Airbnb began as a platform for people who had a spare room or apartment and were seeking a means to earn money. It provided an opportunity to experience local life and save money by residing in the city center. Over time, the way Airbnb operates has evolved, and for most hosts, it is now a business. I have personally experienced both scenarios. In over a decade, I’ve stayed in 61 different places on every continent through Airbnb. In this article, I will share my extensive experience.
Understanding How Airbnb Works
While hotels offer different types of rooms, Airbnb offers three types of bookings:
- Shared room: Similar to a hostel, either the owner or other guests sleep in the room with you.
- Private room: An alternative to a hotel where you have your own room, but other people live in the house.
- Whole house/apartment: This involves renting out the entire property to one person.
Finding a property is straightforward. Simply input the destination, dates of stay, and number of people. Search results can be filtered by price, amenities, apartment size, cancellation policy, property type, or host language.
Once selected, each listing provides detailed information about the property, amenities, house rules, photo galleries, and reviews from former guests.
The price for an Airbnb property is composed of the actual price, a cleaning fee (set by the host), a service fee (commission to Airbnb), and taxes (paid to the state or city). Once the request for accommodation is submitted, the total amount is reserved on the card. Previously, you had to wait for confirmation from the host, but nowadays, approval is typically immediate.
Some hosts charge extra per person, while others do not differentiate in price.
Once your booking is approved, you will receive an email, and you can communicate with the host using the Airbnb mobile app and web interface.
Airbnb Registration and Discount Coupon 2023
In the early days, when Airbnb was more than a business, trust was its foundation. Today, trust isn’t as crucial, but you still need to register for free. The account can be linked to your email, Facebook, or other accounts.
Next is the identity verification process. The more methods you utilize, the more trustworthy you will appear. Choices include submitting a scan of your passport, ID or driver’s license, linking to a Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn account, uploading a profile photo to Airbnb, providing a phone number, and email address.
Building a reputation on Airbnb is all about collecting recommendations and reviews. These are given by both the guest and host. In the early stages, a good reputation paved the way to lucrative accommodations. Today, it is more of a relic.
Previously, Airbnb provided a first trip discount voucher worth up to $35 for new accounts. However, in 2020, the referral program was discontinued, making discount coupons no longer readily available.
How to Choose Airbnb Accommodation and Avoid Pitfalls
Airbnb is popular worldwide, with abundant listings in major cities. In 2023, Airbnb prices no longer undercut hotel prices. The disparities have faded, and accommodation on Booking often turns out to be cheaper, even with a comparable standard.
Everyone has different accommodation requirements. For me, a combination of the following factors is usually the winner:
I prefer staying downtown where I plan to spend the day. While prices are higher, I save time on commuting. For locations outside downtown, I pay attention to the availability of public transportation. I always check the area around my chosen location in Google Street View.
I typically filter out listings that are significantly below the average displayed price. A low price usually indicates a catch, and from my experience, I wouldn’t opt for them anyway. Simultaneously, I disregard listings above my price ceiling.
Property Photos 📷
Do I like the apartment’s interior? Is the apartment neat, and how are the amenities? A few low-quality photos usually indicate the host is either not committed to Airbnb or lacks knowledge.
Reviews from Previous Guests ⭐
I prefer listings with reviews from previous guests, particularly noting any criticisms. On the other hand, I once booked an apartment in Sydney without a single review. The owner didn’t communicate initially, but it turned out to be one of my best experiences.
Cleanliness is said to be a vital factor for guests. I choose accommodations with at least a 4.5-star rating. People tend to be generous with their ratings, so four stars is considered below average.
Has the host provided detailed information about themselves? How likable are they, what house rules have they set, and do they respond to ratings from previous guests? I still research the host via Google—it’s simply a matter of knowing how to search.
I usually select a specific listing by opening approximately 40-50 listing tabs and eliminating the least appealing ones. I save the links to the last five or so in a text file as a backup in case my top choice doesn’t work out.
Historically, I’ve always written in a friendly manner, introducing myself and explaining my plans in the area and why I chose that specific listing. Nowadays, that’s generally not required—I get the impression the host doesn’t mind either way.
If it’s a desirable property where the host is selective, a well-crafted message can make an impression. I recommend highlighting a detail from the description to show that you’ve read the listing. For instance, you could praise the view, wallpaper, or kitchen.
What to Look out for in an Airbnb
While Airbnb emphasizes safety, most complications tend to be minor.
1️⃣ Host Rejects Accommodation Request
A host can deny an accommodation request without providing a reason. Likewise, a request is cancelled if the host does not respond within 24 hours of submission. The hold on your card is immediately lifted, but it may take several days for the bank to return the funds to your account.
2️⃣ Host Approves and Then Cancels the Reservation
If a host approves then cancels the booking, the guest will receive a full refund. For a cancelled 3-night reservation in Santa Monica, I received an additional credit of $50 for alternative accommodation.
Occasionally, a host cancels a room reservation because they’ve received a request to rent the entire apartment. The host faces penalties for frequent cancellations.
