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Everything You Need to Know about the Airbnb API

Combining VRM Forces for the Greater Good

By: Pravin Vazirani

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How to Get Your Hands on the Airbnb API

Airbnb evaluates companies on three measures: the profitability of their business opportunity, their technological strength, and their ability to support a shared user base. If you measure well in these areas, receiving check-marks in all three boxes, Airbnb grants you access to the API documentation.

VRM giant, Airbnb, opens up their API to third-party developers. Here's where we're going if you want to jump ahead:

A Quick Airbnb Introduction

Just as we've begun prioritizing localized food, seeking out homegrown, homemade, hometown commodities over imported, big name brands, we've been given an alternative to overbooked hotels and corporate stays. More and more, we're hearing Airbnb come up in conversation; it's become a conversation starter, a bragging right, an additional layer of the travelling experience.

Airbnb manages a network of homes across more than 34,000 cities represented by nonprofessionals looking to open their private residence to international travelers. It's a symbiosis; renters receive a unique, local hangout spot with a long list of amenities hotels can't match, and homeowners tap into a secondary income stream.

Brian Chesky, brain child of the $30 billion platform, has always been committed to matching travelers with authentic experiences, continually challenging travel conventionalisms and thinking beyond generic accommodations to revolutionize the way we stay and where we stay. In fact, the concept for the Airbnb we know today can be traced back to a single email from one of the founders to another.

Airbnb CEO email

I thought of a way to make a few bucks—turning our place into "designer's bed and breakfast"—offering young designers who come into town a place to crash during a 4 day event, complete with wireless internet, a small desk space, sleeping mat, and breakfast each morning.

—Cofounder, Joe Gebbia, to CEO, Brian Chesky

What they sent off into the world to grow, grew way larger than they could have ever anticipated, disrupting everything the travel industry had succumb to prior. Airbnb has disintegrated elements of the travel experience we accepted as the norm, and made travelling cool again. Even the CEO, Brian Chesky, continued to rent his couch out for wayward vagabonds until San Francisco law required hosts to register.

A quick look through Airbnb and you're met with a colorful inventory of homes in all shapes and sizes, boats, tree houses, private islands—you name it, Airbnb has it, and for this reason, other vacation rental services have been dying to get their hands on an Airbnb API.

Just like most APIs, Airbnb's helps Airbnb and third-parties speak the same dialect, igniting new conversation that is mutually beneficial. In the years prior, the Airbnb API was closed off to outside developers, prompting coders to deploy alternative methods of integration like proxies, scraping, and black-hat programming.

Fortunately, things have changed. Airbnb, being the dynamic entity it is, understood the value in expanding beyond host-managed listings to open their platform up to professionally managed vacation rentals and boutique lodging.

Airbnb API Integration

Acquiring the Airbnb API

There is a catch. Airbnb doesn't just hand out their API to anyone with a vague plan of action and a rough sketch illustrating how they plan to execute it. Yes, Airbnb has gone from a one lane highway to an entire highway system. However, all the roads circumvent a central hub—the Airbnb user experience.

Essentially, this means Airbnb treads lightly when choosing development partners, and only releases the API to other companies who are guaranteed to substantiate the end-user, Airbnb ecosystem. The Airbnb API represents an opportunity to evolve the experience for guests and hosts beyond how it is today.

Companies are evaluated on three measures: the profitability of their business opportunity, their technological strength, and their ability to support a shared user base. If you measure well in these areas, receiving check-marks in all three boxes, Airbnb grants you access to the API documentation.

Airbnb API connects third-party VRMs and Airbnb

We don't really need to explore the benefit to aggregating listings through the Airbnb API—Airbnb's 300 million guests from all over the world dismantle any skepticism.

Where someone might not think to search locally for a vacation rental service, they certainly think to search Airbnb. If that local VRM business gained access to the Airbnb API, integrating their listings across Airbnb channels, that person searching Airbnb for accommodations might just land on their listing and request a stay.

Current Airbnb API users can corroborate this sequence of events. Yander Luxury Rentals, a rental service who introduced their listings to Airbnb through the API, stated, "Airbnb is quickly becoming our #1 source of bookings. We only started earlier this year and have already over $500K in USD transactions."

Why is Airbnb API proving to be such a success? Because Airbnb wants you to succeed, and they offer continued support to ensure that's exactly what you do.

The Technicalities

Once you gain provider approval, the API integration could progress quickly, having you well on your way to millions of new property views and reservations. Or, without the development support, the Airbnb API could represent a road block you can't overcome.

The Airbnb API cannot be implemented without a development team, one at least mid-way through their career in C# and .NET programming with a strong UX acumen. Companies hoping to incorporate Airbnb into their pipeline will need a HTML, CSS, and JS architect leveraging an extensive portfolio and an undying tenacity.

Airbnb API essentials

For added support, Airbnb provides each partner with an API integration Consultant to coach them through the process. This individual serves as the point of intersection between Airbnb and the third-party, API enthusiasts hoping to build their own road in Airbnb's highway system.

The API targets professional hosts, opening them up to a preexisting global community that could benefit from their wealth of experience. The Airbnb API allows businesses to import listings and synchronize databases. Through synchronization, professional hosts receive the flexibility they need to properly manage their listing across a multi-channel system, establishing flexible pricing and automated guest correspondence. They can easily update content, rates, and availability, maintaining one calendar between the multiple platforms by connecting new and existing Airbnb accounts.

To painlessly complete the integration, make sure you have the development resources to support your project. Chetu has collaborated with clients in the VRM-scape, looking to implement the Airbnb API to broaden their target market and globalize their listings. Speaking from our past experiences, this is no easy task for companies without an extensive in-house team.

Our UI/UX wizards will streamline your infrastructure with Airbnb's listing engine, merging channels from a smooth transition from one to the other. Our Visual Studio and SQL engineers will construct custom, bidirectional API's around the context of your business.

You may get an assistant coach from Airbnb, but you will still need a head coach to give your API integration direction and the development expertise that will keep you moving forward.


Chetu does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of a specific software, company or individual does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Founded in 2000, Chetu is a global enterprise software development supplier, delivering solutions and support services. Chetu's specialized technology and industry experts serve startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies with an unparalleled software delivery model suited to the needs of the client. Chetu's one-stop-shop model spans the entire software technology spectrum. Headquartered in Plantation, Florida, Chetu has fourteen locations throughout the U.S. and abroad.

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