April 17, 2021

Airbnb ends affiliate program as it ramps up host recruitment campaign


Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

John van Hasselt | Corbis | Getty Images

Airbnb recently informed travel bloggers that it will shut down its affiliate program at the end of March.

Airbnb launched the associates program in May 2020. The program pays travel bloggers and influencers a percentage of guest and host fees for Airbnb stays and experiences they recommend and link to on their websites and social media profiles.

“Effective March 31, 2021, we will be closing our Airbnb Associates Program,” the company said in a note to members of the program. “Knowing this decision may have ramifications for you, we wanted to give you as much advance notice as possible and provide an update on the status and timeline for open commissions.” A web page advertising the program currently says it’s not accepting new signups.

The decision to end the affiliate program comes after the company last month announced a new marketing campaign aimed at recruiting more hosts to its service. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it expects its sales and marketing expenses as a percentage of revenue in the first of 2021 to be higher than that of the second half.

“This is partially due to the marketing campaign that we are running in the first half of 2021 in advance of the summer travel season,” the filing reads.

Dan Bagby, a travel blogger, told CNBC he invests thousands of dollars per month on his website, which features guides for numerous Airbnb stays around the world. Since joining the associates program in May, Bagby had made it his largest source of income.

“Now that the program is over, I will have to completely shift my strategy again as this source of income has gone away,” Bagby said.

Airbnb’s notice to members of the associate program said that they will receive commissions for their referrals between the 10th and 20th of the following month following the completion of a guest reservation. Airbnb said it will not pay commissions for any bookings made by guests using referral links after March 31.

“We encourage you to remove all active Airbnb Associate links on your site,” Airbnb said in its note to program members. “Thank you again for your partnership and we appreciate your understanding on this matter.”



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