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Has anyone had experience with AirBnB in getting lodging in private homes?

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Oct 8th, 2009, 10:56 AM
  #1
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Has anyone had experience with AirBnB in getting lodging in private homes?

I posted this on the U.S. Forum because the economy and exchange rate has limited my European travel planning of late. I got few responses, so I thought I would post on the Europe board.

I just ran across this site, AirBnB, on the net, and wondered if anyone had used it to find a place to stay. It advertises "Travel like a Human -- Rent nightly from real people in 1394 cities in 87 countries". Is it legit? I looked at the site http://www.airbnb.com/ and some of the listings in private homes seemed to be too good to be true. I also looked at the Paris listings, and some of those were interesting, as well.

Any comments/experience?

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Oct 8th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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Is no one familiar with it?

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Oct 11th, 2009, 11:32 PM
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Hi there,
Haven't experienced it - but looks simple to use and reliable. There's a lot of reviews for many places and therefore I think it is a genuine thing. Would be best to get a proper quote. It's tricky to know if the price is for 2 people or for the whole place regardless of people staying.
All the best.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 12:32 AM
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I'm not familiar with it, but I suspect it's fairly likely not all of those providers have proper business licenses, inspections, permissions from landlords (if they are renters), etc.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 01:11 AM
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The way I'd interpret that website, looking a bit more at it, is that you are essentially getting a short-term roommate.
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Jun 16th, 2010, 09:49 AM
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Beware of Airbnb!

This site has taken off like wild fire but be aware of the risks. Behind the pretty facade there's little real structure or organisation. They do not offer any sort of protection and are not interested in helping resolve problem situations. And problem situations will come up believe me, in which case you are on your own. I have had a terrible experience with them. Following a failed reservation I was left out nearly $1000 and Airbnb just walked away. Be aware of what you're getting into. These people are just out to make money on your back.

USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
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Jun 16th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Nukesafe, you better run a search on TripAdvisor, doesn't look good

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Search?wh...&q=airbnb&geo=
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Jun 16th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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Maya, without further information, it's hard to know how to respond. What exactly happened?
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Jun 16th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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Thanks, Dayenu. Some of those reviews do sound daunting, but all I can say is that we have only had good experiences in renting out our guest room here in Anacortes, WA, through them. All AirBnB does is serve as a clearing house through which a prospective renter is put into contact with a landlord. From there on it is up to the two to establish a dialog to find out if the accommodation/guest is suitable. If it is, AirBnB gets the money from the renter, takes a modest cut, subtracts some from the landlord, and Bob's your Uncle.

So far, we have had really nice folks stay with us, and they have posted good reviews. They question us closely by telephone or email, and we them, so there are no surprises (yet). If I do use them when I travel, I will do my homework, as any booking like this, or Craigslist, has a degree of risk.

I don't think one should expect this sort of listing exchange to be a full service travel agent, though. Read their Terms of Use. They are very clear that you are on your own in any dispute, other than they will not charge your card until you take the room and arrive.
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Jul 1st, 2010, 11:00 PM
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Hi all,
Wow! What a surprise to hear negative comments about airbnb. I am sad and surprised. I have been renting two bedrooms with airbnb for 8 months and it has been a great experience, both for me and for my guests. Plus, I know 10 others that either rent rooms or go places and stay in airbnb homes.

I get to know the people before they arrive. They pay before they arrive so that makes it easy. Their rooms & bathroom are clean, and the continental breakfast is fresh and yummy.

We talk, visit and enjoy each others company.

I would love to hear of others' positive experiences. I know there are many out there.

Cathy, Santa Cruz, CA
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Jul 2nd, 2010, 07:02 PM
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They are not a rental agency - just a matching service - and take no responsibility for either the lodgings or the arrangements. So - what you get (usually a spare room in someone's house or apartment) can vary tremendously. there are some horror stories - and you are without recourse - so you would need to do a LOT of checking on any place/people with whom yu plan on staying.
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Jul 2nd, 2010, 08:03 PM
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Yes, they are similar to VRBO; just a listing of lodgings by owners. Caveat Emptor! One should check out any online rental by reading reviews, and questioning the owner.

The way AirBnB has worked for us is that someone reads our listing, looks at our pictures and those of the room, and reads the reviews of others that have stayed with us. They contact AirBnB, who passes the request on to us by email. We respond, and answer as many questions about our home, room, and area as the renter has. If they like our answers they book the room.

