We tried airbnb for the first time last summer. We went to Europe for two weeks and decided to have an experience on European terms, rather than on tourist terms. That is, hotels tend to be in tourist districts that cater to a broader appeal of entertainment and amenities. We go to Starbucks at home. In Europe we wanted to go to neighbourhood coffee shops. So, why not be in the neighbourhood where the independent grocery stores and coffee shops are?
Overall, our experience was great. The toughest part of airbnb was picking where we wanted to stay. By the time our trip was done, I believe we gave out five five-star ratings, and one three-star.
In the process I arrived at the conclusion that the hotel industry is safe. Those who want the airbnb experience were never really the target market for hotels, anyway. The airbnb-set have stayed in hotels because there was no other option.
That was our European experience. It showed me why I was an airbnb user at heart. Our Canadian experience has been, well, changing our impression of the whole model.
We’ve recently attempted to book airbnb stays in Montreal and Kingston. All of our attempted bookings have failed. It turns out airbnb hosts are not keeping their availability calendars up to date, they indicate bookings are for the whole house and then tell you during the confirmation process that it’s only for one room, and they promote free parking on-premise when what they really mean is that they and their neighbours park at a lot down the street and haven’t yet been ticketed.
Hotels and airbnb have some things in common: both have their successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses. However, as a distributed business dealing with battlefronts like regulatory boundaries and “attacks” from the hotel industry, airbnb doesn’t need its hosts creating another front dealing with basics like availability and honesty. That’s a front that involves the customers, and it won’t end well.