If you’re new to the Airbnb game don’t worry. We’re here to show you how to use Airbnb for the first time as a guest, and even how to be an Airbnb host. This article will cover it all. From tips to finding the best Airbnb, and even talking about our own experience with staying in a few different places with it. First things first..
What is Airbnb?
Simply put, Airbnb is a marketplace that allows hosts to rent out extra bedrooms in their home, or apartments or houses that they may not use. Airbnb has been around since 2008, and its popularity has skyrocketed since then. According to Fortune.com Airbnb’s profits are projected to climb as high as $3 billion by the year 2020. According to their website they are in operation in 65,000 cities and even have more than 1,400 castles to rent! There are some truly unique places that you can stay at with Airbnb.
Airbnb operates based on reviews, which allow guests and hosts to build up trust with the community. You as the guest will review the accommodation you stay in and rate it based on cleanliness, value, location, and more. This lets future guests have a clearer picture of where they will stay, and if it will be a good time. If a place has great reviews from many different guests, it’s a safe bet that you will enjoy your stay too.
Airbnb hosts also review you, the guest. Future hosts need to feel comfortable with you, since you will be in their house or apartment! We’ve stayed in many different types of rooms and never had a problem.
Why you should use Airbnb.
Airbnb is as affordable as you make it. You can go all out and rent the entire huge house, or be very affordable and rent a small apartment, or even a sofa couch. There are all levels of budgets available in Airbnb. Even in so-called expensive cities, great deals can be had. Like the time we stayed in Montmartre for 2 weeks on our babymoon in Paris. If you combine really cheap flights, with an Airbnb, you have more money to do things on your trip!
Ease of use
It’s so easy to find a great place to stay in any city that you want to go to. You can use a computer, phone, or tablet to look for rooms, make wish lists, and store information about the next place you will go.
Some, but not all of the Airbnb hosts will meet you. It’s been about 50% of the time in our experience, but we usually rent an entire apartment when we use it. So not only do you potentially make a new friend, but you have a local guide to give you great tips and advice on how to live like a local. We had the nicest Airbnb host in Montmartre. She gave us so many awesome recommendations that we would’ve missed otherwise. This is our walking guide to Montmartre with many of her recommendations that we loved!
More legitimate cultural experience
When you stay at an Airbnb, and especially if you stay with your host, you are experiencing real life that a hotel can never compare to.
Next, let’s dive into Airbnb and show you how to get signed up!
How to signup for Airbnb
Signing up for Airbnb isn’t difficult, but it does take a few minutes. You only need to do this once so take your time and fill in everything thoroughly. The more your Airbnb host can know about you, the better they will feel. First create your account name and password. After that, the information Airbnb needs for you to complete your profile is:
- A confirmed phone number (they will text you a code and you type in the number)
- Profile photo
- An introductory message (tell Airbnb hosts about yourself, as simple or thorough as you want)
- Payment information
Check out this link from Airbnb about profile verifications and how to get them.
When we signed up for Airbnb, we weren’t sure how to verify our ID on the site. Turns out, you just take a picture of a government issued ID and upload it to your profile! We used the built in camera on our computer. Easy!
If you’re ready to sign up, and want to save $33 off your first trip, use our referral link to sign up right now!
So now that you know how to signup on Airbnb, the next step is obviously how to find a room!
How to find a room on Airbnb
Finding a great place to stay on Airbnb is easy. We’ll show you exactly how to do it. First, where do you want to go and when? As soon as you search for a city, Airbnb will start showing you some of it’s highest rated or most popular places to stay. Don’t worry if that’s way out of your budget, it always is for us too!
Next, choose how many guests there will be at one time. This will narrow your results further.
Then choose your ‘room type.’ Entire home, private room, or shared room are your choices.
- Entire home – Pretty self explanatory, this is if you want to be the only people in the place. Thehouse or apartment will be all yours for your entire stay.
- Private room – This option means you will stay in a house, or larger size apartment, and will have your own private room. But you might be sharing a bathroom, or kitchen, or common area. You will need to check each individual listing to see what they mean by private room.
- Shared room – The absolute cheapest option. This is where you will find the sofa beds, or dormitory style rooms. You will sleep in the living room, or you might have a roommate.
How to use Airbnb’s map
Next, I like to use the map to get an idea of where I want to stay. Move the map around and zoom in on the neighborhood or area that you want to stay in. You will have to click the red ‘redo search’ button after you move the map.
