To Airbnb, Or Not To Airbnb

The advent of Airbnb has brought forth countless options for the discerning individual seeking a memorable but less expensive vacation or staycation for destinations across the world. However, the service which is pushed as a budget-friendly alternative to traditional accommodations, such as hotels, has not been without its fair share of issues.

For the past decade, Airbnb has made a marked effort to position itself as a viable option for travellers seeking short-term rentals or experiences globally.

Locally, the online service has taken off with rentals available in most towns across the island, the main selling point here, and abroad, being its affordability when compared to a hotel stay.

While tourists use the service for less expensive bookings which may also lend itself to a more authentic experience, locals have also flocked to it when seeking lodgings for the odd out-of-town weekend with friends, or for events like the recently staged Reggae Sumfest.

Before rushing to book your stay, however, especially if you are using it for travel abroad; ensure you follow these guidelines to ensure you have a stay that is unforgettable for the right reasons.

The price of an Airbnb will vary based on several factors including amenities offered, quality of the listing, and location. It tracks with the usual expectations of real estate, so finding a cheaper location is possible the more one moves away from a centralised location or major city.

It is important to note that there is no exchange of money outside the app or website, so guests will make online payments directly to Airbnb which makes payment to the host. If a host asks you to make payment to them, RUN!

Also, cleaning and service fees can really raise the cost of a stay, not to mention Airbnb will collect local taxes where applicable. These related fees do add up and may make a seemingly attractive place much more expensive than initially thought.

Be wary of all listings, regardless of how good they sound. In fact, if they sound too good to be true, they just may be.

Check listings against photos shown to ensure they match up. A place that says it accommodates two people does not necessarily equate to two bedrooms or even two beds.

Because hosts are able to make listings from a couch in their living room for the entire property, clarifying what exactly you are paying for once ready to book never hurts.

Reviews are good in this regard as they help you to make an informed decision about a host and their offer. Do bear in mind that most hosts are amateurs and not hoteliers, and so it’s important that the standards they are held to are both fair and accurate. An unbiased assessment can help hosts understand what shortcomings they may have and improve on these for future bookings.

Consider that hosts also leave a review of guests, so ensure you follow listed house rules to avoid a bad evaluation —which would be visible to other people whose properties you are interested in. The house rules will also be an indicator as to the type of host you will be stuck with, much like interviewing a roommate, which will help you gauge prospects or seek alternatives.

Cancellations are possible on Airbnb and can happen up to the very day you are to check-in. This can be very distressing as, unlike hotels, an Airbnb property will not likely have back-up rooms or accommodations, and you will be left stranded.

Prior to your trip, look around to see what other accommodations there are and what costs look like, just in case you are caught in that unenviable position.

Generally speaking, looking around is a good idea regardless of the reason as it will tell you what is in your immediate surroundings and give you a feel as to what can be reasonably expected during your stay.

While the exact location of the Airbnb accommodation is not revealed until you have booked, an overall area will be listed which you can use as a guide for your research before making payment. Happy travelling!

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