Airbnb: find out if it works

The affordable 'new' approach to booking accommodation.

Airbnb: find out if it works

With over 60 million users, Airbnb is an innovative and affordable new approach to booking accommodation, but does it live up to the buzz? Find out in our hands-on review.

Founded in 2008 by three roommates who were struggling to pay rent, Airbnb is now worth an estimated USD$25 billion. It allows people to rent out their homes, rooms, or beds to travellers at an affordable price. Sounds good in theory, but how does it work in reality? Our tech guru Ryan recently tested out the app whilst travelling in Japan – how did he go?

I booked most of my accommodation before leaving, but intentionally left a few days vacant at the end of my trip, as I wasn’t sure where I would like to spend them. Encouraged by some pleasant reviews of the Airbnb service from friends, I downloaded the app on my smartphone and started browsing for accommodation.

Types of accommodation on the service vary from spare rooms or beds rented out by homeowners, to full-scale bed and breakfasts or apartment buildings run by staff. After browsing accommodations for a few hours, I inquired about a booking that had an abundance of five-star reviews. I received a response in near-perfect English informing me that the room was available, but if I was interested, there was also a better room available in Shinjuku. Excited by this, I requested a booking through the app; unfortunately this is where I ran into some trouble.

Airbnb requires some basic proof of identity before you can use the service, however, you can also provide more credentials to put your host’s mind at ease. Airbnb also selects 25 per cent of users at random and insists that they provide extra proof of identification; I was ‘lucky’ enough to be chosen to provide this.  

This process was an absolute nightmare. Airbnb simply did not have the staff to manage my ‘Verified Identification process’, which was frustrating as I was given a strict 12 hours in which to do so.

The process required connecting with Facebook. Unfortunately my online social life isn’t as glamorous as Airbnb would have liked, and therefore there wasn’t enough information to prove my existence. Next up was providing scans of my passport and driver’s licence, which bizarrely still wasn’t enough proof (even though they got me through immigration without any trouble). The final step was recording an embarrassing video of myself explaining that I am indeed a human.

At this stage I was left hanging. After a few hours of waiting for my video to be verified, I contacted the ‘help’ team and found them anything but helpful. After the 12 hours was up, my booking was cancelled and I wasn’t allowed to make another for a specified time. Frustrated I considered booking a hotel but decided in the end to contact the host directly.

I explained what had happened. They were very sympathetic and offered to pick me up from a train station to arrange the booking the old fashioned way, face to face, paying with cash. Perfect.

From here on it was smooth sailing, the host was nice, the room was cheap, clean and comfortable and the location was incredible, just a few minutes away from the train station. After the initial hassle, the only further frustration was struggling to understand the complicated rules of rubbish disposal in the building.

Although my experiences with Airbnb are far from perfect, most of the stress could have been avoided if I planned further ahead, and made my booking whilst still in Australia. Airbnb is so cheap because it cuts out a lot of the staff, who ultimately make hotel stays so stress free. And while nine times out of 10 this probably doesn’t cause any problems, when it does go wrong, you’re largely on your own.

It hasn’t put me off though – if at first you don’t succeed and all that – I will use the service again next time I travel. Having now verified my identity I don’t expect any further problems and I’m excited to meet some more friendly hosts.

Have you used Airbnb? Were your experiences pleasant or painful?





