Should We Stop Using AirBnB?

Stop Using AirBnB?

Should we stop using AirBnB?

This is something I have thought long and hard about in the past 48 hours – and as a result I have read everything I can find online in favor of the good, the bad and the ugly of AirBnB, and I’ll be honest. The ugly is, well.. pretty ugly. Stop Using AirBnB

But let’s start at the beginning.

Stop Using AirBnB

Stop Using AirBnB

I’ll be honest. I have agonized over posting this. I have used AirBnB in the past – and lets face it, I think you’d have to have been living under a rock to have not used or thought of using AirBnB, and its amazing array of properties since its inception in 2008. It was so easy – pick a destination, pick a place and book. Cute rentals with a personal touch that just seemed so much more intimate than hotel bookings. The world lapped it up. I mean where else can you book a night in a tree house in Nicaragua? Or a bedroom built into a ski lift in France? It was a whole new world of accommodation options and a way to rally back against the unscrupulous hotel chains who have been robbing people blind for years. What could possibly be wrong with that?!

Well, not much. In the beginning. 8 years on and the landscape is a little different and I feel the shine has well and truly rubbed off the AirBnB novelty. I’ve read a few pieces over the past few months that have brought a few issues to my attention and news reports this week of (more!) undisclosed hidden cameras being found in AirBnB rentals is what has prompted this write up.

Ultimately, I believe there are 5 reasons (in 3 categories) why we should stop using AirBnB, but they all boil down to one key feature – AirBnB’s lack of regulation – that is responsible for its current problems, and could be  – should be – responsible for far reaching consequences.

1. It is Discriminatory stop using airbnb

On all fronts. There have been reports – and even a working paper by Harvard Researchers – which show that AirBnB owners can be discriminatory – race, gender – you name it, there has been a complaint.

You see, with the advent of social media came the need to for a ‘profile’ and with it a profile picture. Something encouraged by all social networks citing better interaction, engagement and that more people will identify with you as a person instead of a faceless (but pretty) picture of an island paradise or a sunset (for example.) Enter a world where you can be judged from anywhere in the world, by anyone who happens across your profile – without you even noticing. And for the most part people are tolerant. People are good. But what about when it comes to commercial transactions?

There have been numerous reports from people booking – or trying to book – accommodation and being rejected on the basis of race. The Harvard study I mentioned above researched this in December 2015 – attempting to book various accommodation with “more black-sounding names” and “more white-sounding names”. The results were eye-opening. Where the same owners declined reservations from the black-sounding names, and accepted the reservations from the white-sounding names. This is not OK.

The argument from some is that you should be able to decide who you want to stay in your property – but really people – is this OK if your reasons are based on racism and discrimination? I think not.  AirBnB have always had a policy of removing users who breach their service agreement (for things like discrimination!) but have gone one step further recently when they declared that it will rid the platform of racism. At the same time it changed its user agreement to prevent people from suing as a result of unfair treatment. Nice one AirBnB.

UPDATE: November 2016:

AirBnB have introduced a Discrimination & Belonging Policy. This means that now all current and future users of AirBnB (hosts and guests) must agree to

“commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias”

Failure to agree to this will mean you can no longer use the platform. This is a great initiative and although it may not change the attitudes of those presupposed to discrimination – it will help where action must be taken when the policy is violated. I’ll certainly be watching closely to see what happens on such an occasion but for now, Good work AirBnB.

To read the Full Policy Click Here.

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2. Its Owners Are Money Hungry stop using airbnb

Now this one is a three part-er:

We live in a capitalist society. There is no denying it. One of the things that was so great about AirBnB was that people were renting their places out for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. You got a more personal experience, to feel like you were at home in someone else’s home – a advertising slogan that has bolstered AirBnB for years. But now, those cheaper accommodation options are suddenly the most expensive accommodation options out there.  I, myself, have searched for a property on AirBnB – only to find the same place on a competitor booking site such as Booking.com or Agoda – $100 or more a night cheaper. Owners now seem to think that the AirBnB name guarantees them a higher price tag – and people who don’t think to look any further – because they trust the brand – are still being ripped off. AirBnB became a success on the back of people not wanting to pay inflated hotel charges, and they have now become what everyone disliked – without actually telling anyone this!

