Airbnb pros and cons?


LV Bear: I have never used Airbnb in my blackjack travels or any other time, seeing no reason to subject myself to the potential hassles, legal problems from violations of local ordinances, security risks, etc. of dealing with unknown individuals vs. normal hotels. It seems to me the risks far outweigh any supposed benefits, but would like to learn about any reasons to use Airbnb and similar services, as well as the resulting experiences.

It should be noted that almost all Airbnb rentals in unincorporated Clark County in southern Nevada are being done illegally. Clark County has promised affected neighbors a serious crackdown on the scofflaws who offer short-term rentals.

JackVegas: I use Airbnb a lot and I highly recommend it for long stays; for shorter stays, not nearly as much. I have been living out of a suitcase for over six months now for advantage play travel, and the majority of time spent is in an Airbnb.

For me, if I stay in a place for longer than five days, I'll use Airbnb, as you usually get way more value for the money. If going to a new place for under five days, I’ll stay at a hotel, especially in a foreign-language country, as the hotel staff can help out just by using the local language as well as getting your bearings in a new place.

As for the safety of bankroll, I feel more secure with an Airbnb because there aren't any maids, security, or room service stockers to help themselves to my cash. There are no people coming in and out of my Airbnb apartment, and the owner is extraordinarily unlikely to intrude as he or she would not know when I am home and would have a lot of explaining to do.

As for risks, yes there are some, but we here at Green Chip aren't overly afraid of risks, are we? The risks are small compared to the reward and Airbnb is effective in solving problems with landlord misbehavior, which I’ll get into as well.

If the place is not what is described in photo, then just email Airbnb before the money gets exchanged from escrow to the host, and they will usually cancel the booking if you can show proof by photos or other documentation; I believe 24 hours is the time frame.

A hazard of Airbnb is the petty scams in third-world countries (where they think every foreigner has just fallen off the turnip truck, as well as relatively huge incentive to scam a few extra bucks). These attempted scams are usually clumsy -- think, "Oh, the rates have just gone up, I forgot to add it, so you will pay 25% more, ok?" or "Let’s go off the website and do the transaction there to save money, just send it to me by Western Union." Just common sense stuff, and this happens often in poor countries; I've never experienced it elsewhere.

The worst part of Airbnb is the owners cancelling at the last minute. This is a very real problem in poor countries as they will not hesitate to throw you under the bus if someone comes in a higher price on a different website from Airbnb, like or whatever other site has lower company fees, so the host will keep the ad up looking for a higher price and cancel the reservation. Obviously Airbnb frowns on this, and has penalties for cancelling, but again in third world countries, the guilty host will just cancel the account and set up a new one -- it’s just too tough to track. So have a backup plan, like a hotel in the area just in case.

Again, none of these things has happened to me outside of developing countries.

Now for the reward part: In my opinion, Airbnb is better, in every way, for the business traveler.

  • A better place for a better price.
  • No disturbances from any other guests as there are none.
  • No maid service but so what? not paying for maid staff as well as cutting out the middleman allows a homeowner to charge way less than a hotel.
  • No restaurant in apartment, but just make your own breakfast or find a place in a city with street restaurants.
  • The living space is virtually always bigger than a hotel room; it’s an apartment or even a house sometimes.
  • Laundry machine usually; you can look at the ad and see what they have.

And all this while saving anywhere from a little to a lot of money. There really is no comparison for me.

The hassle factor gets a little bigger for shorter stays as you have to arrange a meeting time to check in, and the checkout process is another short meeting as well, so I would say four days or more is the sweet spot.

For you specifically LVBear, I would say just try it one time, see how it goes, the downside really isn't that big. As for unknown people vs. hotels, first off you will probably be shocked at how nice the host is going to be, but also just use the review section and only go with trusted positive-reviewed hosts -- you really won't have a problem. The positive reviews are truthful and I believe tell a very accurate story of the host. I would also say, just take a few minutes and play around on their website, do some fact finding and get comfortable with it.

I think I’ve outlined all the potential hassles I can see; as for legal problems, I can't see any, really. I mean. you get to see the place and just cancel in the unlikely event there is a problem; Airbnb support is good.

If you are meaning staying in an illegal place, I don't know anything about this so I can't help, but you're not breaking any ordinances, the host is. I personally need to know more about the law before I would stay in an illegal Airbnb, especially carrying a bankroll.

I believe Airbnb is much safer than a hotel for bankroll security -- obviously stay in a decent neighborhood, which is another reason not to use an Airbnb before you know the city. I went to some warmer countries and I’ve shared my apartment with a roach or two, which is gross, but to be expected -- I don't stay on ground floors anymore.

I'll tell my worst Airbnb story from my many rentals over the last two years and it's pretty minor. All the other places have been absolutely fantastic, I’ve always gotten a decent apartment with a kitchen; sometimes even a pretty good pad, for I would say half or less than a comparable hotel room.

The worst incident was when my host’s employee, who was my liason, put me in a different apartment down the hall from where I was supposed to be. The details were a little hazy but I think she let the guy in my apartment sleep off his hangover and I personally believe the tenant probably tossed her a few bucks to do this. This is third-world very eastern Europe, where twenty bucks s a lot to a local.

She wanted me to change apartments the next day and move to my proper one, which would have been a hassle to get settled in, only to have to move the next day at exactly noon, when I had language lessons in the afternoon. I phoned when I found out -- the employee was very rude and unhelpful, I threatened to contact Airbnb to cancel and she hung up, but the owner called me within five minutes and told me I could stay in my much nicer new apartment the whole time for no extra charge. That's it, no real horror story at all.

Good luck, and I hope you try Airbnb a couple of times at least.

