Airbnb - Guide a beginner

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SoDakJeff
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Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by SoDakJeff » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:18 am

All of this cold weather has my wife and me thinking about a little vacation - maybe Mexico or the Caribbean. In the past, we've always just booked at one of the resorts, but I'm interested in giving Airbnb a try.

I was hoping that some of you who have experience with this could give me some pointers. What are the pros vs cons? What to watch out for? What questions to ask during the booking? What are my responsibilities vs the renter's? Have you found it to be a good bargain, or do you find that extra costs (dining out, rental car/taxis, etc.) eat up the savings?

It's only going to be the two of us, so we're not looking to rent a house. More along the lines of a condo unit or apartment near the water.

Thanks.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:49 am

Cost savings can be huge. It's not rocket science. Find a conveniently located condo with kitchenette. Your responsibilities: Don't trash the place. It's all spelled out in the profile. I generally find the reviews to be meaningless.

Natsdoc
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Natsdoc » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:08 am

We've had only good experiences though only US/Canada

Things to watch out for:
- make sure you look for "whole house/apt" and not just 1 room (or sofa!) sharing with the owners
-if it really seems "to good to be true" it probably is a scam
- cleaning fees are separate and not included in the per night.
-some rentals charge for linens towels outside of the nightly fee.

The pros:
Save money by making your own meals - breakfast/lunch etc
Usually more space for your money

Have a great trip!

p0nyboy
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by p0nyboy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:55 am

Not sure what it is but I always had a better experience booking through vrbo vs airbnb...although I believe the same company owns both?

If you're going somewhere warm and it says AC...make sure there is air conditioning in each room...or if its central ac and not some window unit hunk of junk in a single room. I once booked a place that said AC...turns out it was just AC in the bedroom...loud window unit. That was my fault for not asking but it was shady regardless.

If the listing says washer/dryer make sure they are in unit...even if it says that just send a message and verify the washer/dryer are in the unit. You cant ask too many questions. I also learned the hard way about the washer/dryer...not in the unit!

Be careful on the reviews. Just because others thought the unit was great doesnt mean you will. Everyone has different standards.

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elcadarj
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by elcadarj » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:03 am

We have been to the Caribbean four times using VRBO/AirBnB type lodging: Exuma, Bahamas; Runaway Bay, Jamaica; Jaco, Costa Rica; and Curacao. We travel with another couple with similar tastes which makes it easy to share costs, responsibilities, and activities. We always rent villas or houses.

Our most recent trip was to Curacao. We had a two bed, two bath villa overlooking the ocean with an infinity pool on the oceanside terrace. Our total cost as a couple excluding airfare was $2200 which including lodging, food both dining in and dining out, rental car, and incidentals.

The owners of the rental are always your best source of information. The owners of the Exuma house advised us that meat prices in the Bahamas are exorbitant and that we should pack a cooler with frozen meat as one of our carry-ons. TSA didn't bat an eye and we dined on grilled tenderloin on our beach front terrace one evening. We booked a chef to cater dinner in our villa that the owner in Curacao recommended. The chef was fascinating to talk to and the bonus was that he lived in the same development and he recommended some of the best secluded beaches for snorkeling and loaned us the snorkeling gear.

Each trip was the best trip ever in its own way. In Jamaica, I was the most vacated I've ever been. The house included a staff which consisted of a chef, housekeeper, butler, laundry maid, and groundskeeper. Every day around 10:30 or 11:00 as we were sunning ourselves on loungers on our private beach (with fresh laundered beach towels daily) Anthony would walk out with a silver tray with four ice cold Red Stripes. How did he know?

Curacao provided the most variety for activities between the beaches, national parks, and the city of Willemsted. We hiked, swam, and wined and dined all over the island.

We rented cars on all the trips but Jaco. Jaco was enough of a seaside town to have good, reasonably priced taxis if we were to tired to walk. You need to be comfortable driving on the left side of the road in the Commonwealth countries like Jamaica and Bahamas.

Our trip planning routine with the other couple is to get together one evening when we get the warm destination travel urge with a couple of laptops and a bottle of wine. We use best airfare to determine the destination and then search for lodging at the destination.

How much international travel experience do you have? That will narrow down what specific practical advice to give you.

