Andrew and I used AirBnB while we stayed in Pensacola, Florida and now I don’t think we will ever stay in a hotel again! I heard about AirBnB many times before but never really looked into it until recently...
What is AirBnB?
Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows people to list, find, then rent vacation homes. It has over 2,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries around the world. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a place to stay while on a budget, or if you want more than what a typical hotel can offer you… AirBnB is all that and more!
What do I need to know?
· Guests and hosts alike must verify their identity with official forms of ID, so you know people are who they say they are.
· Every time you stay somewhere or rent out a room, both parties review each other. You don’t see the other person’s feedback until you’ve both submitted reviews, so there’s no pressure to leave a positive review just so the other person will do the same.
· You can see all of the past reviews for any rental you’re interested in. That way you know if the property description is accurate and you get a sense for how the host interacts with guests.
· Guests can communicate with potential hosts before and after making a booking. This is all done on AirBnB’s site, without exchanging any personal information or e-mail addresses until the booking is finalized.
· All money transactions go through AirBnB, so the guest’s payment is guaranteed at the time of booking and the host receives the funds 24 hours after check in.
· Customer service is big with AirBnB. You can learn more about their efforts at their online trust and safety center.
Why should I use AirBnB?
The opportunity to rent an entire home or apartment with a kitchen. For the same price as a hotel – and often cheaper – you can find fully furnished accommodations through AirBnB that allow you to cook some of your own meals. In places with a high cost of living, like Penascola, you can save a lot of money by not having to eat out for every meal.
The opportunity to stay with locals. Some AirBnB listings are for entire homes or apartments, where the homeowner is not present. But others involve renting a room in a place where someone lives, and many of these homeowners excel at hosting. When we stayed in Pensacola, our host had beach gear for us to use! We were able to stay 1 block from the beach for 1/3 the cost of a decent hotel that close.
The opportunity to stay in some one-of-a-kind places. AirBnB truly has a wide range of accommodations, so there is something for everyone. I’ve seen a peaceful backyard tent set up for $10 a night in Hill Country, Texas, a large boat house on Lake Houston, tree houses, fancy penthouses in major cities, and – of course – some traditional Bed and Breakfast set ups.
Are there any tricks or tips for AirBnB?
Know what you want. Do you want the whole place to yourself? Is it important for you to have a washer/dryer? Would you like to stay in a treehouse or a riverboat? If you have specific requests, Airbnb does a good job of helping you sort out the listings that just aren't going to work for you. After entering in your dates and location, you can always choose the More Filters option. From there, you can click through a series of checkboxes or even plug in a keyword (e.g. king size bed, beachfront, movie theater on site).
Don't dismiss private rooms. In terms of room type, you probably know that you have three options to choose from: Entire Place (you get the whole kit-n-kaboodle to yourself), Private Room (you stay in a room where your host will be on site), and Shared Room (you share a room with another human being). As a certified introvert, I always swore that I would never choose any option besides Entire Place. I just didn't like the idea of someone else being around while I hung out in their digs. But while booking a trip to Atlanta, I noticed that there were a lot of private rooms available for crazy cheap (like $30 a night) so I will give it a try!
Read the fine print. Some hosts go to great lengths to describe their listing. Some don't. I often steer clear of the ones that don't because I like to be well-informed of what I'm getting into.
If your dates are flexible, be flexible. Just like any hotel, Airbnb listings often have a high and a low season, so rates are subject to change depending on the month or even the day of the week. Take a look at the calendar on listings to see the availability and cost of each day. You know, be smart.
Read reviews. Reviews are at the heart of what makes Airbnb great. For one, they hold hosts and guests accountable. Knowing that you are subject to a review process makes you far more likely to be on your best behavior. But for another, they give great insight into what's really going on. A host description could be like, "I have the best house in the world. Two bedrooms. Two bathrooms. Close to shops. No ghosts or ghouls of any kind, I swear" but then you read the reviews and they are like, "The toilet was broken the entire time I was there, and dude, there were SO. MANY. GHOSTS. If that's an issue for you, don't stay here." (For the record, this is just an example, but man, I kind of wish it were real). Take interest in what a host says about their place, but put your trust in reviews.
Introduce yourself. When you've found a place you love, reach out to the host to say "hello" and make sure they have availability. Be nice, complementary, say what your travels plans are, use proper grammar -- just be a decent human being. Many hosts run their Airbnb listing as a business, but at the same time, they are also welcoming perfect strangers into their home which can be a vulnerable position to be in. Put their mind at ease by showing them you are a considerate person, and you will be far more likely to be approved.
Be a superstar guest. Hosts aren't the only ones who receive a review on Airbnb. Guests do too. Not to brag, but I'm kind of the perfect guest. I tidy up, I say please and thank you, I don't scream in my sleep. I basically just act like a decent human being and all seems to go fairly well. Do the same thing and hosts will be far more likely to trust you to take care of their homes.
How do I sign-up?
Click here to sign up using my referral link to get $35 in travel credit towards your next AirBnB stay!