I browsed Airbnb for a property in Suffolk able to accommodate 13 for a family holiday in August 2022 and found a great contender. The listing quoted £3,141 for a week but there was no mention of COVID terms and conditions. I messaged the host who replied promptly with a satisfactory answer – so far so good.
On booking however, I discovered that the price had risen overnight to £3,535. I messaged again. The host replied (equally promptly) that it was due to dynamic pricing (i.e. based on demand). However, it was a good location and I went ahead with the reservation for my chosen dates which were for Sunday to Sunday. I thought I was home and dry, but no. The host declined the reservation, saying he only did Friday to Friday in the holidays, though this condition did not appear in his listing.
Another message and another prompt reply later, he assured me that if I rearranged my dates to suit his booking schedule, it would make no difference to the price. I asked him to amend the booking to Friday to Friday. Surely this would seal the deal? If only.
The host responded with the dates amended to six days for approximately £3,600 with an option of an extra day to make it a full week for another £200 or so and called it a ‘special offer’. The seven-day quote had now risen from £3,141 to around £3,800 – all within 36 hours.
I declined to book and he withdrew the offer. The moral of the story is that when you hear the phrase Dynamic Pricing, please remember that it actually means that for every enquiry you make, the price increases. I am not naming the property – the host may be very nice (though I will never find out) – but I believe the Airbnb system is fleecing its customers and will not be tempted down this road again. Airbnb’s loss is Cottages.com’s gain.