3️⃣ Higher Price Does Not Necessarily Mean Better Quality
The cost of accommodation on Airbnb doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality. Some listings are absurdly overpriced; you can identify them through the Value ratings.
4️⃣ Host Asks for Payment Outside of Airbnb
Make all payments through Airbnb to ensure your protection. Some hosts might ask for payment upfront, a deposit, or balance in cash, wire transfer, or PayPal to avoid paying Airbnb’s commission. Refuse such requests and consider other options.
5️⃣ My Negative Experiences with Airbnb
I’ve used Airbnb on every continent and, overall, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve encountered no major problems. Once in Santa Monica, a host cancelled my approved reservation, but I received a credit of 1,000 for it.
In Malta, my hosts had a broken boiler and no hot water, but as it was over 30°C outside, I didn’t mind. In Tokyo, I was supposed to pick up my keys from a mailbox using a code. The code didn’t work. However, after I messaged the owner, he promptly sent a working code. These were minor issues in my otherwise good experiences with Airbnb.
6️⃣ What to Do If the Host Doesn’t Respond
If your arrival is just days away and the host isn’t responding, contact Airbnb support. Provide the details and booking number. Airbnb will attempt to contact the host and, if unsuccessful, will help you arrange new accommodation. As compensation, you’ll receive credit for future trips, and in extreme cases, Airbnb may reimburse the host for a hotel stay.
Miscellaneous Airbnb Tips and Tricks
⌛ Get Ready to Wait
Airbnb is not a hotel with a 24-hour front desk. Hosts are typically individuals with regular working hours. You can avoid waiting on the sidewalk by communicating effectively with your host. Notify them of your estimated arrival time as soon as possible.
🎁 Bring a Gift for the Host
A small token can leave a good first impression and contribute to a warm welcome. Souvenirs from your home country are usually well-received. I recommend reading the host’s profile to avoid any potential cultural missteps, such as giving a bottle of alcohol to a Muslim host.
📧 Do Not Delete Any Airbnb Email
Keep all emails related to your trip until you and your host have exchanged reviews. Airbnb support typically sides with the guest, and any proof, including communication records, can be useful in case of disputes.
⭐ How Reviews and Peer Reviews Work
After a trip, both the guest and host have 14 days to write reviews. You can view the other party’s review either after two weeks or once both parties have submitted theirs. This system prevents retaliation for critical reviews.
Write the host’s review truthfully and honestly, but with respect. In addition to the star rating, you can add a public recommendation and a private message that only the host can see.
🪖 How to Fill Out Your Airbnb Profile
The more information you provide in your profile, the more trustworthy you appear to hosts. I recommend adding a profile picture that clearly shows your face and including details about your job, interests, countries visited, travel motivations, and more.
🏷️ Discount on Airbnb Accommodation
While some hosts offer discounts for extended stays, you can always try to negotiate before confirming your booking. Look for a contact button on the host’s profile box. Compliment the apartment and inquire if they could offer a better quote for your chosen dates.
📒 Follow the Rules and Make Yourself at Home
It’s probably unnecessary to mention, but it’s important to behave respectfully during your stay. Follow the house rules, avoid accessing private areas, and tidy up before your departure. And don’t empty out the fridge!
🦙 What Is the Commission for Airbnb?
Guests typically pay a commission of 6-12% of the total amount, excluding fees and taxes. The higher the cost of the accommodation, the lower the percentage. Additionally, hosts pay a 3% fee for each completed booking.
Airbnb Scams: Fake Listings and Rentals
Since spring 2015, fake rental listings have surfaced on real estate websites in various cities. These feature foreign individuals with fictitious names and stories, usually communicating through Google Translate. A tell-tale sign is the suspiciously low price.
The principle of the scam is straightforward. They find an interested party through an advertisement, agree on a price, but personal inspection is never possible due to the ‘owner’ supposedly living abroad. To gain trust, the fraudsters send copies of documents, police IDs, or pictures of children, which are invariably stolen and use someone else’s identity. You can verify these documents via Google Images.
The fraudsters use names such as Luca Paight, Eva Trotter, Roger Pawley, Tarpay Aylor, Goldt Sergei, Mitev Borislav Hristov, Jose Angel Espino Quintana, Rainer Stahl Helmut, Jan Finck, Bernd Lorenz Albrecht, Ronny Muller, Blasco Garcia Manuel, Natasha Collins, and Kathryn Dobson, among others.
The victims are then shown a counterfeit version of the Airbnb website purportedly to mediate the rental. This is a fallacy. Airbnb does not mediate rentals; it’s the victim, and the scammer is merely exploiting its reputable name.
The scammer always asks for the deposit via an anonymous money transfer service, such as Paysafecard or similar. It’s easy to send money through these platforms without being able to trace the recipient.
I strongly recommend disregarding such advertisements and never sending money to anyone under any circumstances.
If you’ve been duped, you can file a police report against an unknown offender. The police have dealt with several such cases. For the latest information, see Airbnb scams.
💬 What are your experiences with Airbnb? Share in the discussion below the article. Your input is much appreciated.