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jhfenton
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by jhfenton » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:28 am

I've had a great experience in the U.S. on several solo trips and on a few trips to "cons" with my teenage daughter.

I've had just a room a few times, once with a lovely family that I had a nice time getting to know. I've had a condo/apartment a few times. My daughter and I had a private (well-secured) bedroom with bunk beds in a converted single-family house near the Ohio State University campus that was all AirBNB units. Access to the kitchen and two bathrooms was shared. We had a standalone "servants" cottage with a kitchen and bathroom in a part of old Atlanta. The cottage sat behind the proprietor's house. And we had a ground-level condo in a gentrifying neighborhood in Atlanta.

All AirBNB lodging costs should be disclosed up front. There will be a daily fee and a cleaning fee, but there should not be add-on charges payable to the proprietor outside of AirBNB. I've never seen the separate "linen" charges that someone mentioned. (That doesn't mean there won't be parking charges payable to a third party if the rental does not come with a parking pass. Our downtown rentals have always included a parking pass, but that is not guaranteed.)

Other expenses and quirks will depend on the location. Unlike a stay in a chain hotel, you can't take anything for granted that isn't written down.

pennywise
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by pennywise » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:03 am

Have used Airbnb once and it was a terrible experience. We needed space for extended family for my son's wedding, which was held in a semi-rural area. Instead of booking several hotel rooms I found a house through Airbnb. We arrived late at night after a long day of flying and driving to find a house that was dirty and reeked of dog and moisture odors. Upon going to bed we quickly realized the bedding hadn't been washed (euwwwww) and there was used food in the refrigerator as well as a lack of things like dishes and even a missing chair at the dining room table. The wifi was out so no internet or television. And yes I texted the owner promptly who apologized and told us the cleaner had not showed up, here is the wifi password, she would call the provider (it never did work for the 5 days we were there) etc etc.

I'll probably never use Airbnb again-the disgusting experience not only put a big cloud over what should have been a joyous family event but it still makes my skin crawl thinking about that place. Yuck.

Later when I provided my review which was honest I went back and re-read the others for the house. I should have recognized that the missing house cleaner story appeared several times and that there were in fact a few comments about things broken or missing.

Although others have had good luck, for me it was lesson learned and I'll stick to VRBO or hotels from now on. It's really not about the money at this point in my life, it's about being comfortable that I'm getting a place that is clean and functional. It's worth it to me to stay away from ever walking into filthiness like what I got with Airbnb; if I do I want to know I can switch rooms or deal with a professional management firm not a glorified gig economy gimmick that makes me call an owner directly. Again it seems to me that the key word for Airbnb is luck; good for those who have hit the jackpot but man is the downside steep if you don't.

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4nursebee
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by 4nursebee » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:31 am

Issues mentioned with Airbnb could just as well happen with VRBO.
Add on fees are likely host specific, except for Airbnb charges, I think a service fee.

We are long time hosts, likely since the first year. We try to accurately describe the place, take accurate photos. We think we get accurate reviews. If 31 people generally all say the same thing about a property you can likely trust the people.
4nursebee

dsmclone
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by dsmclone » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:51 am

I've always used VRBO (Homeaway) and it has worked great. On a side note, I'd highly recommend Isla Mujeres Mexico.

runner3081
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by runner3081 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:15 am

We have used VRBO 3 times and AirBnB 3 times.

2/3 times on VRBO, the hosts cancelled our reservation a couple of months out due to "calendar sync" issues. The other stay was great with no issues.

The AirBnB experiences have all been great with no issues. We only rent our own area (no shared bedrooms, etc - you can set up a filter on this) and we have found the hosts to be wonderful.

We will only stay at places with a large number of reviews (>25) and I will read every single one of them, yes it takes time, but I feel it is well worth it. We usually opt for the auto-book places, but have also done the ones where the host reviews your application.

