Airbnb is a wonderful boon for travellers today – not only is it economical, it also gives you an authentic way of experiencing a new place via a local’s lifestyle. But staying at a stranger’s home – or hosting strangers from the internet in your home – can be risky business. Here are some important dos and donts for ensuring your Airbnb experience is a smooth one, as a guest as well as a host.
Reading the reviews: One of the most amazing features of the service is being able to stay in locations where hotels are either unavailable or out of budget. So ideally you should identify tony residential areas that are still close to the touristy spots and night life – they offer the best in convenience and culture. If you are not one for surprises, be sure to book places that have atleast 2-3 positive reviews. You may find, places without reviews to be cheaper but best to let someone else do the experimentation, especially if you are on a short visit to the place. At the same time, when reading reviews also try and look into the profile of the reviewer. That may tell you how much weight to give to a particular review, negative or positive. Note that most people will also feel uncomfortable writing negative points about a place, especially if the host has been nice to them. Sometimes, reading between the lines may be required.
Communicate before booking: Never make a booking without starting a conversation with the owner. Don’t be scared to ask any questions, your host should ideally be happy to be your on ground contact and therefore more than willing to address any issues you may have or just initiate a friendly interaction.
Be sure to register your experience: Whether it’s been a favourable experience or you were not satisfied with the accommodation, ensure you leave a rating. In fact, if you are not happy with the place you booked or feel you’ve been misguided, do escalate the matter with Airbnb – they might just be able to provide you with a replacement in most cities.
Remember etiquettes: While being a great alternative to a hotel, remember to follow the house rules and clean up after yourself – it’s after all, still their home. And while it may be awkward, ask the host first before bringing guests back to the place. If there are any breakages, report them, and try to replenish any consumables the host has made available. Don’t forget, for the host, you represent your culture and country too.
Know the pricing game: Pricing your room should be based on basic economics – as a brand new listing if you charge too much, nobody will book. Since it can be tough to get bookings without a solid base of reviews, start with a lower rate. Once you’ve built up a nice stash of testimonials, raise the rate to be comparable with similar listings in your neighbourhood. On the upside you’ll have tons of reviews lauding what a great bargain your place was, even after the price jump. A great hack is to link your facebook account to your AirBnB profile, so that potential guests can check out your profile and book with greater confidence (this only applies if you have a “normal” profile, ofcourse)
Be authentic in your listing: Make it as detailed as you can, while making sure to keep your profile also updated so your guests know it’s a real person behind the listing. Ensure the images are high res and as close to the real thing as possible, and most importantly, keep the place spotlessly clean.
Know the algorithm: Once you’ve listed a property on the app, keep interacting with it – small things like updating the calendar and replying to every inquiry is picked up by the algorithm, which makes it more likely for your listing to appear when a guest is looking for a place. Even if your calendar is free for the next year, fill it up and delete it so that it registers you’re making changes.
Go the extra mile: Most guests will remember and appreciate the little things – whether it’s adding a local touch to the décor, or keeping a list of things to do or restaurants to visit, or even keeping travel sizes of shampoo and conditioner or a hair dryer for the guests. Treating them as actual guests will go a great way in making them feel special, and will result in a better reviews and an enriching experience for you to, perhaps even lifelong long distance friends.
AirBnB is a stellar example of the changing norms towards a shared economy that is more open, whimsical and better connected. If you have always stayed in Hotels on your vacation, we strongly recommend you try this concept out (Disclosure: As purveyors of the same economic logic, we at Bragpacker do feel a certain kinship to them 🙂 )
Image credit: http://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/2014/07/17/32001-20140717ARTFIG00138-le-nouveau-logo-d-airbnb-devient-la-risee-des-internautes.php