Airbnb beats out hotels


Samantha Durham

Airbnb, a popular website for homesharing opportunities.

Veronica Wernicke, Staff Writer

We can’t all afford to stay in the Ritz hotel in New York City or the Résidence Charles Floquet hotel overlooking the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but we could still go to these cities if we stayed in a home share or Airbnb property. Home sharing and especially Airbnbing have been on an up-rise in recent years, and for good reasons. With hotel prices skyrocketing, why not stay in a house or apartment for way cheaper?

Home sharing is “an alternative way for people to meet their housing needs that provides numerous benefits to homeowners and renters alike. In simple terms, home sharing is an arrangement by which two or more unrelated people share a dwelling within which each retains a private space,” according to a home share website. Meanwhile, through the popular sight Airbnb, an online marketplace, “connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers: Hosts list and rent out their unused spaces and travelers search for and book accommodations in 192 countries worldwide.”

Some concerns that can come to mind about staying in an Airbnb apartment or house are property damage and an uncomfortable or awkward feeling towards staying in another’s house or apartment. On the contrary, Airbnbing or home sharing is a source of income for families and sometimes might be the only income they see. In addition, it’s more affordable, like aforementioned, and due to that affordability it brings in even more tourism to more expensive vacationing spots, like New York City and Paris.

The idea of home sharing and Airbnbing doesn’t bother me in the way it might others. In fact, I find it really neat and smart, not only for the rentees, but the renters as well. I love the idea of being able to stay in a city or town that I’ve always wanted to visit, and not have to worry about dropping hundreds of dollars on a hotel room. As a college student — especially a fresh college student — money isn’t really abundant, but traveling has always been a passion for me. Through things like home sharing and Airbnb, I can still continue pursue that passion and not dig myself into a moneyless pit. As long as you do the research and read the reviews, I’m sure you can find the perfect, or at least ideal, Airbnb rental for your specific needs and concerns. I personally have never stayed in an Airbnb, but due to its growing popularity and good reviews from friends, I’m sure I’ll find myself staying in one in the coming future.

I mean, think about the possibility of staying in adorable city apartment for the weekend — does that not scream Pinterest board all over? Thanks to home sharing and Airbnb, your Pinterest board dreams can come to life, and being a broke college student or broke young adult is no longer an obstacle or an excuse to keep you from traveling.

Just exploring the Airbnb website for places in popular — and notoriously expensive — cities like New York City, I found several cute spaces that were between $42 and $88+ per night. Which, in comparison to hotels — around $150 per night — they are much cheaper. In addition, all the pictures showed cute apartments that all were in ideal locations in the city or in its boroughs. Next, I explored across the pond in the city of Paris. Once again, I found very affordable and cute spaces — flats, if you want to get with the European lingo — ranging from $48 to $100+ a night.

When comparing these prices to hotels in Paris, which start at around $200+ a night, how could you not want to stay in a more welcoming and homey flat? Also, did I mention a hell of a lot more affordable? I’m ready to pack my bags and jump on a plane or train to head to these cities. Another nice thing I noticed when looking on the Airbnb website was in the reviews most of these spaces are private, but a lot of the hosts were there to chat and answer any questions about not only the space, but the city as well. Especially if you are traveling alone, I find it a little more comfortable to know that you can at least have someone who understands the city to talk to or just to chat with for casual conversation — you sure aren’t getting that in a hotel.

Home sharing and Airbnbing is even popular right here in Wilmington, due to its ideal location right on the East Coast. Local Wilmington resident Charlie Ball has rented out a property on Airbnb for about a year now, and is currently in the works of adding two more properties to Airbnb. His popular rental “White Barn Apartment” has had a constant booking and high approval rating since it went up on the website. This is most likely due to the fact that he puts a lot of work into the space by cleaning it thoroughly and providing things like linens, coffee and other small luxuries.

Ball got the idea of Airbnbing as a source of income, which he said makes him three times the amount of money compared to a long-term rental. Aside from the extra work of staging and providing furniture, as well as cleaning the property, Ball said that, again, financially it’s a better deal, and in the long run is worth it. Not only has he made a nice profit from Airbnbing, but he is able to meet a lot of different travelers.

“The other side of that is you get to meet a lot of interesting people who use it. It’s been nice to get to know people that are traveling,” said Ball. He also noted the benefit Airbnb has provided for traveling college students as a cheaper alternative compared to staying in hotels when going on road trips. He sees a few college students staying a night or two during a road trip, but he said most of his guests have been parents visiting their children in college because, again, it’s a cheaper option.

In regards to property damage, problems or concerns, Ball said because he uses the Airbnb app, Airbnb serves as a mediator. He is actually covered up to a certain extent through their insurance if he ever had damage. The only “problem” he has come across is a few cancellations that he has had to deal with through the app.

“I think every property is different, so definitely read the reviews and see if it is a good fit. For hosting, the more attention to detail the more you can expect people to take care of it and respect it. It’s been a great experience for me — better than expected,” said Ball, “It’s been great. To the point where I’m trying to add two more properties and I’m always looking for opportunities where I can add that to my business.”

So, as long as you do the proper research, I say book that trip you’ve been dying to take to New York City or Amsterdam, and save your money by staying in an Airbnb or home share rental. You won’t know what you’re missing out on, or what it’s like, until you try it. You shouldn’t put off a trip like that just because you’re apprehensive about staying in someone else’s home with someone else’s things and sheets.

If you still are concerned, then message the hosts and ask them questions, because from what I’ve read and what Ball stated, they are more than happy to answer any questions and make your trip not only affordable but comfortable. So, enjoy the trip in your cozy space, especially knowing the fact you probably saved a good chunk of money just on accommodation costs.