iCal is free and saves you from having the dreadful and expensive double bookings.
Data suggests vacation rental owners who advertise their property on four or more platforms lose 6-8% of their revenue in cancellation penalties for double bookings.
Convered in this post
What is iCal?
iCal is an industry-standard format which allows users to share calendar and event information with others.
Publisher of the data can choose what information will be shared, it can be as simple as just the booking name, start and end date OR as much as phone number and other personal details about the booking if configured.
iCal data can be shared in two ways:
- iCal file (.ics) – This is used for less frequent updates and publisher needs to send the file each time an update is due.
- iCal Link – With this option, the calendar data is always available at a public link (called iCal URL) and consumers can access the latest booking data using the iCal link.
How to find iCal link on Airbnb?
Airbnb provides iCal link which you can share with other websites so they can access your bookings and maintain the availability of your property accordingly.
Step 1: To get your Airbnb iCal URL, you need to go to ‘Edit listing‘ page and choose the ‘Availability‘ option.
Step 2: Scroll to the bottom of the next screen to ‘Sync calendars‘ option and click on ‘Export calendar‘
Step 3: You will get a popup like this with the iCal URL for your Airbnb calendar. You can take this URL and import it into other websites as I explain in the next section.
Format of the iCal link is: https://www.airbnb.com/calendar/ical/xxxxxxxxxx.ics?s=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
This is the link you’ll import into other websites you’d like to synchronize with Airbnb.
Import external calendar to Airbnb
If you are accepting bookings on the other websites, DO NOT forget to import those external iCal calendars into Airbnb as well to maintain availability both ways.
Its a simple three-step process.
Step 2: Click on ‘Import Calendar‘ under ‘Sync calendars’ option.
Step 3: In the pop up screen that follows, paste the iCal URL in the first box and enter the name of the other website in the second. Click ‘Import Calendar’.
Once you have Exported and Imported iCal links on Airbnb and the other website, both calendars will automatically communicate with each other and block the dates when you get a booking in either of them.
Let me show you how you can import Airbnb iCal link into the calendars of the other vacation rental websites.
Sync Airbnb calendar with Booking.com
Once you are logged into the booking.com extranet i.e. admin.booking.com
Step 1: Click Calendar & Pricing and choose ‘Sync calendars‘
Step 2: Choose ‘Add calendar connection‘ on the next screen.
Step 3: Add Airbnb iCal link in the first box, type Airbnb in the ‘Calendar name‘ box and click ‘Next step‘
Step 4: Click ‘Copy link‘ on the next screen
This last step gives you the Booking.com iCal link which you need to import into Airbnb, and this is the final step in establishing two-way connectivity between booking.com and Airbnb.
Sync Airbnb calendar with VRBO/HomeAway
Once you are on your property dashboard.
Step 1: Click Calendars in the left panel and then choose ‘Reservations‘
Step 2: Click ‘Import/Export‘ on the next screen and choose ‘Export calendar‘
Step 4: Similarly you can choose ‘Import‘ option on the second screen to import Airbnb calendar into HomeAway VRBO calendar.
Sync Airbnb calendar with Google Calendar
Login to your google account and go to calendar application i.e. calendar.google.com
Step 1: Click on the + sign towards the bottom of the left panel
Step 2: Choose ‘Create new calendar‘ in the pop-up option screen
Step 3: On the next screen, enter the Airbnb iCal URL in the first box.
If you intend to share your google calendar with others such as your cleaning team, check the box ‘Make the calendar publicly accessible’.
Click ‘Add calendar’ button.
After this, Airbnb bookings will appear as ‘Reserved’ in your google calendar.
You can share your google calendar with others and they will be able to see checkin/checkout of guests from your property without being able to see other booking details and personal details of the guest.
The disadvantage of using iCal for Airbnb calendar sync
The major disadvantage of using iCal to sync booking calendars is that its not real-time.
Calendars don’t sync instantly when there is a booking activity on either side, and there is always a delay which can be from 1 hr to up to 6 hours.
If you get a booking on the other calendar during this time, it will result in a double booking which can be expensive.
What is the solution?
Option 1: Manually refresh calendars by going on each website every time you get a booking. Not very practical but still an opportunity if you don’t want to spend money on option 2.
Option 2: Airbnb calendar sync with other websites can happen in real-time by using a third-party application known as ‘channel manager’.
I highly recommend using a channel manager if you list your property on multiple websites and get a lot of bookings on more than one site. This is the only way of eliminating the risk of double bookings.
iGMS is a popular software of Airbnb calendar syncing and automation.
You can see the list of most popular channel managers on Airbnb tools section.