    COMMENTS

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    red
    12th Dec 2015
    7:49am
    have used it several times- mostly fantastic except for one time in israel, where the host was fairly unfriendly- and the accommodation was a bit substandard- but still Ok for the price- Absolutely give it a try- but read the reviews
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:47pm
    Seemed like fair value. Other sites also offer good value.
    Teabags
    12th Dec 2015
    8:10am
    You have to have a lot of spare time and be ignorant to personal identity security to deal with this group. After paying deposit, I was required to supply credit card details - no issue, then a photo - getting suspicious. Then a copy of my passport - are you kidding ! I was booking a place in my home country of Australia. When I refused they would not return the deposit. Can't condemn this group enough.
    Peterrj
    12th Dec 2015
    9:01am
    So not your cup of tea?
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:49pm
    Glad another person saw this website for what it is: dangerous...and potentially accessed by identity thieves. I bet the website has lax security to boot. God help the simpletons who supply the ridiculous amount of details demanded.
    Junior
    4th Jun 2016
    10:47am
    I recently booked through them and wasn't required to provide anything more than my credit card details - standard and my name and address. When I cancelled I forfeited the airbnb admin fee which was clearly stated in the terms of the booking. Very happy. Great interaction directly with the host. Better than some booking sites where you can't contact the hotel until after your booking is confirmed.
    heyyybob
    3rd Sep 2016
    12:39pm
    My experience(s) similar to Junior (above). No problems in Aussie or NZ :)
    rae
    12th Dec 2015
    8:30am
    I also tried to book for accommodation. Was asked for a copy of my driver licence, was told not clear enough so need a copy of passport again told no clear enough so wanted link to Linkeden which I don't have or Facebook page. Gave up after that.
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:50pm
    Good call. Should not have gone this far. They pretty well have everything they need to ruin your life with what you provided.
    Peterrj
    12th Dec 2015
    8:58am
    Ditto, ID copy of passport, etc etc and you have no idea who you are dealing with. We also had to put up large bond money well before we arrived. Left and didn't get a return of the deposit for ages and only after many emails requesting for the bond money back!

    This was for an apartment in Paris.

