I’ve had a draft post in my queue for about a year, ever since I did a comparison of peer to peer rental lodging metasearch tools and followups describing my search failures and explaining why most of them don’t integrate Airbnb very well. After those posts some additional rental metasearch sites reached out to ask that I include them in my comparison, but I just wasn’t inspired to do an update once I realized that the lack of Airbnb inclusion via an integrated API means these search engines just didn’t offer very high quality results.
This problem started last year when Airbnb decided to block third parties from integrating their content via the API they built. This API, when used properly, allows other websites to display accurate Airbnb rental property availability, pricing and other details. Needless to say, if you are going to offer a peer-to-peer rental metasearch, you want to include the biggest pool of options in your search results. Being forced to either exclude Airbnb, or to include results only by scraping the site (a practice that could result in legal challenges from Airbnb, and yields results of questionable quality) is a big problem for metasearch companies.
As 2016 draws to a close, just about a year after Airbnb shut down all their third party affiliate programs, they seem to be starting up again. Airbnb just signed a deal with two Japanese lodging search sites to include all three million listings from the peer-to-peer rental network. Tnooz reports that this signals a change in Airbnb policy.
From the user perspective, being able to find Airbnb listings on rental metasearch sites is a good thing. This makes it easier to compare options without having to run separate searches, and remembering all the options you want to search. While the integration sites are currently only in Japanese, I hope this will improve the rental lodging metasearch options for everyone, and perhaps inspire me to update my search engine comparison post.