Hi there! It’s been a while since my last blog post. Sorry for that. Let’s break the silence with a post on travelling with Airbnb.
I like visiting cities, both for work (conferences) and pleasure. Hotels are often quite expensive in cities, and the value you get from them is often disappointing. Over the past few years I’ve been using Airbnb a lot, so that I can stay in a calming environment, away from the hustle from the city and hotel personnel.
An Airbnb can be anything. It can be a castle or a villa for 16 people. Or as small as a private room with a bed from wall to wall in a 3 bedroom student apartment. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.
All places on Airbnb are made available by their owners. Every time a stranger contacts an owner (host) to rent a place, the owner can decide whether they trust a stranger to use their property or not. Owners rent their places for a price per night, a handling fee for Airbnb, and optionally a cleaning fee.
After staying at a place, both hosts and guests get to post a review about each other. If both the host and you (as a guest) send in a review, the host’s review of you will become visible on your profile and vice versa. Future hosts read these reviews as part of their decision process to host you or not. It is thus very important to be kind, stick to the house rules of the owner, and leave the place as clean as you found it. Don’t leave trails of dirt, trash or dirty dishes. It’s obvious that if you’re paying a cleaning fee, you don’t have to wipe the floor. General rule: use common sense, show some empathy with the owner. How would you like to find your place after it has been used by strangers?
Obviously when you host yourself you will learn about the logistics, communication and emotions that come with letting strangers inside your home or property. This is valuable when dealing with other hosts.
I haven’t hosted people myself. I live in a fancy, well located, 2 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend. If it were up to me we’d have guests over regularly, but when you are in a relationship you decide these sorts of things together. Sorry to all the Airbnb guests that I have let down ;-)
Contact host beforehand
On Airbnb, on every page to view a place, there is a button that says “contact host”. Use it. I get in touch with hosts before sending a booking request with my credit card details. I do this to send a little introduction about myself, and the reason why I am looking to rent their place. Don’t tell your bad habits or your life story. Just the information they need. For example: I’m a passionate runner since 2014 and I’m planning on making a weekend trip to Valencia to run the Valencia marathon with X friends from day Y till day Z.
The second reason I contact hosts without a booking request is because hosts have the option to send special offers. After one or two messages I usually ask hosts if they want to make me an offer for a cheaper price. Sometimes they do if you’re trustworthy, if you book well in advance, and even better: if the owner can relate to you because you have something in common. You’re essentially bargaining. A common sentence to use is: “I’ve seen this cheaper place nearby (include link). I’m having doubts if I should book that place or yours. If the price would be the same I would book today.” One time I got the price for a seaside villa in Valencia for 6 nights down from 3500 euro to 2000!
It’s still people you’re dealing with, so if they don’t buy it: stay friendly, be honest and don’t waste their time.
If you’re looking for a place for 2 weeks or longer you can ask to only book the first week via Airbnb with an option to stay longer. After one week the trust level between host and guest should be high enough to decide on a fixed price for the rest of the stay without going through Airbnb. Be careful though. Airbnb offers refunds, insurance to the owner that the host can pay the amount, and other legal stuff. If you’re going to shortcut Airbnb, all responsibility is on you, both the host and the guest.
A few days in advance I usually text the host to let him/her know when I’ll arrive. This is to make sure the host is still alive and aware you’re coming over. If the owner responds quickly, you know you can reach him/her when you’re in an emergency situation. When you arrive you can pick up the key, get to know the host and start navigating around the city. Make sure your phone has an internet connection and a fully charged battery and you’ll be good.
Book your own AirBnb place
If you want to try AirBnb for one of your upcoming trips, get 30 euro off of your first booking.
That’s it. Happy travelling!
PS: This was a blog post on travelling. It is not my intention to start making this a travel blog. Though, we’ll see where this goes.