    We did OK out of the deal but it was all a bit risky??? If you are prepared for the risk then you might do well out of it.
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:51pm
    Exchange potential identity theft for $40? Thought you were a bit clueier than that Peterrj?
    mojo
    12th Dec 2015
    9:19am
    I signed up for AirBnB over a year ago and remember it was an easy process, though I do have LinkedIn and Fb accounts. Don't recall having to provide drivers licence. The accommodation and hosts vary. We always pick a self contained or entire home rather than a share. This usually makes the price higher and almost comparable with hotel/motels, so it's worth comparing what's available. Remember their is no room service (beds made, fresh towels, etc). However, the location and the hosts can make your stay one to remember! Read the reviews before making a choice. We have only heard of the occassional problem -- just hope it won't happen to you.
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    10:28am
    Agree. I dind't (and wouldn't provide drivers licence and/or passport copy) have a problem making my first booking for accommodation in N.Z. for early next year. Yes, agree about reading all the reviews and bypassing anything that doesn't have many. Same as booking through Trip Advisor. Mentioning N.Z. - if any Aussies intend touring/visiting N.Z. I would recommend checking out Bookabach.nz We had a fantastic 3 week road trip a couple of months ago in Spring and booked 5 'baches' to base ourselves. Great success and only one was slightly disappointing and three were fantastic.
    Rod63
    12th Dec 2015
    9:25am
    Trouble free an excellent. I booked a room in a house in Italy.
    Rod63
    13th Dec 2015
    2:13pm
    I didn't have to provide licence or passport to register. I would thoroughly recommend it.
    ph
    12th Dec 2015
    10:36am
    I have used it all over the world with no real issues. Some of the descriptions and photo's could be a tad misleading, and not all amenities offered in each accommodation is exactly as promised. Although if it is inexpensive accommodation you are looking for this works a treat. My advice is to remain flexible in your expectations.
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    10:52am
    Fair enough, thanks :)
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:52pm
    Hold your breath ph.
    WW245
    12th Dec 2015
    10:49am
    Read the small print VERY carefully. We had to cancel a booking that we had made and AIR BnB took a huge chunk of the deposit -very unreasonable as they do very little except host the website. I am very reluctant to use in the future!
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    11:01am
    The only booking I have made with them so far was a couple of weeks ago for 3nts accomm (in N.Z.) in 2 months time. Was a bit surprised to be asked to pay the FULL cost (plus their commission which was about 10% of each nts rate) immediately in advance. No deposit and final payment, say, a couple of weeks before arrival etc. No biggie, but since they hold all of the amount until you have been in the residence for 24hrs, before they pay the owner it would appear they have a fairly sweet cop of your money for quite some time before handing it over to the owner ;)
    ricks12
    12th Dec 2015
    11:10am
    re heyybob comment. Advance payment is a plus. The A$ dived nearly 30% in the 8 months prior to our booking. Our price was paid and fixed. For long stays the host gets half the day after you arrive and the rest half way through your stay in case of dispute or refund. Caveat emptor.
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    11:20am
    True ricks, I guess, ref the advantage of early payment. Have managed to save a little that way with my Qantas Cash Card also. We get the same with very early airline bookings and a few other ways. Nicve, when retired to have the time to fiddle around like this. Great fun isn't it :)
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    10:50am
    My first booking (for accomms in N.Z.) made a couple of weeks ago and no problem. The booking fee (3 nts) was a smidgeon over 10% of each nights rate so not too bad. The things that appeal to me about it are 1. A break from the usual hotel experience. 2. A lot of unusual and interesting accomms available to experience. 3. Good communications facilitation between owners and yourself. 4. Plenty of reviews (usually and a good sign) to sift through. 5. The choice to interact (if you wish) with 'the locals' and all the benefits that can give, if you so desire. I'm looking forward to our first experience with AirBnB to see if it can compliment our usual sites that we use e.g. Online direct with hotels, TripAdvisor bookings, Bookabach.nz etc.
    ricks12
    12th Dec 2015
    11:05am
    We're not budget travellers but we're sick of sterile hotels and "privacy" involving hotel staff coming in to check mini bar etc; motels that smell; and apartments that disappoint. We are fussy about cleanliness and hygiene. We've had 7 AirBnB experiences in different countries over the past 4 years; 2 were quite poor, most were good. One was excellent. On balance we prefer the experience to the usual routine of commercial providers so we have booked another 3 week stay in London October 2016. Generally we book ahead at least 6-9 months in advance so we get a really good choice. The photographs provided have always been accurate but the shots show the best not the worst of any choice. We have always chosen on the basis of reviews. However AirBnB vets reviews and we noticed that our negative reviews didn't get published (it's hard to verify if this is completely correct because it's difficult to find the apartment/flat you rented previously, so take my vetting comment with a grain of salt. However, see how many negative reviews you find.) Regardless we found it hard to find negative or even neutral reviews so we may have expected too much via the "Pollyanna effect". If you're not a budget traveller and you're planning a lengthy stay I suggest you check the price of hotels of the requisite star rating in your city of choice then use that price to help inform your selection of Airbnb apartments. The fact that we're trying again next year is an indication that the positives well outweigh the negatives. Give it a go.