We actually booked our upcoming trip for the California coast 11-months in advance (covers the 4th of July holiday).

jbuzolich
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by jbuzolich » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:32 am

We are a host on AirBNB for our cabin near Yosemite. I had also started to make a profile on VRBO but never went back to finish since the fees on the owner were higher then. We started hosting summer 2013 and have kept it going. Interesting and mixed experience as a host but it helps pay some of the bills and yearly maintenance so overall we're happy. We did not buy the place with the intent to rent so it's been incidental. PM me questions if you want to know about the hosting perspective. We have not stayed in another AirBNB ourselves yet but do consider it each time we travel.

mptfan
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by mptfan » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:34 am

My experience with Airbnb has been generally positive, but you have to be careful. The number one piece of advice I would give is...do not assume anything, especially when traveling abroad.

Do not assume that there is air conditioning. If there is air conditioning, do not assume it is central air conditioning. If there is air conditioning, do not assume you can use it whenever you want (I stayed in a unit in Italy and was not able to turn on the air conditioner because it was during a time when air conditioning was not allowed to be used by the local government to save energy) Do not assume there is heat. If the unit is not on the first floor, do not assume there is an elevator. Do not assume there is wifi. If there is wifi, do not assume it is free, or that it is a fixed router (I stayed in a unit where the wifi came from a portable device that used the local cell phone service and it was very slow) Do not assume that a "bedroom" is exclusively a bedroom, it could be a living room with a couch that converts to a bed. Do not assume that the number of beds equals the number of bedrooms. Do not assume that a bedroom has four walls, it could be a loft or an open space. Do not assume that the size of the rooms or the unit is what you expect, pictures can be misleading. Do not assume there is hot water. Do not assume that the shower has enough room for you to bend over while showering. Do not assume there is a washer or dryer, I stayed in a unit that had a washer, but no dryer.

Most of the time when my assumptions turned out to be wrong it was traveling abroad. I think as Americans we are very spoiled in our expectations and living standards, and traveling abroad helps to make you realize that, and my comments are not meant to be criticisms because I recognize that it is not necessarily an issue with how people live abroad, but an issue with my expectations and assumptions of what to expect when I travel abroad and live in local accomodations.
Last edited by mptfan on Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

deltaneutral83
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by deltaneutral83 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:59 am

Traveling abroad (particularly if you're not in a big tourist city in a hotel) is going to be "different" than what Americans are accustomed to in general, not sure if that is indicative of Airbnb, or any short term rental service. Ask a million questions to the host, and this assumes they have a number of good reviews. Any bad reviews where things weren't as promised is an automatic pass. Some people complain about small things, but I like being the judge over weather it's a small deal or a big deal so I do appreciate the people that leave unabridged novels for reviews as a guest. Bad experiences/scams come much more from being a host than a guest.

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4nursebee
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by 4nursebee » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:43 am

deltaneutral83 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:59 am
Traveling abroad (particularly if you're not in a big tourist city in a hotel) is going to be "different" than what Americans are accustomed to in general, not sure if that is indicative of Airbnb, or any short term rental service. Ask a million questions to the host, and this assumes they have a number of good reviews. Any bad reviews where things weren't as promised is an automatic pass. Some people complain about small things, but I like being the judge over weather it's a small deal or a big deal so I do appreciate the people that leave unabridged novels for reviews as a guest. Bad experiences/scams come much more from being a host than a guest.
What would you make of the unabridged novel one guest left for us:


I had such a good time w/ this couple and I’m sure you will too. "4nursebee" are a great, great couple and have a lot to offer any guest or host staying w/ them! I honestly felt so kingly staying w/ them because there is so much too learn about, listen for and one can only earnestly APPRECIATE the value that they provide their company! They are superbly considerate, hospitable and passionate about the things they love. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, even though we only had such a short time. To celebrate the moment I will share 2 of 3 stories I created for them and their guests (viewers)(URL HIDDEN) This is a real story of an Aikido master who was walking through the forest one day and greeted by a bear. The bear says, “I’m hungry and see that you have caught a fish and would like to eat it.” The Aikido master says to the bear, “Where are your manners? Wouldn’t you ask before you take?” The bear says, “I normally don’t have to ask because people just run for their lives when I approach them.” The Aikido master says, “I’m an Aikido master w/ rich heritage and I just don’t do that. The woods are free for all people and animals to roam as they please. Besides, I’m the one who caught the fish, but if you’d like I’d be willing to share it with you. The bear says, “I’m sorry, don’t you see that I’m a bear and I have the potential to cause you great harm?” The Aikido master says to the bear, “you have a good point, why don’t we have a little match to see.” The bear says, “but I don’t know aikido?” The Aikido master says, “but you know bear style.” The bear says, “that is right and agrees to go three matches w/ the Aikido master.” (1…2…3...) The Aikido master gets up from his position and the bear gets up defeated 3 times in a row. The Aikido master says to the bear, “you’ve been a good sport.” He then takes the fish out of his satchel and shares it w/ the bear. And this is the story of the Aikido master and the bear having lunch. –The End
There is another story of a Master Chef w/ several years of experience at the finest restaurants in China who lived in a farm-like environment where he had chickens, frogs, fresh vegetables and made everything from scratch. One day, the family decided to come over and he spent all day preparing the food that the family would eat. They loved their fathers cooking as he was so experienced and always made the best meals. –The End (The beginning scene of Eat Drink Man Woman)