As a secondary to this, AirBnB is now having a negative effect on long term housing in big cities. Where owners  would have previously rented their properties to tenants on a yearly basis, they have decided it is more profitable to restrict their rentals to short term occupants. This has resulted in cities struggling to house their working population and has even seen some cities – such as Berlin and Chicago – legislate against the ‘sharing’ economy.

And third – is where owners have listed their property for a set price, taken a booking and then a few days prior to arrival, they contact the guest stating that they are no longer able to honor the booking. Excuses I have heard for this have been family emergencies, change in circumstances etc (which may be genuine reasons) but look dodgy when the property is relisted hours later at a much higher rate. Some even have the gall to re-contact the original renter and say it is back on the market – and expect them to pay the inflated price. Which sometimes people are forced to do as they don’t have – or don’t feel like – they have any other option. Not cool AirBnB. Not cool.

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3. Its Owners are Unscrupulous stop using airbnb

Unscrupulous is defined as “having or showing no moral principles; not honest or fair” and (leading on from the above) I think it is the perfect way to describe those who have installed (undisclosed) “nanny cams” in their properties to monitor what renters are doing. AirBnB do have a policy of permitting nanny cams outside of the bedroom and the bathroom, and state they must be disclosed to all renters.

However, it is never OK to film someone without their consent, but is the ultimate violation of privacy for it to happen in somewhere where you have paid to stay. You wouldn’t accept this kind of behavior in a hotel – so  why would it be OK in a rental property?! One woman has sued AirBnB for negligence, and has included charges of wire-tapping, privacy intrusion and emotional distress.

This suit was not the first time AirBnB has run into problems with its privacy policy, and it is not the first time that complaints have been poorly handled with no corrective action taken.  Pop over to AirBnBHell where they discuss the worst behavior of both hosts and  guests (because they’re not all that great sometimes either and who’s own horror stories have been covered elsewhere!)

**It’s important to note that AirBnB as an entity has no control over the actions of its hosts – to a certain extent – and people are going to try and make a buck wherever they can. But these practices are not an example of a nice and community-spirited society.**

Related: 5 Reason’s Why Travel Is The Solution to 21st Century Society

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So what does this all mean? Stop Using AirBnB

If you haven’t guessed it. I’m not so much of a fan of AirBnB at the moment. The rise of social networks has created a market of sharing apps and platforms which on their face should enhance society. But where they perpetuate – or even simply, permit – racism and discrimination, is it something we should be encouraging? Sure, you can find super cool and quirky accommodation options – but do you want to take advantage of those if your neighbor from a different ethic background, sexual orientation or gender identity cannot? I don’t.

And please don’t get me wrong. This article is not directed at everyone who hosts on AirBnB. As I said at the top, people are generally good. And I know that for a lot of people, the positives of using AirBnB far outweigh the negatives. But these issues – albeit the consequence of the actions of a minority of hosts – are too large to ignore and should be something that is a consideration in deciding to use the platform.

Until now, I have had an affiliate membership with AirBnB, which offers first time users money off their first stay. I have now deleted this from my site, as I do not want to profit from encouraging people to use a platform I clearly have issues with.

What are your thoughts on AirBnB? Do you think they are mostly good? Or that these issues are too big to be ignored? Let me know in the comments below – and if you liked this post, please pin and share – I would really appreciate it.

Stop Using AirBnB

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  MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld

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104 thoughts on “Should We Stop Using AirBnB?

  1. carla says:

    I have been using AirBnB for some time now, but you are right with the pricing. In my recent travel to Cebu and Davao, I find it cheaper to book in Booking.com. From my experience with AirBnB too, I rarely see the host except when checking me in. That’s the first and the last time I see them and then just hear from them from reviews, which I think they are doing for the sake of improving their profile in the site. Im glad that trivago and hostelworld are there to give us travellers more options.

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    • Vicki says:

      I’m sorry the price inflation tactics have happened to you Carla – but you’re right that we are lucky to have other options such as booking.com, which are more regulated and which have more avenues for recourse if things are not as they seem!

