By now, most of us will be familiar with Airbnb, with over 60 million users it has been making headlines since its inception. In case you haven’t the foggiest, the concept is simple. Instead of trawling through numerous sites of hotels, hostels, B&B’s etc. Airbnb allows anyone to let out their homes or rooms to those looking for affordable accommodation. Users sign up to the site and can search by date, location, price to find the best places to suit them. For the host, they can select when the space is available, the price, and select the customers based on reviews. It’s all very simple and has made travelling much more affordable. The concept of becoming a host has come up several times now across various groups, and the platform is always suggested as an option for when people want to find accommodation. With the holiday season coming who wouldn’t like a few extra quid to line their pockets, so we spoke with GirlCrew member, Lorna Muddiman, all about her experience as a host. And if you think hosting sounds like it might be your cup of tea, then make sure you sign up here.
According to Airbnb’s latest figures,in 2015 alone 240,000 visitors to Dublin were hosted on Airbnb. Host numbers in Ireland have doubled since 2010 and continue to rise even in the face of more recent concerns like ambiguities around tax. Being a relative‘newbie’to Airbnb hosting myself, I wanted to share my experience so far with the GirlCrew community and create a space for open & honest discussion.
Firstly, what is Airbnb and where did it all begin? Today Airbnb is a trusted online community marketplace connecting people that are looking to rent out their homes with people searching for, not only safe & affordable accommodation, but also an alternative experience to your regular hotel. The idea was originally thought up in 2007 by three guys living together in San Francisco, struggling to solve a problem that they all shared (not unlike GirlCrew in this sense). With not enough cash to pay the bills and fund their studies they put a modern twist on the traditional ‘Bed & Breakfast’by renting out their flat’s extra floor space to students pouring into the city for a ‘Design Week’ event. Providing their visitors with airbeds, and breakfast the following morning, the concept of Airbnb was born.
The logic is that visitors have the opportunity to stay in a comfortable home belonging to people that live in the area and who can provide local advice and insider tips on things to see & do in the area, or places to eat & drink that are off the beaten track. In this way guests can enjoy a more unique trip as well as avoid the tourist traps that so many fall prey to. Airbnb hosts themselves can rent their entire house or flat, their spare room/s (or even their extra floor space!). They may even provide breakfast. It’s important that hosts clearly outline what they will be providing since guests are going to request bookings based on what they need or want. Bookings and payments are made securely via the Airbnb website and, in case of damages, eligible property is covered up to €800,000. Finally, hosts have the option to request approval before accepting a booking from potential guests, or they can enable ‘Instant Book’ whereby no pre-approval is needed. Airbnb’s website as well as its mobile app make it extremely easy for host and guest to communicate and share information or contact details.
I hosted my first group of Airbnb guests in my home in February of this year (2016), and while I confess to having felt somewhat nerve wracked about it, I honestly have not looked back since then. Being able to communicate with my guests beforehand puts me at ease as well as the fact that I can personally welcome people into my home, answering their questions and sharing with them some tips about the city. I’m a very sociable person so I really enjoy getting to meet and learn a bit more about my visitors, who have flown in from across the globe including from the U.S.A, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands. Airbnb hosts can have multiple listings, of which I have two: I can choose to rent my entire apartment when I’m away on my travels, or just the spare room when I’m at home. In this way not only do I have the chance to meet new and interesting people, Airbnb also allows others to enjoy my place and experience the city in a unique way.
The beauty of becoming an Airbnb host was in the simplicity of it. It’s free to sign up and list your space so it is really just a matter of creating an online profile on the Airbnb website and uploading some good quality images of your place. Airbnb even offers a free, professional photography service to its Dublin hosts which is available to sign up to once a listing is active. Granted there are other practicalities such as the need to invest time and money beforehand, like the purchasing of new bedclothes, towels, or toiletries for guests, as well as the usual housework chores both before and after hosting your guest/s (hosts can charge a cleaning fee in order to cover the latter). Concerns over taxes is another area in constant debate and where further guidance is needed, including from Airbnb. However, I have found the Airbnb team in Dublin to be very supportive to its users, for example through the provision of Q&A sessions in its Dublin office and also via its website’s Help Centre.
To add another string to my Airbnb bow, this summer I and a number of other Airbnb users in Dublin have been given the opportunity to share hosting knowledge and work as ‘Air Ambassadors’, a pilot programme of Airbnb taking place until the end of August this year. It was launched by Airbnb as way to reach out to potential hosts in the Dublin area who may not have the support or the confidence to start hosting by themselves. I personally am delighted to be a part of it since it’s an opportunity to do something different and also to interact with new hosts, like you! I speak from my own experience and so far I only have positive things to say about being an Airbnb host. For those who are undecided, why not give it a trial period to see if it’s for you or not; it’s possible to stop hosting at any time.
If this sounds like it might be of interest, you can sign up to become a host here.
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