I used Airbnb over 20 times in 10 countries for several days and for a couple of months at times. It is an awesome service to travel around the world and have a more authentic experience that won’t break your wallet. And as I was 99% happy with a service, there was that last 1% that almost ruined Airbnb for me and if I’d known all the lifehacks that I discovered during my travels I would avoid those few negative experiences. Today, I am happy to share with you everything I’ve learned, so scroll down and start reading!
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is a service for booking accommodation worldwide. You can rent private housing or homestay for different periods – a day, a week, a month, or even half a year. It’s the largest service for booking apartments; it operates in more than 190 countries, 35,000 cities of the world and covers an audience of about 150 million customers and 640,000 hosts.
How does it work?
Hosts place ads for rental, and travelers are searching for a suitable option. Basically, Airbnb serves as a third-party, connecting a host and a traveler in one platform and getting a small fraction of the transaction as a service fee. If you are worried about your safety, don’t be! Airbnb has strong safety measures that allow having access to the service only registered and verified users.
What kind of accommodation can be found on Airbnb?
Almost any – rooms, apartments, bungalows, villas and even tree houses! There are also options to book a whole house/apartment, only one room or even just a couch. For me, the search usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour; I also compare Airbnb prices with Booking because sometimes the good old room in 3 stars hotel wins.
5 Reasons To Choose Airbnb
Airbnb offers the lowest prices for apartments around the world. It’s true, especially when you travel to the big and expensive cities. Also, many Airbnb apartments are much cheaper if booked for a week or a month. It is also less expensive to rent an apartment together with a big group to share the expenses.
Explore a variety of options
You can find both luxury apartments with a view, and the small, cozy apartment in a residential area. So, there are houses and apartments for any taste and budget.
Hang out with locals
Using Airbnb, you will have a chance to get to know the locals and dive deep into the culture of the country. It’s difficult to have the same experience while staying in the hotel and exchanging brief remarks with the hotel staff.
Discover the «Payless upfront» option
Service has solved one of the major problems – the necessity of full payment. Now, it can be divided into two parts – the first part is paid upfront and the second part is paid about 2 weeks before the trip. Conditions: the total amount must be over $250, and the reservation has to be booked not sooner than 4 weeks.
Get $37 off Airbnb coupon code for of your first booking
The coupon only applies to new users who joined the service via Airbnb referral program links. The minimum total value of the first reservation has to be no less than $69.
5 Things Airbnb could improve:
Though I love Airbnb, there are some things that, in my opinion, the service could improve the product.
Search engine user experience
If someone recommends you a specific accommodation – for example, Michael’s cozy apartment in NusaDua – you won’t be able to find it by name. This has often become an inconvenience for me, and I’m sure, for many others.
Payment at the time of booking
Even though Airbnb finally changed their payment system, and now you can pay in multiple transactions, you still have to pay upfront, whereas the hotel can be booked without any pre-payment at all.
If there is an emergency or a problem with your reservation, you can contact the Help Center only via email, and sometimes the response could take a long time. Those kind of issues are rare, but they happen.
Safety measure is top notch in Airbnb, but it is harder to track hosts’ competence and honesty. That’s why there is a common trend in the negative reviews: host wasn’t honest about the conditions of the place or he/she canceled my reservation a week before the arrival. To avoid this, I recommend you to carefully check the hosting account and read reviews. The service is very client oriented – any cancellation made by the host gives you travel credits, and money will be fully refunded for non-compliance of the conditions. But you still will have to look for new housing and probably will be really annoyed.
Hosts are not online 24/7, and after booking you need to wait for the host to confirm your reservation; some times it takes one or two days. So, if you are looking for a place to stay on the same day of your arrival, it’s better to book a hotel via Booking.
The bottom line
This booking platform is very convenient and most importantly, less expensive than hotel booking services (especially, if you need to stay for more than 2 weeks, or with a big group). This is especially true for big cities such as Paris, Barcelona, and New York, where the hotel prices are insanely expensive.
As for any other service, there are always be people who are not satisfied with. With Airbnb though, I see mostly the same types of negative reviews: a sudden booking cancellation or an apartment wasn’t clean. Personally, I never got to the point of quitting the service because things happen and even popular hotel search services have let me down a couple of times before. Once, after landing in Hong Kong I’ve learned that my reservation through the hotel booking service was canceled for no reason, and I was left homeless in huge megapolis late at night after 10 hours of flight.
Important: The host has the last word! A couple of times I found cool options, sent a request and … was rejected. The host receives several requests from guests, and he/she decides on who they want to host.
Most reviews about Airbnb are positive, and usually, unpleasant situations happen for lack of attention to details and lack of information. So, here is EVERYTHING you need to know on how to book your perfect place and avoid mistakes that will spoil your trip!
Booking apartments via airbnb.com
If it’s your first time on Airbnb you can use $37 discount.
Tip: if it’s not your first time, then register your mom/dad/friend (remember that the Airbnb coupon credit will be applied automatically after clicking the referral link), and the discount will work again.
The website itself is very user-friendly, so I am not going to bore you with a step-by-step tutorial on how to book housing.
How to avoid fraud and overpaying:
1) Check the number of reviews
I never choose apartments with less than 4 reviews. Although I admit that everything starts with something – and that a nice loft with zero reviews will become an awesome offer in a month or two – for me it just doesn’t worth the risk.
2) Read reviews carefully (!)
