Last August I finally had my first AirBnB experience. I got a great little apartment in Rio de Janeiro for pennies on the dollar compared to regular hotel rates in the area. Plus the host was an awesome guy. It didn’t take much for me to be pretty much convinced that I’d love to do more of that type of stay where at all possible. I tend to avoid them for single-night bookings, mostly because I don’t think it’d be as convenient for me or the hosts, but with a 3-night stay coming up in San Diego I figured I’d check out my options.
Part of the motivation is location. There are no hotels near where we’re trying to base ourselves in the Hillcrest neighborhood so AirBnB should be a perfect match, right? Alas, it seems that it was not to be. I have some restrictions I’ve placed on my search, covering property type (we want our own place, not a room in someone’s home), location and price. And the AirBnB map shows a few options right in the neighborhood which meet those parameters. So I started contacting hosts. One by one, despite the properties showing available in the AirBnB booking system my requests were denied.
I expanded my search to a broader neighborhood, with even more hosts listing properties. Still no love.
One of the hosts clearly is running something resembling a hotel using a number of units in a condo building. Click on the listing and she makes it clear that you have to email her for specific details on the properties available. I figured that would increase the chances of getting a room at the offered rate.
That $160/night booking turns out to be a $200/night option (plus the AirBnB fees) once you actually get in touch.
Turns out I was wrong.
And so, despite the theory that staying in a private apartment can be more comfortable and less expensive, I’m now back to my usual searching options. Maybe it is just that the first handful I reached out to were all flakes and all the others are great. But I’m betting against that; I’ve still got many open inquiries pending to hosts without replies.
Of course, it isn’t that searching for hotels is any easier or more streamlined. I submitted one best rate guarantee inquiry for a SPG property and there are a few others where the price and availability varies significantly by booking site. But at least I know that once I submit the booking I have a room reserved rather than the ongoing back-and-forth of maybe yes, maybe no.
I want to love AirBnB, and as a concept I really do. But actually trying to use it this week has me seriously reconsidering that plan.
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