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    11:14am
    Thanks for that :) Interesting and valid point about the lack of neutral/negative reviews and being difficult to bring up your own :( We rely a lot on sifting through reviews, on the 'providers' that we utilise, so that will be something that we will be aware of on AirBnB. Cheers :)
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    11:17am
    p.s. meant to mention that (availability of reviews) is something that appeals about TripAdvisor for us :) I appreciate it and its why I contribute as a (top level) Reviewer - a pass it on, thing ;)
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:55pm
    Plenty of other sites. The internet is awash with them. And Tripadvisor is good to check if a place has a history, although Tripadvisor sometimes will not run bad reviews. But it usually works and you can't beat the views/reviews of 20 people or more.
    Greg
    3rd Sep 2016
    2:12pm
    Ricks12 we use it extensively and have only had a couple of lower then expected experiences - many more bad motel experiences. Reviews aren't vetted, you'll notice that if the host has already done their review on you your review of them appears instantly and it stays. Trip Advisor vet their reviews.
    Illuminati
    12th Dec 2015
    11:31am
    Am (was) about to use it for the first time to book accommodation in the US next year but with identity theft rampant these days there's no way I'll ever send copy of my licence passport. I understand that they must be on the receiving end of unscrupulous activity but if I've paid a deposit and provided my credit card details that seems to be enough for most online booking agencies. "Scammers" don't usually give you their credit card details.
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:56pm
    Where in the US do you need accommodation? Might be able to help as we are regulars.
    eFEC
    12th Dec 2015
    11:49am
    I've been with Airbnb for over 3 years. Never had the hassle of signing up back then. I've used them to do world trips twice (Europe and Nth America) with no hassles. The only problem I had was with a booking in Brisbane. Normally I check reviews carefully, but this time I was in a hurry and there was little accommodation available where I was going. I booked a first-timer who looked good. The accommodation could have been superb but it was so filthy we couldn't stay. The owners were away and had left a "friend" to clean up. Owner was apologetic, Airbnb gave a full refund and a credit for the next booking (we later used it to stay in central Paris). I recommend Airbnb highly. We've had some great experiences with them and made friends across the world. Just check the reviews first!
    JudyT
    12th Dec 2015
    11:51am
    I recently tried Airbnb to book accommodation. it is easy to register however when you try to book it becomes too onerous to try and supply all the information that is required. If this was known at the start of the process it would help to be prepared, so i went back to Booking.com which I know I get what I book.
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:58pm
    The large American websites are like their cruise companies: extremely over-priced. We have learnt to avoid them and find smaller players.
    Junior
    4th Jun 2016
    11:08am
    I use booking.com frequently within Australia with little problems. However now cautious with overseas bookings through them. My credit card details were used by the London accommodation to debit 50% of the total accomm charge immediately on confirmation of a free cancellation booking. On cancelling the accom they then disputed the terms and I am currently waiting for it to be refunded which can take more than 15 days according to booking.com. Not a good start to our holiday.
    MICK
    12th Dec 2015
    12:46pm
    I gave up registering when they demanded my photo. I do not splash this over the internet, especially with facial recognition software already available and becoming more sophisticated every year. And then there was the rest of the data which, if it fell into the wrong hands, could easily be used for identity theft.
    You'd have to be nuts to give this website some of thee information it 'requires'. I'm sure I'm not the only person who would feel this way. How many potential customers has this business lost!
    sandyfaye
    12th Dec 2015
    12:55pm
    I listed my house/spare room a couple of months ago. I had one tentative booking which cancelled. I now have another booking for 11 nights which he has confirmed. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
    Jacqui
    26th Jun 2017
    10:19am
    Hi If you would be so gracious with your time...please give me an up
    date how your Airbnb experience went.
    I am hoping to set up my house on the Gold Coast in time for the games 2018.
    Thanks
    Deb Dickman
    12th Dec 2015
    2:35pm
    AirBNB is fantastic. Use it all the time and never had a problem.
    GregB
    12th Dec 2015
    2:56pm
    I have a concern about the ethics of using AirBnB. B and B's and hotels in Australia have to go through stringent regulations to protect standards and confirm with health regulations. People listing with AirBnB don't have to adhere to these standards and hence can offer cheaper prices. I prefer to spend my money with people and organizations who are doing the right thing and not just trying to make a quick. easy buck.
