Looking for a place to stay during a vacation can be tough. Hotels are often expensive, but hostels can be too noisy and loud. If you’re going with a big group especially, having to share space with tons of strangers may not be the best option. Why not check out Airbnb? Airbnb is a popular housing site where you can find lodging in private homes. Maybe you’ve used the site before, maybe you haven’t, but surely you’ve heard of it or know someone who’s heard of it.
The website, launched in 2008, allows hosts to offer up extra bedrooms or even whole apartments or houses for guests to rent out short term or long term. Each listing that goes up on the site needs to be verified, so renters can rest assured that your stay is at a reputable and safe home.
The company began when two young professionals, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, wanted to earn some extra cash by hosting guests on an air mattress in their living room and cooking breakfast for the guest, turning it into a bed and breakfast.
Now, the site has over 150 million users worldwide and is constantly growing. Airbnb guests tend to be groups of guests more often than just a singular guest, and guests renting spaces on Airbnb tend to rent entire apartments or houses more often than just a private room in a shared home, and very few guests stay for just one night.
How it Works
Airbnb is user-friendly. When searching for housing, first enter in your destination. From there, you can scroll through thousands of listings. To narrow it down, select the date of your trip and the number of guests. Narrow it down further by choosing between shared room, private room in a shared residence, or renting an entire home, by choosing your ideal price range, or by choosing only locations with certain amenities. If you’re not sure what spot you want to book, use the ‘wish list’ feature to save properties you think you may like, then log back in later to compare spaces.
Each specific accommodation page contains all the info you need to book your stay. Usually, there will be a short description of the space – what’s included, what is there to do nearby, what makes this apartment or home unique. Read all about the space in the owner’s own words, then scroll down to find a list of included amenities and a list of rules, a cancellation policy, and reviews by past users. Back at the top of the page, you’ll also find links to contact the owner or to book the property.
Always read over the rules and descriptions. When you check out an accommodations page, you’ll find a brief description, list of amenities, and a list of rules. Since these are often private homes, the rules and regulations may vary greatly from location to location and from home to home. You don’t want to arrive at your destination and be surprised that you need to pay for towels, or that you’re lacking amenities you thought you’d have. Cancellation policies can also be very different across different homes, so make sure you know how far (or not) in advance you can cancel your stay and get a refund if something comes up.
Looking to book quickly? Try out the “Instant book” option. Normally, a host has to approve your request to book at their property, but with instant booking, there is no approval required, making it ideal for travelers looking for urgent housing.
Let hosts know they can trust you by verifying your profile. No, this isn’t just reserved for the rich and famous, you can become a verified user too. Link your Facebook profile to the page, add a photo and bio, and include your email and phone number. This lets potential hosts trust that you are who you say you are, allowing them to have more confidence that you will take care of their space. Remember that hosts can review your profile as well, so be sure to treat the space and host well to ensure good reviews.
Another way to ensure the host chooses your booking request is by complimenting the host. Let them know why you want to stay in their space over some of the others you may have found. Was it clean and sunny? Do you need the location? What makes it unique?
Getting the Best Deal
Airbnb has many tips and tricks for the budget-conscious traveler. Gain Airbnb credit towards your next trip. If a friend sends you a link to sign up with Airbnb, you gain credit toward your first booking once you’ve signed up following their referral link. Once you’ve completed your first booking, the friend who referred you gains $20 of credit toward their next stay.
Learn the best booking times to get the lowest prices. Properties tend to be cheaper during the week, as opposed to on the weekends when more people are trying to travel. Flexibility with your travel days is another way you may gain the best deals. While it’s not ideal to wait until the last minute to book, you may end up with a good deal in a great location. This works best if you have a verified profile and good reviews.
Are you looking to put your space up on the site? There’s a link at the top of the main page leading you to all the instructions on how to host your home. Create a profile so guests can learn more about you, take pictures of each room, and be in available in case potential guests need to reach you. Many guests say that they prefer hosts who are available before the stay, assuring them that they will be available and attentive during the stay as well. Once a guest has booked your property, you then need to approve or deny the request to book.