Great communication, instructions on his page and "4nursebee" provided honest communication in his messaging! Excellent demonstration of skills as a couple! Very much recommended. Thank you!


He stayed with other people after us, they stopped being hosts!
4nursebee

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Chan_va
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Chan_va » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:10 pm

I have had much better luck booking through professional rental management companies. As someone of a non-Caucasian background, I have found that many times, AirBnB locations have mysteriously filled up right after I make a request to book.

beachlover
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by beachlover » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:24 pm

SoDakJeff wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:18 am
In the past, we've always just booked at one of the resorts, but I'm interested in giving Airbnb a try.
We have had very good luck overall with VRBO/Homeaway (for US mainland, Hawaii or Caribbean), Venere (for Europe) and, more recently, AirBnb (Quebec and Montreal). Not much to add to recommendations above - exercise due diligence, trust your radar, read reviews, check locations with google maps, contact owners with questions, pay with credit card, use the agency's payment system, etc.

Independent travel can be, however, a very different experience from resort/hotel travel. For us it's preferable - more like "living in the neighborhood", more interaction with local markets/grocers, *sometimes* more interaction with local hosts or neighbors, perhaps finding your own way more with public transit from an outlying area, etc. All of which we prefer immensely to living in the tourist bubble or being shepherded about by guides (not that there isn't value in that, or that we never book tours when interested). Especially when traveling with kids, we prefer not being bound by the hotel/resort/restaurant schedule - making our own meals, when we want, eating out when we prefer, coming and going as we please, etc.

So if you want to experience a little more of the local community, on your own, versus being catered to in the resort, than I'd highly recommend giving AirBnb, Homeaway, or similar, a try. Certainly there will be variations in level of accommodations, neighborhood, parking, etc., compared with branded resorts, but with due diligence you should be able to avoid any major problems. We found that we much prefer it for any travel where we'll be in one location for more that a couple of nights, we feel we're traveling a little "closer to the ground" and have yet to feel "burned" despite numerous bookings over the last few years.

Edited to add: It's not like we've never been disappointed by a branded hotel either.

ilovedogs
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by ilovedogs » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:36 pm

Airbnb cancellation fees and policies are important to fully know. You can owe the whole bill even when you canceled.

camden
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by camden » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:56 pm

A caveat particularly applicable to such rentals in large US cities----investigate the neighborhood of your potential rental.

My brother in law drives for Uber and Lyft in the New Orleans area. He will pick up tourists at the airport and frequently be asked to take them to their Airbnb locations in some very dicey neighborhoods.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:05 pm

I still haven’t found anything decent and cheap on Airbnb, but my kids have stayed at Airbnb in Europe. However, I’ve booked on VRBO in Hawaii. I also notice on booking.com, you can rent apartment as well, just make sure it’s cancellable.

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tennisplyr
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by tennisplyr » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:26 pm

Used VRBO a couple of times and was satisfied. Not sure this was said but try to pick properties that have a lot of positive reviews, this is usually a good sign. Daughter has used Airbnb and likes it. Give them a try.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:46 pm

ilovedogs wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:36 pm
Airbnb cancellation fees and policies are important to fully know. You can owe the whole bill even when you canceled.
Same with hotels.

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ram
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by ram » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:58 pm

mptfan wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:34 am
My experience with Airbnb has been generally positive, but you have to be careful. The number one piece of advice I would give is...do not assume anything, especially when traveling abroad.