    Greg
    12th Dec 2015
    3:26pm
    Signed up two years ago, very easy. Used it for travel around US and Canada and now use it for work around Australia. Haven't had a bad experience yet, just read the reviews. Prices often don't seem way cheaper then commercial establishments, however, what you get is usually far better - proper full size apartment/house.
    SC
    12th Dec 2015
    3:48pm
    A few days ago I booked my first Airbnb accommodation. I too found the "proving your identity" a little bazaar but only had to take a photo of my passport and upload that so that seemed to do the trick. Paying with PayPal is also a bonus. There is no doubt you can secure some amazing deals by using Airbnb and I would encourage anyone doubting the service to give it a go. Having said that, I will wait and see how I go when I check into my 22ft caravan with air con, tv, cd, dvd player, queen size pillow top bed, flushing toilet, shower and sink, fridge, microwave and stove - all the mod cons for $70 per night.
    SC
    19th Dec 2015
    2:13am
    I have just returned from my 4 day break and had a wonderful first experience with my Airbnb accommodation. It was exactly as described and the hosts were very friendly and respected my privacy. I am going to start planning my next break soon and trust I will have a similar experience. I would definitely recommend Airbnb.
    pamelafro
    12th Dec 2015
    4:53pm
    We have used AirBnB both overseas and in Australia and have been entirely satisfied. It takes us out of the tourist areas and into the heart of the city or country, where we get to meet the locals. Our hosts have been very hospitable, and we have even made some friends. We have got to stay in some out of the way and quirky places for very reasonable rates and as we usually book separate living, we are able to sample the local markets etc and cook at home most of the time, saving lots of money (and out waistlines!) Not only have we provided reviews, but our hosts have reviewed us for future hosts - we only get to read these after we have submitted our review (and vice versa). Our hosts have always been very responsive if there is a problem and you can deal with that without having to publish it. WARNING: do NOT go outside the AirBnB system to deal with the hosts directly - when you read of people being ripped off this is usually what has happened - lured by the offer of cutting costs by not dealing through the system, they are ripe for con artists - and deservedly so ... Thoroughly recommend them- read the reviews, shop around and don't expect hotel service - that is exactly why we like them!
    Mutley
    12th Dec 2015
    5:18pm
    The more personal details you put out there the greater the possibility of getting scammed.
    Thanks but no thanks
    Yorkie
    12th Dec 2015
    7:20pm
    We've booked several places with Airbnb as we travel around Australia, some have been good, some bad and some downright ugly. The good speak for themselves....but if you are unlucky enough to turn up to one place like we did which was filthy, then dealing with the host and the customer service can be a nightmare. In our case, the whole apartment was not up to our expectation of cleanliness, so much so, we did not want to stay the night. It would have taken an army of cleaners to fix this, but apparently you are supposed to give the host time to do so before you ask for a refund. Our host got particularly snarky and in the end we left it to Airbnb to negotiate a refund for the 3 days we booked. Luckily, we had photos to prove a point. Anyway, we didn't get all of it back but at least some was refunded. As others have said, Airbnb make sure they cancel your booking and then you cannot write a review, warning others. Bad practice.
    The second gripe I have with Airbnb is that we chose a place and asked to book for 10 nights. On the advertised page, it stated the night rate was $111 per night and for a week $700. They add on a cleaning fee of $50 plus $119 booking fee. When we were quoted, the price came out much higher than the total we anticipated. We queried this with the owner, who explained it was Airbnb pricing policy and we were charged more because the rates are higher in December. There was no info on the webpage to that effect. She accepted our booking so we were unable to cancel, so we asked If she would honour the $700 a week fee? She offered $50 by way of resolving the issue. My point being (and I took this up with Airbnb customer service) is that if a price is stated on the page advertising the cost at $700 that should be the price you pay. There is no mention of 'hidden extras'....but apparently the host can decide what they will charge and you have to suck it up, or not, but try getting out of a booking! Most other sites are transparent and you can see the daily, weekly or seasonal rate before booking....with Airbnb you cannot. Be warned....this site is not very user friendly. When things are good, then you might enjoy the experience, but on the whole, when things go bad, it can get damn ugly!
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    7:38pm
    Interesting. Thanks :)
    Greg
    12th Dec 2015
    8:47pm
    You're partly right as the total cost is not obvious when just looking at the nightly rate. The thing is the nightly rate can change through the months as the host sees fit. With the AirBNB fees and cleaning fee (not always charged) the total IS presented to you before you hit the Book button - at that stage if you're not happy with the price you could message the host to see if they will change it or just book elsewhere.

