Friday, October 10, 2014

Our Airbnb Experience

Scanning the news recently a titled piece mentioned airbnb. I immediately clicked on it, eager to read what the writer had to say. The article was not complimentary. Airbnb is a competitor of this woman’s traditional Bed & Breakfast establishment.

We have been airbnb hosts since June of this year.

The author believes airbnb cut into her sales. Airbnb is cheaper than most B&B’s and upscale hotels, although less expensive motels can be found in many areas.

Airbnb is an internet-based list of lodgings located around the world. Owners register their property, listing amenities, location information (distance from major tourist sites, stores, etc.), post pictures, and of course include price. Some people rent a room in their home. Others rent apartments or second homes owned, or guest cottages on their property.

Prices range from inexpensive to rather pricey. Accommodations can be anything from a rustic cabin in the woods to luxury digs at popular beach resorts to apartments in desirable cities like New York, Paris, and London.

We posted our apartment near Atlantic City. Taxes keep rising and maintenance costs are never-ending. Earning a few dollars when the place is vacant seemed a good way to subsidize costs. We do not rent full time because family members use the place throughout the summer and occasionally other times of the year. We blocked out times the apartment is unavailable.

We are not required to automatically accept a reservation request. We can carry on a virtual conversation with prospective guests, who prepay airbnb. At the conclusion of their stay the fee is deposited in our account.

Results have been positive. All parties treated our belongings well and left the apartment in good shape. So far nothing lost, stolen, or damaged.

Guests sometimes come for special events – weddings, family reunions, conventions, etc. Others want a get-away weekend, enjoying the beach, nearby restaurants and AC nightlife. Visitors like the convenience of a kitchen and a space to relax that is not also their bedroom.

Why not stay in local hotels, B&Bs or other accommodations?

AC weekend and holiday hotel rates are expensive, occasionally exorbitant – anywhere from $200-$400 or more a night. Prices are also high at area B&Bs and reputable non-casino hotels during the same time periods.

Bargains can be found weekdays, especially off-season, but a lot of people cannot take time off and take advantage of low midweek rates.

Airbnb has expanded travel opportunities and options and become very popular. As a result the fledgling industry has attracted the attention of established business competitors such as hotels and the owner of the B&B who wrote the newspaper article.

New ideas frequently bump up against traditional ways of doing things. But change is ingrained in our society and an essential part of our business culture, even though strong forces often fight innovative ideas and businesses threatening their domain.

But that is the American way.

Local governments are beginning to scrutinize airbnb and similar companies, eying a source of revenue and concerned about liability issues. Some regulation will probably be enacted in many municipalities to protect all parties involved in a transaction. Unfortunately governments may one day regulate airbnb out of existence, and/or demand mounds of paperwork a lot of part-time hosts will not, cannot, or may simply refuse to do, quietly delisting their property.

That would be a shame. The American entrepreneurial spirit should remain alive and well and thrive.