Is it Time to Break Up with Airbnb?

a cozy apartment with a couch and hanging plants
Posted: 10/08/19 | October seventh, 2019

There isn’t a denying that Airbnb has modified how we journey. It bought individuals out of the resort/hostel quandary, gave locals a option to monetize their additional rooms and earn extra earnings, and bought vacationers into completely different components of cities, spreading the advantages of tourism round to a wider a part of the neighborhood.

It wasn’t the primary firm to do that, however it made this type of journey widespread and socially acceptable. The concept of “renting somebody’s house” is now seen, not as bizarre or unsafe, however as a wonderfully regular option to see a vacation spot.

I’ve been an Airbnb person since its early days (it started in 2008) and have had some great experiences utilizing the service: the Swiss couple who made and shared dinner with me, the parents in Paris who left me wine as a welcome present, the retirees in Excursions who put a candle in my breakfast croissant for my birthday, the couple in NZ who gave me veggies from their backyard, and numerous different great experiences the place I bought to fulfill locals and study elements of life that I may not have in any other case. (I’ve additionally hosted some actually fabulous individuals too. The location works each methods!)

Over the previous couple of years, I had gotten out of the behavior of utilizing Airbnb, as a substitute staying with pals, in hostels, or motels on factors. Nevertheless, whereas I used to be on my guide tour over the summer time, I made a decision to begin utilizing the service once more.

I used to be nervous about doing so although.

From overtourism to hosts with a number of listings to corporations utilizing it to run motels to a common “no matter” perspective towards complaints, there are lots of issues with Airbnb. It’s not the entire “individuals renting out their room for more money” service it markets itself as.

I’ve learn all of the tales. I’ve seen the information.

With over six million listings, Airbnb is likely one of the largest reserving websites on the market. Within the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparability, Expedia booked 80.Eight million.

However I figured there had to be some gems on the positioning.

And what sort of journey professional would I be if I didn’t know Airbnb’s present state?

I went in decided to not hire locations that weren’t individuals’s properties — that’s, any leases run by of us with a number of listings or property administration corporations, which have the impact of elevating rents for everybody. Whereas Airbnb has lots of issues, the “commercialization” of the service is the most important.

The rising variety of individuals shopping for property simply to hire it out on Airbnb is driving hire up for locals1 and forcing them out of the town. A current examine from the Institut d’Economia de Barcelona reveals that hire in Barcelona’s most touristy areas has elevated by as a lot as 7% between 2012 and 2016.2

Moreover, in 2016 (the newest information I might discover), true house sharing, the place the proprietor is current in the course of the visitor’s keep, accounts for lower than 20% of Airbnb’s enterprise in the USA; 81% of Airbnb’s income nationwide — $4.6 billion — comes from whole-unit leases the place the proprietor is not current.

A search on the web site Inside Airbnb reveals {that a} excessive proportion of items are rented by individuals with a number of listings: in Venice, out of 8,469 listings, 68.6% of hosts have a number of listings; in Barcelona, out of 18,302 listings, 67.1% of hosts have a number of listings; and in Los Angeles, out of 44,504 listings, 57.8% of hosts have a number of listings.

That doesn’t actually scream the “only a particular person renting out their additional area” mannequin the corporate likes to tout.

And I discovered avoiding that so much tougher than I believed it will be.

Even having spent hours making an attempt to weed these sorts of properties out, I used to be fooled in London, DC, and Santa Monica: these listings existed solely to be rented out on Airbnb. These photos that made it appear lived in? Faked. (And the place in London, which was presupposed to be a room in a man’s home, was only a room…however in a home for Airbnb friends.)

All that point spent making an attempt to do the suitable matter…and I nonetheless failed!

As this occurred time and again, I believed to myself: Is it time to interrupt up with Airbnb? Was utilizing Airbnb was value the price it exacts on residents and the time spent looking for gems in useless?

Being a accountable traveler is absolutely necessary to me — however not contribute to the issues Airbnb causes.

Airbnb is likely one of the largest drivers of overtourism. It has created lots of new lodging for vacationers, which in flip contributes to increased tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper lodging = extra vacationers = extra income. However, when unregulated and mixed with the problems highlighted above, elevated tourism kills the very locations we love. It turns into a vicious cycle: extra vacationers = more cash = extra properties on Airbnb = fewer native residents. Nevertheless, fortunately, as I spotlight in this text, lots of locales are preventing again and starting to limit the service.

Furthermore, the corporate doesn’t actually take motion towards hosts behave badly. From spying on friends to denying last-minute bookings to substandard circumstances to pretend critiques, complaints towards hosts go unattended till they develop into information tales like this:

As such, I’ve discovered the customer support to be actually horrible and slanted towards hosts. There are lots of protections for hosts however not friends. If I cancel, I’ve to pay a payment. If the host cancels, there’s little punishment. When speaking about my current experiences with Airbnb on Twitter and Fb, I discovered I used to be not alone. Lots of people have observed a decline within the high quality of the service these days. They nonetheless use it, however I used to be stunned that so many individuals didn’t accomplish that as a lot as they used to. Listed below are some examples:

Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review

There are many people who find themselves nonetheless having great experiences with the service. As a complete, I nonetheless prefer it. There are some hidden gems, great individuals, and funky experiences on the web site, particularly while you get out of the massive cities. (And, in the event you stick with staying in individuals’s spare rooms, you resolve lots of the overtourism and housing points the service creates.)

However, given the social issues it causes, the poor customer support, the trouble of coping with hosts, the crapshoot in high quality, the cleansing and different charges that make the service’s prices on par with conventional lodging choices, I’d typically reasonably simply guide an everyday hostel, resort, or B&B. These are easy, straightforward, and easy. (And, in contrast to the Airbnb I had in D.C., will include rooms that truly lock!)

I don’t need to contribute to overtourism. I don’t need to worth residents out of their properties. I don’t give my cash to an organization that doesn’t need to be a accountable stakeholder. (I haven’t even bought to the lengths the corporate goes to struggle towards oversight, taxes, and regulation.)

And I don’t have all day to spend discovering a room!

And I’m not the one one having second ideas. Take a look at this survey I performed on Twitter about utilizing the service:

These usually are not numbers I’d need to see if I used to be Airbnb. It’s clear, for many of us, the sentiment has shifted away from the service because it’s develop into extra commercialized.

I’m not absolutely prepared to surrender on the service fairly but. I nonetheless assume yow will discover some hidden gems and meet some nice individuals.

And perhaps their upcoming IPO will change its methods by bringing in new stockholders, activist traders, and extra consideration (stockholders don’t like unfavorable information tales that lowers their inventory worth!).

Then once more, perhaps it gained’t, and Airbnb will solely worsen and I’ll should cease utilizing it altogether.

Solely time will inform.

However I feel the scenario is unhealthy sufficient the place one must be cautious of the service and use it with excessive care.

It’s not the identical because it was once.

Notes:
1: Since my crew and I’ve been utilizing the web site so much this 12 months, we’re updating our information to Airbnb to replicate adjustments within the service. Will probably be out in a couple of weeks.

2: You can too discover one other examine completed by California State College right here.

3: Airbnb will not be the prime reason for overtourism, however it positively contributes drastically; the corporate’s need to show a blind eye to the issue is a part of my downside with it.

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