Booking on Airbnb seems to be more popular these days than booking a hotel. For one reason, there are usually some pretty good deals on there, plus you get to stay in unique locations instead of a standard hotel. People are jumping in on the Airbnb bandwagon because they want something different out of their traveling experience. It’s definitely making hotels step up their game because they are losing customers because of it.
Booking with Airbnb can be a great experience and one that you can bank on. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you do book with them. If it’s your first time on the site, then it might be a little confusing. Booking a vacation is an exciting time and you don’t want to make any mistakes that you can’t correct later. We have some tips that will help you navigate through the process of booking so that all you have to worry about is counting down the days and packing your bag. Check out these 25 things about Airbnb worth knowing before booking.
25 Some Hosts Aren’t Human
There are a lot of brokers out there and phishing scams that can be found on any site. Airbnb assures its customers that it does everything that it can to weed out these people, but they are still around. Do your due diligence before you book and that means reading the reviews carefully. The old rule still applies — if the listing sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
24 Talk to The Host More Than Once
Make sure you have an exchange with the host before you book any vacation. At the very least, it will give you some idea that you are talking to a person and what their customer service is like. If they are slow to respond to you, then they may be difficult to deal with once you get there and have an issue. “Do they have specific and thorough responses to questions about Wi-Fi speed, public transportation and quality of neighborhood? If they don't, perhaps they have something to hide, or they're not investing in providing a stellar experience,” wrote Reader’s Digest.
23 Compare Photos to The Description
This is a really easy way to see if a listing is for real. Make sure you compare the photos to the description. Scammers will rarely put a lot of effort into a listing. But it’s not just scammers you have to worry about — some of the hosts can be shady too. “Some hosts will list a couch as a bed, so make sure you scan through everything they list and match it up to the photos,” says Kimberley Le Sueur, a regular Airbnb user based in Toronto. “If they advertise a two bedroom, but you see pictures of just one bedroom and a couch, that second bedroom is probably the couch.”
22 Pay Attention to the Star Ratings
Not everyone has the ability to unleash and give a scathing review. Some people will just add a low star rating and leave it at that. So, don’t just pay attention to the writing, check out how many stars have been given as well. Some might even give a kind review but leave a one-star rating, and that kind of a review can speak volumes to the experience that they had. From there you can draw your conclusions about the listing.
21 Eyeball the Photos
It can be easy to glance at a photo quickly and think that everything is acceptable, but you might be missing small details. When you look at the photos, look beyond how nice the room looks — check for cleanliness and look for newer appliances. If the appliances look like they are decades old, you might want to look at another listing. If there is any sign of messiness in the photo, then it’s likely the host won’t care too much about cleanliness in general.
20 Research the Area Yourself
Don’t depend on the host to accurately describe the distance from the rental to the landmarks or restaurants that you want to see. If you are booking through Airbnb, then do your own research as well to make sure that you know if it’s the best listing for you. A host could tell you that there is a restaurant 20 minutes away only for you to find out later that it’s more like 45 minutes away.
19 Does The Host Respond to Reviews
If you see a lot of negative reviews where the host doesn’t even acknowledge them, then that may be a red flag. Regular Airbnb user, Zachary Schraeder of Toronto, says that he relies on reviews. “A low rating combined with no host response after a negative guest review would tell me that the owner doesn’t really care about the guest experience —something that’s an important part of any getaway,” Schraeder says. “How an owner handles any feedback — reasonable or otherwise — tells you a lot more than a simple star rating can.”
18 There Are Scammers Everywhere
Unfortunately, we can’t avoid scammers completely and sometimes you will find them on sites like Airbnb. There are ways to avoid getting ripped off and Airbnb has assured customers that as long as they stay on the site, they can guarantee that they won’t be scammed. So, what that means is, don’t pay for your booking outside of the site. Scammers will often ask you to send them an e-transfer or wire the money to them, but that can be a red flag.
17 Ask All Your Questions First
If you have questions, then don’t be afraid to ask them. It’s always best to get to know your host before you make a transaction. Ask all the questions that you want, that way there is no confusion when you arrive at the rental. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask about clean linens and what the neighbors are like as well as whether there are any restrictions. If you get all your questions out of the way, then there will be no miscommunication later.
16 Don’t Pick A Newbie
There are always going to be new hosts arriving on Airbnb, but it might not be the best idea to book a newcomer if it’s your first time. Your first stay at a rental should already be a well-oiled machine. You don’t want to have to deal with a host’s growing pains one your first vacation through Airbnb. It’s definitely best to book a host that has been hosting for a while.
15 Tell Your Host that it's Your First Time
If it’s your first time, then it’s a good idea to make sure that you let the host know that you are navigating for the first time. If they realize that you are a newbie, then they will understand if there is any confusion. Sometimes a host may find it odd that you ask a ton of questions, but if they know you’re new, then they will understand all the questions.
