John enjoys travel and considers himself a "Life-Long-Learner." His travels have taken him through Europe, Asia, and North America.
Airbnb has been disrupting the hospitality and travel industries ever since it was first launched in 2008. In the old days, vacation travel involved selecting overnight stays in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and tourist homes. Now Airbnb runs a worldwide web platform that allows virtually anyone with a housing unit to become a host and offer their unit to potential rent-paying guests; it allows guests to pick and choose from among a seemingly limitless number of places to stay; and it makes the communication, booking, and financial steps that are necessary to make a reservation deceptively easy.
If you do a Google search for Airbnb you will find lots of articles on how to navigate the Airbnb website. There are even more articles on how you can become a host. And how as a host you can make your unit more appealing to potential guests.
My article is written from the point of view of a potential guest who is searching for just the right Airbnb in her destination that will result in a happy stay.
1. How You Present Yourself as an Airbnb Guest
Now that you've decided to become an Airbnb guest, you must decide how to present yourself on the Airbnb platform. This is important. Airbnb hosts carefully review your footprints on the platform. When you request a stay, the host examines your profile and once she feels comfortable with you as a guest in her unit manually accepts your request for a stay, or not.
Let's go through the places on the Airbnb site where hosts can review your footprints. First is your profile. If you have already registered with Airbnb and established your account, go to your account tab. Use your PC or laptop for full utilization of the Airbnb platform. On the "Help" tab, click on "Your Profile." Use a good, fairly recent picture of yourself. Be honest in your profile, your messages and your reviews. Be pleasant. You want to leave a good impression. Don't nitpick in your reviews.
2. Your Host . . . How Your Host Presents Herself as Helpful and Responsive to Guest Needs
Every unit offered for rent on Airbnb has a host. Hosts have invested money, time, and effort to make their unit appealing. It is their property and they want to make sure their guests are reliable and considerate. At the same time, they have a responsibility to you as a guest. You want to make sure their unit is safe, legal, and that the host is there for you to answer questions and provide assistance where appropriate.
Recognizing that some of their Airbnb hosts did not rise to the standard that Airbnb sought for itself, in 2009, they launched their Superhost program to recognize hosts who set a high standard for Airbnb.
To become a Superhost a host must excel in these four areas
- "Communication: At least 90% response rate to guests
- Commitment: No cancellations (barring extenuating circumstances)
- Guest satisfaction: An average rating of at least 4.8 by their guests
- Experience: Hosted at least 10 completed trips
Many Superhosts strive for excellence in guest service and amenities. While Superhost units appear to get a boost in Airbnb's search algorithm and some guests book only Superhost units, there are many excellent hosts who have not achieved Superhost rating. You may find them further down the Airbnb search results.
In evaluating your potential host, evaluate how responsive she is to your questions about her unit, how she portrays her unit in descriptions and photos (Too much hype. Photos that exaggerate unit size. Leaves you with an unwelcome feeling).
3. Your Destination . . . Your Research on Your Destination and Its Surrounding Neighborhood
Let's assume you know your general destination. You know the general area within which you would like to book an Airbnb. When you type in your answer to the question "Where are you going?" You often get a wide variety of Airbnb choices, along with a photo and profile of the unit. You also get a map showing icons pinpointing the location of each unit. But you do not get a specific address. It is not until you choose and book your unit that you get the specific address of that unit.
Look closely at the icon on the map and pinpoint the approximate location and then use Google Earth to find that approximate location. That way you can more closely evaluate the neighborhood before booking.
4. Your Unit . . . How to Evaluate Airbnb Units in Your Destination Neighborhood
After you indicate where you want to go, the dates you want, and the number of guests, you will be given a wide range of Airbnb choices that meet your travel requirements, along with a map showing the price at each location. Units offered by Superhosts will be highlighted. Many Superhost units tend to appear at the top of the results as you scroll down.
5. Your Access
This is critical. How will you gain access to the unit when you arrive. Before booking, hosts ofter give vague references to "lockbox" or "keycode." After booking your Host may not give you the exact lockbox combination or keycode characters until shortly before you arrive. That may cause you some apprehension. Even when you receive a keycode from your host, there may be confusion. Locks with keycodes come in a variety of styles, many are now electronic smart locks. Most use single-digit codes, e.g., 1, 2, 3. For example, "This Old House" recommends several smart keycode locks; all employ single-digit codes. But there are other locks that use double-digit codes, e.g., 23, 24, 25. Still others use double-digit keys (e.g., 23, 24, 25) where, for example, either a 2 or a 3 works on 23.
6. Travel . . . Assure That Travel During Your Airbnb Stay is Reliable and Efficient
If you are driving your own vehicle to your Airbnb stay, use your GPS to assure the best route. If you plan to rent a vehicle, make sure you have your Smartphone GPS.
Be sure to let your host know when you plan to arrive at your Airbnb stay. If you must check-in late at night, be sure to make that clear to your Host.
If you are traveling by plane or train, be aware that they may arrive late causing your check-in time to be delayed. Let your Host know.
If you plan to travel by cab be aware that cab companies are having difficulty hiring drivers during this post-CVID period. Riders can experience long wait times as a result.
The variety of unit types offered on the Airbnb platform is quite amazing: everything from tree houses to underground units, from yurts to tipis, from luxury seaside homes to modest apartments in hosts home.
Maybe you're not that adventurous and are looking for a nice traditional stay in a resort. You'll find timeshare units available through Airbnb in resorts offering a variety of amenities on site. Check-in is easy. Staff is available on site. You can book them through Airbnb.
Enjoy the world of travel and the convenience of Airbnb. Learn to use the platform and be honest but cautious when dealing with hosts.