Airbnb is a “global community marketplace that connects travelers seeking authentic, high-quality accommodations with hosts who offer unique places to stay”.
This year I’ve used Airbnb countless times as I traveled from country to country within Europe and the US. Some experiences, as to be expected, were better than others, although since I had researched every apartment very well we had no mishaps. Being a long time user of Airbnb however I cannot help but notice that things have changed from the early days.
When Airbnb first took off many of the apartments I visited were either the actual place where the owners lived, or decorated in a very homely fashion. The owners would personally meet us, give us the lowdown on the city and even prepare some food for breakfast and nice things to have (salt, pepper, oil etc). I still get to enjoy such experiences nowadays, but they are becoming increasingly rare.
There seems to be a drive by many people to purely take advantage of the Airbnb opportunity to make some extra cash, or even a full-time income. Thus we are starting to see many newly renovated apartments with only the bare essentials and cheapest furniture. Airbnb places strict rules on photographers and forces them to enhance their photos, many times making the apartment look better than it actually is. The owners don’t even meet you sometimes but leave the key in a deposit box. Many times you can forget about finding even a free city map on the coffee table, let alone some goodies in the kitchen.
While there’s nothing wrong per se in all this, the Airbnb experience was so much better in the early days through the interaction with the owners of the apartment, and the genuine feeling we used to get of people sharing their experiences and knowledge with each other. Like I said, it is still possible to get these experiences, but they’re getting lost in a sea of purely commercially minded people putting apartments for rent on Airbnb.
So what’s the solution? Airbnb itself cannot do much, the changes have to come from the people putting up their apartments for rent. My suggestion is to take the time to meet your guests, spend 15 minutes with them explaining how things work in your city, some good restaurants you recommend etc. Buy some food ($10 won’t break the bank) and give them a nice surprise. Make them feel genuinely welcome into a home away from home, and this will ensure their experience will be awesome. It’s a good investment really, if you treat guests in this way they’re much more likely to leave glowing feedback and get you more high quality bookings.