Topsy Tasty

Everything You Need to Know About Booking an Airbnb

Prior to 2008, going on vacation had only a few options for accommodations. Aside from hotels, you had the option of motels, inns, lodges, bed, and breakfasts, or hostels. But in 2008, a game-changing type of accommodation allowed people to find their home away from home: Airbnb.

Airbnb connects property owners (“hosts”) with people (“guests”) looking to rent a place for short or long term stays. While some Airbnbs are just as (or even more) expensive than other forms of accommodation, most stays provide amenities others cannot provide. To ensure their guests’ safety, they verify each listing, make sure hosts and guests communicate exclusively on their platform, and collect and transfer money.

If you’re interested in learning more about Airbnb and how to book one, here’s what you need to know.

What Is Airbnb?

Airbnb began in 2007 when two roommates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, decided to put an air mattress in their living room. They couldn’t afford the rent of their apartment, so they turned it into a bed and breakfast for those who had a hard time booking short-term accommodation within San Francisco. By 2008, together with Nathan Blecharczyk, they created a venture which they named AirBed & Breakfast.

What Does “Airbnb” Mean?

The name “Airbnb” is the shortened form of its original name, The team changed its name by 2009 shortly after it began to take off. By this time, their marketplace had around 10,000 users (both hosts and guests) and had 2,500 listings. These listings were no longer limited to the airbeds that Airbnb started with and now included shared and entire houses, apartments, rooms, and other types or properties. By 2018, Airbnb also featured luxury rentals like villas and other high-end listings worldwide.

How Does Airbnb Make Money?

While Airbnb was founded in 2007 and expanded worldwide over the next 10 years, it didn’t turn a profit until the second half of 2016. The company has received venture funding as early as 2009. This is what the company used to expand its business while it wasn’t profiting between 2007 and 2016. The commission it makes through charging a service fee for connecting hosts and guests did not start to turn a profit until 2016.

Airbnb makes its money through its service fee. When you pay for a booking, majority of your payment goes to the host for their property and a cleaning fee. Airbnb charges a service fee which can be between 9 to 15 percent of the property’s cost.

How to Book an Airbnb

You can book an Airbnb stay on your personal computer, phone, or tablet. For phones or tablets, you’ll need to download the Airbnb app, but for your computer, you can go to Airbnb’s website. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to sign up. Before you can successfully reserve a place, you’ll need to provide your government ID, phone number, email address, and a selfie. Don’t worry about Airbnb sharing your ID with others, though. Once they verify your identity, they’ll simply put a verified icon on your profile. This is to ensure hosts that you are a legitimate profile.

Image from Airbnb

Take note that booking an Airbnb may require you to have a credit or debit card, as this is the only option available to all countries. People booking through iPhones and iPads can pay via Apple Pay, while Android users can use Google Pay (only in the US). PayPal may be available for certain countries. Check Airbnb’s payment modes to see if your prefered mode of payment is available.

Once you’ve made your account, you can now start booking your place. It’s fairly simple and similar to booking a hotel online. First, start off on the main page. We’re going to show you how to book via computer, but booking through a phone or tablet is fairly similar. Let’s say you’re visiting family in Los Angeles for a weekend in June. You’ll be arriving Friday night and leaving Monday morning. Type in the details of where you want to stay, the dates you’ll be there, and how many guests will be staying in the property. Take note that some properties have an occupancy limit, and bringing in additional people may result in additional charges, so be honest.

Image from Airbnb

Be sure to select “stays” if you’re looking specifically for properties. Since 2016, Airbnb has began to offer “experiences,” a place where hosts can offer tourist activities and attractions for those staying within the area. Click search, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can see all the available places in the area.

Image from Airbnb

If you want to narrow down your search, toggle the filters above.

Image from Airbnb

You’ll notice that the number of available Airbnbs have decreased from over 300 stays to just 40. These are the available stays in Los Angeles that meet my filters. In this example, I filtered down the results to private properties for me and my group up to $310 a night, Airbnb Plus (for higher quality and cleanliness), 2 beds, and a property that has WiFi, air-conditioning, and a kitchen. From there, I can make my selection. Click on each of the choices to see which one you want to rent out. If you like what you see, click “Reserve.” You’ll be shown a breakdown of how much you have to pay, including the cleaning fee, service fee, and the taxes that may be applicable to the area. In this case, Los Angeles has a Transient Occupancy Tax I have to pay.

Image from Airbnb

Before you can confirm your booking, some Airbnbs require you to send a message to the host introducing yourself, your reason for booking, and what time you’ll be checking in. After sending this, you’ll go on to payment. If your host rejects your booking, you’ll be refunded the full amount. Otherwise, your booking is complete.

Tips on Booking an Airbnb

While there are plenty of horror stories of Airbnbs, the best thing to do to avoid having your own poor Airbnb experience is to do your research and think carefully where you want to book your accommodations. For any more questions about booking an Airbnb, feel free to leave a comment below!

Exit mobile version