AirBnB is an online service that provides a platform for individuals referred to as “hosts”, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests.
The original name of the site launched in 2008 was airbedandbreakfast.com (the two founders were roommates and made their living room into a bed and breakfast, accommodating guests on air mattresses and providing breakfast) and later the name was shortened to Airbnb.com. However, only one of the hosts I checked while looking for a place to stay was providing breakfast and only on the first day. One of the investors in Airbnb is the actor Ashton Kutcher.
Initially I was reluctant to rent a room in someone’s house but the price of a room in a hotel and the good reviews for the host convinced me to do it.
Airbnb is considered the quintessential ‘disruptor’ to the hotel industry and not many people seems to know about it. One of my work colleagues had moved from other city and had stayed at a hotel before he had found an apartment. I asked him why he had not considered airbnb and he had told me he had not heard of it. When people asked me where I stayed and I told them in a room with an en-suite bathroom found through airbnb ($50 per night, not in Vancouver downtown of course but within 25 min. walking distance from my place of work and this is what it mattered) they seemed puzzled as they did not know of such a concept.
I could have stayed in the living room of an apartment sharing a bathroom with 2 other people paying much less but I still have my standards .
The place I stayed at included a deposit of around $1,00o that I didn’t notice in the description of the room but Airbnb sent me an automated message about authorizing the credit card for the amount of the deposit. Didn’t pay much attention to it, only when I noticed some scratches on the desk did I ‘panic’ thinking whether the host will consider I made them and use my deposit for the ‘damage’. ‘Is it like renting a car when you have to go round it and check for any dents? Was I supposed to do the same for the room?’ However, there was no claim from the host and the authorization for the deposit was voided.
Will I stay again at an Airbnb place? Definitively yes, unless my stay is reimbursed and in this case I will go for a hotel to get the points .
Also, I started to think seriously of renting the basement suite in my house as Airbnb seems to provide very good guarantees for the hosts:
Although you’re unlikely to experience any issues with property damage on Airbnb, we understand that you need protection. The Host Guarantee will reimburse you for damage to your property up to $900,000 CAD.
24 hours before check-in, the guest’s credit card is authorized for the amount of the deposit.
48 hours after the checkout date, the authorisation is released if the host does not make a claim.
If damages are reported within the 48-hour window, Airbnb Customer Service will be in contact with both the guest and host to make sure both parties are represented fairly.
However, some cities have started to crack down on Airbnb. For example an administrative law judge has found a New York man to violate the hotel law that prevents you from renting out your property for less than 29 days by using Airbnb.
Quebec is investigating 2,000 people for renting out their homes for short-term stays without a permit as residents aren’t allowed to advertise online or rent out their apartment on a regular basis, for fewer than 31 days, without registering and paying a $250 fee.
However, Airbnb has received Amsterdam city council’s blessing saying that Amsterdam residents can occasionally rent out their own homes under certain conditions.