Airbnb is perhaps the world’s largest home-stay platform. Recently, it has branched out to provide travelers with an array of tours and activities, as well as its wide variety of rooms, apartments, and homes throughout millions of cities worldwide. There are two categories of users who make the platform run. These are guests and hosts. Guests, as anywhere, are users who search for their perfect accommodation and can filter their results to suit their requirements. Hosts, on the other hand, upload their lodging to the website, with pricing, features, and location, in turn providing guests with their perfect accommodation. Some hosts require a background check before accepting a booking from guests.
Funnily enough, Airbnb began when two roommates could not afford their rent and had the idea to set up their living room into a bed and breakfast to help cover the remaining costs. This had only been going for 6 months when the two friends decided to create a website called ‘AirBed & Breakfast’. This website initially offered guests a short-term living solution with breakfast, little did they know it would expand into what we see today. While the general concept of AirBnB seems straightforward and good value for money on the outside, there are a few things that we as guests, or consumers, must know, that hosts will never tell us.
These stories are all good and well, however, there are several things, as a guest on Airbnb that you will want to become familiar with, especially if you want to have a seamless experience with the host.
The following are 10 things Airbnb will not tell you:
21 Negotiations Are Key
Most people don’t know that hosts are likely to be accepting of negotiations for your stay, especially if it is during an off-peak season or mid-week. Moreover, hosts will likely be more flexible on pricing if your stay is for long-term or is a last-minute booking, as they would otherwise have no guests. At the end of the day, any price is better than no price, right? This is a very important point to note, because it is not publically advertised on the website but could do your budget wonders.
20 Be upfront and honest
If for some reason, you find yourself on the wrong end of a broken vase or even worse, a punctured wall, it is important to be up front and honest with the host. Be sure to make them aware of the problem as soon as humanly possible, which will reduce the chances of them becoming furious. Another benefit from telling your host right away is more often than not, the insurance (included in the price of your stay) will cover broken or damaged goods. If you wait for the host to discover these problems themselves, it is very hard for this to occur and it could see you paying the owner compensation through AirBnB’s ‘resolution center online’.
19 Shop around
Quite often, hosts on Airbnb have their listing on multiple platforms, and this can sometimes lead to a different price on the same accommodation. If there is a room, apartment or house that catches your attention and seems to be the perfect fit for you, shop around and search the same place on different websites. This is the same case with hotel rooms across multiple websites. If you are fortunate enough to find a room or property at a lower price, do not hesitate to contact the owner and discuss a possible price change. Prices are generally higher due to higher commission rates. Bottom line…do your homework.
18 Frequent flyer? Check.
In America, Airbnb has recently partnered with Delta Airlines to give its guests an extra avenue to earn their frequent flyer miles and points. The way it works is pretty simple; one ‘SkyMile’ per $1 USD spent on a property. There is even an added bonus 1000 SkyMile point incentive with the first booking. Pretty good, right? Well just wait, there is more. If you are a new guest, using the co-branded site (Delta/Airbnb) could fetch you a $25 discount for your first booking.
17 Long-stay discounts
Some listings on Airbnb offer long-stay discounts, especially those in the business market. These stays usually range between one week and one month, but there is a twist which guests must be wary of. Usually you can find this discount if you play around with your dates, however, if you are using it for business purposes, dates generally are not too flexible, but not to worry, read the next point if you are the savvy businessman. Furthermore, some taxes (we all secretly love them) can be avoided by staying a particular number of nights.
16 Airbnb for Business
If you are a company or individual who travels frequently for business, or may not be able to afford a hotel all the time, do not stress, AirBnB for Business has you covered. There is a $50 discount on your first booking, and that is not all. Being a member of this program gives you access to many features to cater for business travel, some including lightning-fast Wi-Fi and being able to check in at any hour of the day or night. Aside from the property side of the business program, there are team-building exercises available and common areas where intelligent minds can collaborate, or just simply network.
15 Remember the environment
In this day in age, the debate on climate change is at an all-time high. It is no lie that this is affecting our planet and Airbnb is taking action. Homeowners, whether it be a room, apartment or house, are ultimately responsible for the utility bill, and therefore as guests, we would be remiss if we did not respect this. Unfortunately, some guests do abuse the electricity and water during their stay, and Airbnb has introduced a method to combat such behavior. Some properties are controlled by their owners, from the outside. Yep, that’s right, they could simply turn off the lights in the middle of the day to save power, or turn the air conditioning off to save money. Now, while this is unlikely, it can happen if the owners are not impressed with the way you are treating their property.
14 One golden rule
Surely common sense would prevail when you are using someone else’s home for a place to stay. Whether it be a friend’s house because you have no-where to stay, or an Airbnb, a guest should always leave a property in a decent state. It does not have to be sparkling clean, and nor does it have to be so dirty that the owners must charge a cleaning fee. Airbnb owners have the right to charge for a cleaning fee, however, this must be agreed upon before the commencement of the stay. Just like Uber and some other applications, Airbnb allows you to have a ‘star’ rating and this is important as to whether or not you get the accommodation of your dreams.
13 Sign up for emails
Yes, when we sign up for email marketing, our inboxes are usually spammed with ‘deals’. Airbnb differs in a way much like Skyscanner and other travel search platforms. You can turn on alerts for any change in price for your preferred listing, which means you can keep up to date with the overall pattern of prices for not only your ideal property but similar ones too. For first time guests, referring a friend to AirBnB could fetch them much as $40 off you’re their next stay.