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  2. Laia says:

    Good post about a topic to think about.
    I’ve used AirBnB only twice and had good experiences (I usually stay in hostels or guesthouses) and, as you, at the beginning I thought it was a good idea.
    I didn’t know about the discrimination issue nor that owners were increasing prices more and more. I did hear that some cities have problems with long term housing since owners prefer to rent in AirBnB, and your research seems to confirm this, so it seems it’s time to consider if using AirBnB is a good idea after all…
    Thanks for sharing.
    Laia recently posted…Barcelona from a local: pirates, cacti and a magical fountainMy Profile

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  3. Connie Reed says:

    I have never used AirB&B, so I don’t have any direct experience, but I have heard horror stories from both ends. Someone rented their house to a couple who threw a party and completely trashed the place. And from the other end, someone rented a home, only to show up and the people living there had no idea what they were talking about. Scammed. Although I’ve heard lots of great AirB&B stories, your article only heightens my wariness.
    Connie Reed recently posted…Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center: An Attraction in ItselfMy Profile

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Connie – I think there are good and bad things from both sides – and I’ve also heard of people being scammed. I forgot to put that in the post! Thanks for the reminder!

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  4. Carol Colborn says:

    I have never used airbnb although I was tempted to before. It is the same thing as uber, a cheaper, more affordable, more convenient, more extensive option. But, being highly unregulated, issues will arise. Buyer beware. Buyer be smart.

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  5. Lauren Bishop says:

    Interesting thoughts. I’ve used AirBnB successfully dozens of times and have appreciated the access to local communities it provides. However, I have heard some terrible stories from others, and the allegations of discrimination are horrible! It is such a shame that the original intentions have been so corrupted. I hope a way can be found to reduce the negative and increase positive features.
    Lauren Bishop recently posted…Adventures in Picking StrawberriesMy Profile

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Lauren, – and I agree – it has the potential to be (and has been in the past) such an incredible platform. But there are definitely a few issues at the moment that should be at least acknowledged.

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  6. Anda says:

    I am with you on some of these issues, Vicki, like for instance the invasion of privacy (“nanny cams”), or the higher accommodation prices, to which I would add the very high AirBnB reservation charges (which by the way, VRBO doesn’t have). However, when it comes to the profiling issue (the discriminatory issue) I disagree with you on that. As an owner, I have the right to decide who is going to be using my apartment, even if they are paying for it. Sometimes people want to play the race or gender card when they are rejected, but I’m sure that’s not always the real reason for the rejection. I most circumstances they have been rejected because they have been judged by their appearance, not race or gender. You may find this ‘unfair’, but if someone’s face has “bad guy” written all over it, you don’t want them using your apartment.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Anda – I can completely understand people wanting to retain control over who they host, and for the most part I agree that you just don’t get a ‘nice vibe’ from some people. But I cannot believe that these are all innocent choices following the Harvard Working Paper. Some allegations of racism are completely unfounded – but unfortunately, it is not the case for every allegation.

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  7. carla says:

    So far I have good experience with AirBnb but I am moving out of it because the prices are not that cheap anymore. I am using more of hostels and booking websites now because of their hassle free cancellation and competitive prices.

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  8. Adrienne Lee says:

    Interesting blog on a potentially controversial subject. I’ve discussed with other travelers in several online forums. I’ve seen posts from people who have had great Airbnb experiences – and others who have not. You raise good issues to consider discrimination, price-gouging, etc. It gets back to a matter of personal preference. And possibly age range. Millennials tend to be more open to the sharing economy with lodging, transport, etc. Many older travelers are not. As an admittedly older traveler, I have not stayed at an Airbnb and have no intentions of ever doing so. I am a luxury traveler who prefers the privacy, acountability and comfort of staying at a hotel, or non-owner occupied vacation home/villa. It’s a matter of personal preference….to each his/her own

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you for your comment Adrienne – and I think you’re right on age range thing – and you’re totally right on the personal preference! I just wanted to raise a few points that I felt were important.. and I have prepared myself for a little bit of a backlash!

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  9. Sara Broers says:

    I have not used and Air B & B, but know several who have had great luck with them and then there are the horror stories, but seem to work out in the end. Great post on a topic that a lot of folks are interested in.

