Would you go "off platform" if you could?

Hi everyone, I have been hosting for quite a few years now, and with some of the recent changes on Airbnb, I have been considering other options. However, I don’t want to just start listing on every OTA (online travel agent) partly because of the management headache, but mostly as I don’t want to have to have instant book. I like vetting who is staying as my property is in my back yard… I am active in quite a few forums on facebook and some hosts are talking about getting off platform altogether. Like starting their own website. I get that this poses some issues, mainly with driving traffic to your site, but if all things were equal, would you do it? Set up and manage your own listings(s) and forget about OTAs with their increasingly ridiculous rules and commissions??? I have to admit, it sounds tempting…

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I have in the part, expensive and lack of reach, hope to do so again.

Hey Como. Thanks for your response. So you did it and it wasn’t that successful, but you would do it again if you could? Could you elaborate, if you wouldn’t mind? :grinning:

My problem is seasonality and back then all my business was in the summer now I have generated winter business but I still have gaps, just about to enter one for a month or so.

I started using ABB as no booking no fee, and paying monthly fees for dead months was not attractive, also to process CC’s certainly then as part of the booking process significantly added to the cost.

Booking seems popular locally, and makes sense to go with what most customers are likely to use, I did notice a different demography between ABB and when I had my own web site. I have a Facebook page and also know some people will not use that, so to maximise your business especially in the slow periods you need to be wide spread.

Yep, I hear you. Thanks for that. Where is your property located? (No need to be specific, just a country or region, just curious). Thanks!

Yes, if I had the time to put in the hours for SEO, managing my own bookings, collecting payment, ensuring maximum occupancy etc.

But I have another business to run and Airbnb is just a bit on the side for me, so the Airbnb platform suits me well just because of how easy it is. To me it’s well worth the % they take.


I know. It’s a conundrum! My airbnb IS my business at the moment, but with kids and the household to run, who has the time! It’s a shame google is set up to make money from the highest bidder, else we could all have our own site and give the OTAs the flick! I don’t hate airbnb, I just wish I had more autonomy. But I guess that’s the pay off…

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But actually only when it comes to paid ads. With decent SEO you can appear at the top of search results, at least locally anyway. It does take a heap of time and some knowledge to get right though. That’s why I think going off platform would have to be a full time job in itself. Unfortunately you can’t just make a website and watch the customers come rolling in.

It’s been done for years though - traditional b&bs, boutique hotels, all managed just fine before Airbnb came along.


Airbnb works perfectly for my situation and I am very happy with it, so no, no plans to move off platform.

I get a lot of one night bookings of people passing through town and I love IB. At my price point Airbnb isn’t taking many dollars and it’s not like I could make enough to manage my own site even if I could get bookings for the kind of travelers I attract.

This is my listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2835502

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BEFORE is the operative word there. Many now list on Airbnb.

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Your place is awesome! :grinning: I’m curious, how long have you been hosting (I know the listing states when you joined Air but some of us were guests long before hosts.)

Air works for me also, although I did look at other platforms. In my state they collect and remit the sales tax and accommodation tax. I don’t wan the hassle of having to do that myself.

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Since May of 2014, so my hostaversery is coming up. I used Airbnb as a guest during the previous summer and loved it so thought I’d give it a go as a host.

Thank you for your kind words about my listing.

ahat exactly you don’t like about Airbnb. I don’t yhink your own website will have the same exposure as Airbnb , not even close. I find Airbnb is very easy to deal with and they take all payments and stand behind reservations most of the time .

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Love love love the dog pics. I have two fake, life sized horses next to my roof deck. Not the same, I know. But draws attention. Ive seen thousands of people through the years taking pictures of the horses from the street. Wouldn’t be a big draw in texas, but draws attention in chicago.


Google is not just for the highest bidder. I have done all my own SEO for both my ABB business and my real estate business. I show up, organically, right on the front page. I have put zero effort into my real estate SEO marketing, except for writing articles (which I don’t even write), and show up on page 3 of google, out of like 1200 realtors in my area.

You need to do SEO right. Like for example, you’d think linking to your ABB page would help with SEO, when it really helps with ABB’s SEO. There are articles you can read on that. Yoast isn’t going to help you, except for optimizing your paragraphs. You need the original content. That’s mostly it.