Do not assume that there is air conditioning. If there is air conditioning, do not assume it is central air conditioning. If there is air conditioning, do not assume you can use it whenever you want (I stayed in a unit in Italy and was not able to turn on the air conditioner because it was during a time when air conditioning was not allowed to be used by the local government to save energy) Do not assume there is heat. If the unit is not on the first floor, do not assume there is an elevator. Do not assume there is wifi. If there is wifi, do not assume it is free, or that it is a fixed router (I stayed in a unit where the wifi came from a portable device that used the local cell phone service and it was very slow) Do not assume that a "bedroom" is exclusively a bedroom, it could be a living room with a couch that converts to a bed. Do not assume that the number of beds equals the number of bedrooms. Do not assume that a bedroom has four walls, it could be a loft or an open space. Do not assume that the size of the rooms or the unit is what you expect, pictures can be misleading. Do not assume there is hot water. Do not assume that the shower has enough room for you to bend over while showering. Do not assume there is a washer or dryer, I stayed in a unit that had a washer, but no dryer.

Most of the time when my assumptions turned out to be wrong it was traveling abroad. I think as Americans we are very spoiled in our expectations and living standards, and traveling abroad helps to make you realize that, and my comments are not meant to be criticisms because I recognize that it is not necessarily an issue with how people live abroad, but an issue with my expectations and assumptions of what to expect when I travel abroad and live in local accomodations.
+1.
I have never used VRBO or AirBNB. But I have lived in different countries and some of what is noted above is "business as usual" in some countries. Just as Americans are used to some standards and sometimes assume that other places use same standards many hosts in foreign countries would have no idea that "AC" means "Central AC". At least I would give them the benefit of doubt and enquire as suggested above.

When I worked in Saudi Arabia I had a washer but no drier. In hot dry desert climates clothes dry very easily on a clothes line (indoor or outdoor). I considered a dryer unnecessary. Tap water was good for bathing but not good enough for drinking. I hauled 10 liter (2.5 gallons, 22 lbs) cans of drinking water bought at the store up two flights of stairs. My 3 storey building had no elevator.

When I worked in India there were restrictions on how much electricity a household could use. It was far better to have the sitting room and one bedroom cooled to 25C (77 F) for all 24 hours with split ACs (one AC per room, these are far quieter than window ACs) than have central AC which one could not use for all 24 hours.
Ram

lynneny
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by lynneny » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:19 am

I Airbnb every year in Mexico. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I've had wonderful experiences. I also used to live in Latin America, so I may feel more at home than the average visitor.

I only Airbnb a place that has many, detailed reviews that I read very carefully. I look for specific phrases like "immaculately clean," "exactly as pictured in photos," "wi-fi worked perfectly," "host responded immediately when I called to say there were ... leaves in the pool (or whatever) ... and fixed it right away." I would never Airbnb a place that didn't have any reviews, or only had a few general comments. I often exchange multiple emails with the host at the time of booking to ask questions or clarify things.

As others have said, you'll be part of the local community (an experience a lot of us like), and won't have the support system of a big resort or hotel. Will you be comfortable shopping at the local market or grocery store? Be sure you know exactly what the neighborhood is like, and that it's both safe and near the things you want to do. If you'll have a car, ask about parking. If not, Uber is extremely affordable and very popular in Mexico.

Electricity is expensive in Mexico, and there may only be air conditioning in the bedrooms. And in some parts of Mexico, you may be charged separately at the end of your stay for the electricity you use. Dishwashers and clothes dryers aren't common.

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SoDakJeff
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by SoDakJeff » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:16 am

Thank you all! I appreciate your advice and pointers. If my wife and I actually get around to taking this vacation, I'll be sure to post all of our vacation photos for you to enjoy! (Just kidding...)

arcticmonkey
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by arcticmonkey » Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:42 am

I personally would agree with the majority here. Before booking an apartment, just research the market a bit. If the price seems to low compared to the others, skip it. If there are no comments for the apartment, also skip it. Also, based on my experience, I can say that if the pictures look too pretty (everything's white and clean, it feels like there is a lot of air in the apartment), there is a chance that the real apartment is really small.
Anyway, the biggest advice I can give you is to trust your feelings. Have a great vacation!

