Travel broadens the mind; everyone agrees to it. However, unless your travels are sponsored by your employer, it can soon become an economically unviable option or most travel lovers. Airfares, hotel accommodation expenses, intra city travel expenses –all pile up and make travel a pretty daunting financial adventure for many. Thankfully, the proliferation of technology, World Wide Web, and an entrepreneurial spirit in general – all have combined to ease out the pains of the traveler, and AirBnb is a living testimony to the same.
What is AirBnb and How Does it Work?
AirBnb loosely translates to a bed-and-breakfast solution in a far away city (where you travel via an airplane). More meaningfully, it is a marketplace where anybody can rent out his her living space (could be a couch, a bed in a room, a full bedroom, or a whole apartment), to any traveler from any place in the world. AirBnb portal serves as a one stop shop where travelers can look for apartments or bedrooms at the destinations to where they plan to travel, and hence sort out the accommodation requirement in a fraction of the amount they’d otherwise spend on conventional hotel accommodation.
AirBnb occupies the middle ground between hotels and hostels. Hotels are expensive and impersonal. Hostels can get too crowded and for some travelers, it is not really an option to live in a shared space with moderate amenities. AirBnb, hence, becomes the best of both worlds, as travelers can rent out reasonably priced apartments, away from the commercial vibes of hotels, and close to the natural rhythms and cultural aura of the city they’re travelling to.
AirBnb tries to solve the trust and security concerns associated with such marketplaces through its registration process. Users need to upload a government issued ID proof, link their AirBnb profile to one of their social media (Facebook, twitter, etc.) profiles, and provide phone number and email ID. Secondly, user reviews, and verified photos of properties have helped implement a system where both hosts and guests engage in genuine conversations, because being unscrupulous is just not sustainable.
How to Book Accommodation Using AirBnb?
After you register on AirBnb, you can set a location on the home page, specify vacation start and end date, and see listings of accommodation offered for the location. You can then specify your requirements such as the kind of accommodation you’re looking for (shared room, private room, or entire apartment). You can also sort or filter on price, and access the most relevant listings.
You can then use one or more of the following options once you have zeroed in on a listing of interest:
- Add the listing to your wish list, and decide later.
- Get in touch with the host with your queries; you can request information on specific points, and share any details you think are relevant for the host to know.
- Book the place is everything seems ok; you will be taken to the payment page, can pay the amount, and send a little message to the host too.
- If you find a listing iffy, you can flag, after which AirBnb moderators conduct due diligence and verify your concerns.
How To Find The Perfect Accommodation by using AirBnb?
AirBnb has grown tremendously over the past few years; the number of listings across the world is surging every day. This means that your attempt to locate a peaceful little garden view bedroom in Cornwall, England could throw dozens of possible options at you, leaving you perplexed and hassled with the problem of too many options.
We’ve put together a big bucket list of tips and tricks you can adopt to quickly hone down on a loving space that satisfies your budget, preferences, and travel dates, minimizing the risks of cancellations from the host, and nullifying the remote possibilities of your lodging experience not working out well.
1. Be Picky About the Location
Look to find some information on the reputation of the area where the proposed AirBnb booked accommodation will be. All towns have their good areas, great areas, and shady areas. Avoid booking accommodation in locations that are cut off from the main city. Of course, you’d ideally want to book your living space as close as possible to the parts of the city you want to visit. Talk to the host, and check how easy it is to access the nearest train or bus station. Mostly, the extra price you pay for lodging at an apartment in the heart of the city is worth the trouble you avoid in case of living at a suburban cut-off isolated apartment.
2. Book Early
The highest rated apartments are booked as early as 2 months! So, as soon as you have the funds to pay for the booking, we suggest you do it. You don’t want to be left with too little options in the last few days. Of course, this is only possible when you planned your itinerary well in advance.
3. Talk to Multiple Hosts
Star conversations with multiple hosts (at least 3). That’s because some hosts can be slow in responding, some don’t respond, and some can be ambiguous in their responses. Also, a host who responds quickly is worth finalizing, because it’s safe to assume he/she will be as responsive in the future, and will help you enjoy your stay. The best part is, when you finalize a booking, other hosts are automatically informed that you won’t need their apartments any longer, so nobody wastes any time.
4. For Long Stays, Consider Lodging at More than One Apartments
For extended stays, it’s fun to enjoy accommodation at different locations. So, if you are, for instance, on a weeklong vacation (or more), consider dividing your lodging over 2 apartments. When you search, leave the dates open, and compare the availability dates of the shortlisted apartments. Depending on the duration of your stay, the distance between apartments, and your travel plan, you can experience the hospitality of two or three hosts!
