Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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DW Life > Airbnb's Six Golden Rules For travelers Communicate—Confrm check-in times and key exchange after booking. Be neighborly—Be respectful of your surroundings and the neighbors next door. Verify—Check with your host before inviting visitors. Respect—Treat the dwelling as if it were your own home. Notify—Immediately inform your host of any problems. Review—Leave feedback for your host. For hosts Be transparent—Accurately represent your listing. Update—Keep your calendar availability up-to-date. Respond—Promptly reply to messages and reservation requests. Plan ahead—Coordinate check-in and key exchange well in advance. Uphold reservations—Be committed to the reservation. Address concerns—Be accessible to help remedy any issues. While Airbnb is not for everyone (don't expect a mint on your pillow every night or your linens changed daily), it does ofer many amenities not found in a sterile hotel. Probably the primary reason people enjoy the Airbnb experience is the ability to replicate home—and save money at the same time. Many travelers prefer to cook their own breakfasts or dinners rather that eating all their meals in a restaurant. For others, the appeal is the personality of a home or apartment. It may be a shelf flled with interesting books or a backyard patio with a garden. Airbnb allows travelers to customize their stay by choosing amenities that appeal to them. For families, the draw is often space, as homes often have more than one bedroom. 62 D I VERSI TY W OMAN Fall 2013 For others, it is the personal touch. Some choose to stay at homes where the owner has not vacated, and they value the opportunity to talk with a local who can provide insight into the area and even share the hidden gems of his or her city. Tese interactions can provide networking opportunities, a sense of community, and even lasting friendships. "Tere's a community that comes with Airbnb," says Kim, who has used Airbnb as far away as Japan. "Coming out of my travel experiences, I know that I now have people I can turn to. Airbnb is a good way to stay connected and bring a sense of familiarity." While most people use Airbnb for personal trips, the service is certainly not restricted to vacationers. It also has a growing market of business travelers who crave a diferent experience. "One of the biggest complaints I hear from business travelers is that they travel from one locale to the next without ever getting an authentic sense of place," says Gerba. "An Airbnb may not have all the bells and whistles that a corporate hotel can ofer, but it can guarantee personality, quirk, and an inside track to hyperlocality." But is it safe? Airbnb goes to great lengths to ensure that guests and hosts alike feel safe and secure. Te identities of all Airbnb users are verifed by the company, and these verifcations show up on users' profles. Guests pay through Airbnb when booking, and hosts receive payment 24 hours after guests check in, so no money needs to be exchanged in person by the two parties. For hosts, there is also the added assurance of Airbnb's host guarantee, covering property damage up to $1 million. More and more home and apartment dwellers are jumping on the Airbnb bandwagon. Tey like the opportunity to make some extra money, especially when they are out of town. And some hosts who are at home at the same time as their guests enjoy meeting travelers from all over the world. "We had some initial trepidation [about renting out our home] because we didn't really know what to expect," says Lynne Moftt, who along with her husband, William, began renting out the guest room in their Los Angeles–area home a year ago. "We started out doing it as a source of extra income, but we found that we've also met some incredible people." "We once had a woman and her fouryear-old son stay with us because her husband didn't want them staying alone in a hotel," says William Moftt. "Tey felt much safer booking a room in a house with a family living there. Our home turned out to be a big plus for them." But as when booking a hotel, one should take the time to research hosts or renters and read the reviews posted by Airbnb users. Airbnb may suit certain people better than others. However, the afordability, personal touch, and even occasional surprise—who knew that the city's best neighborhood café was just around the corner?—have made the service a popular alternative to a hotel stay. "Hotels will always be great places to escape to," says Gerba. "But being invited into someone's home instantly makes you feel like an insider." DW Eddie Lee is DW's associate editor. Is Airbnb legal? For now, in most places, it is. Several states and municipalities are investigating whether Airbnb transactions should be subject to hotel taxes or if the service violates land-use codes and tenant-protection laws. Recently, New York City has declared Airbnb rentals illegal and began cracking down by sporadically imposing fnes on hosts. Airbnb is also illegal in San Francisco and several other cities. Yet, in August, Airbnb was advertising more than 4,500 places to stay in San Francisco and 25,000 in New York City on its home page, so legalities are still very much in fux. Before booking, be sure to verify policies on the Airbnb site. d i v e r s i t y wom an. com

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