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beyou
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by beyou » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:08 pm

camden wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:56 pm
A caveat particularly applicable to such rentals in large US cities----investigate the neighborhood of your potential rental.

My brother in law drives for Uber and Lyft in the New Orleans area. He will pick up tourists at the airport and frequently be asked to take them to their Airbnb locations in some very dicey neighborhoods.
You mean they have neighborhoods that are NOT dicey ?

westie
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by westie » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:45 pm

I operate an AirBnb in a beach town. I recommend renting from someone who has many positive reviews. We've had great experiences with tenants. We like to meet each tenant and answer any questions they have about the home or area. Clear communications between hosts and tenants is the key to success.

dia
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by dia » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:33 pm

I used Airbnb once (S California) and it was an OK experience.

Here's a tip: Read ALL the reviews, and also, check WHO writes them. The place I stayed at had many STELLAR reviews that made the place sound so perfect and amazingly good in every respect. It wasn't an awful place, but afterward when I re-read all the reviews and clicked on the reviewers--a large majority of the reviewers were OTHER AirBNB hosts. I guess many Airbnb hosts are frequent travelers and of course, want to help AirBnb succeed. I realized that many opt to stay at various AirBnbs and talk them up like crazy to help each other out. I became suspicious when each of these reviews had only POSITIVE things to say about everything in this place when I found some good and some bad, i.e., horribly uncomfortable beds, torn/tattered bedspreads, odd mildewy smell in the house, tiny cramped, bathroom that was uncomfortable to use, etc.

Also, the listed price in the description is not set in stone. I understand you can negotiate your rate which many people don't realize.

From now on, I will only stay at a place someone I know has stayed at and can recommend. Otherwise, it's hotels for me.
What, Me Worry? --Alfred E. Neuman

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mister_sparkle
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by mister_sparkle » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:24 pm

I just had my worst ever Airbnb experience over the New Year's Eve weekend, which has soured me on the site.

Basically, the unit we rented was advertised with one, artfully-shot photo, disguising many faults with the cheap furnishings, windows, bedding, bathroom, etc. In addition, the temps dropped into the 20s the weekend we rented, yet the "Heating" consisted of a single, bookshelf speaker-sized space heater, plugged into a power strip. The unit was so cold and drafty that we found a hotel for our remaining nights in the city, and told the host. A week later, we're still trying to get a partial credit for our rental, which seems like pulling teeth with the incompetent "help" folks at Airbnb.

Basically, I think you should look for a well-documented unit and LOTS of reviews. I got burned on this one.

rich126
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by rich126 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:08 am

Although an old thread, beginners may still be reading it. I found this article pointing out some dangers of Airbnb.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7 ... -on-airbnb

People getting called at the last minute and being offered an alternate place. The alternate place ends up not being a place people would want to stay and then the fight to get their money back.

Wings5
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Wings5 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:22 pm

Airbnb is definitely buyer beware. Like plenty of other marketplace "disrupters" they have very little oversight or horsepower to deal with dissatisfaction.

I've rented in smaller towns with very specific niche interests and had good luck, but I'd never use them in a major city.

Jags4186
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:24 pm

rich126 wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:08 am
Although an old thread, beginners may still be reading it. I found this article pointing out some dangers of Airbnb.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7 ... -on-airbnb

People getting called at the last minute and being offered an alternate place. The alternate place ends up not being a place people would want to stay and then the fight to get their money back.
I read this article this morning. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t file a chargeback on your credit card and stop using AirBnB in the future.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:24 pm

I've never had an interest in utilizing AirBnB, Uber, Lyft, or any other service that lacks sufficient regulation or oversight.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Starfish » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:29 pm

I have used a lot of AirBnB in te past, all over the world, and it was always a very good experience (also, Uber and Lyft). I really don't believe I am that lucky.
The riskiest bet I made was renting in Maui for next winter vacation a condo with zero reviews. We will see how it goes.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by LilyFleur » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:20 pm

I have had wonderful stays in Airbnbs in Barcelona, London, Oxford, Paris, the Loire Valley, Omaha Beach, Chartres, Venice, Dublin, and Berkeley, California.