From a huge number of positive reviews, I mark those that are automatically generated by the service itself: «The host canceled this reservation …». It means that the host canceled the reservation for a certain number of days before the traveler arrived – if there are 3 or more of those comments, I say it’s a no-go.
3) Pay attention to a response time
Frequency and response time of the host is very important. It shows the attitude toward the client and a good prediction of how competent they will be.
4) Don’t cheer before getting the bill
Above the red button “Request reservation” there are several lines that make up the final cost: cleaning fee, service fee, occupancy taxes, and other fees. So, if your initial cost of the cute studio in San Juan Island, WA for three days was $237, you will have to pay $339 with included fees. Hotels have fees and taxes as well, but they are already included in the price.
One of the best things about Airbnb is their weekly/monthly discounts! If you book an apartment for 7 days, some hosts drop their prices by 10-15%, and if you’re going to stay for 3-4 weeks, the discount can reach 30-40%! That is why staying in Bali cost me $6 per night.
5) Always read “House Rules”
Some hosts add security deposits; you can find this information in the “House Rules” section. It is not paid at the time of booking and definitely not given in cash. If the host complains about the damage after your stay, Airbnb considers the claim (of course, with your participation) and takes a final decision. I haven’t had such an experience.
6) Don’t click “Request reservation” immediately
First, write to the host (contact details can be found in the “Host” section): ask something about the apartment or simply mention how much you like it. Make sure that your travel dates are free for booking – the calendar may not work properly. It will save your money from Instant booking.
7) Explore “Instant Booking”
The host set automatic confirmation of reservation instead of manual. You will be charged immediately, without waiting for the final word from the owner. This is a very convenient option, and cancellations happen rarely. The red button “Request reservation” is normal, and “Booking” is instant.
8) Check the cancelation policy (!)
There are three standardized cancellation policies: Flexible, Moderate, and Strict. The amount of money that will be returned to you (if you decide to cancel the booking) depends on these rules.
– If the host cancels your reservation you will get a full refund or transfer to another booking.
— If you cancel the reservation you will get a full/partial refund, depending on the cancelation policy.
If you choose accommodation with a flexible cancellation, then there won’t be any problems. In January 2018, I’ve canceled my reservation in Thailand, and I got the refund within 2 days! Important: the refund goes to the card specified when booking.
By the way, if you go for Booking.com, check whether you got your refund >> from the reservation? 🙂
What happens after you made a reservation?
After your request, the host has 24 hours to accept or decline the reservation. If the outcome is positive, payment is processed, and Airbnb.com provides access to all information about the housing – the detailed address and telephone number for communication.
A few words about payment:
Airbnb takes a commission of 10-15%, which depends on the cost of the housing. Payment is always processed in your currency. And it’s better to use the appropriate card to avoid a conversion fee.
Note: If you select the option “Split payment with friends”, your friend won’t be able to use travel credits. Only one person who makes a reservation can use them.
How to contact Airbnb?
In case of any questions, visit the Help Center www.airbnb.ru/help. Unfortunately, you can’t call them, if you haven’t booked anything. But once you have (and you need to contact Airbnb), you can go to Help Center through the link in the booking confirmation e-mail they’ve sent, and then choose whether to mail Airbnb or call.
Can you use Airbnb reservation to get a visa?
Yes, embassies accept Airbnb booking confirmation for a visa. For example, I applied for the Spanish Schengen visa and attached confirmations from this site. It is also valid for the Czech Republic, France, and many other countries around the world. Though you still might want to check in with the embassies before applying. But usually, a printed receipt with the names and dates of your booking is enough for a visa application.
What are the other features of Airbnb?
In addition to housing, it became possible to book a variety of entertainment experiences with the locals on Airbnb. For example, we booked:
– surf lessons in Bali for $7 instead of the usual $23 on the beach
– boat trip in Barcelona for $64 per person
– a lecture about coffee from the cool barista in Barcelona for $21
– morning jeep safari in Dubai for $23
Using this service, you can learn how to make ice cream in Los Angeles, book a sightseeing tour in Paris or buy tickets for a gig in Rome. All these options are available in the «Experiences» section.
As for the elite Airbnb apartment rent, this option is available on Airbnb Plus. This sign marks the great housing with the highest level of comfort and the most hospitable hosts (and appropriate prices).
What should I do if the Airbnb apartment doesn’t match the description?
Immediately send photos and videos of your accommodation to the Help Center. The complaint is usually considered within 3-4 days, then the service returns the full amount of the reservation and even the moral damage.
What should I do if after confirming the reservation the host asks to pay extra or he’d cancel the reservation?
Never cancel yourself, otherwise, you won’t be able to return the full amount of money. Contact the Help Center immediately.
What does it mean: «The host canceled this reservation _ days before arrival? This is an automated posting»?
This comment says that a host canceled the reservation for a certain number of days before the arrival of their guest. If there are many comments like that, I close the ad. Although, the hosts also fall under the penalties for such situations, and considerable ones.
I canceled the reservation, but lost/reissued/ have the credit card indicated in the profile stolen. How to return the money?
The funds are returned not to the card, but to the bank account. If you have reissued the card, the issue is solved by transferring money from the account to the new card. If you have closed the account itself, you should contact the bank. Recently I faced such a situation myself – the solution was found in just a week.
I want to change/shift the reservation dates, the host doesn’t mind, what should I do?
In the Trips section, there is a point «change/cancel». Enter new dates, and the host will confirm them, then you will get the updated reservation.
Here was my review of Airbnb. I’ve been using the service for 3 years and I’m pretty happy with my experience. And what’s yours? Share in the comments below!