That is no different than going through any of the owner listing sites I am aware of. AirBnB is sort of new, and there has not been much opportunity for owners to collect a lot of reviews, so it might behoove one to be a bit more cautious. The site however, IMHO, is a potentially valuable resource if you are looking for a low cost, and perhaps non-traditional place to stay.

I'm like Cathy; the site has served as a great source for nice lodgers for us. I am NOT advertising, but you might want to look at the site, and see the kinds of rooms available in Anacortes, WA.
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Jul 2nd, 2010, 08:04 PM
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I personally am a bit suspicious of cathyjo44's post. She registered today to post that glowing review including how she provides clean rooms and yummy breakfasts.
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Jul 2nd, 2010, 08:27 PM
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Well, you may be right Janisj, Cathy may work for AirBnB. I don't. I started this thread last year when we first started renting our guest room, and I wanted to see if the site was legit. What the hell, it was free, so why not. Not sorry we did list with them. It has worked flawlessly so far.

I must admit that I can see how their quick growth may have caused problems, though. For example, since we were going to go to France next year, I thought I would look at the Paris AirBnB site. I did find a couple of places that were possibles, and a few that really sounded weird. That was in October, and there were maybe 20 or 30 listings. I went back a few months later and it astounded me how many places were listed. Seems the word had spread to every owner of a doghouse in Paris that, "Here is a place to list your place for FREE!"

I went back today, and there are now 54 pages of listings for a total of 1,074 places to stay! They are not arranged in any sort of searchable way that I could see, other than by price or distance from the center. I am not about to try to wade through a thousand listings. I went to VRBO, and picked a place on the Ile de la Cite within the sound of the bells of Notre Dame that had lots of glowing reviews.

I guess the only lesson here is that it might be better to look for places to stay in smaller towns, or out of the way places with AirBnB than in large cities.
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Jul 3rd, 2010, 05:40 AM
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well, it sounds like it's just a website that functions as a place for people to advertise, which is no different than a newspaper in the old days. So what does it mean to say it is "legit" if it's just private owners with ads.
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Jul 3rd, 2010, 12:14 PM
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Based on some of the reports I have seen the problem is that some renters think they are working with a rental agent who has inspected and will stand behind the properties - and who therefore did no investigation on their own. There were problems with nonexistent rooms, rooms that were not clean, places that were not as advertised, etc. Everything you would expect if you just looked at a list of ads.

That doesn;t mean there aren;t a lot of legitimate places - just that the renter has to do a lot of homework.
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Jul 12th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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I've been renting out my 2nd bedroom for about 2 months now and have had nothing but great experiences. The people have all been better than a traditional roommate, and I earn more money this way. I think anyone who hasn't had a pleasant experience hasn't really done the research to pick a place that was obviously above board. My pictures are clear and things are laid out clearly in my description and house rules sections. I am quick to respond (a text is sent to my phone when someone contacts me via the site) and do everything I can to communicate with someone inquiring about my room. I haven't been on the other side, but like to think if I was I'd be able to tell who is legit and who isn't.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 11:15 PM
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Linda, that looks like advertising, which is against Fodors policy. If you read back in this very old post you will see that we rent our our guest room in the Pacific Northwest too, but I would never dream of posting a link here. Do not be surprised if your post gets pulled.

In response to some of the earlier posts, we have been renting our guest room, which has a private entrance and is almost a self contained apartment, for over two years now. We have had nothing but lovely people stay with us. Absolutely no problems. Really helps for our next trip to Paris in October!

On the renter side, we have rented Airbnb places when we travel, and have had great experiences here in the States, and mixed ones in Europe. My wife rented a lovely place in Milan last year when she was taking a class in Italy, for example.

We also had a dreadful experience in Amsterdam a couple of years ago in which we walked out of a really awful place and found ourselves on the streets at 9:30 on a Friday night with no place to sleep. The town was fully booked we were told, and the Tourist Office at Central Station had closed. We did find a place to lay our heads, but had difficulty contacting Airbnb on the weekend before they transferred our money to the host.

To be fair, that was before they had a 24 hour hotline, and I think their customer relations services have improved a lot since those early days.

Some of the earlier advice still stands. Check the reviews carefully, and ask the host lots of questions if the ad is not crystal clear. If you don't get prompt and satisfactory answers, don't book.
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