Quick thoughts on airbnb

There has been a ton written about airbnb lately around a ransacking of an apartment.

For me, I’ve been reading up on it, and also happen to be staying in a house and now apartment that I booked on airbnb (my first two ever bookings on airbnb) — so had a few thoughts on the experience and things that could be improved:

  • airbnb is hugely disruptive. If every home owner is now a potential mini hotel, that opens up a ton of inventory and really challenges the hotel business. Plus it allows owners to cover the cost of going on a trip while having guests stay in their property — so net net, the travel industry should be embracing this ;)
  • The airbnb site is beautiful, useful, easy to use, and makes it fun to look for a place to stay
  • Craigslist has created an opening for airbnb by having a completely unverified system (which is also the upside of craigslist in terms of low or no friction). I’ve been finding (and reporting) a ton of scams on craiglist around renting holiday apartments – especially overseas ones. The most common scam is that the scammer scrapes a legit property site from a listing on VRBO or similar, and then lists it as his own on craigslist
  • From my limited experience, I’ve really enjoying renting from airbnb home owners. For one, you get amazing rates VS a comparable hotel, and it’s a full apartment with a kitchen, etc. I’ve found the rates to be roughly 1/3 of what I’d need to pay at a hotel. And second, you get the huge advantage of the owners giving you tips, helping you navigate the local area, etc. In essence, you get a more true local experience which is often the opposite of staying at a hotel where you feel like you are in a tourist bubble.

In terms of what airbnb can do to tackle some of the fears people have around renting out their homes:

  • I think having a tier of verified users within the airbnb network could work. Charge something like $59/yr, get verified by passing a light background check (looking for big stuff like criminal activity). For me this would be appealing to rent from someone who is verified as well
  • For those renting our their place — two simple upsells would also make a ton of sense: insurance & storage. Should be cheap to add insurance in case anything happens, and a good rate on storage would make it easier to prep your place ahead of time

Here is a quick photo from the courtyard of a place in Neve Tzdeck (southern Tel-Aviv) that I just rented — hard to find a hotel like this ;)


5 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on airbnb

  1. firmdot says:

    I’ll be staying at a place booked through airbnb for the upcoming SF WordCamp. This will be my first experience. Far more affordable than a Hotel and the place is a beautiful loft.

  2. Totally Agree Raanan. I used it for my last trip and AirBnB it’s a big thread again the hotels sector. It is also in its inception and I am sure they are going to start adding more services that complement it’s current offering, like the insurance service you mention. However I think over time users and home owners will be more rated by the community as eBay users are and that rating system will lock people into AirBnB. Worth an investment!!! :D

  3. There is already a large vacation home rental market ( I am in it), but airbnb has lower barriers to entry for both the consumer and supplier. Insurance is a must. Verificaton is also a must. Verification can be charged for i.e. your $59/yr as verified rentals would be able to charge a premium…. keeep an eye for me at WCSF lets chat

  4. It’s hard to add insurance to a service which is not 100% legal, as subletting is problematic in many cases. Besides, insurance has to cover both ways, it should not only protect your property and valuables, but the safety of the guest, and you will not find an insurer willing to do this if the entire activity is illegal. Regarding fees for verification – why would you do this as opposed to just paying for a listing at a listing site (like VRBO), I mean, what is the advantage?

    • I think the insurance piece on a volume basis could be affordable.

      Re: advantages over a listing fee. If I was to rent out my home, even on VRBO I don’t really know who I’m renting it out to. A verification service would help to solve that.

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