Now you will see a list of rooms, that should be available on the dates you have chosen, for the amount of people you have staying. First, take a look at the number of reviews, and what other people say about it after staying there. Some people are just really picky and will give a person a bad review if something wasn’t absolutely perfect about their stay. I don’t even pay attention to those people. What I look for are Airbnb Red Flags.
How to Spot Airbnb Red Flags
- People keep talking about cleanliness as a problem. – With a lot of places you stay on Airbnb, you will be charged a cleaning fee. If an Airbnb is charging a cleaning fee, but is always said to be dirty, sounds like someone is trying to pocket a little extra cash.
- If they ever ask you for money outside of the website. – You only pay through the website, which is secured with encryption. You never pay cash on Airbnb.
- Zero reviews – Everyone has to start somewhere. I totally get it. But if you are using Airbnb for the first time, go with a tried and true host. Don’t put your trip and happiness on the line over trying to save a few more dollars.
- Exaggerations of how close they are to everything – 10 minutes away from that landmark across the city? By what, a helicopter? Just use your judgement. I can look at a map and decide for myself, this doesn’t automatically eliminate a host. Maybe one time, at 3 a.m. they actually completed that journey in that amount of time.
Next to the listing’s review scores might be the word Superhost.
What is an Airbnb Superhost?
Superhosts meet the criteria put in place by Airbnb to qualify.
- They have had more than 10 guests within a year.
- Their reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
- They respond to guests requests to stay with them in a timely manner.
- They haven’t cancelled a guest’s reservation.
How to book an Airbnb you want
Now that you’ve chosen the Airbnb, you need to request to book it. If you see a Lightning Bolt icon next to the price, it means you can instantly book the room. If the room is available, it’s yours.
But if there isn’t that icon, you need to request to book, and here is where the host can review you and what other people thought about you as a guest. This is why writing more about yourself, and why you are taking this trip can help. Just be honest, and don’t worry too much about it. There are plenty of others out there.
We’ve been rejected a few times, but only because the host said the room wasn’t available on those days we wanted. After you book an Airbnb, now you need to figure out how to check-in. Keep reading for big tips about checking in to your Airbnb.
How to check-in to the Airbnb
Every Airbnb is different. There is no surefire way to tell you how to check-in, and that’s the point I’m trying to make here. After you book, you will get a message from the host welcoming you and letting you know their address and how to get in. It can be as simple as knocking on the door if they live there, but some hosts have things set up a little more complicated.
Take for instance our Airbnb we stayed in on our trip to Hong Kong. We had to find the small stairwell, and the lockbox attached to it. I didn’t have internet on my cell phone but I was prepared ahead of time and knew the code to open it and get the room key out.
Now, let me tell you what my best Airbnb tip is.
- Take screenshots on your phone of all of the check-in and host information before you leave your house.
Read and re-read what your host tells you is the check-in procedure. I made a big mistake at the first Airbnb I stayed at. The host wasn’t very communicative and I failed to mention that we would be arriving way early. So after a long tiring flight, we really just wanted to go to sleep. If I had kept in touch with my host, it might have worked out fine. Needless to say, we were dog tired without a bed to sleep in for a while, and my host didn’t appreciate us showing up early either! Don’t make the same travel mistakes we’ve made.
- Stay in touch with your host, let them know when you’re estimated arrival time is. I try to always message them the day of our trip and let them know how things are going.
Finally, if you are here for a completely different reason, and you want to know how to be a host on Airbnb, here we go!
How to be an Airbnb Host
To get started as an Airbnb host, head over to their website on hosting.
Sign up with our referral code and get $33 off your first stay somewhere!
Checklist on how to be an Airbnb host:
- First, create a listing – Describe your house, what guests can do in your neighborhood, and who you are a host.
- Second, take pictures – Make sure you have some decent pictures of your space. Ask a few friends or family members what they think of the photos. You want to make your place shine.
- Start lower on your booking fees. You want to attract guests, so give them a little discount to be the first reviewers.
- Make sure you are clear about how to check-in. Take pictures if needed to explain further.
- Make yourself available to meet your guests if possible. – Your first reviews are crucial to your success as a host.
There you have it. We started with what Airbnb is, and went all the way to how to be an Airbnb host. What did I miss? What would you like to know about Airbnb? Got any tips? Let me know!
Are you a new traveler? Make sure you checkout our 5 tips to make you a Travel Expert! It’s sure to help you feel less nervous before your trip.