5. Specify the Number of Lodgers, and Number of Kids
Specify the number of people who’ll occupy the living space, so that any additional price per person can be accounted for. Also, your host could have an occupancy limit. Mention the number of kids in the travel group. You don’t want any pricing misunderstandings spoiling your plan. Being detailed also helps build a rapport with the host.
6. Avoid Sharing Space With Unknown Lodgers
We’ll advise against using a shared room. Out of the few reports of AirBnb bookings leading to unsavory lodging experiences, most are cases of shared accommodation. Also, a shared room means your host will not have complete control over how good your; lodging experience turns out to be, as it will depend on how sensible your room mates are. Similarly, if you are travelling with family, look for a complete apartment rather than a single room.
Making Sense of AirBnb Listing Images
Goes without saying, you’d want to book your stay at a place that appears good enough.
7. Look for listings with verified images. This means that the AirBnb team has been to the place, and you can trust that there’s nothing misleading with them.
8. Be super sure with wide angle images, as such angles often give a sense of spaciousness to rooms that might not actually be so large.
9. Look for images of the kitchen; that’s because some hosts mention that they are offering a kitchen whereas actually they just have a cooking top, a microwave, and basic utensils stacked in a hall corner.
10. Look for details such as decor, decorative items, bathroom fittings, appliances, etc. In most cases, you can make out the quality of the property from the lifestyle tastes of the owners.
11. More the number of images, more you can be sure that the host is pretty genuine and transparent about what he/she is offering.
12. Get A Local Contact Number from Hosts Who Don’t Live At the Property Being Rented
Ask for a local representative’s contact number from your host, in case they are renting out a property they don’t occupy, or don’t live nearby. This way, you can be sure that you’ll have someone to contact if anything is below expectations and contrary to agreed terms. Also, give the number a call before you book.
13. Use AirBnb Widgets
Use Google Maps widget to get a feel of the area where your accommodation is; details such as the nearest metro station, bus station, grocery shop, supermarket, etc.
AirBnb offers a translate tool to help you understand foreign language descriptions of apartments. Use it to get to know the place better.
Know Your Host
Getting into a short conversation or two with the host, sharing a cup of coffee now and then, and getting local know how from them – all this is an important part of the AirBnb experience, which is why the portal also appeals to those who have traditionally preferred the community atmosphere of a hostel. Here are 8 tips to help you understand the host.
14. Look for how long the host has been registered with AirBnb. If you see a very recent host profile, better not to take any risk, and stick to listings from verified and trusted host.
15. Genuine and sincere hosts ensure their profiles are up to date. It’s a matter of intuition, but you can get a feel for the host just by checking the profile and the profile photo.
16. Read the reviews, and try to figure out what kind of a person the host is, especially if you are going to rent out a room in the house he/she is living in. Since reviews are real world accounts from AirBnb users like you, you can get a fair idea of whether you’d be able to enjoy your stay.
17. Look for listings from hosts who are regulars on AirBnb; you can get to know this from the ‘last logged in’ information of the host.
18. Prefer a host who keeps the booking calendar updated; more often than naught, you’d get quick response, and won’t waste up any time.
19. Hosts who have been someone’s guest before are pretty good, because they know precisely what a guest wants.
20. Some property brokers put of multiple property listings; we advise skipping these, because a real host offers you an inimitable cultural experience that a professional property broker won’t.
21. AirBnb Super Hosts are super responsive, and will be happy to answer all your questions. If you see a decent listing form a Super Host, give it a shot, it’s likely to go well.
We’ve covered in detail as to what you should do. Now, let’s tell you some things you should not do.
22. Don’t book a place without reviews. There are so many listings out there, with verified images and reviews, so why take the risk?
23. Don’t use Instant Book, because it’s always better to spend some time to understand the accommodation and the host. Plus, it’s a hassle to get your money back if you chose to cancel later on after Instant Booking.
24. Don’t haggle for a price change, because hosts can’t change the listed price (it’s set by an algorithm from AirBnb). All you can get out of haggling is a pissed off host.
25. Don’t dismiss listings based on the amenities check marks without giving a read to the description. For instance, several hosts forget to check mark the Wi-Fi (or television, for example) box, and mention the availability in the listing.
There you have it; 25 tips to help you find an AirBnb listing of an apartment, room, or shared room, that suits your budget, and helps you enjoy your travel without having to empty your pockets in booking an expensive and impersonal hotel.