Good question. For the UK certainly, its kind of appeared under the radar of many of us and is probably now finding it’s feet and becoming more established. But Airbnb is actually a great idea – the principle being that if you want to rent out a room in your house as if it were a hotel room – you can! Airbnb let’s you do just this. So, you can pretty well see why I decided to write a post and tell you about it. It affects our industry – but in good and bad ways.
A lot of people I’ve spoken to have been pretty negative about it, saying it will take away paying hotel guests. But think about it. Mainly, Airbnb offers exactly what it says on the tin. Spare rooms (of all standards too – seriously, check some of the photos – I’d rather risk sleeping on the streets!). A different kind of guest will use this service, however, brands like Travelodge may worry. It’s also for those people who don’t want a bland hotel room, not necessarily budget rooms. So here’s your action point hotels – make your property unforgettable and unique. Bring your guests what they want.
A question I’ve been asked a lot how it works, and from a users point of view, what’s the experience like. Well to help, I spoke to an experienced user of Airbnb, Lisa. My interview with Lisa is below.
Q Hi Lisa, thank you for talking to Hotel Insight. How did you first hear about AirBnB?
I was travelling to New York to go on a dancing trip for three weeks and I just couldn’t afford the cost of a hotel for that length of time and I wanted more privacy than a dorm room. So I did a search online, and I found AirBnB. I loved it, it worked really well for me as a guest. It made my trip so much more affordable and comfortable, especially having access to a decent kitchen so I didn’t have to eat out all the time.
Q How long have you been using AirBnB and what success have you gained from it?
I started hosting AirBnB guests in September last year when I quit my corporate job in my quest to claim back my time and use it how I choose. Since then my room has very rarely been empty other than over the Christmas period for two weeks. I have met wonderful people from all over the world whom I now consider friends and we have learned a great deal from each other. I am so happy I took the plunge for the rewards have been so much more than financial. We are creating a global community of like minded people that help each other out.
Q I’m asked regularly if it’s safe – what do you think, and do you have advise for anyone thinking of using the service?
That was my biggest question when I first started using it. It is financially safe as the payments are made through the AirBnB site which has great cancellation policies that you can choose from to suit your style as a host. The money is only paid over to the host the day the guest checks in and even still should something go wrong the guest is still entitled to a percentage refund. With regard to personal safety as a female host living on her own I made the choice to only take in men who are travelling with a woman and as it turns out most of my guests are usually women travelling alone. As an AirBnB guest I stayed with a female host also. I know some people feel worried if they host their stuff will be taken, but in general people are good and respectful in this world. And the AirBnB community mirrors this. At the end of each stay the guests and the hosts review each other, so everyone tends to be on a level as they want to keep using this service. AirBnB also keeps a close eye out to make sure their users are respectful on both sides of the coin.
Q How much time does it take to manage once your advertising your property online?
I would say on average half a day per week which includes everything such as replying to booking requests, keeping my flat nice and homey, meeting and greeting guests and making sure they are ok as they take on London town in all her glory.
Q Are there any costs involved?
The only costs for me setting up was buying a bed and linen. Then I have running costs of electricity, water etc when guests are here but I used to have regular flatmates and believe me the profit margins are far greater with AirBnB hosting and its way more fun! Every time a guest books on AirBnB take out a small fee from my profits, but I think it is well worth it as they run such a tight effective ship. My guests also have to pay a fee to AirBnB which is clearly shown before they actually pay.
Q What’s been your greatest experience from using AirBNB and can you think of any improvements that should be made?
My greatest experience is when I have guests bring home gifts to me. There I am running around trying to make sure everything is ok for them, not quite sure if it is as who knows what really goes on inside the vastness of the human mind and then there we have a big bunch of flowers arrives in the door, or a house plant, or incense… It’s so wonderful when that happens for I know then in my heart they have been happy staying with me. With regard to improvements I do find it hard sometimes to find certain things on their site so I think a sitemap would be good, but AirBnB being AirBnB they have already extracted that improvement idea from me. All up I would say my experience so far has been a stonking 9 out of 10 as a guest and a host.
Thanks for talking to us Lisa. If your thinking of using the service, do check out Lisa’s offering by clicking here.
Have you advertised your own room on Airbnb? Used the service? Then leave a comment and let me know.