Airbnb: Changing How and Where People Stay When Away
Several of the LifeEdited team are based in large cities like New York and Seattle, and unfortunately we are cursed with those great city’s myopic worldviews. There are certain things we deal with that we assume everyone deals with, like $2K/month studio apartments, locating reliable public restrooms and knowing cheap places to stay for guests when your place is too small.
For that latter topic, the last few years have seen a revolution in guest accommodation with Airbnb. The company calls itself a “community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.”
The company, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, lets you book rooms in peoples’ homes in 26K cities and 192 countries, often paying a fraction of what you would in a hotel. Conversely, you can rent out your space to earn some extra money.
Beyond the savings, you can book spaces far more interesting that standard hotel fair–like a cave house in Granada Spain for $63/night (above) or a houseboat in Paris for $125/night. Funny enough, you can rent the 1 Sq Meter Home we covered the other day for $12/night in Berlin. On a more conventional note, you can rent rooms in places like New York City–where average hotel rooms are in excess of $300/night–for less than $100/night.
Airbnb makes money by charging hosts a 3% processing fee and guests a 6-12% service fee (more expensive stays have a lower fee)–nominal expenses compared to a hotel’s overhead charges. Their website provides reviews of hosts and their accommodations, as well as profiles of guests to protect hosts. There are numerous safety measures in place, such as $1M coverage for theft or vandalism for hosts. Their system also allows you to network with your friends, so you can exchange information about various stays from people you know.
Airbnb does require a couple extra hoops to jump through over a conventional hotel, like waiting 24 hours to confirm a reservation and you often have to coordinate a key exchange, so it might not put the hotel industry out of business just yet. That said, it creates a far more affordable, interesting and intimate way to house yourself when you’re away from home.