What is Airbnb and How Does It Work?

Let's say that you're looking for a place to stay on a trip out of town. The only problem is that a hotel is out of the question because:

  • It doesn't have the amenities that you're looking for
  • It's too far away from the main place you're going to be doing stuff in
  • It's out of your price range, either in general or for the amount of time you'll be staying there
  • It's already fully booked, and there are no more rooms available

So, what can you do? Try Airbnb.com, that's what!

What exactly is Airbnb, then?

Airbnb (as in "Air Bed and Breakfast") is a service that lets property owners rent out their spaces to travelers looking for a place to stay.  People can rent a space for multiple people to share, a shared space with private rooms for individual guests, or -- sometimes -- the entire property for themselves!

Airbnb is similar to services such as FlipKey.com, Tripping.com, and 9flats.com (in Europe).

How Airbnb works: 16 things that you need to know

Being a guest

  1. It's free to create an account on Airbnb.

  2. Airbnb has listings from over 190 countries and 34 000 cities, so there's bound to be a place that you'll like.

  3. The only search criteria you need are where you want to go, when you want to check in, when you want to check out, and how many guests will be staying.

  4. You can also add extra search criteria, such as neighbourhood location, price, type of property, space availability (i.e. having a private room vs. having the whole place to yourself), and more.

  5. While your billing details are needed in order to hold a booking, you don't pay until a host accepts your reservation request.  Wimdu.com and Roomorama.com have similar systems, where your payment isn't released to a host until you actually check in.

What hosts do

  1. It's free to post a property for rent on Airbnb.

  2. Accurately describing a property and listing its amenities helps match it with the right guests.

  3. Professional photography services can help guests know exactly what they're renting and show off how nice the place is.

  4. Prices and availability can be set according to a host's schedule, or what they work out with a guest.

  5. The host has the final say on whether or not they want to book someone.

  6. A host can set up their property listing to auto-book anyone who is interested in their property and meets certain specified criteria.

  7. Airbnb covers its hosts against damages to their property by guests.  Similar sites, like VRBO.com, also have insurance plans to this effect.

The Airbnb community

  1. Both hosts and guests can set up profiles on Airbnb.  Hosts can tell others their preferences and policies for hospitality, and guests can tell others the kinds of things they like to do during their stay.  This helps users match themselves with someone they're likely to get along with.

  2. Both hosts and guests can send each other messages.  This lets hosts and guests work out things like check-in details, house rules, and any special requests.  Guests can also privately ask other guests whether or not a property is worth renting.  Similarly, hosts can privately ask other hosts whether or not they can trust certain guests to behave appropriately.

  3. Both hosts and guests can review and rate each other.  Guests can say what they liked or disliked about the property, the neighbourhood, or the host's style of hospitality.  Likewise, hosts can critique their guests' adherence to commitments and house rules, courtesy to themselves and neighbours, treatment of the property, and so on.  Reviews can only be written after a stay is booked and completed, so it is difficult to write dishonest or fake reviews.

  4. Both hosts and guests can receive recommendations from others.  If you know someone who is a great host or a guest who is always on their best behaviour, write them a recommendation to let others know that they're someone who can be trusted!

 

We’ll teach you everything you need to know about renting a place on Airbnb in the tutorials for the rest of this Airbnb course on Techboomers. And in the future, we’ll also be adding articles giving you the ins and outs of renting your own place to make some side income!

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More Airbnb Tutorials

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