12 Read description
When searching for that perfect accommodation, you will notice that some hosts put much more effort into their property description than others. Furthermore, if the ‘host’ has little to no information on their profile, it is probably for the best that you keep clear, as to avoid any possible scam or wrongdoing. If you do proceed with an inquiry, make sure that the host agrees to meet you half-way, if not, stop wasting time and move on.
11 Don’t bother trying to dodge fees
Make sure to confirm every single piece of information with the owner before your stay. Not doing this could result in fees payable after your stay. You need to ensure confirmation of pets, people allowed in the property at one time, or if parties are allowed or not (if that’s you). If you fail to do so, or simply defy the owner's rules, this can result in a hefty bill, one which I can only assume you don’t particularly want to pay. This is 100% avoidable by simply reading over the rules from the owner and asking any questions that may arise.
10 Keep it clean
Perhaps one of the most hated things an owner can face is stained linen. It could be a towel, bed sheets or flannel with make-up from last night, or a little bit of toothpaste. Nevertheless, just like at home (hopefully), you need to remember to keep up your personal hygiene levels, keep clean and be careful. Some owners have even been known to add a fee for stained linen in the post-stay bill. As an owner, however, you need to be aware that these things cannot be fully avoided and as a result, may need to become more comfortable with dirty linen.
9 Hosts are not your valet
A survey by House Method has revealed nearly 50% of past Airbnb hosts have taken their listing/s down as a result of guest behavior, simply being annoying…understandable, right? Past owners have reported guests expecting 24-hour service, asking for directions, what to do in the city, and going even going so far as to leave their bags at the front door and expecting the host to carry them in. What some people do not realize, is that the host is not a concierge, nor valet. They are there to provide you with a roof over your head. Most hosts are happy to answer questions about the city, for example, ‘where is the closest supermarket?’ or ‘where is the train station?’, just, as a guest, do not bombard them with questions in the first hour of your stay. Oh, one more thing, god forbid, please attend to your luggage yourself.
8 Why do we use Airbnb?
Airbnb is used for many reasons, ranging from holidays and business to price and location. In fact, statistics by Morgan Stanley Research (2015) suggest that 55% of travelers use AirBnB due to its cheaper price. While this is the case in most cities and is cheaper on average, it is most definitely not the case in others. In cities such as Bilbao, Spain, a hotel is far cheaper than an AirBnB, so it just depends where you want to go and what you want to do. Some groups with 4 or more in their party also prefer Airbnb as the overall split bill is cheaper than that of a hotel.
7 Location, location, location
About 33% of travelers prefer the AirBnB way over a hotel, and this is largely due to location preferences. Generally, hotels close to, or in the center of town come at a premium price compared to ones a short walk or bus ride away. Travelers want the convenience of being in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a new city, and it is also where most of the attractions are found. Staying close to the center offers a more authentic experience as it allows you to live life like a local for the duration of your stay. With this in mind, 31% of travelers said they choose Airbnb over a hotel for the ‘authentic experience’.
6 Duration of stay?
Travelers are more likely to choose an AirBnB if their stay is longer than 2 nights, with only a combined 29% of guests opting for a one or two-night stay at an Airbnb versus a 50% cumulative total for the same duration at a hotel. On average, guests stay 3-5 nights at an AirBnB compared with 33% at a hotel. This is largely due to the convenience factor of a simple check-in and goes to room notion at a hotel for one or two-nights, compared with an Airbnb property tour and speech from the host. Travelers only spending a short time in a city want to get out there and explore right away, whereas guests with a 3-5 night stay have the chance to hang back a bit and go with the flow.
5 Live largely, or live small
With AirBnB’s option of renting just a room, it makes it convenient for a single traveler to find a place to stay. Some AirBnB hosts live in the properties they list and rent out, and therefore treat them as a mini private bed and breakfast. However, no matter who you are, it takes a lot of guts to rent a room in the property of a stranger, and there are many questions left unanswered until you arrive and meet the owner. Nevertheless, it serves as a very good opportunity to meet new people and save some money at the same time.
4 Hosts can say no
A little profit is better than no profit, right? Well, to an extent. Owners have the right to reject a potential guest if they see fit to do so, and this can be for a number of reasons. It could be that the guest has a poor rating or bad reviews, or it might be that the owner won't’ be around to serve the guest. Enquiring about a property has been compared to the first moves on a first date. It is a delicate process and the outcome may not be as desired, but you can only do your best.
3 Protection…. Tick
Some guests simply do not care when it comes to treating a foreign property respectfully. Owners can sense these people and can also see from reviews what their potential guests are likely to do to their property. Rest assured, Airbnb has a Host Guarantee which sees owners covered for up to $1,000,000 damage to property. As with anything material, it is a good idea to have insurance for homeowners or renters, because some items have a limited cover with AirBnB’s plan.
2 Marketing brings all the boys to the yard
As an owner, there are many ways to advertise your property. Avenues such as Airbnb and TripAdvisor are just some of the platforms you can use to gain leverage over other hosts, ultimately gaining more profit than your counterparts. With this idea, it is important to remember to try and keep your pricing similar throughout the different websites, as to not create any suspicion from guests. Aside from listing your property on various platforms, it may be a good idea to start a blog or social media page to increase awareness of your accommodation. If you take this upon yourself, you might find that potential guests will locate your property before they even think about Airbnb. Job done.