Airbnb Is Even Worse Than I Thought

Airbnb makes sense in towns where there aren’t suitable hotels. It makes sense to rent a full house for a large family or when traveling with a group of friend. But the current homesharing model is very broken, and as a result choosing Airbnb makes no sense for most stays.

There are several issues with Airbnb, to name just a few:

  • Airbnb doesn’t have your back. They’re a brand when they want you to rent through them, when something goes wrong they’re just a platform connecting guests and owners. They’ll ‘kind of sort of try to help find you another property’ if the owner cancels on you.

  • Cleaning fees but you have to clean yourself anyway – wash the towels, run the dishes, take out the trash, move furniture back to its original position to name a few items.

  • Doesn’t work well for short stays. You need a lot of nights to amortize cleaning fees and other fees across for it to make sense.

  • 4pm or 5pm check-in, 10am check-out. a hotel, with all its rooms and guests coming and going at different times, can often accommodate early check-in and late check-out (and standard times are often more generous than with Airbnb). A single unit has people leave, gets cleaned, and turned around for the next guest. And they don’t have housekeepers on staff so they need a buffer for whatever service they’re using.

  • Too many scams. You need to carefully parse listings and all of their rules, read every review, and still you might find yourself with something very different than advertised.

  • Airbnb adds too much to the cost. Airbnb’s value add is you, they sell you to homeowners. And Airbnb’s value is that because they have a lot of users, people list their homes, and so you keep coming back. They aren’t just taking a couple of points for this, they may add 20%+.

  • Too much risk. The biggest reason I avoid Airbnb whenever i can is nonrefundable rates. The model sort of requires it – one person owns one property, and if a person cancels and they cannot resell the place they’re out of luck and income. But life situations happen, I do need to change travel plans, and hotels are much better for this.

The concerns I have with Airbnb, though, are hardly the only ones. Others have had far worse experiences.

Cameras are actually permitted in common areas of home rentals but pervs sometimes place them in the bathroom or bedroom (this happens at hotels too). You know a common area of a hotel is public, but most people expect privacy throughout the home they’ve rented.

You’d think with all of Airbnb’s problems hotels – which do face a substantial threat from having such a huge supply of rooms to compete against – would lean into their advantages. Instead many hotels are walking away from their unique selling proposition, dropping services and room cleaning. That may save money in the short term but will cost them greatly over time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’ve been a host with Airbnb for over a year. As a host of a 3M home in key west. I tend to let it out for under market in return for guests who won’t be hard on the home and it’s worked. I have 2 rules. No kids under 5 and always keep doors closed. No kids because of a pool that is not gated from the French doors. Close doors because it’s hot and humid in key west. Humidity goes up in the house with open doors

    My last guest checked in and my maintenance man said he had 4 kids. He opened all the French doors and sliders. My thermostat sent warnings to me that humidity in the house was over 80%. I emailed him to close the doors and he said he would

    Long story short he complained the house was musty and not safe for his infant

    No matter how many times I repeated he opened the doors and left them open and he brought kids including an infant which is not allowed … did not matter

    I was suspended. Airbnb did not care

    I will never rent through them nor list with them.

    When you get into any issue you get handed off to different people and they want to move onto the next problem. They just do not care. Simple.

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