I study VERY carefully and read every review. You do get what you pay for. The travel experience with family is so much nicer when you can all have coffee/breakfast in a dining/living area together rather than having multiple hotel rooms with no private communal area.

It's tricky to do cancellations, and you are limited on how many refunds you may receive a year, so be sure before you book.

We have enjoyed interactions with our hosts. Last summer in London, our host took us for a walking tour of the neighborhood, and even showed us a beautiful local hotel where he got married!

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:10 pm

Wings5 wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:22 pm
Airbnb is definitely buyer beware. Like plenty of other marketplace "disrupters" they have very little oversight or horsepower to deal with dissatisfaction.

I've rented in smaller towns with very specific niche interests and had good luck, but I'd never use them in a major city.
I've read this article earlier today. The AirBnB model is broken in that:
1. Hosts rate guests, which makes honest negative reviews harmful in future bookings
2. Cancellation fees are large and confusing
3. AirBnB has vague policies and does not enforce them

AirBnB usually works as intended, but it may fail at your most vulnerable moments: when you arrive to a new place, tired, with children or with a large party. I consider it a risk and stay away from AirBnB.

Victoria
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by harrychan » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:21 pm

Our experience with Airbnb have been mixed where 50% went well, 25% subpar and 25% where we had to leave upon arrival and demand money back. Because of this, if I am with my family, we almost always go the hotel route unless we know someone who stayed there prior and attest to it.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by SRenaeP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:45 pm

I second many of the other warnings about Airbnb. That said, I've used VRBO for years with no issues. In my experience, VRBO properties are run more professionally than Airbnb and I haven't heard of anyone having the egregious issues that Airbnb has.

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Re: Airbnb, reviews

Post by Bogle7 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:52 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:10 pm
The AirBnB model is broken in that:
1. Hosts rate guests, which makes honest negative reviews harmful in future bookings
True that both parties (hosts and guests) rate each other.
But, reviews are only posted after both parties write their respective reviews without seeing what the other wrote.

We have stayed with very good/excellent experiences in: Lisboa (twice), Coimbra, Aveiro, Porto, Donastia, Irunea, Zaragoza, Sitges, Barcelona, Bologna, Treviso, Piran, Ljubljana, and Wein.

We have had one bad experience in: Bilbo.
My negative review is public;
"I would look elsewhere. A bit run down, but clean. Not recommended and would not return. Location ... Ugly: The street, Goienkale (aka Calle Somera), fills up with a thousand people EVERY night who drink and party until 0200. Then the cleanup process begins....No fans. With no A/C, you need fans to move the air around; especially while sleeping. - Pillows were thin foam and stained yellow....Towels were thin and small. - Erratic hot water. One second you are freezing and the next boiling. - Old refrigerator and the freezer was a solid block of ice. I did not expect to have to defrost the freezer."

We are currently planning our upcoming AirBnB stays in: Milano, Varenna, Genova, Nice, Lyon.

As others have written: do your research.
Communicate with the prospective host if you have questions. For example, I just did this morning with a host asking: "how many steps from the street up to the apartment?" And, she answered: "30".
ladders11 wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:09 am
I've stayed in plenty of airbnb whole apartment places. At least when I look, airbnb whole apartment is just as high as middle-range hotel rates...I do think airbnb is overrated and overpriced.
We are planning our trip to Italia and France. We travel light and want a kitchen and washer.
I see AirBnB apartments at a much lower cost than 3-star hotels.
Last edited by Bogle7 on Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Freefun » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:02 pm

I like AirBnb especially for international. I much prefer recommendations from local owners than a hotel concierge. The trick for me is ensuring host has plenty of good reviews spread out over a period of time.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

rich126
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by rich126 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:59 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:24 pm
I've never had an interest in utilizing AirBnB, Uber, Lyft, or any other service that lacks sufficient regulation or oversight.
I’m not a big Uber or Lyft user but canceling a Lyft ride seems easier. Uber makes it tough, yet I’ve had drivers cancel after accepting a ride. And I’ve had drivers accept a ride and then never move or go in a wrong direction, almost hoping I will cancel the ride.

And yeah why have a 0-5 rating if almost everyone uses 5 or a 4?

