We have discussed the marketplace revenue model in the chapter “How To Choose Right Revenue Model For Online B2B Marketplace.” In this chapter, we’ll learn how Airbnb’s revenue model outshines the competition.

In the ever-changing realm of online platforms, having a well-defined revenue model is: By outlining how a marketplace platform generates income while delivering value to renters and owners, the revenue model serves as a blueprint for monetization strategies, pricing structures, and additional revenue streams. 

Whether it’s a vacation rental platform, equipment rental marketplace, or peer-to-peer car-sharing platform, a well-defined revenue model will provide clarity, transparency, and fairness to all participants. 

By optimizing revenue potential and ensuring a harmonious blend of profitability and user satisfaction, a rental marketplace can establish a flourishing ecosystem where renters discover suitable assets and owners generate sustainable revenue.

We will examine Airbnb’s Revenue Model for rental marketplaces and its significance. Furthermore, we will discuss the best strategies for designing such a model.

Let’s dive into the chapter!

5 Key Components Of Airbnb’s Revenue Model

Incorporating the below-mentioned 7 key components of the revenue model into your rental marketplaces. This way you can create a structured approach to generate revenue, provide value to providers and renters, and ensure the viability and growth of your rental business.

Airbnb’s Revenue Streams

Airbnb generates revenue primarily through service fees charged to both hosts and guests. When a booking is made, Airbnb charges the guest a percentage of the total booking amount as a service fee. Additionally, hosts are charged a separate fee for each booking they receive. These service fees constitute the main revenue stream for Airbnb.

Airbnb’s Pricing Strategy

Airbnb’s pricing strategy is dynamic and market-driven. Hosts have control over setting the price for their listings based on factors such as location, amenities, demand, and competition. Airbnb provides hosts with pricing recommendations based on market data, but the final decision lies with the hosts. By allowing hosts to set their own prices, Airbnb ensures that the pricing reflects the perceived value of the accommodation.

Airbnb’s Monetization Channels

Airbnb operates as an online marketplace, connecting hosts and guests from around the world. The Airbnb website and mobile app serve as the primary monetization channels. Hosts list their properties on the platform, and guests can search, book, and pay for accommodations directly through the platform. Airbnb charges fees for using its platform, acting as an intermediary and facilitator of transactions between hosts and guests.

Airbnb’s Sales and Distribution Channels

Airbnb primarily operates through an online platform, which serves as its main sales and distribution channel. Guests can access Airbnb’s website or mobile app to search for and book accommodations. The platform provides a seamless and user-friendly experience, enabling hosts to reach a global audience and guests to discover a wide range of accommodation options. Airbnb also engages in strategic partnerships with travel agencies, airlines, and other service providers to expand its reach and offer additional services to users.

Airbnb’s Revenue Forecasting and Metrics

To project and estimate future revenue, Airbnb relies on sophisticated data analytics and forecasting models. They analyze historical booking data, market trends, and other relevant factors to make revenue projections. Airbnb tracks various revenue-related metrics, including the number of bookings, average booking value, occupancy rates, and guest satisfaction ratings. These metrics help Airbnb assess the performance of its revenue generation strategies, identify areas for improvement, and make informed business decisions.

5 Key Components Of The Airbnb's Revenue Model

The Best Revenue Model For The Rental Marketplace

Commission Model – The Airbnb’s Revenue Model

This is the most common and best revenue model used by rental marketplaces.

The reason Commission Model is the most commonly used revenue model for a rental is because

  1. The commission-based model ensures the rental marketplace’s success is tied to providers’ and renters’ success by charging fees on transactions, motivating the platform to facilitate successful transactions and add value to both parties.
  2. By sharing the risk with providers, the marketplace incentivizes maintaining a reliable platform, as it only earns a commission when rentals occur, encouraging investment in trust-building, security measures, and effective dispute resolution.
  3. The commission-based model allows rental marketplaces to grow efficiently as more transactions lead to increased revenue, enabling investment in platform enhancements, marketing, and expanding the user base.
  4. Providers can join without upfront costs, attracting a larger pool of providers and a wider range of items for rent, which, in turn, attracts more renters to the platform.
  5. A clear fee structure allows providers to calculate their potential earnings easily, while renters can see cost breakdowns, ensuring transparency and trust in the transaction process.
  6. As long as providers and renters use the platform, the rental marketplace generates ongoing revenue, ensuring sustainability and the ability to invest in improvements and growth.

