Monday, March 14, 2016

Do You Airbnb?

     I personally have had two experiences with Airbnb. One was in Southern California a couple of years ago; the other in Naples, Fla., just a couple of months ago.

     In the first instance I had my own wing of a house -- not a separate entrance, but my own bedroom and bathroom, with the rest of the house up a flight of stairs. The woman who hosted was perfectly nice -- friendly but not intrusive. But the real appeal to the place was the view. The house sat on a bluff high above the Pacific and offered a spectacular panorama with Catalina Island off in the distance.

     This past winter, in Naples, I had to share a bathroom with another guest. That was unexpected. I went back and looked at the listing, and while it didn't explicitly say "private bath" it did advertise "privacy" -- which I took to mean my own bedroom and bathroom.

     But other than having to share a bathroom, the place in Naples was great, located in a quiet neighborhood with a friendly married couple as hosts. They had a big-screen TV where I watched the AFC championship between the Denver Broncos the New England Patriots. A great game. But the real bonus? They cooked a fabulous breakfast, served at a big, comfortable dining room table.

     Have you ever used Airbnb? Were your experiences similar or different? B has never been to one; but now we are talking about using Airbnb to book a beach cottage outside of Charleston, SC, in September.

     There was an article in the NY Times last weekend about some of the problems posed by Airbnb and its cousins HomeAway and VRBO. The piece focused on New Orleans where apparently there are so many Airbnb rentals that they are crowding out regular residents. Similar problems have cropped up in certain neighborhoods in other urban places like Portland, Ore., Philadelphia, Pa., and Austin, Tex.

     One New Orleans resident complained that his neighborhood now consists mainly of strangers carrying suitcases, who arrive on Thursday or Friday and depart a few days later. But it seems the real problem comes with the few troublemakers who inevitably show up -- visitors who make a lot of noise, throw garbage on the street, even vomit on the front steps.

     Honestly, I can't imagine becoming an Airbnb host. Well, first of all, we don't live in a tourist area where anyone would want to stay overnight. We're too far from New York City, and we're not near the water or any major tourist attraction. There's nothing even remotely interesting about the town where we live. But even if there was, I don't think I'd like the idea of strangers coming and staying over at my house.

     And then, you're in business, so you have to keep track of all your expenses and your income and report to the IRS. That's a job in itself. And what if something goes wrong? A crime, for instance, or an injury? Would you feel terrible? Do you need special insurance? Could you get sued?

     But I do enjoy going to an Airbnb rental -- is that hypocritical, to patronize a service but not to want to participate in the sharing?

     I haven't ever tried using Uber to get a taxi (although my son swears by it) -- not because I wouldn't, but because I don't live in the city and so don't have occasion to. This so-called sharing economy definitely has its benefits; but sometimes it can be a little unsettling.


Anonymous said...

My daughter used an Uber and rented a Bed and Breakfast in Sydney, Australia. Pleasant experience and the room was only $70 per night.

Olga Hebert said...

Well I have had pleasant enough stays at B and Bs, but I am going to have to research this Airbnb thing.

Anonymous said...

We are three minutes from downtown DC, but you won't find us in the airnb business either. We generally stay with relatives if we go anywhere as we have them everywhere. Or they find us a nice place to stay nearby.

Juhli said...

We have rented from both AirB&B and VRBO for vacations. In both cases we were renting a house where only we would be staying so no hosts on site. Both were great.

Stephen Hayes said...

I've never used Uber and I'm not familiar with Airbnb, even though I live in one of the places on your list, Portland, Oregon.

MaryAnn said...

We have used VRBO for a variety of US and European trips. Except for one rental that I did not read carefully enough we have enjoyed staying in an apartment or a house. We do not share places with strangers and really enjoy the quiet and space. We have stayed in B& Bs that were a part of someone's house but we had separate entry and private bath. We live near a Southern Calif beach and there is a war brewing between the people like us who live here and people who have invested in property and making them short term rentals. It does change the neighborhood and the trash in the street near some rentals is ugly.

I guess it is always "not in my back yard".

DJan said...

I haven't used either one, but then again I'm a retired person who might one day need one just for a nice place to visit. I'll keep airbnb in mind, for sure. :-)

Janette said...

There is a war brewing in Southern Delaware as well. Last year there was questioning about putting in pools for houses that were solely VRBO. My, my, the news was full of the fight.
My husband and I used B&B's exclusively in the 1980's when we lived in Europe. I see Airbnb much the same.
We have taken to using a VRBO for family trips. Now that there are ten of us- having a kitchen and combining bedrooms helps with so many things that used to take tons of thought. (Which hotel room should be put the kids in if we want to all play cards until dawn?) It also tends to save us about $1500 over the course of the week. Less eating out and no crazy hotel resort fees happens at houses.
We have rented two so far (Whidbey Island and Portland). We are about to launch into a third contract for Phoenix over Thanksgiving. It probably will be our last for a while. Traveling a group larger then 10 is close to impossible.

Barbara - said...

I always look at Air B and B, as well as vacation by owner. I do not have a problem not being the only person there. In San Francisco the places I looked at would be me there with the home/condo owner, and it looks lovely. I would definitely consider doing it myself, especially if I lived in say, Arlington Virginia, where I did for years. I have a friend with a finished basement, and he takes in Airbandb folks and he is thrilled. I don't think his neighbors care one way or another.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! Yes I do airbnb. We have rented a master bedroom with attached bath in a person's home a couple of times, and a beach home for an entire month for last summer. We also rented a condo in downtown San Diego for a long weekend. All were great. What I like so much about them is that you can check the reviews from other people who stayed there to give you a certain level of comfort--and then as a "tenant" you are also rated. I'm happy to say that we have a very good rating as a nice and "quiet" couple who takes good care of their property like is was there own. I recommend Airbnb completely and would much rather stay in an apartment than a hotel. And I'm tempted to use Uber but just haven't had the opportunity yet. As you know, I always recommend you not buy when you can rent! ~Kathy

Linda Myers said...

We used Airbnb last summer for four days, at a convention in Atlanta. Twelve visitors in five bedrooms with a common kitchen and shared baths. It was fun!

I have used VRBO when looking for a six-bedroom place for the Vashonistas, a group of woman bloggers. We have used that same place for all three of our gatherings.

We also belong to Evergreen Club and Affordable Travel Club. We host overnight visitors about ten times a year and provide them with a simple breakfast. We have also been guests of club members on road trips. I like "meeting the locals" when we travel, so this works pretty well for us.

Haven't used Uber, but did use Lyft (same idea as Uber) for a ride from the airport to our place in Tucson. Easy!

Barbara said...

I haven't used Airnb but I think we've booked several vacations on VRBO. I haven' used Uber either. I vacation so little that I'm really getting behind on so many new ideas.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm an Airbnb host and have nothing but great things to say about the people I have hosted. It is a great and tax free way of earning when on a fixed income. I do serve a great breakfast and my guests have raved about the authentic experience I provide on The Rock.

I have also sampled Airbnb and it was delightful.

I think users move away from the Holiday Inn type of vacation and are fairly outgoing. Many remain my friends.