Many of you have heard of people booking their stays via Airbnb as opposed to the traditional hotels and resorts for their vacation. The first time I tried Airbnb back in 2015, I was completely clueless, nervous, and excited all at the same time. While Airbnb has been a household name these days, a lot of vacationers, especially the newbies, are still wondering how does this really work.
So, if you’re looking to try out Airbnb for the first time, here are my thoughts and tips on how to successfully book a (unique) vacation accommodation.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 in San Francisco, California by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia who were unemployed. They were looking to pay rent by finding ways to earn some extra cash. One of those days, a local conference that attracted a lot of guests was being held, but all the hotels in the area were fully booked. They sought the opportunity by quickly buying out a few airbeds, and setting up a site called, “Air Bed and Breakfast.” The idea was to rent out their extra space for a minimal fee per night and to serve them breakfast as well. Three guests showed up and paid US$ 80, each. Clever, huh?
After several years that included a third founder, rebranding, successful funding, and plenty of perseverance and hard work, Airbnb is now the world’s largest online marketplace for vacation rentals without owning any properties at all! Today, they’re present in more than 65,000 cities in over 191 countries, served more than 160,000,000 guests, and now lists over 3,000,000 unique rentals (that includes 1,400+ castles!).
Just recently, they’ve also expanded to offering unique hospitality services called Experiences to enhance your vacation trip. You’ll never run out of ideas on what to do! Care for learning traditional Cuban dances, indulging on delicious tapas at Madrid’s best-kept hole-in-the-wall eateries or maybe learn how to sail in Barcelona’s bright blue waters?
Reasons to Choose Airbnb
Affordability – Originally created as a way for you to earn extra by renting out your space, Airbnb prices are generally less than the average hotel rates. You can go as little as PhP 600 or USD 12 for a decent space per night in an expensive city like Tokyo. However, don’t try to expect the same hotel service for the price either.
Travel Like a Local – Our first Airbnb rental was in a quiet neighborhood in Osaka, where local shops, cozy cafes, laundry services, and small fruit stands lined up the streets. At one point, we were entertained by a small local celebration filled with food and music happening outside our home. It’s true that most Airbnb stays are immersed in a local scene where you’ll often forget the feeling of being in a foreign land.
Unique Accommodations – From penthouses to castles, treehouses, RVs, and beach villas, Airbnb has got it all. Expect to book an extraordinary accommodation that will make you ask if you’ve really traveled enough in this world.
How to Book
- Download the app or log on to their website.
- If you don’t have an account yet, sign-up here (plus, get a PhP 1,100 off your first booking!).
- After successfully creating an account and logging in, it’s time for the fun part! Key in your chosen destination, travel dates, and the number of persons you’ll be traveling with.
- Choose whichever accommodation fits your budget, needs, and location.
- Communicate and wait approval from the host.
- Finally, travel!
Tips for Success
Yes, booking at Airbnb is so easy that people might actually forget taking precautionary steps on choosing their listings. While the travel giant exercises safety and quality control of their hosts, here are some extra steps you can do for your own discernment as well:
Check the Reviews – After staying at an Airbnb rental, users are given the opportunity to give honest feedback towards their hosts and most importantly the accommodation they’ve booked. A public review and a private review (only you and the hosts have access) are given to you to best evaluate the stay’s location, cleanliness, the accuracy of the listing, and your relationship with the host. If it’s your first time, I suggest booking listings that have several high reviews versus newer ones which don’t have any. This is to ensure that the listing has been booked and experience by several fellow Airbnb users that you can count on too.
Communicate EVERYTHING beforehand – Ensure before booking that you’ve coordinated (and disclosed) ALL details with the host, including laundry, bathrooms, and lock code access. Better to ask, ask, and ask questions! Reconfirm flight details and the time of arrival, especially if you’re arriving past midnight. Once you’ve checked-in, if your host isn’t present to personally entertain you, make sure all communication lines with them are open in case of emergencies.
We had one instance where the door between the bedroom and the kitchen was shut, and the keys were with our host. In summary, we couldn’t get out! Fortunately, the bedroom had backyard access where I was able to ask a friendly neighbor for help. With his Japanese skills, he was able to open the door via a ruler. What a way to start the day!
Leave How You Entered – It’s a vacation and tidying up is temporarily suspended – wrong! You booked someone else’s home, not a hotel. Remember, hosts review you too. So if you decided to make a huge mess, throw parties or even wreck the furniture, then this could definitely hinder you from getting approved bookings (or none at all!) in the future.
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