The biggest trick is to diversify your SEO. You can’t just do blogs. You need photos, videos, backlinks, and lots of content of course. Just pay someone on Upwork to do it, it would cost $20 for about 1,000 words with keyword heavy search terms.

Furthermore, everything needs to be labeled and optimized for SEO. Photo/video captions, your page names need to be optimized, etc. I would use Google’s adwords toolset + keyword research to see what it is exactly people are searching for in your area. If you develop a page around the keywords: “xxxxx vacation rental”, you’re most likely gonna have about 100 competitors right off the bat. From there you can buy an adwords campaign, like you are suggesting, or think outside the box as to what else these people could possibly be searching for.

When I am out, on my daily runs, I have a notepad. On it, I think of an article for a page I want to write. I list points throughout the day. Many of these pages have nothing to do with “vacation rentals” but more to do with specific events or purposes, such as “real estate purchase xxxxxx” or “xxxxxx hospital” (I have a unit near a hospital). I then pay some random dude/tte about $20 to write me an article, I alter it to suit my needs better, and add media. I always get the traffic. I monitor my web stats through wordpress and it is plainly obvious that it works. I invest about $20 + a few hours of my own time to edit the article and add media.

Find out every single detail about your guests. I always strike up a convo, and meet some really cool people in the process from all over the world. They tell me their life story, and their children’s as well. I then use this information, write up an article about their specific scenario, and then attract more people like them (who are also super cool).

SEO is tough and always changing. Google is always changing their algorithm rules because people easily abuse the system as soon as they enact a new rule. Subscribe to some podcasts which keep track of new SEO rules, to stay up to speed. It’s way more complicated than you or I even can imagine. AI plays a big part in all of it, and drives web crawlers here or there.


Love your place. How did you manage the cleaning if mostly your guests are staying just 1 night? Do you wash your duvet everytime? I just started 2 months back and getting very tired.

Hi @Ana2

Then change your listing to minimum two nights/pay a cleaner to do the cleaning and add it as a charge to your listing (if others in your market do this).

Thank you.

It does get tiring but there are a few things that make it tolerable for me. First, it’s here at my house but separate from my space so I only have to clean the guest room and bath. I don’t have to drive over to the rental. Also it’s easier to keep something new looking clean and this space is new. I can do the basic spray, wipe, polish, dust, vacuum, scrub in about 20 minutes most days. That doesn’t include the laundry time. If I were on a tight turn around I’d have to use spare linens. I don’t actually use a duvet stuffed into the cover. In the winter I have a sheet, two blankets and the brightly colored layer on the top is a thin single layer like a sheet. I also have duvet covers that I don’t put duvets in and relatively light quilts I use in winter. So everything is washable in my washing machine. I had to give up the puffy things Americans call comforters for the guest room.

I’m not going to lie: I don’t get every single layer washed every single time. In a perfect world I would but I’d have to increase my price and then the guests would just go to the cheaper place that probably never washes anything. I’d say that every item gets washed an average of every 4 or 5 stays. It also depends on the guests. Guests with dogs or romantic couples, everything gets taken off the bed and replaced with clean items. Single person for one night might only result in the sheets and and pillowcases being washed.

Then every few days something gets cleaned/maintained on a rotating basis. The other day I posted about getting on my hands and knees to scrub the grout. Windows have to be cleaned, drapes taken down and washed, wall and baseboards washed, paint touched up, light fixtures removed and washed, remotes cleaned and batteries replaced, micro fridge freezer defrosted, etc.

I am retired and home all day so if I weren’t doing this I’d just be sitting around eating snacks or something. Not everyone is in the same economic situation I am.


I don’t have them do any sort of SEO really. I just have them write 1000 words about some very specific topic, then I edit the language and add keywords myself. I have tried to hire someone to do all the SEO but it gets way too expensive.

If I use Upwork, I have them write about hiking in my area, or something like that. It is very broad and generic, and allows them to spend about 1 hour doing some research on my area, then 1 hour to write it up, and I get it that day. I then spend about 3 hours, which is a lot, on optimizing the article, and editing/adding media, and Viola! I’ve got as functioning page which is drawing traffic.


Jeez all this talk about SEO, has made me realize that I should put some more articles up… Feeling like a slacker!