‘How to… Airbnb’ was published in Scotcampus in April 2015
We’re always told: “the world is out there waiting for you discover it”. And I don’t know about you, but the reason why I haven’t packed up and boarded a plane to paradise yet has nothing to do with unwillingness to explore.
On the floor – amongst a plethora of travel brochures – my wanderlust heart feels extremely excited to taste the cultures of the world. It’s just that my bank account looks fairly famished in response.
However, in times of need the magic properties of the internet can most likely be our savoir. So if you’ve never heard of Airbnb now’s the time for a crash course in how to holiday on the cheap AND in luxury! Air BnB is an online community made up of hosts – people who have a spare space to rent out – and skint wannabe travellers who need low-cost accommodation. The spaces available on Airbnb are run by independent businesses. Active in over 190 countries and approximately 22,000 cities in the world, there is every kind of place available for rent, from treehouses to castles to igloos.
Searching like a boss
In order to properly convey the simplicity of this amazing online booking resource, just take a look at how easy peasy it is for these eight university friends who are looking for accommodation in Portugal while they attend an arts festival in the first week in June.
If you click on this link, you will be immediately re-directed to the Airbnb homepage which contains a four-section search bar: where do you want to go, date of check in, date of check out, and how many guests you wish to find accommodation for. Unlike typical hotel comparison sites who generally cater for a maximum of four people, Airbnb enables you to search for space for 16+ guests. A lot of the time, you pay for a whole space that may sleep more than you are searching for so the more people you manage to convince to tag along, the cheaper it all works out.
You are also able to refine your search results further and chose your room type, price range, number of bedrooms and added amenities you’d like to make the most of your trip (TVs, microwaves, irons, etc…).
After you’ve selected your place, the next step is to get in contact with the host. This can be as simple as dropping them an email or phoning, which will be specified on their profile. You will also need to make your own profile because as much as you’d like to get to know the people you’re paying good money too, they’ll want to know who they are renting their precious space to just as much.
After requesting a space, a host has 24-hours to respond, after which time your request expires and you will need to re-apply. For your own mental well-being, I should inform you that you do not need to provide bank details when registering your profile. These should be submitted after both parties come to some kind of agreement. That saying, some places offer an ‘instant book’ tab which immediately confirms your reservation and your payment will be processed right away.
“We believe in a world where all seven billion of us can belong anywhere”
One of the key things that makes Airbnb unique is its reviews system. The accommodation you will be renting is rated purely by customers who have stayed in them on a ‘star’ basis: one star being less than acceptable, five stars meaning you’d go back tomorrow. Customers are encouraged to review their stay as soon as they leave to help other hopefuls find their perfect getaway.
Just like you’ll be reviewing each hosts’ hospitality, you will also receive an evaluation on how you are as a customer, and this can be posted on your profile. Your stats can be viewed by hosts after you request a reservation to make sure that you are not going to abuse any privileges when you come to stay.
Although hosts don’t generally live in the property at the same time as you, it is important to research whether or not what you’re paying for is merely a room in someone’s. Details of this tend to be specified in the information boxes positioned underneath the property pictures.
As you will be connecting with hosts on a personal level prior to your arrival, many people have found that their hosts go the extra mile to make them feel comfortable. This sometimes ranges from hosts providing complementary food in fridges, to bringing guests drinks, to baking cakes and providing information packs.
This sense of community that is often lost when simply booking a hotel is fundamentally what sets Airbnb apart from other travel organisations.