The owners of Augill Castle in the Lake District have revealed that using Airbnb as a booking platform to sell bedrooms is paying off, contributing approximately 10% of business.
Simon and Wendy Bennett, who have owned the castle for the last 20 years, told Boutique Hotelier that regular business does come from Airbnb during the summer, and despite dwindling in the off season, earns the property around £12k in total.
The pair lists various rooms as individuals as well as the entire castle, promoting the ‘stay in a castle’ strapline, and while they admit that the partnership ‘works quite well’ there are some frustrations when it comes to communicating with guests.
“The partnership works quite well though with some frustrations due to the secret nature of the exact location until a guest books, and having to go through them to discuss any details.
“All bookings come through Airbnb and the platform makes it difficult to engage directly. That said, it isn’t difficult for guests to find our website – if they do want to book directly and by doing so that can avoid the service charge which Airbnb levies on guests for using the service. Our direct bookings account for around 80% of our revenue.”
The Bennetts were early adopters of Airbnb and first listed Augill Castle on the platform in 2009 – before they chose to use Booking.com – because they felt that its message ‘aligned with them’.
Simon says that Airbnb helps encourage open-mind people to pay them a visit.
“It brings open minded people with the sort of attitude that fits our model of delivery – communality, conviviality and a shared sense of belonging.
“There is also a massive PR benefit. Last year we were listed in the top ten most searched for properties on Airbnb worldwide and the world’s most wanted castle! We regularly see search figures reach 30 or 40,000 per month and our images have been featured in many Airbnb sponsored press articles.”
Earlier this year, Airbnb took further aim at the hotel industry and OTAs as it bids to make a bigger imprint on the travel sector and go beyond shared accommodation. CEO Brian Chesky revealed in August that it will be expanding the type and quality of its listings, to make it easier for more hotels to list their services.
The company is also introducing four new rental categories, hiring people to vet higher-end listings and launching a loyalty program later in the year.
In August of last year, Chesky tweeted that Airbnb had listings for 15,000 boutique hotels, about 10 months after introducing them to the platform.
Then Airbnb announced a partnership with SiteMinder, a hotel distribution platform used by more than 28,000 hotels around the world.
The four new categories of listings — vacation home, unique space, B&B and boutique — will give hosts “an unprecedented level of detail in the travel industry” to showcase their properties, Airbnb said in a release.