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by renue74 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:35 pm

I am an airbnb host....since Nov. 2018.

The review system for Airbnb is a double blind. As a host, I can review a guest and as a guest they can review the host....but neither can see each other's review until both have written their reviews.

Unlike amazon...all the reviews are written by real people who use the service.

In the past, it was a "sugar-y" effort to write a decent review for most everybody....but as time goes by and we see how Airbnb favors the guest more than the host in the eco system, hosts have banned together and we've created blacklists of bad guests. We vow to review very truthfully, etc.

As an airbnb guest...when I travel, I do read each review carefully, look at each photo, and look at each rating to make sure.

I also use Google maps to map the home and verify it is in a good area of town by looking at the property in Zillow, which has a crime map overlay. I also create my own expectations. If I'm paying $80/night for a home that looks like it was built in the 1980s, I have tempered expectations. If I pay $200/night for a uptown 1 bedroom condo with modern furnishings....I have a different set of expectations. This past weekend, we just stayed at a awesome airbnb in Asheville, NC. House was clean...but it was a 1970s split level...which is fine. I'm not expecting a Taj Mahal. What made it great, the Jamaican host actually grilled homemade Jerk Chicken and gave it to us...with a 6 pack of beer. He was a great source of info and we actually ended up taking him out to dinner Friday night.

By the way....when an airbnb potential guest asks for a place, we as hosts don't see a photo. So there is no stereotyping...or at least not by photos.

I'm trusting a $300K asset to a stranger....so when a potential guests converses with me, they better be eloquent about their purpose, etc.

If you don't like the sharing economy, don't do it. It is slightly more work than a hotel stay.

Motel 6 will leave the light on for you.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by protagonist » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:50 pm

If you are a flexible person willing to take risks without disappointments ruining your vacation, go the Airbnb route. You may save money and you will probably have some great experiences perforated by some disappointing ones and potentially an occasional horror show.
If you are a person who expects things a certain way and gets angry or miserable easily if you don't get what you expect, stick to major hotel chains where you pretty much know what you are going to get for your money.
It's that simple.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by nvambith » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:56 pm

LilyFleur wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:20 pm
I study VERY carefully and read every review.
...
It's tricky to do cancellations, and you are limited on how many refunds you may receive a year, so be sure before you book.
+1 for both of those.

I have had a lot of great experiences with Airbnb. But I agree that reviews tend towards the positive because of the personal nature of the interactions. So, reading all the reviews and focusing on the objective data in there is very useful to know what to expect, and if things will meet your needs.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Mr. Rumples » Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:38 am

My nieces use Airbnb and have never had an issue. I know a couple that rents out a granny shack on their property. However, there are risks. When I was on my HOA board, in one case, we changed the access code to the building and the Airbnb customers were locked out. Even when they called the police we would not let them in since they were not on the lease (all leases had to be in the office and had to be more than 30 days under the governing documents). I can't recall how long it took for the owner to show up so they could get their items, but it wasn't immediate.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by F150HD » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:04 am

Look closely at the FEES. This has pushed me away in past years.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

protagonist
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by protagonist » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:16 am

F150HD wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:04 am
Look closely at the FEES. This has pushed me away in past years.
I could be wrong but I believe a total price is always quoted including fees when you start to book, so ultimately nothing is hidden.
The original stated price is often much lower.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by Paddygirl » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:20 am

I have had excellent success with VRBO/AirBnB in New Orleans, Martha's Vineyard, Charleston and Abaco, Bahamas. Try to find ones with a Superhost who will respond rapidly to any questions you may have.

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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by EddyB » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:24 am

protagonist wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:16 am
F150HD wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:04 am
Look closely at the FEES. This has pushed me away in past years.
I could be wrong but I believe a total price is always quoted including fees when you start to book, so ultimately nothing is hidden.
The original stated price is often much lower.
“Ultimately” that is designed to make it impossible to easily make apples-to-apples comparisons, for the clear purpose of benefiting from customer fatigue.

criticalmass
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Re: Airbnb - Guide a beginner

Post by criticalmass » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:34 am

Many new scams are hitting new and experienced Airbnb renters alike.

This should be required reading before booking.

See:
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7 ... -on-airbnb

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