If you already used Airbnb, you know the site can lead to unique experiences you won’t soon forget. But if you’re new to home-sharing, you may be a little hesitant to jump in. Luckily, with perks like instant booking and the host-to-guest chat system, you’ll discover the experience is not much different than staying in a hotel.
1. All Hosts Are Different
Hosts can range from seasoned professionals to inexperienced newbies. Understand that each stay in an Airbnb is an experience, and that experience can vary greatly based on the host you get. If you get stuck with a less-than-stellar host, perhaps the fit wasn’t quite right. When you have an excellent experience, be sure to bookmark the host for future excursions.
2. Hosts Can Review Guests
When reading reviews of hosts and rooms, remember hosts can also review guests. While this has its advantages, it means many guests are afraid to speak out about bad experiences in fear of getting a bad guest rating. When looking at listings, read between the lines to see what guests are trying to say. Instead of focusing on the words they use, check out the star rating they offer.
3. You Could Chat with Bots
Spam comes in many forms — junk mail, pop-up ads, text messages and more. Airbnb has spam in the form of bots, fake listings designed to steal your personal information or worse, your money. While Airbnb allows you to submit a claim for a refund, avoid the hassle by looking for red flags. One major tip-off is zero reviews. You should also avoid listings with few or no photos. If the photo looks like a screenshot stolen from a real estate website, it probably is.
4. You Can Ask Questions
If you booked through a hotel, you can easily call the front desk and ask the attendant any questions you may have. Airbnb isn’t much different, allowing you to talk with your host directly through the website’s chat feature. If you need extra blankets and pillows or want to know about nearby attractions, type up a quick question and wait for a reply. You can even sync your account to your phone, allowing you to communicate while on-the-go.
5. Some Hosts Book Instantly
One reason hotel rooms are convenient is that they can be booked instantly from your phone or computer. With many Airbnb rooms, you must wait for the host to approve your stay before making solid plans. To enjoy the same convenience as a hotel, search for hosts with instant booking, designated with a yellow lightning bolt. These hosts are experienced and typically have independent check-in with keyless entry.
6. Superhosts are the Experts
When a guest enjoys their stay through Airbnb, they leave a positive review. Those with a reputation for being a great host, meaning an average star rating of 4.8 or higher, take on the designation of Superhost. As a guest, choosing a Superhost means staying with a professional — someone’s who’s already proven to provide a positive experience.
7. Cancellation Policies Can Vary
Airbnb does not have one strict cancellation policy across the board. Most requirements are set by the host, meaning each listing is different. Look for a host that suits your level of flexibility. While most hosts are strict, asking for cancellation notice 30 days in advance, others only need a heads up within a couple of days. Always read the cancellation policy in full before booking a rental.
8. Flexibility Yields the Best Results
The best way to enjoy a remarkable experience with Airbnb is to be flexible with expectations. Cast a wide net by clearing filters in your search function, allowing for any type of stay or home. Or select specific perks you may be looking for, such as a lakefront view, hot tub or fireplace. By staying flexible, you might discover a vacation experience you never imagined.
9. Some Cities Ban Rentals
You may know some cities and municipalities have banned Airbnb rooms. This means any room leased through the site in that area is technically breaking the law. While it’s unlikely you’d be caught, an illegal rental could mean having to leave without a refund. If you’re not one for taking risks, research the local laws ahead of time to check if Airbnb rentals are allowed. If you have any questions, use the chat function to message the host before booking.
10. You Should Have a Plan B
When you decide to book with Airbnb, always have a Plan B ready just in case the unthinkable happens. Maybe you fell for a scam or your host suddenly fell ill — either way, always have a list of nearby accommodations. In fact, anyone who’s ever been turned away from a hotel due to double-booking will tell you a Plan B is always a good idea. You don’t have to make reservations. Simply have a plan for what to do in case something goes wrong.
What to Know About Airbnb
Airbnb offers many of the same conveniences as a traditional hotel, such as early cancellation and the ability to make requests. And by taking some precautions, such as avoiding bots and choosing super hosts, you can have a unique experience you would never find anywhere else.
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Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more!
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