Airbnb ends associates program because it ramps up host recruitment marketing campaign

Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO.

John van Hasselt | Corbis | Getty Images

Airbnb recently informed travel bloggers that it will end its affiliate program in late March.

Airbnb launched the Associates program in May 2020. The program pays travel bloggers and influencers a percentage of the 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 statement to members of the program. “Knowing that this decision may affect you, we wanted to let you know as early as possible and update the status and schedule of any outstanding commissions.” A website promoting the program is currently saying that no new registrations will be accepted.

Airbnb confirmed the change in an email to CNBC.

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

“This is partly due to the marketing campaign we are running in the first half of 2021 before the summer travel season,” the file said.

Dan Bagby, a travel blogger, told CNBC he spends thousands of dollars a month on his website, which has guides for numerous Airbnb stays around the world. Bagby had made it his biggest source of income since joining the Associates program in May.

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

Airbnb’s notice to affiliate program members states that between the 10th and 20th of the following month after making a guest reservation, they will receive commissions on their referrals. Airbnb said it won’t pay commissions on guest bookings through referral links after March 31st.

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

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