I made it to Arizona!
It was a journey to get here. Not all my travel goes smoothly and my first week in Arizona was a prime example of that. I experienced: consistent 30-80mph winds during my drive from Sante Fe to Scottsdale, a flat tire, and an Airbnb with fruit flies, a backed up toilet, and an internet outage. Needless to say, I am finally getting settled in new accommodations in Tempe, Arizona. Unfortunately the new place is doing construction on their pool and there is not much you can do outdoors in Arizona during the heat of the afternoon except for lay by the pool! So, off to make friends with pool access 🙂
I’ve been renting long term Airbnb’s for some time now and with everything that has happened this past week including having to switch accommodations at the last minute, I wanted to talk about my overall experience with Airbnb. There are some pros and cons that I will lay out below as well as my ultimate opinion on booking through Airbnb vs. just using Airbnb as a resource for research.
- Verified accommodations and host– Knowing the places I am renting have been verified by Airbnb makes me feel better when booking an accommodation in a place I’ve never been.
- Review structure– Reviews of other travelers experiences at a specific Airbnb can tell you more about the location, the accommodations (what pictures can’t tell you) and the host. The host can review you as well which can be seen by other hosts when you book your next place which helps to hold users accountable.
- Secure money transfer– Airbnb is a safe platform to book through and if you have any major issues, you can get your money back.
- Good UX when using the app– The app is easy to use with the ability to save accommodations you like. The map is useful when picking accommodations in a specific area you may want to stay.
- Large variety of listings– There is a wide variety of listings on Airbnb. From tents to luxury homes and everything in between. Airbnb makes it possible for anyone to rent out their space which is pretty remarkable.
- Local recommendations– Usually hosts can offer suggestions of what to do in the area you are booking in as they usually have lived there and know a lot about the area. It’s always fun to get local tips from someone in the area.
- Monthly stay discounts– Through Airbnb, hosts typically offer discounts if you book an accommodation for a month or longer. Definitely nice to have!
- Airbnb fees– The fees for using Airbnb are very high in my opinion. The price per night does not include fees and these fees quickly make accommodations you may think fit within your budget, unaffordable. For a month rental, I typically pay about $600 or so in Airbnb fees.
- Customer service– Airbnb has never been known for great customer service. If you can get ahold of them, they still aren’t very helpful. They have a lot of strict procedures and policies that result in what I deem poor customer service.
- Cancellation policy– Airbnb’s cancellation policy is very strict. Typically the window to cancel a booking is 24-48 hours after you book it. After that you will not get your money back. Make sure you are very certain of dates and location before you book anything.
- Payment up front– When booking through Airbnb you typically have to pay the full charge up front. Sometimes there is an option to pay half initially and the second half a week or 2 before your trip but from my experience, I’ve always had to pay the full fee upon booking. Not always ideal if your trip is booked pretty far out.
Overall opinion: The experience you will have with Airbnb ultimately comes down to the quality of your host. If issues arise and your host is accommodating, your experience will reflect that. When I had my recent issues with fruit flies, a backed up toilet, and an internet outage my host was very responsive throughout each situation. They eventually granted me a refund and also helped me find a new accommodation. This is not always the case! If my host had been unaccommodating, my experience probably wouldn’t have been great and I would have been left to figure out my next living situation at a moments notice. I don’t rely on Airbnb to help in difficult situations when an accommodation isn’t working out because they are hard to reach to help find a resolution. When I contacted them it took them a very long time to respond and by the time they did I was already moved into a new place. I have lucked out with great hosts and I wouldn’t have connected with them if it weren’t for Airbnb.
I like to use Airbnb most for research. It gives me a decent picture of the area I am looking to stay in, price ranges and what’s available. I can quickly search many accommodation options and feel comfortable with where I choose to stay. I’ve booked with Airbnb quite a few times so I have built up my reviews as a user. Lately, I have been using Airbnb for research and opting to book directly with a host to avoid some of the Airbnb fees. I’ll outline how I occasionally do that below.
Booking Outside Airbnb
There are some ways to get around booking your accommodation through Airbnb if you want to avoid some of the fees. It’s sometimes a little more risky but if you do it safely, you usually will not have an issue. There are two ways I do this.
- Finding the rental management company: When I am looking at rentals on Airbnb or VRBO, sometimes there will be clues in the description to a rental management company that is actually the host of the listing. If that is the case I will Google the rental management site and book directly through them to skip the Airbnb fees and get a cheaper price. If I find the rental management company has bad reviews on Google, I avoid them all together!
- Contacting the host directly: If I am really interested in a listing that has great reviews and I see the host has other properties, I will Google the hosts name. Sometimes the host will have their properties listed directly through them (especially if they are a realtor or this is their full time job) and you can book without the Airbnb fees.
- If the host does not have the properties listed directly with them, I usually am still able to find contact information for the host through Google and I give them a call. I can see through their Airbnb reviews that they are a reliable host and they can see mine to see I am a trusted user and we can make a deal outside of Airbnb. As I said this is sometimes riskier and doesn’t always work out but if you trust them and they can trust you this is an option to avoid the Airbnb fees as well. If you do not build trust through reviews or while talking to the host, your best bet is to book directly through Airbnb so you’re protected in case anything happens.
So there you have it! I’ve had a pretty neutral experience with Airbnb over the last year. I like to exercise my options to book outside Airbnb but I’m still open to booking through Airbnb if that is the best option. Next week I’ll talk about the fun hikes I’ve been doing since I’ve been here in Arizona!
Until the next tale… Happy trails.