Commercialization of Airbnb (a guests’ perspective)
When I started this company in 2015, every one in five person I talked to had heard about Airbnb and hardly any had tried using it. Now, almost everybody know about it. Initially, Airbnb was all about “living like a local”, a platform where tourists can meet locals, stay with them, share cultures, etc. How has that evolved over the years?
In order to experience it first hand, I booked a few Airbnbs’ while travelling in Western Canada and US. My observations are as follows:
- Key exchanges were done through lock-boxes or smart-locks
- Detailed instructions and house manuals provided in advance for self-understanding
- Quick communication with host via text or Airbnb messenger but never met them in-person
- Properties were as described with a few minor misses (for e.g. there was no shampoo or conditioner or the TV remote wasn’t working)
- Properties were clean but never felt that I was the first guest staying (this may not surprise you, but a lot of the superhosts make it a point that the property feels new for each guest)
My overall experience was good. I was getting to stay in bigger places compared to hotel rooms for half the price. There was flexibility around check-in and check-outs; which is no longer available at the hotels, unless you are a privileged member.
Is the rapid growth of Airbnb good for guests? I think it definitely is for many reasons:
- Hosting standards have increased across the platform
- Communication is much faster
- Guests can book instantly. No longer waiting to get a response from the hosts.
- Guests have many options to choose from, and pricing is very competitive in at least some of the big cities
- In case things go wrong, guests have other options to choose from with the support of Airbnb
- No longer am I worried that I will come to a place and it is in shambles or the host will not respond
Guests are still responsible for making sure they read the listing description thoroughly before booking. I have had so many instances where guests would ask for parking details at the time of check-in, where its clearly mentioned that I do not have a parking facilities.
Commercialization of Airbnb is a good thing for the guests. It has forced other platforms and hotels to change their game, be more customer centric and provide more budget friendly options.
If you travel extensively booking Airbnbs or used Airbnb for the first time, tell us how was your experience in the comment section below.