Vagabond: Thanks, JackVegas, I couldn't have said it better. I'll just add that if you're comfortable with using Uber you should be fine with Airbnb. The ratings are usually quite honest, too.

LV Bear: I've never used Uber either, because of its "outlaw" corporate attitude, and defiant willingness to flout local and state laws. It seems to me that both of these companies share a similar philosophy that laws shouldn't apply to them. But given their success, I recognize that most people don't share my view or just don't care about the "lawbreakerism" of these companies.

Captain Jack: When the laws they are “breaking” exist solely to protect the interests of those who have gained an unfair advantage by creating an uncompetitive marketplace, then I have no problem with it. Furthermore, those who created those laws are deep in the pockets of the powerful lobbying efforts. In this case it’s the taxi union and the hotel/tourism lobby.

Just like the NFL claiming to protect the integrity of the game by preventing sports wagering, these lobbies claim they are protecting consumers from scams by preventing free market. The truth is they want their cut. Surely, an informed consumer, such as LV Bear, is smart enough to be able to protect himself?

JackVegas: I don't think there is anything unethical about taking an Uber. The taxicab companies in some jurisdictions pay up to a million dollars (per car!) for a corrupt “medallion” and pass this gargantuan fee onto the consumer.

The cost of an Uber is often about a third of a taxi fee, and it mostly goes to the driver, unlike the corrupt, often monopolistic taxi companies. The Uber drivers are usually extremely nice, don't attempt to long haul, the car is so much cleaner, and their attitude is so much better. There really is no comparison, imo. It's all GPS-recorded too, so a long haul would be documented and this easily contested and is cashless also, so no tipping required (although I do it often in poorer countries, an extra buck or two.)

I have probably said "God bless Uber" over two dozen times in my head. I love this company.

Gen. Pershing: We were recently on family vacation in a condo that my wife had rented to accommodate us and our kids and their significant others. Unfortunately, we were subjected to a mandatory evacuation of indeterminate length. Wife was in full-blown rage and panic mode, so I told her to start looking for hotel rooms in the nearest city where we could wait it out. Before she could do that, my son had found an Airbnb in the same city that would house all of us (the primary consideration when my wife arranged the condo) at about 2/3 the cost of one decent (imo) hotel/motel room. Otherwise we would have needed at least three hotel rooms--if we could find them. We told him to book it, packed some stuff, and made the trip with all three vehicles.

The place turned out to be an older, deteriorating house in a decent area. It had wifi, a flat-screen TV with a Chromecast dongle, and a full kitchen with a coffee-maker and a corkscrew!!!

Cons: As with many older houses (it was very similar to one I rented decades ago), it only had one bathroom. Bare essentials in the full kitchen, but that was ok as we weren't going to "cook" much more than microwave breakfast items anyway. The outside doors were difficult to lock, which didn't present a problem to anyone other than my daughter-in-law who was a bit skittish about that. Nobody but she had any concerns for our personal safety. I wouldn't have wanted to leave any significant cash in the place if I left, but I feel the same way about most hotel/motel rooms.

I wasn't totally thrilled with the place, and we could have found a better place if we had had time to be selective, but we were in a hurry to find something. It filled the bill for us completely and we were happy to have found it. My son and his sidekick were quite happy with it even though they had the worst sleeping arrangements. They had previous Airbnb experience and their expectations were more in line with reality than the rest of us. We had booked for two nights based on our anticipated length of stay. It turned out that we were able to return to our vacation condo late on the second day of our stay at the Airbnb rental. None of us had any issue about paying for the second night (I was the only one paying anyway and it was cheaper than the first night -- fees?). It would have been a lifesaver had we needed it that second night -- and we left later than any reasonable check-out time anyway.

Our son gave it a good online review somewhere and received a future free night there for his effort. He may not be in that area again for a while, but never say never. I probably won't use Airbnb again, but I won't say never. This time we were lucky and grateful to have it available. My son and his sidekick are thoroughly sold on Airbnb, and much prefer them to hotels/motels, primarily for the cost savings.

Darco77: Be sure to check Airbnb, HomeAway, and Vrbo. Recently I found price discrepancies between the platforms for the exact same properties. A property manager in a small California resort town is listing on all platforms, but pricing about 30-40% higher on Airbnb. I don't know how common this is, as this is the first time I've experienced it, but I'll be checking all three platforms going forward. Of course, the most obvious reason to check all three platforms is because some property owners only list on one.

LV Bear: I've decided that a dire emergency is the only way I'd use this "service." More Las Vegas Airbnb-related crime, this time a murder:

Some neighbors told FOX5 they don’t even know the owner, because the house is being used improperly as an Airbnb, in an area not zoned for it.

“Just that Airbnb bringing bad business into the neighborhood, doesn’t make us feel secure,” said Rodriguez. “I know the state has been cracking down on Airbnb in neighborhoods like this. I know they’ve been really successful at doing so, because they’ve shut down a couple, but we’ve literally had no issue with anyone staying there until now, and this is the biggest issue you could possibly get.”

Clark county officials encourage residents who have problems with Airbnb rentals in their neighborhoods to file a complaint here:

Shooting outside graduation party in southwest Las Vegas leaves 1 dead

At least Clark County and the City of Las Vegas are trying to control this scourge upon residential neighborhoods. In the below case, the homeowner was apparently a tax criminal as well as a zoning violator:

Las Vegas homeowner fined $72,900 for using Airbnb without license

I don't want to deal with criminals just to save a few bucks instead of staying at a legitimate hotel. The criminals I am referring to are the Airbnb landlords and the company itself, since it doesn't seem to care about being a participant in violating local laws, much like Uber, which has been discussed previously. For mostly the same reasons, I have never used Uber or Lyft.

Originally published on Green Chip, edited for this format.


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