Eric stumbled upon a website called Airbnb while we were looking for affordable short-term housing for our visit to Philadelphia in May. Airbnb proved to be significantly more affordable than hotels, hostels, and bed and breakfasts in the city of Philadelphia, but at over $70 per night in the city, the options were still just too expensive for us. We decided to go with CouchSurfing for our frugal Philly experience, but the Airbnb concept was not far from our minds.
So, what is Airbnb?
As a traveler…
Airbnb is a concept where people rent out rooms, homes, apartments, suites, or other spaces per night, week, month, etc. It affords travelers on a budget the opportunity to visit places they may not otherwise visit, either due to financial restrictions or various other reasons. Not only that, but the local expertise of their hosts allows travelers to learn about the neighborhood, town, or city. Travelers may receive various levels of accommodations, but it’s up to the traveler to choose what they require. Airbnb offers a checklist and hosts are encouraged to be as upfront as possible in their descriptions. The company does its best to create a safe and positive experience for all, both travelers and hosts.
As a host…
Everyone has their own reasons for hosting. Ours is twofold:
1) We get to meet people from around the world without leaving our house
2) We could use the extra cash. We’re both going back to school and we want to offset those costs by picking up extra side jobs and renting out a room in our home that is otherwise going unused.
We had no idea at what price to list our guest room (Brandon, FL isn’t exactly a location in high demand like Philadelphia), so we looked up comparable rooms in the Tampa Bay area and decided to list the room at $30 per night. Interested travelers book rooms directly through Airbnb and no personal information (including the host’s exact address) is disclosed until the transaction is complete. Airbnb receives 3% of the booking fee following a successful transaction.
We set up our profile with as many details about the space as possible, including pictures. Travelers want to know what they’re getting into and hosts don’t want their guests to be disappointed, so it’s best to be upfront and thorough. For example, we have 3 cats, but the cats are not allowed in the bedrooms. So, if a traveler is severely allergic to cats, they likely would not appreciate staying in a place that has 3 of them, regardless of which rooms the cats venture into.
From a hosting standpoint, the booking process was seamless. Our guest sent us a message before officially booking the room and we had a brief conversation through the Airbnb message system. We had another conversation over the phone after she booked. She arrived on Saturday afternoon and proved to be a friendly and considerate guest throughout her stay. She had plans on Saturday night and Sunday morning, so she wasn’t around much, which is precisely why she wanted an affordable place to stay, rather than dishing out the money for a hotel that she would barely spend time in.
I don’t know how future hosting experiences will play out, but I was pleased with the Airbnb process and with our first guest. For additional information on hosting guests, visit the Airbnb Why Host page. To book a room at our place, visit Our Listing. We welcome your inquiries – help us pay for school! 🙂
Have you ever traveled in a similar manner to CouchSurfing or Airbnb? How was your experience? Would you travel or host in the future?