The on­line site has changed the tourism in­dus­try and helps any­one with a spare room make some ex­tra cash, writes An­gelique Ruz­icka

CityPress - - Business -

Ac­cord­ing to Airbnb, there are 16 000 hosts in South Africa who share their homes for an av­er­age of 16 days a year and earn an ad­di­tional R18 000 a year. The plat­form says that a typ­i­cal host is 45 and 40% of them are free­lancers, en­trepreneurs or are self-em­ployed. Half of the hosts in South Africa use the in­come from host­ing on Airbnb to help them pay for their own bond or rent re­quire­ments.

Christoff Sch­abort owns prop­er­ties in De Waterkant in Cape Town. He has used Airbnb since 2015, and says the amount of money you can make de­pends on your type of ac­com­mo­da­tion and your lo­ca­tion.

“We of­fer four-star ac­com­mo­da­tion and full-time ser­vice ev­ery day. Be­cause of this, we can charge enough so that we can cover our bond and make a lit­tle profit. Ob­vi­ously, it de­pends on how busy you are,” he says.

Rochelle Blomeyer, who has started up a rental man­age­ment ser­vice that uses Airbnb as a plat­form to ad­ver­tise homes, suc­cess­fully gen­er­ates ex­tra in­come, even though she only re­cently started us­ing the plat­form.

She ini­tially used the plat­form to ad­ver­tise homes be­long­ing to fam­ily mem­bers.

“I used Airbnb pre­vi­ously as a trav­eller and found it safe and user-friendly, and have since reg­is­tered as a host of three prop­er­ties. I think the tool is re­ally great,” she says.

She had her reser­va­tions about start­ing out on Airbnb in May – the be­gin­ning of the win­ter sea­son – but she gained some busi­ness by ad­ver­tis­ing on so­cial-me­dia plat­forms.

“I had not made a cent and thought I should put the plan on ice un­til the spring/sum­mer sea­son. In a mo­ment of cof­fee-in­duced in­spi­ra­tion, I went on a so­cial-me­dia rampage, post­ing al­bums of each of my homes with witty tag lines. That same week, I re­ceived two book­ings to­talling close to R100 000,” said Blomeyer.

Airbnb makes its money by charg­ing the hosts and lodgers for the book­ing.

The plat­form says: “We charge hosts a ser­vice fee [in­clud­ing taxes, if ap­pli­ca­ble] ev­ery time a book­ing is com­pleted. The amount of the host ser­vice fee is gen­er­ally 3%, but may go up to 5% depend­ing on the can­cel­la­tion pol­icy se­lected by the host.

“The host ser­vice fee is cal­cu­lated from the book­ing subto­tal [be­fore fees and taxes] and is au­to­mat­i­cally de­ducted from the pay­out to the host.”

Airbnb charges guests when a reser­va­tion is con­firmed.

“We charge guests a ser­vice fee of be­tween 5% and 15% of the reser­va­tion subto­tal. Guests see this fee on the check­out page be­fore they book a reser­va­tion,” says Airbnb.

De­spite Airbnb tak­ing such a per­cent­age off each book­ing, Blomeyer and Sch­abort be­lieve the fees are fair.

“It is fair. With­out the plat­form, we wouldn’t be able to gen­er­ate an in­come at this rate any­way. We are big fans,” says Sch­abort.

Blomeyer adds: “I think [the fees] are fair. Airbnb has an in­cred­i­ble plat­form and I’ve never had an is­sue with it. As a host, I am con­stantly up­dated on the plat­form and get in­for­ma­tion about what is go­ing on re­gard­ing homes in my ar­eas, as well as pric­ing guid­ance and things like that. I feel it earns its tiny per­cent­age charge.”


Last year, Airbnb launched a new ser­vice that al­lows users to book “im­mer­sive” travel ex­pe­ri­ences, which in­cludes city tours, peer re­views and rec­om­men­da­tions.

This of­fers hosts an­other op­por­tu­nity to make money from tourism, es­pe­cially if they have a spe­cial skill such as be­ing a yoga in­struc­tor, or are able to take lodgers on a tour around the city.

Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, Airbnb is go­ing to launch a lux­ury ser­vice, which is tar­geted at trav­ellers who are in need of more space. Ac­cord­ing to news ser­vice Bloomberg, the pre­mium Airbnb tier will launch ini­tially as a pi­lot, with in­spec­tors pe­rus­ing sev­eral hosts’ homes to see how they fare against its new qual­ity check list.

Hosts will have to up the ante with more per­fec­tion­ist touches such as match­ing bed linen, posh toi­letries, fancy tow­els and kitchens that boast first-class ap­pli­ances. It’s ex­pected that the launch of this ser­vice will take the ho­tel in­dus­try head-on and at­tract wealth­ier clien­tele.

While Airbnb en­croaches on the ho­tel in­dus­try’s turf, there’s a lo­cal com­peti­tor that could it­self steal some of Airbnb’s mar­ket share, depend­ing on whether South Africans sup­port the plat­form.

Wahi was launched last month and of­fers users the abil­ity to book things such as park­ing and stor­age spaces. So if you have a park­ing bay in front of your house that you don’t use or an empty garage that could store goods, you could ad­ver­tise on Wahi to gen­er­ate an ex­tra in­come.

You can also use it in the same way as Airbnb and ad­ver­tise any spare rooms, homes and apart­ments as the site wel­comes com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial hosts.

Ac­cord­ing to Wahi’s site, it charges a 17.5% ser­vice fee (15% payable by renters and 2.5% payable by hosts). So if the host is charg­ing R100 for some space, it will charge the renter R115 and pay the host R97.50. Wahi says this cov­ers its costs so that it can “cre­ate an ac­tive and safe mar­ket­place with ver­i­fied hosts and renters”. It ad­ver­tises your space to find the right renters for the right sites, main­tains the soft­ware plat­form and pro­vides suf­fi­cient cus­tomer ser­vice op­er­a­tions to ser­vice the mar­ket.

It’s also set to of­fer in­sur­ance so that cus­tomers can pro­tect their goods.

The plat­form was founded by Michael Hodgson and Daniel Bai­ley.

When asked if he wants to take on Airbnb, Hodgson says: “Ab­so­lutely. We feel our pric­ing is fair as we’ve done our re­search, but we will take mar­ket feed­back on board.”

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