts have welcomed travellers into their houses to share stories and generate some extra income. We have had many great experiences via such services.
Increasingly, though, this subculture of travelling, sharing and meeting new like-minded people has morphed into something quite different.
The first noticeable aspect is the increase in serviced apartments offered via these sites where the only interaction is with an agent who opens the door.
Another aspect is the high prices for accommodation often for something quite modest but without the convenience of hotel service.
A third – and most peculiar development is the new ‘Ryanair-like’ approach to pricing. The prices of a booking now increases each time you log into the site.
This is to take advantage of buying habits. Typically people need to check flight and accommodation combinations multiple times before being able to commit to both. Flight-booking websites have long been known to take advantage of this and they increase the price when an IP regularly searches their site.
We rang up Airbnb to find out why a booking had increased by £15 after one day and then £75 in just three days. Being hosts ourselves we knew that a host wouldn’t have the time or inclination to modify the price.
The first person we spoke to said she didn’t know why the price had increased, offered some poor excuses and then put the phone down! Or perhaps the line cut – we don’t know. Anyway, we rang up and again and managed to get through to another employee who readily admitted that Airbnb does increase the prices by using algorithms. The extra profit, naturally, goes to the company not the host.
It is somewhat regrettable that the service has morphed in this way but it is the way so many companies go.
We did notice that checking the price again from a different IP did help but didn’t reduce the price all the way.
For those looking to meet like-minded people and seek new experiences, you might need to look at alternatives to the ‘former alternatives’.