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AirBnB.com: A Different Kind of Capeless Hero During Covid

By June Stoyer

AirBnB.com has been a blessing for many people traveling that need an affordable place to stay. Many healthcare workers opted to use AirBnB.com for their long term lodging accommodations while traveling away from home during the shutdown.

Bedroom in an Airbnb.com apartment

Not A New Concept

The concept of renting part or all of your home is not new. Temporary housing has its roots in the early decades of the 20th century when it was used primarily for emergencies. During the great depression, many individuals lost their homes and were forced to take up residence in makeshift homes that became part of larger shanty towns dubbed Hoovervilles.

More recently, for many college kids, renting an entire house for a weekend or a season has been fashionable for a very long time. Summer “shares” in the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore was something fun but very expensive. So, college kids would typically split the time and the cost amongst their friends. It was a great means to enjoying the Hamptons lifestyle, even if it was for a brief period of time.

Holiday weekend summer house rental

AirBnB.com changed the world when it launched. The company broke a barrier that seemed impossible in a very wealthy, tight-knit industry. They made sharing your house or apartment a hot commodity. This was widely received due to the skyrocketing costs of extended stay traveling and home owners looking to cash in!

What Exactly Is AirBnB?

AirBedandBreakfast.com was founded in 2008 and eventually became what we now know to be AirBnB, Inc. It is an American company that operates an online marketplace for lodging, primarily homestays for vacation rentals, and tourism activities. The company is based in San Francisco, California. The platform is easily accessible via website and mobile app.

Screen shot of Airbnb.com

The company’s mission is very simple: “AirBnB’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are focused on creating an end-to-end travel platform that will handle every part of your trip.”

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

AirBnB.com was founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia who knew each other from school. They moved to San Francisco in 2007 where they shared an apartment. The whole concept came about when they inflated an air mattress in their living room and decided to turn it into a makeshift bed and breakfast.

air mattress photo

A year later, this idea became fortuitous because of the Industrial Design Conference. Attendees had a difficult time finding lodging and were desperate for anything they could get. By this time, the friends had established a website and began offering up the lodging space to the public. This is basically how they landed their first customers, transitioning the concept into a fruitful, thriving business.

AirBnB’s Review Policy

According to AirBnB.com, their review policy states as follows:

In order to build a platform of trust, we ask our community to help ensure that reviews on AirBnB are useful, informative, and don’t expose our community to harm. Therefore, we expect that all reviews adhere to the following:

  1. Reviews should not violate our content policy. Some content is never allowed on Airbnb. You can review AirBnB’s Content Policyto find out more.
  2. Reviews should be unbiased
  3. Reviews should be relevant

Reserve, Rent and Rate

All of the above seem simple and fair, right? Wrong! Guests and hosts are reviewed by one another, and this system has the potential to get very ugly! AirBnB provides a time period of two weeks in which the host and the guest can write a review.

AirBnB.com reviews only show up when both parties submit their feedback or when the 14-day review period has ended, whichever comes first. This creates a rating that is visible to potential future guests as well as hosts. Here is an example of a review and response.

Airbnb.com review and reply

As easy as it is for a guest not to book with a host based upon ratings, a host can refuse a guest. This is a breeding ground for ugliness of every kind.

Extraneous Fees

In an article appearing in the Wall St. Journal, there have been some pretty steep demands made by hosts requiring guests to do a certain amount of housework before checking out. Many hosts claim that this will offset the high cost of deep cleaning to help stop the spread of Covid for the next guest.

Airbnb.com bad review

One common issue that many seasoned AirBnBer’s complain about is being asked to clean up and have to buy the cleaning products. Basic cleaning supplies such as garbage bags, dish soap, and bathroom essentials are no where to be found but the cleaning fees are! Most guests actually don’t mind picking up after themselves, but they draw a line when they have to pay the fee and for the cleaning products.

Airbnb.com bad review about unclean apartment

According to the article, “AirBnB’s have been in high demand so hosts are getting away with charging higher nightly rates and tacking on bigger cleaning fees. Guests have been striking back on social media, complaining about being asked to mow the lawn or feed farm animals.”

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