How does airbnb work?

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Although it has been operating since 2008, many people harbour the misconception that airbnb is all about renting out loft apartments in New York and completely out of reach for the average traveller.

So what is airbnb and how does it work?

Essentially it’s a community marketplace connecting hosts who have spare rooms, houses or other spaces with guests looking for a place to stay.  

Hosts create a free listing and promote their property, and themselves, with detailed descriptions and photographs. They decide what they will charge – be it per night, per week or per month. Guests search the listings for accommodation and pay a service fee for each reservation, ranging from six per cent to 12 per cent.

Naturally, it is always wise to do a little research before entering your credit card details into the booking form. Use your common sense and consider the following first.

  • If the price looks too good to be true – it probably is. So compare all the rentals in the area which you are looking at before committing to a booking. If you really do want to go with the cheapest price, again, talk to the host and ask why they are renting their property so cheaply.
  • Look at the host’s history and read all the reviews posted by previous guests.
  • Talk to the hosts before you book, ask about their facilities or any questionable reviews you have read.
  • Ask the hosts for references.
  • Airbnb connects via Facebook, so you can contact previous guests if you have any concerns.

Have a look at a couple of listings here in Australia and decide for yourself whether you think this accommodation option is for you.



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Written by Andrea


Total Comments: 8
  1. 0

    Am i getting this Airbnb mixed up with the organization based in the USA that had villas in Bali advertised only to have them closed down by the authorities after people had payed resulting in them losing there money ?People where arriving from overseas only to find their payed for villas closed something to do with the company avoiding paying govt.fees.Maybe it is different type of scheme .Might pay to do some homework on this.

  2. 0

    Ive used airbnb several times and found the experience very satisfying. The hosts became friends, so much better than hotels or motels, and its great to have a range of interesting places to stay.

  3. 0

    Airbnb has certainly changed the way many travellers view accommodation and will consider the self catering option more and more over staying in a hotel. Although it is seen as competition in some ways to the home exchange idea, where the accommodation is free, it has helped people to look at other options.

    Like with home swapping it is essential to communicate with your potential host and if any doubts creep in, look elsewhere.

    However you travel enjoy.



  4. 0

    It can be traveller beware with this website. We gave a deposit for an apartment in Paris and the owner cancelled our booking at the last minute citing flood damage. He promised to give our money back but didn’t and we also found out later that there was no damage, he found a longer term booking in the meantime and had lied to us. Thankfully the bank got all our money back but never ever again!

  5. 0

    These are mixed comments – I have just booked a canal boat in Amsterdam for next year with airbnb. The host seems to be a lovely young woman and has 35 reviews, all positive. I am very happy with the site but the downside is I had to pay in full 15 months in advance!!!! I thought this a little rude but wanted to have the accommodation settled now. After reading the post by Japoli I am now a bit concerned.
    I had put in the wrong dates and the host was fine with the change but contacting airbnb the change in the booking is still pending and where they have responded within 24 hrs before, I am waiting for confirmation of the new dates and it has been 4 days. Fingers crossed it will all turn out OK.

  6. 0

    We are currently using Airbnb in Europe and so far the experience has been terrific. Apartments as described, hosts wonderful. Obviously you have to do your homework, looking at reviews etc and make sure you check the dates and the prices for when you want to book as these vary- what may have been advertised as $60 a night might be $150 during peak time. We have had 2 cancel on us, but with plenty of notice but Airbnb gave us our money plus extra back -no problems. The host doesn’t get paid until after24hours of you arriving and if it’s not satisfactory you contact Airbnb. Personally I have been very satisfied and so much cheaper than hotels.

  7. 0

    So pleased to read Mahamelb’s comments. They sound promising and have eased my mind a bit. I have been waiting a week for them to confirm changed dates. Still don’t know why it is taking so long tho’.

  8. 0

    Airbnb charge a cleaning fee when you make booking additional to the host’s fee. Just be aware that this cleaning fee does not get passed on to the host – it is kept by Airbnb as well as the 3 per cent they deduct from the host



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