Despite the recent negative reviews on AirBNB.com, it’s actually one of the best ways to find alternative accommodation.
And you know what? There will ALWAYS be some negative review of something somewhere. It’s up to you what you want to do with the information – whether to take it as gospel, with a grain of salt or use some good ol’ common sense and street smarts.
Moe and I first used AirBNB when we were planning our South American adventure a couple of years ago. We’re the type of travellers who like to try different modes of accommodation. Just because a person is backpacking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you HAVE to stay at a hostel. In fact, we found a couple of places using AirBNB that were actually cheaper than a hostel and is located in the heart of the town. And we got our own shower. And great view. And homemade breakfasts. Well, you get the drift!
But the most valuable lessons we got out of it is that we got to know our hosts quite well; learned about the local culture first hand and have formed lasting friendships with them.
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical and cautious about using this booking system. But after we booked the first one, the rest were a breeze. I wanted to share some tips with you on using AirBNB for your next trip, and how you can be a five star guest that they will always remember.
Tip #1: Communication is key
When you first make contact with your host, don’t be afraid to ask them heaps of questions – their background, culture, their hobbies, what they like/don’t like, family, their city/country, where their place is located, etc. They are more than happy to help and if they don’t, move on. There are hundreds more out there.
Tip #2: Guest reviews and ratings
New listings are uploaded everyday so there will be places where reviews or ratings may not be available. In which case, go back to Tip #1. When hosts and guests first register on AirBNB, the system will ask you to verify some personal data including phone number, any social network links and email. If you’re ever in doubt about a listing, contact the AirBNB Administrators.
Tip #3: Gut instinct
Ok this may come across quite weird, but sometimes you’ve gotta trust your gut instinct. It’s very difficult to hone in on your gut instinct over the Web, however, we came across some listings that somehow didn’t quite ‘feel’ right. Some had very little or no information about the place they were listing; no photos or using photos straight out of Google Images and we didn’t receive any responses when we emailed them.
Google is your friend so use it to your heart’s content. Just about anything can be found on Google, if you look hard enough.
Tip #4: Word of mouth
Ask your friends if they or know of anyone who has used AirBNB. Sometimes, personal recommendations from someone you know are the best resources, especially when you are using a booking system like this for the first time.
Tip #5: Leave on a good note
Whether you had a good or bad experience – hopefully not the latter – make sure you let your hosts know how much you’ve appreciated your time with them. Other than providing them glowing reviews on their AirBNB profile, make the effort to stay in touch long after your travels. To this day, we still keep in touch with several hosts and trust me, you will be glad that you did.
Bonus Tip #6: Update your profile regularly and return the favour when you can
I must admit, I’ve only recently tweaked our profile (click here). We only recently bought a place in Sydney, however, it is quite far from the city. One of our goals in the next 5 years is to rent out the property we have now and move closer to the city – that way, we can rent out one of the rooms to travellers and it’s more easily accessible. So you never know, we might just meet a lot of you! Stay tuned.
Want to earn AUD$32 AirBNB travel credits?
Featured Image: Actual view of El Misti volcano from the rooftop of our host’s house in Arequipa, Peru.
(DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid review. Review is based on my opinion only)