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  10. eileen g says:

    HomeAway and VRBO were renting vacation homes out long before AirBnB came along and don’t seem to have these problems. Maybe because they were lower profile start-ups and under less pressure to grow as fast as AirBnB has had to. of course the original renters on AirBnB were people renting their home while they were away or renting a room in their home and it’s evolved into people renting dedicated vacation spaces, which makes it less unique. This is a great summary for people wondering if they should use that website vs trying one of its competitors.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Eileen! I had never really heard of VRBO or HomeAway before researching this post, but it’s nice to know there are other options out there for people who don’t/no longer feel comfortable using AirBnB.

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  11. Ruth says:

    I think you have covered the issues with the platform very well. My sister used to rent two rooms in her house with AirBnB. She has told me a lot of unsettling things about how all the renting and staying works. Close to where she lives, a lot of rooms are at AirBnB (since she lives in NYC). Problem is a lot of renters do not even own the property. They are illegally subleasing a spot. But, with the lack of strong regulations, there is not way to know that when you are booking.
    Ruth recently posted…Sequoias: Largest Trees in the WorldMy Profile

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  12. Rosemary says:

    I’ve been an airbnb customer for over 5 years now and have generally enjoyed the services and the hosts. For me the area of concern is about regulation and especially over cleanliness. For the most part my experiences have been positive, but there are 2 instances where the place was as clean as it was described. Agree with you. In addition to Airbnb, it is always good to have other options and booking.com is solid. Cheers!

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  13. Kerri says:

    Interesting read Vicki. It’s like anything new….for a while it’s cool and we only see the superficial elements, judging it on how it affects our own wallets. Personally I’ve had nothing but great experiences (and I haven’t seen any unapproved videos in cyber space) and I know the people I rented from were people who didn’t price gouge and offered a great experience. The aspect that most concerns me is definitely the economic one, and the upscaling of costs of housing, making it difficult for others to find affordable housing. It’s like the mining boom in Australia. Old towns that noone cared about suddenly became the “it” place, residents rented out their home for mega dollars, the investors came to town and all the rents and housing prices escalated. Today, many of these towns are financially and socially struggling as no-one could afford to stay, and those that did are left with houses and other investments that are worthless. This is the part that hits home here for me. #theweeklypostcard

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Kerri – and I totally agree. I have heard so much about the consequences of the mining boom and the fall since moving to Aus. It’s all a bit of a mess really!

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  14. Yan says:

    I’m an Airbnb host (even Super Host) since 3 years and I … agree with you. I use to be on Airbnb forums and from my point of view most issues have a common origin: many hosts have no ideas about involvement and commitment being an host. All Airbnb adverts are about it’s easy to make extra money, anybody could do it! But it’s not true!
    It’s a hard work and obviously became a business, you have to know about laws and rules (no way to do without), about hospitality (it’s not innate), about cleanliness (our daily personal requirements are definitely lower than guest ones), and how to deal with Airbnb management if you want to last more than few months.
    As a guest you have to be very careful choosing a listing: read all reviews (is there some automatical review about host cancellation? Yes / red flag), be aware about host cancellation policy (strict? If for any reason you have to cancel you will only have a 50% refund, always contract a separate travel insurance).
    For me the question is not about to stop using Airbnb but to learn how to use it.

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    • Vicki says:

      Valid Points Yan – It could well be that the problems I listed are in some ways encouraged by people not really understanding the platform – and it certainly shouldn’t be treated as a ‘get rick quick’ scheme! If every host was as diligent as you there may be fewer issues!

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  15. Andra says:

    Well, I definitely have to agree on the prices aspect of AirBnB. We have used it only a couple of times in Asia just to discover afterward that Agoda provided much better prices. I guess that you can find better options in places like Booking, Agoda or Homestay. On our latest bookings I even ignored AirBnB.

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  16. Corinne says:

    Vicki, I do like to think of people as good, so it’s hard to admit that there are a few bad apples out there that take advantage of travelers like us. We still use AirBnB and have yet to have a bad experience. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the end.

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    • Vicki says:

      I think for the most part Corinne that the majority of travelers have had nothing but good experiences with AirBnB. I just feel like we can’t ignore the bad apples in favor of an easy accommodation option. But I’m pleased to hear all your experiences have been good 🙂

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  17. Brigid says:

    Good post and all valid points. As an Airbnb host myself I have certainly never discriminated against guests based on race or gender. And I would never install a nanny cam. I try my best to price competitively based on Airbnb’s suggested pricing.

