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Let this be said upfront: I love Airbnb. I have stayed at quite a few over the past year, and many have been fantastic experiences, and I’m sure I will stay at more Airbnbs over the coming years as well. However, I recently had a not-so-great experience with Airbnb. It really isn’t worth going into the specifics about it, but it has lead me to develop my Airbnb Best Practices.
In many cases, these tips are going to be overkill, as many Airbnb hosts are completely honest, but for the one or two you may run into that are not, these tips will save you time, money, and frustration over the situation.
- Confirm details of the listing before booking. For example, if the listing says internet, make sure there is no charge for the internet. If food is included, determine how much/what types of food is included. Especially if you are traveling in a foreign country, confirm the details of your booking before arrival. Make sure your host knows that you plan to use the internet so their aren’t issues if the internet is, for example, not working.
- When booking arrangements outside of Airbnb with your host (e.g. tours, airport transfers, additional meals), make sure you get the prices in writing. Without that, the host is able to say whatever he or she wants to say the agreed-upon price was after the fact, and since you are staying in their place, you really have no other course of action but to go along with it. Even better, settle up for additional expenses up front.
- Take screenshots of the listing upon booking and note any changes that have occurred by time of arrival. Airbnb hosts have the ability to change their listings as often as they want, and as far as I know, there is no way to view a previous version of the listing, even the one that you booked the Airbnb under. If this happens, it can create significant problems in terms of expectations for the stay.
- This is a kind of out there one, but keep an eye out for hosts that expect a tip. The place where I recently stayed expected a tip equivalent to what a similar rental would cost in the visitor’s home country. I wish that was how it works! When I go to NYC, I want to pay the same price as a hotel would cost in my hometown. Anyway, because our stay had been far from great, we did not leave a tip (in my option, a tip is for exceptional service). I have never seen an Airbnb request a tip on their listing page before this, and am not sure when that information was even added, see point #3.
Airbnb has a great business model, and I love staying at various Airbnbs around the globe. When there aren’t great point hotel options or no hostels around, Airbnb is always my go-to. I have stayed with a ton of great locals who have showed me around, made me dinner, and been great people to talk to, and because of this I will continue to use Airbnb even in light of this recent bad experience… with a few more precautions upon booking.
1) E.g – The ‘e’ is to be lower case. It means ‘for example’.
2) “host is able to say whatever he or she wants to saw” That should be ‘wants to say’.
3) “but to go alone with it” That should be ‘go along with it’.
Thanks! Guess I was blogging a little too late last night.
Now that you got my interest, I would really like to learn about your bad experience with Airbnb. 😛 I like Airbnb too and use it about most of the time when traveling, except when there are better deals or aspirational stays with points. All of my stays so far have met or exceeded my expectation based on the listing, so I have been lucky. In addition to what you mentioned, skimming through at least a few pages of review probably helped to avoid listings that only look good in pictures. Hope you paid it forward and wrote an honest review about the place you mentioned 🙂