Truths behind the stereotypes of Airbnb

Looking for nice and cheap accommodation for a couple of days? Thinking about earning some money by renting out your home?

Well, you are in luck now that Airbnb is on the scene. Earning the title of Inc.’s 2014 Company of the Year, consisting of more than a total of 60,000,000+ total guests around 34,000+ cities and 190+ countries around the globe, Airbnb is a trustworthy accommodation provider at a cheaper price. Not only can you rent a house, but you can also list your own house for rent.

So, how does it work?

The process is simple – if you are willing to host your own space for others, start by listing your house or condo. If anyone shows interest in your listing, just respond to the request and welcome your guests! (Check out Hosts’ stories)

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Airbnb Form for Renters
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Quick and Convenient Way to check out accommodations

On the other hand, if you are looking to rent a place, just a few more steps are required, such as filling out a little form and then requesting a reservation. If the host is willing to accept your request, make a payment through credit card.

After an experience with Airbnb in England, junior Sae Jin Jang said, “The signup process was very easy and quick; no hard work was required to make reservations.”

Unlike hotels, accommodations on Airbnb offer connection with the people and culture of the country for both hosts and travelers. For example, sophomore Emily Wu, who used Airbnb during her trip to France, said that “Airbnb is wonderful as it allows people to experience local life and tradition at a cheaper price.”

Freshman Lauren Pong added, “The first experience was very memorable, as the host was actually there to talk to us, and we could experience life in an authentic Japanese home.”

Lauren was not alone with her positive experience in Airbnb. 

Shiv Subramanian, an alumni of SAS studying in Northwestern, said, “During my stay in Illinois, Chicago, Airbnb was honestly fantastic. It was much cheaper than a hotel and we had a lot more freedom and privacy. We were basically given our own apartment which was spacious and cozy.”

Even though Airbnb saves a lot of money, many students who have not experienced Airbnb hold the stereotype that it is very dangerous. For example, freshman Graham Devereux said, “I have heard that many people have been murdered or kidnapped because of limited security.”

Senior Alan Datu also added that “Airbnb seems cheeky as people can trash and ruin the host’s property.”

While Airbnb states on their website that “you’re unlikely to experience any issues with property damage,” some hosts have experienced problems with travelers vandalizing and trashing their residence. ZDNet, a technology-based online newspaper reported that in San Francisco, a woman found her house trashed and vandalized. The renters had smashed a hole through her locked closets, stole a passport, cash, credit card, and even took her camera, iPod, laptop and external backup drive filled with photos and journals.

Therefore, before hosting or renting an accommodation for Airbnb, participants must remember to thoroughly read the terms and conditions to fully understand what is covered and what is not and the safety steps of a host and a guest.

Not only that, another disadvantage of Airbnb is that it is not offered to teens aged 18 and below renting on their own. “I didn’t know that Airbnb was not offered to people under 18, but I am not surprised. You’re basically giving up your property to strangers and allowing them to do whatever they want – I would imagine that it is pretty risky to give it to someone under 18 who is less mature/responsible/prepared,” added Shiv.

Although Airbnb has few disadvantages, such as not being accessible to teens younger than 18 and potential problems with visitors trashing the host’s property, Airbnb is something to consider on your next trip for it offers cheaper accommodations, cultural immersion, and allows for an unforgettable experience.

Author: Jenny Kim

Jenny Kim is a senior, and this is her second year as a reporter of the Eye. She was born in Korea, but she came to Singapore at the age of nine. She enjoys playing tennis/golf, listening to music, hanging out with friends and family during her free time. She can be contacted at kim33424@sas.edu.sg.

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