    My experiences have been great (around 20 times) and some of them repeat visits where I just "book in" direct with the host and pay them cash (no fees)
    Yorkie
    12th Dec 2015
    9:19pm
    Greg...my point is that the rate advertised should be the rate you pay. Airbnb is not transparent. As you know, when you request the days you require, the host sends you the details with a breakdown of the cost and in our case it was way above the price stated on their details. I sent a message to the host querying this but she immediately accepted our booking. This meant that if we cancelled, we would have lost the booking fee of $119. Also, when we turned up at the other place I mentioned, which was not clean, we lost our booking fee, plus a chunk from the host for cancelling, even though it was not our fault. You should not have to stay in accommodation which is unacceptable from a health and safety point of view. If we had booked in with a hotel, we could have asked for another room.
    In both cases we ended up out of pocket and the system for getting refunds and the whole Airbnb customer service experience was unsatisfactory. We have stayed at several Airbnbs and some were excellent, but if you happen to fall foul of their booking system or end up with a host whose standards of hygiene are well below par then the customer can walk away, but they will always end up out of pocket.
    heyyybob
    12th Dec 2015
    9:30pm
    You're right Greg. When we made our only booking so far....going through the process we ended up with the FULL price (including cleaning, commission etc) before payment to be made. Indeed, that IS the time to pull out if not satisfied :) Interestingly I just compared a 10nt stay in Bali, booked via TripAdvisor recently, and the same place, dates etc could be booked on AirBnb for the same price but with a $136 commission fee to be paid to BnB. Glad we booked through TripAdvisor (which we use quite a bit).
    Yorkie
    14th Dec 2015
    8:21am
    You have both missed my point. If I go into a shop and see a TV with a sticker advertised at $1000 and take it to the till and the cashier says "Actually that will be $1200 today, because it's December", then correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it is against the trading standards laws to do that and I would have the right to ask that they honour the advertised price. It should be the same when making travel arrangements, Most travel companies are transparent and you are able to see the different rates for different times of year etc. on the booking details. The only way to do that with Airbnb is to ask for the dates you require, you will then be sent a breakdown of the cost, which as it turns out can be more than what was advertised. You have the choice then to accept or book, but there is NO option to query or to contact the host at this time. Once a booking is made, if you do have to cancel you will lose the booking fee, which can be quite considerable. You could also be liable for cancellation charges depending on the policy of the host. As I said originally, when all goes well, it's a good idea, but there needs to be more transparency. I am quite computer savvy, but I found their booking site to be very confusing and not very user friendly.
    heyyybob
    14th Dec 2015
    9:24am
    ..."You have the choice then to accept or book........ fair 'nuff for me :) Other sites I use also have cancellation charges (which are OK I feel) BUT they are usually 'up front'. Don't know about AirBnb policy on that yet.
    Greg
    14th Dec 2015
    9:31pm
    You can hover over each day in the calendar and the price for that day is shown.
    Brian from HomeExchange50plus
    12th Dec 2015
    9:24pm
    The idea of being able to travel without having to stay in hotels is great and Airbnb has changed the way we think about accommodation. Although we prefer to swap homes when holidaying we have used Airbnb a few times in Europe without any problems but you do have to be selective when chosen where to stay.
    Rosy
    12th Dec 2015
    10:00pm
    I have used it only once in London this year. It was relatively cheap, dearer than I expected but I chose because it's location was perfect for my needs.
    I arrived late (5pm) and was taken to the room which was a matchbox on Fulham Palace Rd, with no airconditioning! When booking from Sydney I had requested a quiet room with aircon and was promised both. I also requested a ground floor room as I have a medical condition and struggle with stairs.
    I couldn't open the window as Fulham Palace Rd is one of the busiest in London, the bed was a fold-out, complete with a bend in the middle and the room stuffy and noisy. The host was crowing became she gave me a fan! I developed a migraine and had to move to a hotel as she was unprepared to move me to a quieter room at the back which was promised when I booked.
    Will I use the service again, maybe but I will have a lot more questions next time and find what alternatives are in the area if I need to move.
    mkh
    13th Dec 2015
    8:38am
    Well - what a coincidence, as I am having exactly the same extreme frustration with the verification process demanded by Airbnb. Despite being a member of this site for 10 months, I have just tried to book a great place, in Texas,
    USA. My first booking has failed and failed and failed due to the absurdly complex verification process. I too have had email contact with the host and with the help desk. Have recorded so many embarrassing videos of myself, while the accom I have chosen is waiting and waiting. My credit card payment for the accom has failed/expired... I can certainly see why many far less savvy and tolerant people would give up on Airbnb ... this is sad indeed for the potential the site offers and for the reputation of a very promising service... why cannot it be simpler, or is there actually a glitch in their ;processes which they do not acknowledge
    Blue
    13th Dec 2015
    9:12am
    My family and I have booked Airbnb numerous times in Australia and internationally and have never had a problem with the quality of accommodation or ease of booking. Like any website there are always scammers to look out for, when booking accommodation in New York I found a place to good to be true. After contacting the owner to ask questions he sent me an email offline and suggested we do business privately asking me to deposit the money into a western union account. My suspicions were immediately founded as to why the accommodation was so cheap. I immediately contacted Airbnb and reported the incident and his ads were taken off the website, never go offline as you will probably find when you get to your destination the place does not exist.
