I have long been a fan of Airbnb, the not so little startup, which connects people who have extra space with those that need a place to stay. But now I more than a fan, I have become an avid supporter of the site. Airbnb helped me to keep the apartment I so love. It’s surprising how many people don’t know about the site or are still afraid to use it.
I had a little dilemma a few months ago- a two bedroom apartment and no roommate. I didn’t want to move when my lease was up because I love my apartment- the space, the big windows, the nice doorman, the great neighborhood. And to be honest, I had no energy to move. So I renewed my lease with the believe that I could find an awesome roommate. Major fail.
My Craigslist roommate turned out to be the combination of everything I feared. She left after only 4 months, and even that was too long to live with her, so I was back to having no roommate and still a two bedroom apartment.
Airbnb to rescue! I had signed up for an account last summer, and as a concept I loved it. But I had never actually used the site. A bit out of necessity I decided to give it a try as a host. Best decision ever.
I posted a few pictures of my apartment, described the place, posted some house rules and like magic the requests starting coming in. The quicker I respond, the more request I accept, the more requests I receive. It’s fun to manage all the request, to figure out which ones make more sense. For example, if I have a request for May 3-6, but I also have a request from May 5-15— it makes sense to decline the May 3-6. This only works if the request come in at the same time, otherwise I never cancel on my guest.
Every single one of my Airbnb guest have been tremendous! I have hosted 5 different couples so far, not a lot yet. But the rest of March is booked, April too, and May is filling up quickly.
I am getting more cash than what I could rent my room out on a monthly basis. If any of the guest did suck, they would only be here for a few days, and I there are consequences— a bad review, so guest want to be good!
Most of my guests have been European, I think this is because they are so used to hostels and Airbnb is most definitely a few steps up from a hostel. So I think Europeans are first adopters. It has been so nice meeting people from all over the world. I love to travel and this makes me feel like I am helping my fellow travelers. I give them tips on where to eat, what to see, and they bring me swiss chocolate, and tell me about their countries. They are the best kind of roommate, they are out and about all day, and when they come home, they are fun and happy.
There are a few things that I would improve at Airbnb, some as simple as a big link on top of the dashboard for My Reservations— they are hard to find. Others like creating a meetup group for hosts in the same city, and a way to share tips with each other— like a FB group where people can post, or better yet, a Quora type interface. It would also be awesome to swap spaces— So If I want to go to D.C., for a weekend and someone wants to come to NYC, let’s just do a house swap (Airbnb can still charges a fee). And it would also help, a lot, if we could post videos introducing ourselves. I think more people would be comfortable if every posting had a video.
Overall, I am a huge fan of the site, I’d love to work for them in fact. But in lieu of that, I’ll just continue to be an avid supporter and fan, and host of course.
If you have not tried Airbnb, save yourself some money and stay at a home instead of a hotel. And if you have a crazy roommate, ask them to leave and rent out your space on Airbnb!