Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people who rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests who are looking for accommodation. They are for types of places you can book; an Entire place (you have the whole house or room for yourself), a Private Room (you have your own room and share some common spaces), Hotel room (private or shared room in a hotel or hostel), or Shared room (where all spaces are shared).
My favorite reason for booking thru Airbnb is usually it’s quite cheaper than hotels especially when we’re a group or family. One time, my parents and I looked for a place to stay in Laoag for 3 but most accommodation is only up to 2 persons and is about Php 2,000.00 while we get that price in Airbnb for 2 nights already.
Since Airbnb has a lot of hosts, you can book to a specific town where hotels are rare or expensive, one example was when I went to Tokyo Disneyland; hotels near TDR were about Php 10,000 but there was a place which offered me more than Php 1,000 for one room.
Since most Airbnbs are like a house or condo units, you can actually cook there which you can’t do in most Hotels. They, however, don’t provide 24/7 services like hotels do and sometimes you just check-in on your own.
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Though I have a lot of good experiences in Airbnb, others may have not. So here are some secrets a newbie wouldn’t know about the platform and that I’m willing to share:
1. The Price Isn’t Right
When searching for a place, you’ll definitely see the prices below the accommodation. Warning: They are only the prices per night; cleaning fee and service fee hasn’t been added to that. Click on Book or Additional Prices to know the accurate price for your stay.
Input the dates and guests. Airbnb offers smart pricing for hosts, so it varies from night to night based on demand. You don’t want to get excited about a $50 luxurious room then it doubles up when you book with your specific date.
Check the prices of competitors. If it’s too good to be true, then it might be something fishy. Thoroughly check if the host is real and the reviews are authentic. There was a couple in London who booked 5 nights for £130 and when they went to the place, it was actually a fluke. The listing was fake; they were refunded but stayed at a hotel for one night at £150. Ouch!
2. Don’t Trust a Place by its Pictures
Read the Description. Check the amenities they offer. Just because it’s in the pictures it won’t mean it’s really there unless stated on their page. Check also the location; sometimes it’s crucial to know whether the place is accessible or vehicles are rarely passing by. Or perhaps it could save you more if you book another place near a spot rather than that Airbnb listing which could give you additional travel expenses.
Read Reviews. Since a lot of real people use this and sometimes you are compelled to review after booking, read the reviews left by the people who stayed in that place. You will know if the hosts are good or rude; if the place matched the pictures; and any other stuff that could be helpful in your decision to stay or not. If you want clarifications, you can also contact the host.
Another word of warning though, sometimes reviews are with 5 stars mostly because the hosts will ask you to. I quite accept it since when a place has a lot of 4-star reviews AirBnB begins to send warnings to hosts that their listing will be removed. Let’s be understanding that this somehow provides income to the host, so don’t be a spoilsport.
If there are no reviews, be sure you’re willing to take a risk. There was a guy in Amsterdam who discovered his Airbnb was actually a shipping container, and the pictures weren’t exactly giving those vibes.
3. Not yet DONE.
Even if you’ve entered your credit card information; it will be treated as a RESERVATION unless it’s in “INSTANT BOOK” listing. You need to message the host thru Airbnb and introduce yourself, after that the host may or may not accept your stay, then you’re BOOKED. If your host hasn’t responded within 24 hours, no charge is made for the reservation and you’re free to book with another host.
So if you’ve found something spectacular, keep your fingers crossed until it is accepted or until you are finally check-in. Here’s a horror story? A guest reserved an Airbnb during a festival in a specific town, the host canceled a day before the check-in and there weren’t cheap hotels available! Be wary and hope it’s a good person. Have a conversation with the host; at least you could check if there’s he or she is genuine.
4. Sshh…It’s a secret!
There are circumstances that a host will ask a favor to not tell people around you are staying at an AirBnB. And I know a lot of people who have been panicky when a host told them this. In some countries or cities, they are illegal, not on their rental contract or neighbors might not feel safe and people tolerate it because it’s cheaper.
A host once asked me to tell me I’m a friend since it’s easier than explaining what Airbnb is with someone who doesn’t understand English well. But if you’re uncomfortable to be in that position, you can cancel the booking. But if you’re informed after the free cancellation period has been over, you can contact Airbnb for a refund.
5. No to Additional Charges
Never pay a host directly for additional charges. You may owe a host more money if there are changes in the reservation like additional guests, there’s a claim on your security deposit. Taxes, however, are sometimes included in the booking and some may require the tax to be paid directly upon check-in but it should be stated in the listing or discussed thru with you.
So if the hosts or the property manager asks for additional Cha-Ching; THOU SHALL NOT PAY! Use the Resolution Center on the site. You should keep all payment transactions on Airbnb (except the stated taxes). I had a friend where a property manager made her sign a contract and took $500 for deposit; when she checked out, the person would not return it nor will the host (who doesn’t know anything with regards to the transaction) and Airbnb can’t help with any issues related to off-site or cash payments. You have been warned.
6. Take before you leave
This doesn’t mean stealing things at your host’s place! But TAKE PICTURES or VIDEOS before you LEAVE. Also, leave the place as clean as possible, though they have cleaning fees it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Some hosts are a bit OC or just scam artists. A girl shared with a group that their host put a claim in their security deposit because she trashed the place and broke some furniture. The hosts gave her photographic evidence and since she has only her word as proof, her security deposit wasn’t refunded in full. So it’s better to take pictures or videos in case this would happen to you.
If you damaged the property of your hosts, better to discuss it through Airbnb’s Resolution Center as they will provide fair judgment. Claims can be requested within 14 days after the guests check out or when new guests check into the property.
Though there are bad hosts out there, scammers or fake listings; it doesn’t mean that there are no good ones. A lot of people have been happy with booking thru Airbnb, including me (and my family) plus some Airbnb listings are quite extraordinary like Airbnb Plus or Airbnb Luxe. Superhosts are also a sign that those people will do their best for you to be a happy customer.
I leave you two things when you stay in Airbnb; the quote “DO NOT DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO DO UNTO YOU”; if you want your home or things to be taken care of or if you want to be respected; take care of another one home as if it were yours and respect the person and most importantly; RESPECT.
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About the Writer
Hey, I’m Lyza! I once was a person who just imagined going to places “one day” but decided to pursue my dreams. My first travel abroad was in Japan, solo, last 2018, and fell in love with the journey since. I’m aiming to visit 10 countries before turning 30 and 2 new places in the Philippines every year. Besides traveling, I love organizing trips, photography, reading, and making new friends. Follow my adventures through my Instagram.