The commission-based model has proven to be effective for rental marketplaces by aligning incentives, mitigating risk, enabling scalability, having a low entry barrier, ensuring transparency, and maintaining a continuous revenue stream. 

Commission Based Model

In this model, the marketplace charges a percentage or fixed fee on each transaction or rental that occurs through its platform. 

This fee is typically deducted from the rental amount paid by the renter or earned by the provider. Under the commission-based model, the marketplace acts as an intermediary, facilitating the transaction and making revenue from the commission charged. 

The commission percentage can vary depending on the marketplace and the type of rental. It is usually a percentage of the total rental amount, ranging from around 10% to 20% or even higher in some cases. 

Case Study Of Airbnb’s Revenue Model: Commission-Based Model

An example of a company that follows a commission-based model is Airbnb. Airbnb serves as a widely used digital platform that facilitates connections between individuals seeking to rent out their properties (hosts) and travelers in search of accommodations (guests).

In the case of Airbnb’s Revenue Model, when a guest books a stay at a host’s property through the platform, Airbnb charges a commission on the total booking amount. The commission percentage varies, but it is typically around 3% to 5% for hosts. This means that if a guest books a stay for $100, Airbnb may take a commission of $3 to $5 from the host’s side.

The commission-based model benefits both parties involved. For hosts, it provides a platform to market their properties to a wide range of potential guests and manage bookings efficiently. Guests, on the other hand, benefit from a trusted platform that facilitates secure transactions and provides access to a diverse range of accommodations.

Airbnb’s revenue model is primarily generated from these transaction fees. As the platform attracts more hosts and guests and facilitates a larger volume of bookings, its revenue increases accordingly. This revenue is essential for Airbnb to cover its operational costs, invest in platform improvements, and drive further growth.

Airbnb’s Revenue From 2017 to 2023

  1. For the quarter ending March 31, 2023, Airbnb reported revenue of $1.818B, showing a 20.48% increase compared to the same period last year.
  2. The twelve-month revenue ending on March 31, 2023, reached $8.708B for Airbnb, reflecting a year-over-year increase of 31.66%.
  3. In 2022, Airbnb’s annual revenue amounted to $8.399B, indicating a significant growth of 40.17% compared to 2021.
  4. Airbnb’s annual revenue for 2021 was $5.992B, showing an impressive 77.38% increase from the previous year, 2020.
  5. The annual revenue for Airbnb in 2020 was $3.378B, experiencing a decline of 29.7% compared to 2019.
  6. Airbnb’s annual revenue for 2019 stood at $4.805B, representing a notable increase of 31.57% from 2018.
  7. In 2018, Airbnb generated an annual revenue of $3.652B, marking a substantial growth of 42.54% compared to 2017.
Airbnb’s Revenue From 2017 to 2023
Airbnb’s Revenue From 2017 to 2022

Pros Of A Commission-Based Revenue Model

  1. A commission-based model directly ties revenue to the success of each transaction or sale. The more transactions or sales occur, the more revenue the platform generates. This incentivizes the platform to provide value and attract more users.
  2. As the platform grows and facilitates more transactions, the revenue potential increases proportionally. This scalability allows the platform to expand its operations and invest in improving its services and user experience.
  3. Users who provide goods or services through the platform often benefit from lower upfront costs compared to other models. They only pay a commission when they make a successful sale or transaction, reducing financial risks and barriers to entry.
  4. Since the platform earns revenue based on a percentage of each transaction, it shares the risk with users. If a transaction does not generate revenue, the platform does not receive a commission, incentivizing it to provide a reliable and efficient marketplace for transactions to occur.