    But I am sure these things happen. I think the biggest problem is how one would go about regulating Airbnb more? As you correctly state – Airbnb does not really take much responsibility and does little but facilitate a transaction. In my opinion the good hosts rise to the top – so hopefully those that discriminate, spy and overprice will eventually lose out on bookings and fall off the rankings.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Bridget – and I know that although I raise these points, I offer little by way of regulation options to help solve the issues. As you say, I hope that in the grand scheme of things those who discriminate, spy and overprice will be weeded out by the system!

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  18. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie says:

    Such a great post. I agree about pricing, too. I have found deals here and there, but the pricing in some cities is comparable to that of a hotel. This is true for a booking I was just researching for a stay in Munich. I recently read an article about the discriminatory practices of some Airbnb owners. Of course, I think this is a disgusting practice. I can also imagine how hard this will be for Airbnb to regulate without creating something like a no-tolerance policy. But even this pits one person’s side of things against another’s. It’s a tricky subject but one I hope Airbnb can figure out because the principle behind the company is a good one!
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie recently posted…The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking: Shopping Portals and Dining ProgramsMy Profile

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Jackie – and you’re right. The whole discrimination issue is going to be so hard to regulate/police. I really struggled with raising a problem with the system but not offering any potential solutions. I know AirBnB are working on it – but hopefully the response to such behavior can become more substantial, because the company has – and continues to have – a great concept!

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  19. Grey World Nomads says:

    The bigger companies get the uglier it looks behind it. It’s a pity that this seems to be the rule. The idea of AirBnB is good but it’s time for regulations and competition in the same field.

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  20. LISA says:

    I guess what works for one person may not for another. I have never used Airbnb, always opt for hotels so good to be aware of these trending issues for the future. Thanks.

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    • Vicki says:

      You’re right Lisa – I think most people have an amazing experience with AirBnB, and it’s all about personal preference as to what style of accommodation fits your needs!

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  21. Fiona Maclean says:

    I do use AirBnB occasionally, but I prefer the managed services that have come as a kind of second tier for AirBnB owners. That way you get the best of both worlds. Though I only know about them in London, Paris and Rome

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  22. Sab says:

    I’ve been using Airbnb for some years now. As long as you have good experiences, it’s all fine. As soon as you have a problem, you gonna have a big one. Airbnb’s customer support chat is hard to find, it’s difficult to get in contact with a real person when you need it.

    I agree on the pricing, Airbnb is rarely a cheap alternative to hotels… I recently stayed in a 1BR flat in Bangkok, booked through Airbnb. Later on I checked Agoda and figured I could have stayed in a 5 star hotel with breakfast for the same price.
    Sab recently posted…8 FUN THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTAMy Profile

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  23. Laura @ Sometime Traveller says:

    I’ve often looked at staying in an Air BnB property, but as you’ve mentioned, the prices now seem to be on a par (or ever higher) than staying in a hotel, especially once you have to add on the admin and cleaning fees and fork out for huge security deposits. So I’ve still always gone for a ‘traditional’ hotel. I like the idea of Air Bnb, but the lack of regulation is a bit worrying.

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  24. Chris Christensen says:

    My wife and i are AirBnb hosts. We rent out some rooms in our house that is larger than we need after our kids moved out.

    1) We have enjoyed having guests from all over the world. Right now we have a student from Brazil and a couple of MIT students interning at Google for the summer.
    2) We charge less than you can get a local hotel room.
    3) Perhaps some owners are unscrupulous, but we are not.

    You are painting with a pretty wide brush there. There are millions of AirBnb hosts and some of them do probably discriminate or gouge. Some probably are unscrupulous. But you are assuming from news reports that this is the rule. Do you honestly know that? You article assumes it is closer to 100% than 1%. Based on what?

    That would be like me calling all bloggers (I am one) liars just because your article is crap. That would be unfair and I would never do that.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Chris

      Thank you for your comment and I’m sorry if you felt it was a personal attack on yourself and other responsible AirBnB hosts.
      I have not in any way insinuated that the issues raised are a constant across the board, nor that every AirBnB host is guilty of behaving in these ways and I mention several times that I believe people are generally good.
      But if we all only focused on the positives these issues would not even be discussed – and although they are the minority – to ignore them would be in itself irresponsible.

