Airbnb, accommodation between private individuals: reviews and tests

Reviews of Airbnb – home rentals between individuals

Authentic. This is the character trait that has always travelled hand in hand with globetrotters. The number 1 search criterion, authenticity calls for encounters, discovery and the world as it really is. Today, « home away from home » is all the rage, and many travel platforms are following the trend.

Such is the case with vacation (or short-term) accommodation, which for some years now has been moving away from the big hotels to more economical pied-à-terre. Whether it’s a romantic weekend away, a family holiday, a vacation with friends or a business trip… Whatever their profile, travelers are now opting for low-cost alternatives that promise a lifestyle in their own right and a definite saving. From youth hostel comparators to home exchange specialists, companies are expanding their offerings to include new concepts. One of the pioneers of this movement is Airbnb, a community platform specializing in vacation rentals between private individuals. If Airbnb needs no introduction, it’s because its name now resonates the world over. By default or by necessity? That’s what we’re going to find out in our review.

What is Airbnb?

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San Francisco, 2007. Brian Chesky (founder of a design agency) and his roommate Joe Gebbia (unemployed) can’t make ends meet. When their landlord announces a rent increase, the two friends decide to look for a last resort. And it’s a conference on industrial design that, at its own expense, gives birth to a concept. With the majority of hotels sold out for the event, Brian and Joe set up Airbedandbreakfast.com, a website where they offered participants the chance to stay at home on their air mattresses. This paid-for, private-to-private rental also includes breakfast every morning. Revenue: over $1,000 in just a few days. Something clicked, and Brian contacted his former roommate Nathan Blecharczyk, who soon joined the adventure to found the Airbnb start-up.

The concept is simple: create a community of private individuals where hosts can rent out their accommodation. So, for a reasonable price, the traveler can enjoy accommodation just like at home: a typical win-win situation. Although the beginnings were a bit tentative, the strategy was defined, as were the objectives, and the real business took shape. A meteoric rise followed, thrusting the three founders into the limelight. Today, after more than ten years’ experience, Airbnb is present in 81,000 cities and 191 different countries, and is now one of the heavyweights of the hotel industry, worth several dozen billion dollars on its own.

How does it work?

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On Airbnb, there are two typical user profiles: the host and the renter.

Become a host

As a host, you can offer your accommodation for rent by registering for free on the website. To qualify, you’ll need to comply with specific tourist regulations for your country. Once these steps have been validated, all you have to do is take a few nice photos of your accommodation, before filling in the description, submitting a price and finally posting your ad.

Of course, Airbnb isn’t free in its entirety. As a host, you have to take into account the various charges that will be levied on you:

– 3% commission retained on the total price of your reservation.

– 6 to 10% retained on the price of services

Good to know: since 2016, Airbnb has been subject to the tax scheme. You should also be aware that local tourist taxes (set up by communes) are charged to the renter.

Becoming a tenant

To find accommodation on Airbnb, simply visit the website or the mobile application. You enter the location of your choice, as well as your preferred dates and other selection criteria ranging from the number of travelers, to the type of accommodation or the amenities you’re looking for. All that’s left to do is choose the accommodation of your dreams and contact the owner to explain your motivations. Some hosts offer no-obligation booking (instant booking), but we still recommend that you have a first discussion with the owner. Once your request has been approved by the host, all you have to do is wait until the big departure!

Good to know:

– Crimea, Iran, Syria and North Korea are subject to international laws restricting use of the website to residents. Consequently, booking services are not available there.

– The rental is debited up to 24 hours after occupancy (a certain amount of insurance for both the host and the tenant in the event of a dispute).

– Several taxes may be added to the bill: cleaning, stay…

Airbnb: Advantages and disadvantages for hosts

Benefits

– No commitment

– Flexible rent and rates

– 800,000 euros rental damage coverage

– A place to meet and share

– Financial gain

Disadvantages

– Full responsibility for property management (no intermediaries)

– Manage potential conflicts/civilities

Airbnb: Advantages and disadvantages for tenants

Benefits

– Wide choice of homes

– Advanced search criteria

– More attractive prices

– Home-away-from-home » concept, with everything you need close at hand

– Avoid mass tourism

– Independence in terms of schedules (excluding check-in and check-out)

Disadvantages

– High prices depending on destination/season

– Advance booking required, depending on destination (in high season)

– Limited offer in some regions

Airbnb: the editor’s opinion

Challenged by certain cities/regions who demand that the company be subject to the same legislative conditions as any hotel service (guarantees, registration fees, insurance…), Airbnb is regularly at the heart of debates. The main reasons? An uncontrollable business in certain countries, and competition that claims to have too great an impact on the hotel economy. Intra-muros, then, Airbnb is no stranger to court cases. Certain legal proceedings could force Airbnb to fall into line with its peers, which could explain a possible increase in charges/rates in the years to come, somewhat distorting the added value of the concept.

That said, Airbnb remains above all a fully-fledged experience where everyone can find something to their liking, both literally and figuratively. Its name has become a reflex for travelers over the years, and despite the competition, the company is not running out of steam and is expanding its offering: today, in addition to accommodation, you can search for an « experience » depending on your destination from among 15,000 unique activities « designed and hosted by hosts in over 1,000 cities around the world ». Good value for money, a community-based system and an intuitive platform all add up to make Airbnb one of our accommodation favorites.