I have a little insight to this problem having stayed at many airbnbs AND owning a guesthouse on my property which I rent out on a nightly basis. People can book to stay at my place either directly (I have a website), through VRBO/HomeAway, through Flipkey or through airbnb. While I love airbnb because I’ve found some of the coolest places to stay on it, there are 3 problems that I see with airbnb.
1) The airbnb group is the group that has the least experience running a business, and I have met quite a few that aren’t paying sales tax. They’re not doing this with bad intentions but simply because they don’t know how. Airbnb doesn’t make it easy to pay sales tax either, as it’s not built in to the pricing like it is with VRBO and Flipkey.
2) There’s a reason municipalities have zoning requirements. If you lived on a nice quiet street, or you lived in a secured building in a large city, would you want strangers constantly coming and going from your neighbor’s property and sometimes late at night? If a home is in an area that the city does not allow you to operate a lodging business, don’t do it. Period. If you want to start a lodging business, buy a property that allows you to do so legally. Most business owners know this early stage of starting a business.
3) Airbnb has become extremely successful, and many of the established b&b owners hate the competition. Airbnb gives them more competition than the hotels do, because the airbnb places are cool. What they don’t realize is that they could list on it, and they might soon be getting half of their bookings through airbnb as they get directly. I now do. Yes, there’s more competition, but competition can be a good thing if it helps you improve and in my town’s case, it helped get the word out that there are alternatives to hotels.
As far as the security issues that were brought up, both the hosts and the guests can receive reviews that are public on the airbnb site. If that’s a concern for someone, and it should be especially if you’re staying in someone’s home, you should not stay there if there are not a sufficient number of reviews on the host to make you comfortable. And if you’re a woman looking for a place to stay, don’t rent a room from a man in his house. I don’t know if that was the scenario with the rapes that occurred at the airbnbs that have made the news recently, and while I’m not blaming the victims one bit, that would be a good way to avoid trouble. Airbnb should not be blamed for this. There’s danger with Craigslist too.
Airbnb is a great company. I’d much prefer to stay at a place with a kitchen that isn’t just a bed facing a tv, like you get in most hotels. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.
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