      I took great care in citing my sources, reviewing information from news outlets across the world. My only question was whether these issues should be considered and if they could be improved upon by the platform in order to make a great resource great again.

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  25. Bob says:

    You raise a lot of good points. There really is no regulation and it is truly “buyer beware”. I have used private condos in the past by searching in the city I am traveling in. I have never had problems but probably due to the fact most of these are managed by brokers that handle multiple properties and not the owners themselves. I think anytime you engage in a private transaction whether it be airbnb, couch surfing or home exchange you need to be vigilant and take as many precautions as possible.
    Bob recently posted…A Weekend Trip to The Most Beautiful Town Square in TexasMy Profile

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  26. Natasha says:

    We use Airbnb all the time, especially for longer rentals. Sometimes it really is the cheaper and best option – plus we like having a kitchen when we travel. Something you can’t get with a hotel. I have heard about some of the horror stories with Airbnb hosts though, and thankfully we have only had positive experiences. We are review Nazis though. Great and informative post!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Natasha! We also love to have a kitchen when we travel and so have used AirBnB for exactly that reason – also being vigilant with checking the reviews is a must! Great to hear that you have have noting but positives! Long may that continue!

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  27. Claire says:

    This is a really interesting post and I admire you for posting something that you thought may be controversial! I’ve only had good experiences with Air BnB but I can completely understand all the points you made. Thanks for sharing this and it has given me some points to think about when I’m next booking accommodation.

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  28. RaW | Ramble and Wander says:

    I’ve never tried Airbnb although have considered it a few times in the past. Decided not to use them (yet) mostly because of regulation issues. Reading about bad experience stories by some bloggers haven’t really put my mind at ease either. So for now, I prefer staying in hotel groups where I know or am familiar with their service standards, just for some assurance, while at the same time I can collect points/air miles as well.

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    • Vicki says:

      It’s all about personal preference – and preferring the comfort and guaranteed level of service in a hotel – particularly when you’re earning rewards points is a no brainer!

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  29. sarah says:

    I stay in airbnb properties a lot (in fact, I’m in one now). You are right that prices are not as cheap as they used to be. Maybe it is home owners getting greedy and realising they could charge a lot more.
    Normally I check a couple of hostel/hotel sites and check airbnb and then see which works best for me. I have met some awesome people doing this, and also some not so great. Just like life.
    It is right that many landlords are able to make more money on airbnb without the hassle of a full time tenant, and that’s not good for locals who are struggling to find a permanent home. Cities like Berlin have now tried to cut back on people renting out their entire home , although the flats are still listed and airbnb take no responsibility.
    I still think they’re a good thing. People just need to use a bit of common sense when booking with them.
    sarah recently posted…Uyuni: My Mad, Phat Photo DiaryMy Profile

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  30. Nancy Pitman says:

    We recently used AirBnB for the first time when we went to Hawaii. We were very fortunate and ended up with a spectacular deal in a more than deluxe condo. We usually with stick with what we know in Hawaii but after a lot of research found this gem. Was it a one time luck of the draw? I don’t know. If we use AirBnB again we will be very cautious.
    Nancy Pitman recently posted…Asleep at the Wheel Over IcelandMy Profile

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    • Vicki says:

      I think your experience is the norm Nancy! I think AirBnB is very much a case of buyer beware – and for the most part it’s great – there are just a few bad apples that you need to be careful of!

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  31. Kenny says:

    I have never used airbnb before, and maybe not anytime soon based on your comments and sharing.
    I do love renting an apartment or staying in a resort over typical hotels depends on the purpose of my trips…

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  32. Sally-Ann Brown says:

    I haven’t used AirBnB myself – I’m a bit too sceptical and concerned about what if it all goes wrong. Which from all accounts does happen. Plus from other articles I have read recently there appears to be no comeback on AirBnB – they have your money and that is that.

    So for me I only book trusted accommodation and back when I was backpacking I would not pay in advance for individually owned properties until I actually sited the property.
    Sally-Ann Brown recently posted…A Small Family Holiday to Busselton with KidsMy Profile

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  33. Kathryn says:

    I’ve used Airbnb so many times and had mixed experiences. Not so much discrimination but then I’m a white Westerner. I am pretty sure I’ve been knocked back for places because I travel solo though. Especially then the rate doubles for two people staying.

