Although it has been operating since 2008, many people harbour the misconception that airbnb is all about renting out loft apartments in New York and completely out of reach for the average traveller.
So what is airbnb and how does it work?
Essentially it’s a community marketplace connecting hosts who have spare rooms, houses or other spaces with guests looking for a place to stay.
Hosts create a free listing and promote their property, and themselves, with detailed descriptions and photographs. They decide what they will charge – be it per night, per week or per month. Guests search the listings for accommodation and pay a service fee for each reservation, ranging from six per cent to 12 per cent.
Naturally, it is always wise to do a little research before entering your credit card details into the booking form. Use your common sense and consider the following first.
If the price looks too good to be true – it probably is. So compare all the rentals in the area you are looking at before committing to a booking. If you really do want to go with the cheapest price, again, talk to the host and ask why they are renting their property so cheaply.
Look at the host’s history and read all the reviews posted by previous guests.
Talk to the hosts before you book, ask about their facilities or any questionable reviews you have read.
Ask the hosts for references.
Airbnb connects via Facebook, so you can contact previous guests if you have any concerns.
Have a look at a couple of listings here in Australia and decide for yourself whether you think this accommodation option is for you. Www.airbnb.com.au