WanderMelon checks into a popular Airbnb home stay listing in Sydney, Australia.
Riffing on the latest pop-up hotel room craze, Airbnb’s micro-hotel model is really taking off. Since the service launched in 2008, it has exploded, growing more than 800% in 2011 and booking over 1.6 million stays in other people’s homes to date, as far away as Australia.
Airbnb has become a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and easily book unique spaces around the world online or from an iPhone or other mobile devices. The service facilitates bookings and financial transactions and makes the process of listing or booking a space as effortless, reliable and efficient as possible. With over 100,000 listings available in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries, Airbnb offers the widest variety of private spaces at any price point around the globe. Whether you are looking for a fairytale castle for a night, a sailboat for a week, or an apartment for a month, Airbnb makes it easy for hosts to showcase their distinctive spaces to millions of bargain-hunting travelers all over the world. Novelty rooms include teepees, refurbished airplanes, igloos and geodesic domes. And consider this: Any given night in New York, there are more people staying in homes via Airbnb than there are rooms in Manhattan’s biggest hotel.
Take Sydney, for instance – one of the most beautiful waterfront cities in the world – yet there are next to no hotels on the water except for the Park Hyatt at the Rocks, which at $800+ a night is not for everyone. Sydney-siders love their beaches and suburban neighborhoods, but they are set up for locals not tourists. So in order to really experience the city as a local, you have to know someone. But Airbnb now has over 650 local homes in Sydney that you can stay in varying in price, style and location (thanks to Ashton Kutcher who recently invested in the Australian site).
Panoramic Seaview in the beachside neighborhood of Clovelly is a gorgeous light-filled room with stunning 180-degree ocean views in a private home owned by Sonya and her adorable young daughter and two friendly dogs. Sonya makes you feel like a welcome houseguest and part of the family serving delicious home-cooked breakfasts and cups of tea as required. Sitting on the private terrace (or the bed for that matter) with a chilled glass of wine and a front row view of the surfers on the break at sunset is priceless. Local residents pay millions for the privilege of living here and fork out thousands in rent for this type of accommodation, but Sonya only charges AU$146 a night, which is an absolute bargain. Sonya’s experience at Airbnb has been so successful that she has offered a second property to her collection just down the road, equally stylish and comfortable, but without the million-dollar view.
As a traveler, a whole new world opens up to you at Airbnb and if you are a host, you can finally make some money out of that spare room, granny flat or tree house in the garden while simultaneously improving your social life. Some hosts rent out their entire place, while others live on-site and offer something closer to a roommate or B&B experience. If you’re travelling alone and want a feel for how the locals live, staying with a live-in Airbnb host can give you easy access to a grass roots tour guide, and potentially a new friend. Airbnb users can also earn referral rewards and get up to $100 credit for every friend that joins as a host or uses the site as a guest.
Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky understands that what travelers fear the most is not knowing what a place looks like or who lives there. So Airbnb uses professional photographers and features large high-quality photos, as well as videos, and encourages hosts (and travelers) to provide as much information about themselves as possible in an open community-based platform where feedback is encouraged. As a result, hosts with good reputations and ratings get more business… just like on Ebay or Tripadvisor. Payments are made online to Airbnb and to help ensure that guests are treated fairly, Airbnb withholds payment to the host for 24 hours after a check-in so that if there are any issues guests can report them to Airbnb who will endeavor to quickly resolve them.
For travelers keen to venture off the beaten path and experience another city as a resident rather than a tourist, Airbnb offers a wonderful chance to stay in someone’s private home and enjoy a more personal travel experience for a fraction of the price of a hotel, yet within a secure and transparent platform that removes the fear factor for both the host and guest.