    One of the big concerns I have with Airbnb is that you can’t leave a review unless you actually book and stay in a listing. I’ve had hosts screw me around during the booking process, until I’ve decided it’s not worth the effort, and meanwhile my funds are on hold, and there’s no way of recording that. Also, I’ve stayed at places that are were so bad, I had to terminate the agreement. If I cancel, I can’t review. Tip: never cancel, go through the Airbnb admin.

    Most of my disasters have been places with great reviews too. As a guest, I always review keeping in mind what other guests would want to know, not what the host wants to hear. Eg. a place might be fantastic but not good for a solo female traveller. I’d want to know that before I booked.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience Kathryn!
      As someone who doesn’t use the platform an awful lot, I hadn’t even realised some of the things you mentioned -like not being able to review if you terminate, or if you don’t complete a reservation due to being messed around – although it totally makes sense. I had always put a lot of stock in the reviews, however, if you can essentially not post a review under less than optimal circumstances, they seem to be a little more biased than I had thought!!
      And I applaud you for posting what you think other travelers would want to hear – I’m a huge believer in transparency.

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  34. janna says:

    i’m actually a fan of airbnb although i’ve only done it twice. i just like that its a great option for group trips because it is a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel + we have the amenities to prepare our own food. i will still continue to use airbnb but i will keep in mind the things you mentioned here. thanks for the heads up!

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  35. John M. says:

    I definitely appreciate the concerns you have raised. I read this article because I only recently (last month) considered staying in an AirBnB for the first time, but decided not to. As a wheelchair user, hotels seem to be a much safer bet.

    I do think I would be uncomfortable with the lack of privacy – the hotel room is the place I retreat to after a long day of travel and/or work, and it’s nice not to worry about anything.

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  36. Carly Moore says:

    This may have been pointed out already, but Airbnb is really starting to hurt our rental market too. I know some people who got rejected for a tenancy agreement because “they look like people who would rent out a room on airbnb.” Seriously, what?! Discrimination much!

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  37. Jenn says:

    I liked Airbnb when it was part of the sharing economy, but I agree that it’s become very commercial. I didn’t realize Airbnb hosts were also posting on Trivago?! I’ll have to check that out for sure next time I think about using it. I’ve been both a host and a guest, but it’s changed a lot since I put my apartment on it. Thanks for sharing this post!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Jenn! I agree, it’s definitely moved away from the sharing economy into more of a business model. I recently found a place on AirBnB that was advertised on Agoda for $100 a night cheaper! Obviously I booked with Agoda! lol!

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  38. Brianna says:

    Wow, I’ve never even thought about the dark side of AirBnB. I know about the whole hotel tax debate that’s been going on all over the place. And just the other day, I saw a post about how someone discovered hidden cameras all over their AirBnB. I think it was a good concept to begin with, but it has turned into a bit of a sleazy operation…

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  39. mark and kate says:

    You’ve raised good points here in your article about airbnb. It’s something that I would have to consider in the future when I decide to do airbnb. although, knowing about booking.com and agoda is a plus when considering accommodations, too.

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  40. Valerie says:

    Very informative post! I have always had good experiences with Airbnb, aside from one time in Thailand. After the fact I realized I had spent way more booking a small guesthouse through Airbnb when I could have gotten it for much less on both Agoda and Booking. And on the other hand, I just booked a private Airbnb last night for $113/night for Oktoberfest when all the hotels are $250+/night. I can see how there could easily be room for corruption with Airbnb, and I only stay at highly rated properties to hopefully weed out some of the more fickle hosts
    Valerie recently posted…4 Days in ReykjavikMy Profile

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  41. Vicky and Buddy says:

    I still have never used AirBNB, but it’s because I mostly travel by myself and I’ve found that places on AirBNB are usually more economical if you’re traveling with someone or with a group. I can imagine that there have been horror stories though. Thanks for bringing all of your concerns out to us. It takes a lot of courage to bring up some of these issues.

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  42. Sarah says:

    I’ve certainly been debating ideas myself. I do think regulations and taxes that regular hotels have to deal with are in place for the protection of the consumer and the hotel as well. And I certainly do not like the effects it has on housing!

