Going by air

Airbnb – A place to stay or an income stream?

With our ever-shrinking ZAR and rising costs of living, it’s becoming harder each day to find value-for-money travel options. Well, I think I’ve found the answer. Founded in August 2008 in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodation around the world – either online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Airbnb connects people who are looking for accommodation at any price point, from castles to apartments, business or leisure, for a month or a night in more than
34 000 cities and 191 countries. With either the internet or the app you can view and check availability and prices on-line and then make a booking.

There are various criteria that hosts have to meet in order for their listings to be placed on the site; a description and photos are uploaded to give the guests a sense of what is on offer. There is often a set of House Rules that address aspects that will matter to the guests – such as nonsmoking areas or off-limits parts of the property. The hosts set the rules and can block off dates should they decide that they would like a break themselves. They are governed by local regulations and laws.

Some hosts meet you personally, and some offer a code for your entrance. Some offer breakfast, others are more hands off. Some clean all the spaces that the guest uses and include clean towels, linen and toilet paper. Payments are made via Paypal, direct deposit and international transfer, and the payment is sent to the host 25 hours after the guest checks in.

If you are interested in listing a room in your home, your unused “granny cottage” or your entire house or apartment, consider Airbnb: listing is free. They take a three precent host service fee on each reservation. What you wish to charge is up to you and after you have signed up, Airbnb will give you access to the tools to set a price that factors in travel trends and processes in similar places. You can also make money by inviting friends to Airbnb via email, or share your referral code via Facebook or Twitter, and you can even give gift cards for the friend who has everything!

Worried about damages and liabilities? The Host Guarantee protects your home and items from accidental damage at no additional cost to you. Everything works on trust. Both guests and hosts have a profile with a picture. After a trip, everyone gets a chance to write a review. Reviews keep guests accountable for treating hosts and their homes with respect. As a host, you can check your ratings by accessing the Hosting Standards and reading the feedback from your guests.

You are in control of your calendar and can update it whenever it suits you and you can set minimum and maximum stay periods. It is important to be available to your guests during their stay, whether personally or via cellphone or email.

While Airbnb does offer users the opportunity to search for accessible properties, we all know how loosely the term “wheelchair accessible” is used. It is recommended that, before making a booking, you check which features are available. Here are some categories to consider when discussing access:

  • Step-free access to property
  • Step-free access to a bedroom
  • Step-free access to a bathroom
  • Roll in shower
  • Grab rails in the bathroom
  • Facilities for individuals with a visual impairment
  • Facilities for individuals with a hearing impairment

There are some really interesting categories of accommodation:

Trees&ZZZ…Living in the Outdoors… It Yurts so good….Sleep in a Bus… Windmills….Castles… Retro Trailers… Horse Ranches… Back to School, to name a few!

Nicola D’Elia, general manager for Africa and the Middle East at Airbnb, comments: “Airbnb is good news for everyone, providing an economic boost for thousands of South Africans, helping them make ends meet and support their families. Some 27 percent of visitors to Cape Town for example – Airbnb’s largest market in South Africa – tell us that they wouldn’t have come at all or stayed as long if it hadn’t been for Airbnb. Half of those guests spend more money in local shops and restaurants, often following their hosts’ recommendations. Even if it’s just for a night, staying with local hosts will allow visitors to really live there.”

QASA listed their Dave Lewis Lodge, situated in Edenvale, Gauteng, but had to remove it as there were so many requests that it was impossible to keep space for local residents. Maybe we need a second venue!

Why not try it for business travel as well? You can stay near the office or your favourite restaurant and if you are travelling in a business group, you will have a relaxed atmosphere to conduct business after hours.

Visit the website www.airbnb.com and view the properties or get ready to sign up as a host and make some money!

Either way – Happy travels.

Mandy Latimore is a consultant in the disability sector in the fields of travel and access. email: mandy@noveltravel.co.za

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