    I love this website the ease of booking the reviews before you book are really helpful as well. We usually book entire place which gives you complete privacy but have also booked bed in a home which was fine the hosts friendly and helpful.
    I have no hesitation in recommending the website, why not try it out here at home first to see if it's for you before booking overseas accommodation.
    pamelafro
    13th Dec 2015
    9:30am
    Exactly! Totally agree - use your normal caution and follow the guidelines - it is a fabulous alternative. Once you get some reviews from hosts, you will have no problem with booking.
    Yorkie
    13th Dec 2015
    9:42am
    Airbnb is great, when it works and all goes smoothly, but wait until you have a problem. The booking system is not transparent and the process to get your money (not all of it) refunded is arduous. The actual site is not user-friendly and as someone else has mentioned you have to be a bit savvy to use it. Also, Western Union has the reputation of being the scammers bank of choice....so Caveat Emptor.
    Blue
    13th Dec 2015
    10:33am
    As "pamelafro" said its a great alternative. For people who are nervous about using different to the "norm alternatives" I would suggest you stay with hotels. Most home stay alternative accommodation always ask for upfront payment no matter what website you use. I usually don't book far out from the date,book about 3/4 weeks out from going. I never had to give drivers license etc either. Personally I have found Airbnb great to use and easy to navigate, it won't suit everyone but those it does can get some great deals when traveling, but basically it comes down to how much research you do before you press the book button.
    heyyybob
    14th Dec 2015
    9:35am
    Oh yes Blue, the Clue IS research, as in any transaction, especially on line. Doing this I haven't had any problems with any site I use. Disappointed if I have to cancel (only once) and suffer a small loss for that BUT it is there to see and I accept the risk. I suspect that we WILL enjoy some AirBnB sites and love the look of some of them :) Merry Christmas to all travellers in this YLC 'conversation'.....Happy Trails :)
    Franky
    13th Dec 2015
    9:25am
    I listed my house with airbnb a couple of years ago - I live in the country, about half an hour away from a regional city. Only had one booking in a year, so cancelled again. Have used them myself a couple of times and found prices to be comparable to other establishments. Great if you are travelling alone and want someone to talk to at the end of the day, but if you like your privacy often it's not the best option. They also take a hefty fee out for bookings, which is putting me off. I had a couple of places I stayed at which asked me to contact them directly next time and I would get a discount. I would not recommend airbnb as such, but if I go somewhere I check their site along with tripadvisor for the best places and deals.
    pamelafro
    13th Dec 2015
    9:33am
    See Blue's post above and my earlier post about going offline - do not do it! The whole house option is the best, and you get to some really interesting places. if you want hotel service, stay at a Hyatt!
    Travelling woman
    13th Dec 2015
    11:04pm
    Just home from using Airbnb to book 3 nights on a canal boat in Amsterdam.
    I had booked this more than 12 months in advance and had to pay the full amount whereas the owner of the boat did not receive any money until we were actually on the boat. I felt this was rather unfair as they had my money for all that time.
    Apart from that I had no problems with them and I had to change the dates as I had made a mistake with the dates and was arriving a day earlier - they were very helpful and gave me a refund due. Also the owner of the canal boat was so nice emailing me and messaging me before the time and while I was on the boat as she was overseas then. I would certainly use them again - did worry for a while as I heard a lot of bad reports but having paid the full amount I couldn't cancel anyhow.
    I didn't find it all that cheap but it was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the canal boat in the middle of Amsterdam and able to walk everywhere. It was so quiet on one of the busiest canals at night too.
    Gilly
    14th Dec 2015
    6:06am
    As I run a small B/B we have to be licensed and carry insurance whilst Air Bnb do not and there have been problems with some of the people who operate these B/B's etc. Why not stay with an establishment that is legal and you can still get good prices if you book with one of the on line booking agents does not cost you anything and you know that the properties are good, also you do not have to hand over your personal details.
    Blue
    14th Dec 2015
    9:22am
    For people that like B&Bs that may be fine, but I personally prefer to book a whole house or apartment as I value my privacy.
    Karenglp
    14th Dec 2015
    9:28am
    I often use B&B to stay in a home environment while solo travelling. If what I want is a actual B&B though I don't book with them as the commission adds considerably to the cost. There are usually local sites where it is the B&B who pays for the hook up rather than the guest.
    Saalbach
    14th Dec 2015
    10:20am
    Why bother with a site that uses so much noise to advertise itself. I have always thought www.vrbo.com offers great choice at low cost with tremendous locations around the world. (VRBO stands for Vacation Rental By Owner). You deal directly with the owners, who in most cases offer to pick you up from transport and show you the surrounding sites including shops, bus stops etc. VRBO has been around for years and probably was the inspiration for AirBnB if the truth be known.
    Kiwi
    15th Dec 2015
    2:39pm
    We have used Air BnB three time,in Sydney,and only one was a true-to-label positive experience. The other two were wildly less appealing in the flesh than the description on the website,although the hosts seemed nice. The most frustrating thing is that Airbnb do not respond to negative feedback,eg. when we said how grotty the places were,so we can only assume that things just keep on the same. We don't trust it now,as it wasn't even that cheap! A shame that there doesn't seem to be a way to get the listings checked for authenticity.
    Jacqui
    26th Jun 2017
    9:57am
    Hi all...I would appreciate any further information to give me insight on how to set up a
    high end Airbnb on the Gold coast. I would like to be professional and an excellent host
    ready to host for 2018. Many thanks Marie


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