14 They Might Not Have A Solution To Difficult Problems
Not all solutions can be fixed by an Airbnb host in the same way that a hotel can take care of you. “Come to a hotel with a specific solution to your problem and they'll be able to help you more quickly. Once, after a big storm in a rural area, I lost Internet connectivity, and so did the entire region. I spoke with Airbnb and asked that they call a local hotel to see if I could work from their lobby. They made the call and worked out the details, but I had to have the solution at the ready.”
13 Have A Backup Listing
Even though you've booked with a listing, there are no guarantees that it won’t be canceled by the host. Some hosts have even left it to the last minute to cancel. It’s always best to have a backup plan in place. “This happened to me a week before leaving,” says Le Sueur. “I got a credit toward a new place, but if you’re booking for an event that’s city-wide like Oktoberfest, prices can skyrocket, and few places are available on short notice.”
12 Make Sure You’re Not in An Undesirable Neighborhood
This goes back to making sure you do your research about the area around where you are booking. The last thing you want to find out after you have arrived is that you aren’t in a good area. “We ended up in a really sketchy street in a nice part of Barcelona,” says Le Sueur. “We booked an apartment in a hurry, not looking into the area too much because it was close to tourist spots. But when we got there, it was in the club district with loud music until early hours of the morning, and it wasn’t the greatest part of town at night.”
11 Hosts Can Reject You
Nobody likes to be rejected, but when it comes to Airbnb, the hosts are allowed to use discretion when renting their property to people. Some people have complained that hosts have ignored their requests to rent or have rejected them. Keep in mind that it could be something on your profile that turned them off. Giving more detail on your profile will help a host to determine if you are shady or not.
10 Get Current Pictures
When you are booking with a host, if you feel like anything is off, ask for current pictures. Their response will be a good indication of whether you want to rent from them or not. “It’s beneficial to create a relationship with the person you’re renting from. Email them a few times before you go, especially before the time period when your deposit is no longer refundable. Ask questions. Find out what there’s to do in the area. Get current pictures. If you get a bad feeling, you can cancel with no penalties,” says Schraeder.
9 Be Picky With Your Host
Not everyone should be on Airbnb and even some of the hosts that are on there don’t have hospitality experience. Some hosts aren’t personable or even friendly and some are just in it for the money. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to book with certain hosts. Even if they aren’t staying on the property, you will have to deal with them at some point, especially if there is an issue. There could be the perfect listing out there, but if the host seems rude or curt when you are speaking to them, it’s best just to walk away.
8 Your Stay Might not be legal
Just think about the rules that some condo organizations have. They don’t want you leasing out your place to anyone else. Well, there is a good chance that some of these condos you see on Airbnb have the same rules. Depending on the city or building that you are staying in, your host might be breaking the law by allowing you to stay there. Yes, you could get tossed out, but that sort of thing is a rare occurrence.
7 It May Not Be Cheaper Than A Hotel
A lot of people book on Airbnb because it’s a cheaper option comparing to getting a hotel, but that’s not always true. There are service fees that range between 6% and 12% of your nightly rate and some of them will also charge a flat rate fee for cleaning your room afterward. This is on top of the taxes that they are required to collect. It’s always best to do your homework and to price check with hotels before you book.
6 Pick A Host That Makes Your Life Easier
This should be common sense, but we've all probably thrown away money by booking a place that has poor customer service. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hosts that are just in it for the money or want to have constant tenants in their rental property. It sucks if you have to run around to find keys or are missing items that were promised in the description, like towels or soap. A host’s job is to make your vacation stay as pleasant as possible, so keep that in mind when you are booking.
5 Airbnb Doesn’t Own Any Rentals
This isn’t Airbnb renting to you, they are just the middle man between you and the host. They have nothing to do with the specific rentals on the page. They aren’t the ones doing the renting. In most cases, you are renting from a regular Joe. It’s free to create an account which is always good news. Once you sign up, it’s up to you to find a host that will fit your specific vacation needs.
4 The Search Function Isn't great
Airbnb definitely needs to focus more attention on their search function because right now, when you do search for a listing, you get pretty much everything. It would be great if you could do an advanced search for popular locations, sort by rating or find a place that has a monthly cost. But that’s not the case. You can easily kill a few hours searching page after page of the listings they pulled together for you. It needs work.
3 You Will Have to Pay For Damages
You might be thinking to yourself that it would be cool to have a cool party at one of these locations and you won’t have to worry about what happens to the place. At first, there was a lot of hosts that complained to Airbnb that their properties were getting destroyed. Airbnb followed through on the complaints to help promote security for the hosts. There is a host guarantee on the site now where the hosts can be eligible for damages up to $1 million.
2 Be Flexible With Your Dates
On Airbnb, you are only going to get listings that are available on the specific dates that you put in. If you are flexible with your dates, you may be able to find a gem that you would have otherwise have missed. So, play around with the site and put in a few different date options to see what you can find. Try searching without a date and see what pops up first and go from there.
1 Give It A Chance
Yes, there are things to keep in mind when booking on Airbnb but there have been thousands of amazing experiences that make it all worth it. if you can get through the site successful, you won’t be sorry that you gave it a shot. There are truly some amazing places ot stay in that would blow your mind. It’s those unique experiences that make it worth not booking that hotel that you have stayed in 100 times.