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  43. Elena says:

    I appreciated reading your post: you have some valid concerns and spot on observations. I agree that Airbnb is not perfect. However, our lifestyle (slow travel around the world+working on the road) would be impossible without it. There are other online booking services, but Airbnb is unique in acting as an escrow account between renters and owners. It gives me peace of mind when I am booking a place half a world away that I can’t physically check myself: if something goes wrong (i.e. it does not exist (that happens 😉 ) or has some serious problems) I know that I would be reimbursed and would not be dealing directly with the owner that, quite frankly, could be an unpleasant/scary proposition. In fact, I had very positive experience with Airbnb when our house in Costa Rica got flooded, thanks to el nińo, and became uninhabitable. Their customer service was excellent: quick and easy to deal with.

    In my experience, Booking. com works Ok for short(er) stays: vacations, weekend and business trips. For 2+ months stays, Airbnb is the best choice.

    Unfortunately, unscrupulous owners and inflated prices are problems in some geographical locations. However, these are common issues that exist on their own even without Airbnb. Finding the perfect accommodation is time consuming and takes some efforts (in the same sense as finding the best airfare).
    Elena recently posted…Portuguese HobbitatMy Profile

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Elena
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I totally understand that as a couple who are slow traveling AirBnB can be an attractive option – and you’re right Booking.com/Agoda are better for shorter stays.
      Pleased to hear to that AirBnB were responsive in Costa Rica too – I have heard mixed reviews on their customer service!
      And totally agree that finding the best accommodation option is time consuming!!

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  44. melody pittman says:

    Interesting read and I agree that I have mixed feelings over AirBNB. I do not like that the owners have to have certain “scruples” as you mention, and true, what started out as this amazing “opportunity” quickly became fueled by greed so there is no longer that big perk. Glad you got it off your chest and gave travelers something to think about.

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  45. Paul says:

    A considerable load of hyperbole and far too many people commenting with ‘I haven’t used it before but…’ Come on. If you haven’t tried Airbnb consider staying WITH a Host, I think you’ll find it IS a uniquely local experience unlike any hotel / hostel stock booking platform.

    Airbnb as a community / marketplace is far from perfect but put the stories in perspective. For the scale that they deal in (1M+ Guests per night regularly) they continue to be as responsible as they can be. Prejudice, price gouging and unsavoury characters exist in society… everywhere.

    Like Uber , Airbnb are the tech darlings kicking sand in old industries collective faces. Have a think about how many illegal events are happening in hotels across the world every night? Today’s modern media cycle sure do love a salacious Airbnb story.

    Diversified income is the way of the future for many generations to come… hop in, the self driving car is leaving.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Paul
      Thank you for your comment.
      I have personally used AirBnB without a problem, I just felt it necessary to discuss the less successful side of AirBnB and the very real matters of discrimination and price gouging.
      AirBnB have in the past been great, but as you say they are now servicing over 1M guest per night – and with those huge numbers there are bound to be problems. Yes they may be small in number in the grand scheme of things – and the behavior discussed not typical of 90%+ of AirBnB hosts – but that does not mean these issues are insignificant.
      Yes, diversified income is the way of the future – but its not wrong to want that to be free from discrimination. To move forward so blindly is running the risk of moving backwards in society.

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  46. Alex Datsev says:

    There have been some widely publicized complaints from AirBnB, including the one where people apparently found a dead body in the houses’s backyard…I have used it and other similar services both in the US and in Europe and have always had a positive experience. This being said, your comments regarding discrimination, invasion of privacy, price gouging etc. are perfectly valid and should be kept in mind. Thanks for the great read!

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  47. Danielle Des says:

    Race is a major issue facing lots of Airbnb customers. So much so that new Airbnbs sites are popping up and I’ve seen lots of people using the hashtag #airbnbwhileblack. This post is so important to share, pinning!

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  48. Anna @ shenANNAgans says:

    I have not actually stayed in Airbnb before, and not heard any bad feedback about it either. I have found my globetrotting buddies only have excellent things to say about their experiences too. I will be sure to do my research before using them in the future.

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  49. bob says:

    Cancelled my account because it requires a mandatory credit card stored online. Agoda, booking.com don’t require this and unfortunately it is NOT safe to do. You can refer to the many big companies that have online credit card records hacked in the news.

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