The online travel agencies (OTAs) are responding to industry demand for ‘Co-hosting’ for short term rental property owners. In the past this was hard, but the OTAs have made it easier.
What is Co-hosting?
The owner has set up their OTA account, but for some reason wants another party like a property manager to manage their account, while keeping ultimate control.
This can happen for a number of reasons. It may be that the owner becomes time poor and finds the managing of users too demanding, so hands the management to a property manager. Alternatively the owner may see their role as setting up the rental and prefers to avoid the day to day management of guests. Or the owner may want to delegate some tasks to a manager like greeting and cleaning. Or the owner wants to delegate some tasks to family or a friend.
In my case, I’m experimenting with using a management company for cleaning and also giving them total guest control, so I can travel more. I went down the rabbit burrow of co-hosting for the main OTAs – Airbnb, Booking and Homeaway. This is what I found (Nov 2019).
These guys are the best at co-hosting. They have very clear Help, taking you through the co-hosting process step by step, with the owner in control.
How it works: The owner sends an invitation to the co-host and specifies who is to be the primary and the secondary email address. There is a verification email to the owner to prevent fraud. The review history, superhost status and listing are unchanged. The co-host can manage the entire guest experience.
At a recent meeting of property managers with Airbnb in Melbourne, Airbnb explained that co-hosting has been far more popular than they expected. They are working hard at making a better experience for property managers, and given their track record, they will. It fits with their strategic growth objective of recruiting more property managers to their platform.
It’s not surprising that the term Co-host is becoming well known, a by-product of the uncanny Airbnb marketing machine.
This OTA also has a well developed co-host arrangement, if not as well publicised and much harder to find help for than Airbnb. There is a help item for ‘co-host’, which helps a bit. I ended up calling their support, and found that it was quite easy – once you knew how.
How it works: In the Account part of the extranet, the owner can add a new User, which equates to adding a co-host. The owner has to specify the new user details and set permissions for what the new user is allowed to do. Then an invitation is sent, and a verifying email is sent to the owner to prevent fraud, similar to Airbnb.
Vrbo/ Homeaway/ Stayz
This OTA is less advanced than the two market leaders. There is no help for the term ‘co-host’. There is an article discussing the pros and cons of property managers, but nothing I could find on how to set it up. Once you call the helpdesk, the agent figures out what you want and walks you through the process. This OTA has a lot of improving to do.
How it works: In the Account section of the dashboard, the owner can add an email, and add an extra two factor authentication for the new email. A code is sent to the owner for verifying the change, to prevent fraud, similar to the other OTAs.
So all three of the main OTAs have arrangements to make co-hosting easy. The fact that Airbnb makes it so easy, puts them in the box seat. Unsophisticated owners and managers find it so easy they sometimes list with Airbnb exclusively, another great advantage for Airbnb. While easy, the owners really should list with the other leading OTAs, otherwise they will leave a lot of money on the table.
For those of us happy running our own properties ourselves, co-hosting has little relevance right now. If circumstances change like mine did, co-hosting can be a handy option.