Cons Of A Commission-Based Revenue Model

  1. Users who generate revenue through the platform must pay a commission, reducing their overall earnings. This can be a disadvantage for high-volume or high-value transactions, as the commission fees can significantly impact profitability.
  2. The revenue of a commission-based model heavily relies on transaction volume. If there is a decline in the number of transactions, the platform’s revenue can be adversely affected. This can be a challenge during periods of economic downturn or market fluctuations.
  3. Commission-based models typically rely solely on transaction fees as their main revenue source. This lack of revenue diversification can make the platform vulnerable to changes in market conditions or competition from alternative models.
  4. Customers may perceive commission-based models as having higher costs compared to alternative models, leading to potential reluctance in using the platform. This perception can impact user acquisition and retention.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Rental Revenue Model

It is essential to regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your chosen revenue model and be open to making adjustments based on customer feedback and changing market dynamics.

Target Market And User Base

Understanding your target market and user base, just like Airbnb did, is crucial when choosing a revenue model. Consider the demographics, preferences, and behaviors of your target customers. Airbnb’s revenue model initially resonated well with individual travelers and budget-conscious users who preferred unique accommodations and local experiences.

Nature Of The Rental Marketplace

The nature of your rental marketplace, similar to Airbnb’s model, plays a significant role in determining the most suitable revenue model. Consider factors such as the type of rentals offered, the frequency of transactions, and the average transaction value. Airbnb’s success stemmed from its ability to cater to a wide range of rental types, including entire homes, apartments, rooms, and even unique accommodations like treehouses or castles.

Competitor Analysis And Industry Trends

Similar to Airbnb’s approach, perform a comprehensive evaluation of your rivals and the prevailing trends within your industry. Examine what revenue models they are using and evaluate their success. Airbnb’s revenue model disrupted the traditional hospitality industry by offering a peer-to-peer marketplace with lower costs and a more personalized experience compared to hotels or traditional vacation rentals.

Revenue Potential And Scalability 

Assess the revenue potential and scalability of each revenue model, just as Airbnb did. Estimate the potential earnings and growth trajectory for each model based on your target market, user base, and industry factors. Airbnb’s revenue model proved highly scalable as it expanded globally, allowing hosts to generate income from unused or underutilized spaces while providing travelers with affordable accommodations.

User Experience And Value Proposition 

Similar to Airbnb’s focus, evaluate how each revenue model aligns with your user experience and value proposition. Consider how the revenue model impacts the overall customer experience, including pricing transparency, fairness, and perceived value for both providers and renters. Airbnb’s revenue model emphasized transparency, trust-building, and user reviews, creating a sense of security and building a strong community of hosts and guests.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about the revenue model that best suits your rental marketplace, target market, and long-term business goals.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Revenue Model


In conclusion, the best revenue model for a rental marketplace business ultimately depends on the specific goals and characteristics of the business. However, considering the dynamics of the rental marketplace, a commission-based revenue model tends to be a favorable choice. 

A commission-based model offers several advantages. Firstly, it directly aligns revenue generation with the success of each transaction, providing a strong incentive for the platform to deliver value and attract more users. Secondly, it allows for scalability, as the revenue potential grows in proportion to the number of transactions facilitated. This scalability enables the platform to expand its operations and invest in improving user experience. 

Furthermore, a commission-based model provides lower upfront costs for users, as they only pay a commission when a successful rental transaction occurs. This reduces financial risks and barriers to entry, making it attractive for both renters and providers. Additionally, the shared risk aspect of the model ensures that the platform is motivated to provide a reliable and efficient marketplace for transactions to take place.

While a commission-based revenue model has its advantages, it is essential to carefully consider the potential drawbacks. Higher costs for users and dependence on transaction volume are factors to be mindful of. Additionally, it is essential for the rental marketplace to continuously assess and adapt its revenue model to address customer perceptions of costs and explore potential revenue diversification opportunities.

Ultimately, a rental marketplace should evaluate its specific market conditions, competitive landscape, and target audience to determine the most suitable revenue model. It may also be beneficial to incorporate elements of other revenue models, such as advertising or premium features, to diversify revenue streams and maximize profitability.