The buzz around Airbnb and Vacation Home Rentals as alternatives to booking a hotel room is high. You may ask yourself, how does a stay at an Airbnb differ from a hotel?
I recently used Airbnb for a week-long vacation to Vieques, Puerto Rico. I had an outstanding experience! My hosts were nothing shy of incredible and offered extensive recommendations before and during my stay.
They provided contact information for the car rental company, facilitated reservations for paddle boarding, kayaking in the bioluminescent bay and recommended local restaurants. These recommendations enhanced my vacation exponentially. I would strongly recommend these hosts to my friends and family and have plans to return myself.
First things first, what is AirBnB?
In short, Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list and book unique accommodations around the world. Airbnb presents users with a variety of choices in size, style, and neighborhood. Whether travelers are booking for one night or an entire month, they can browse for space ranging from apartments to castles. Airbnb is a thriving business, growing from 120,000 listings at the start of 2012 to over 300,000 listings today. Their success allows them to continue connecting people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 26,000 cities and 192 countries.
Why DMO’s should embrace the vacation rental market
Airbnhb is extremely valuable in communities where there are not enough hotel rooms to support the demand for events. A great example of this is Austin, Texas. Airbnb is a wonderful option during events such as Formula 1, SXSW, Austin City Limits Music Fest, etc.
Additionally, vacation rental customers skew toward higher education and income. They also tend to travel from far distances, stay longer and spend more than hotel guests. According to PhoCusWright research, 60 percent of guests say they spent the money they saved by using Airbnb.
What you need to know
One major drawback to using Airbnb involves safety and security issues. Cities have laws and regulations for hotels to protect their guests. These policies manage quality control, theft, fire prevention, etc. These same policies are not required for apartments and spaces offered through Airbnb.
Airbnb differs from Vacation Home Rentals as hosts are not required to pay a hotel bed tax. This presents the issue of unfair competition and negatively impacts the hotel business as money and customers are being steered away. This has been an issue most recently in New York City. New York City officials have ruled that the Airbnb violates an "illegal hotel" law and has fined Airbnb hosts for using the service. To avoid future complications, Airbnb is currently pushing for New York City hosts to pay occupancy taxes.
Things can go wrong, but you can also win big!
For adventure travelers Airbnb is a perfect fit. It provides travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture of a destination in a way that suits their individual needs. That said, Airbnb undercuts the hotel and lodging community and presents a number of potential issues. While there is a certain level of risk involved, great risks tend to generate great rewards. Based on my personal experience, this is a risk worth taking.