Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.
John Van Hasselt | Corbis | Getty Images
Airbnb recently notified travel bloggers that it will be closing its affiliate program at the end of March.
Airbnb launched the Partner Program in May 2020. The program pays a percentage of the guest and host fee to travel bloggers and influencers 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 memo to program members. “Knowing that this decision may have repercussions for you, we wanted to give you as much advance notice as possible and provide an update on the status and schedule of open commissions.” A webpage advertising the program currently says that it is not accepting new sign-ups.
Airbnb confirmed the change in an email to CNBC.
The decision to end the referral program comes after the company last month announced a new marketing campaign aimed at recruiting more hosts for its service. The company, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it expects its sales and marketing expenses as a percentage of revenue in the first of 2021 to be higher 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 reads.
Dan Bagby, a travel blogger, told CNBC that he invests thousands of dollars a month on his website, which contains guides to many Airbnb stays around the world. Since joining the Partner Program in May, Bagby has made him his biggest source of income.
“Now that the program is over, I will have to change my entire strategy again because that source of income is gone,” Bagby said.
Airbnb’s notice to plugin members stated that they will receive commissions for their referrals between the 10th and 20th of the following month after completing a guest reservation. Airbnb said it will not pay commissions for any reservations guests make 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.”