Social Hosting: An Airbnb Experience

Last weekend I test-drove one of the most talked-about travel accommodation websites out there: Airbnb.

I’m very pleased to report that

  • my first guests were not axe-yielding psychos
  • the house stands totally undamaged and as lovely as ever
  • my small furry one, Watson the dog, loved them and was loved back
  • the payment went through the very next day.

As you can probably guess by the list above, I was a little bit nervous about welcoming total strangers into my home.

My friend recommended it so heartily, however, that I thought it was worth a try.

My first booking consisted of a very nice young couple from Austria. She was a journalist currently finishing her second M.A. (sounds like someone who would feel at home writing for the Little Pink Blog :) ) and he was staying in London while working on a green energy project.

The strangest thing about them was that they actually went for a run on Sunday morning (*ahem* making coffee is about as much activity as I want on the weekend, thank you very much!)

But Watson looked accusingly at me, as if to say,“Mum, I hope you’re paying attention. I want to go running first thing in the morning!”

It might sound like a cliché, but the best thing about the experience was getting the chance to meet interesting new people I would not have come across otherwise.

I work for Badoo, a social network which is all about meeting new people, so Airbnb was an interesting and fun experiment in how to bring strangers together and actually give them a chance to socialize in-person.

My little family is in very in good company as over 5 million nights were booked through the site since its inception and it continues to boom.

The San Francisco company was established in 2008 and now has offices all over the world, including in Brazil and the United Kingdom.

These days it boasts over 100,000 listings in 192 countries.

 

In a nutshell, here’s how Airbnb works:

  1. Create an account, verify your phone number and link your social networks.
  2. Upload some pictures of yourself, your house and the room you’re renting out.
    • Write a description to go with them.
  3. Set your price and stipulate whether you charge for extra guests or want a security deposit.
    • Setup your preferred method to receive payment.
  4. Setup your calendar to show availability.
    • If someone wants to book your room, you will receive a request via Airbnb. You are then free to accept or refuse once you check out their profile.
  5. If you accept the booking, Airbnb takes payment from the guest (they charge about 10% on top of your set price from them) and a security deposit if you stipulated one (which they hold on to for a few days after your guest leave).
    • 24-hours after check-in you get paid (minus a 3% fee).
  6. Should you all be happy with the experience (as we were) then you leave each other nice reviews, which makes it easier for guests to book beds and for hosts to rent theirs.

In areas where there are a lot of rooms available you might find it difficult to get bookings at first without any positive reviews to your name. If you have a Facebook friend who is also an Airbnb member, you should them for a personal reference.

Also, it might be worth renting out your room cheaply a few times in order to get a few good reviews under your belt.

So… if you fancy having a look around the world-famous university city of Cambridge (the one in England as opposed to Massachusetts, let’s just be extra clear on that!) and want to stay in the house of someone who writes for the world-famous Little Pink Blog, feel free to request a booking!

Happy Travels :)

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Alice Bonasio is a Brazilian/American/Italian writer specializing in Digital Cultures. She has been published in Gamestm, Edge, The Escapist and 360. She has recently finished her MA in Creative and Media Enterprises at the University of Warwick with distinction. She lives in England and is a PR Executive for one of the world’s hottest social networks, Badoo. Contact her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR are federally registered trademarks of Little Pink Book PR, LLC. © 2009-2012 Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR. All Rights Reserved.

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