How to use Airbnb - for guests
As I have been scouring Airbnb for accommodation in Europe, I thought it to be a good idea to provide some information on how to use Airbnb. Here's a quick guide regarding the very basic functions of Airbnb and a few tips on what I look for when searching for properties to stay in.
Airbnb is a lodging site that allows hosts the ability to connect with travelers from around the world while renting out their homes. For guests, it is also a fantastic way to make connections and provides the opportunity to live like a local, often for less than the cost of a hotel room. Airbnb covers a wide range of rentals, from small one bedroom apartments to tree top homes.
Your profile is just as important as the profile of the person you are looking to rent from. Reviews, complete profiles, messages and verified ID will add to your credibility. Not to mention a complete profile that is both detailed and accurate will make you attractive to hosts and increase your chances of getting that one popular property. Much like eBay, you're given the opportunity to leave feedback on your host and they can do the same with their guests.
Like most lodging sites, you are required to input your destination, preferred dates and number of people. All available listings will be then filtered out. Following this, you will then be given the below options to choose from regarding accommodation:
- Entire Place: The whole house or apartment will be yours. Not even the host will be staying there at the time.
- Private Room: Your room is private, however communal areas like the kitchen will be shared with the host. Usually properties like these have more than one bedroom.
- Shared Room: The room (and rest of the property) is shared with your host.
Other amenities and needs
You can further specify your requests and needs. Choose to select amenities you need - wifi, air-conditioning, a balcony perhaps? Number of beds and bathrooms will also help to fine tune your pickings. Keep in mind that Airbnb tends to also search properties in neighbouring locations so it is a good idea to refer to the map provided on the side to pinpoint each actual property location. Of course, there is also the price range.
When booking the property, another way to sort is by checking over your host's profile, verification and reviews. Ensure that they have been verified by Airbnb and take a look at their response rate. Of course, reading through reviews is a no brainer in terms of obtaining other information on both the host and the property, but keep in mind that everyone starts out with zero reviews. This doesn't mean they aren't as legitimate as others, but ratings do provide a little more security about the host.
Airbnb have varying cancellation policies ranging from "flexible", "moderate" to "long term". These outline the requirements and specifications on refunds, fees and taxes. For more detailed information, click here.
Keep in mind that there may be fees you will receive as a guest:
- Security deposit: The typical security deposit covering incidents and accidents that are incurred during the stay.
- Cleaning fee: Some hosts charge a cleaning fee.
- Service fee: Airbnb's portion comes into play here, charging guests anywhere between a 6% - 12% fee for booking.
Once you're happy with your property choice and host, you can choose to:
- Add the property to your wishlist: This is useful if you like the property but are still browsing. Saving it onto your wishlist lets you re-visit it.
- Contact the host: This is where you have the ability to ask your host any questions and comb out fine-details.
- Request to book: This automatically takes you to the payment page.
After submitting your request, the host has 24 hours to accept or reject it. If your host accepts your request to book, your credit card will be charged immediately, including security and cleaning fees. If your host rejects your request or doesn't get back to you in the allotted time, nothing is charged.
- Be earnest in your Airbnb profile and complete as much of it as possible. State your intention, a couple of interests and upload a photo. Even if you don't have any previous feedback, it will increase your chances of being accepted by a host.
- Communicate with your host before booking. Doing this with hosts demonstrates both the guest's ability to communicate and the host's ability to provide answers. Often through how a person expresses and represents themselves through words is what will signify to both host and guest the reasons for going ahead with the booking. Another reason for communicating is that there is nothing worse than thinking that their property is available during your dates when actually their online calendar hasn't been updated. This is also the chance for you to get any questions answered that might just determine one property from another. That being said, don't ask questions where the information is already readily available in the listing as this will reflect poorly on yourself.
- Read reviews. This will help weed out the good properties and hosts from the bad. It's also a good way of picking up tips from other people who have stayed in these properties and what it is they may have found very beneficial about the property, or perhaps something they would like to caution potential guests to avoid.
- For me, location is incredibly important and contributes greatly to the properties I'm looking at. I ensure that they are within a good walking distance from the nearest train station and are in good neighbourhoods. If they're in an area where the best coffee shops and bakeries are located, I'm also sold. Lonely Planet guides, the Airbnb neighbourhood guides and Google searches help with this. Go for central locations where transportation, food and shops are easily accessible.
- Book early. Certain rentals that are particularly popular tend to get snapped up quickly. If you've had your eye on one for a while or there's a balcony with a view you want to wake up to, get in early and start the process. This also leaves time just in case something goes array and the booking is cancelled, you'll still have time up your sleeve to search for another.
- Airbnb is very much like renting a holiday house locally. Each place comes with their terms and conditions. One thing to remember is that key pick up is a thing that happens and the dropping off of keys also needs to occur. Unlike a hotel where you can check in and out at a time of your choosing, you need to coordinate and communicate with your host surrounding dates and times.
I hope these tips prove helpful. Even if a few of your Airbnb searches don't come to fruition or you've decided to book a hotel instead, some of these homes on offer provide you with a little visual interior architecture and decor inspiration. Besides, it's always fun to peek into the homes of others in different parts of the world, isn't it?
For $32 credit on your next stay, use this link when you book. I've tag teamed on my boyfriend's Airbnb account. Happy Airbnb searching!