Let’s first discuss the pros & cons of staying with Airbnb and then talk about the rules for getting free credits.
Why I love Airbnb
First, I love the business model. I love putting regular people in control and giving the small guys opportunity in a big market.
Also, like I said in the post about free nights at non-points hotels, Airbnb is everywhere. Looking at a mountain town in Bulgaria where there aren’t any chain hotels in an hour’s drive, there were dozens of Airbnb hosts. And the quality ranges from a tiny bedroom in a stranger’s house, to an entire house to yourself.
The incredible thing for a lot of people, is the ability to have an apartment for a very reasonable cost. Multiple rooms in a hotel, or a suite with a kitchen, in a hotel can be super expensive. Whenever I look for Airbnb there’s always a 2 or 3 bedroom for not much more. For most families, it’s an incredible cost saver. Truly something the family hotels can not compete with, at least I don’t see them able to currently.
On a smaller note, sometimes chain hotels can’t get the location of an apartment in really tiny old towns.
Why I hate Airbnb
Caroline and I have been full-time travelers for some time and one of the most common questions we get is if we use Airbnb a lot. As of now, we have used it three times, and only on our own twice. Once in Wroclaw, Poland and now in Kotor, Montenegro. So no, we don’t use it a ton.
Believe it or not, airbnb makes little sense for us.
- It doesn’t fit our needs: I need good internet and a desk (not 3 bedrooms)
- Price for long stays isn’t free.
- Short stays have fees to encourage long stays.
- Harder to find (fine for long stays)
- Not instant bookings (mostly)
It doesn’t fit our needs
First, I’m always going to select the “entire place” box when searching. When I’m not site-seeing, I want my privacy and I want to work, not chat with grandma. But the problem about having an apartment or house is that if something goes wrong, I have to text someone who isn’t there.
For example, in Montenegro I chose this Airbnb because of the many reviews, many mentioned how good the internet was. Awesome. However, I remembered that one person said that they had to restart the router because it got bogged down.
So during our stay the internet was a little slow until it just stopped working. So I started looking for the router, only to realize that it’s in one of the lady’s other apartment rooms. Now what? All I need to do is restart the router and I don’t know where the router is. Also, I now can’t message her because there’s no internet and I’m in Montenegro! So I turned Carrie’s phone off airplane mode and texted her (no idea how much it cost yet but hopefully not too much). And eventually she says that it’s in the apartment that our patio is connected to and the key is behind this thing. So I go into the other apartment and restart the router.
If I was in a hotel, I would have pressed zero and had it taken care of in 10 minutes and without any costly text message. And what if someone was in that apartment? Am I supposed to go knock on the door every time the internet goes out?
It’s the little things I depend on to keep my time efficient. When it’s purely vacation, who cares? Just go on a walk to old town instead, but when you’re almost finished with a project… it’s different. And that to me is a great example of why I still prefer hotels. Consistency and the ability to easily make things right. Reliable and fast internet for me is big.
Price for long stays isn’t free / they encourage long stays
We live out of hotels, and we tend to have two styles of stays. Long stays where I use points, or short stays where I use cash. Of course we use points for short stays too, but the deviation is annoying with Airbnb, as short stays are a pain in the neck. I’ll talk about finding a place next, but I always want to mention that the pricing structure encourages long stays with airbnb (I’ll talk about that in a bit too). The easy example is a cleaning fee. I’ve seen $50 cleaning fees. $50 on a one-month stay spreads out to raise the daily price by just a little, but for a one night stay it really raises the price.
So I dislike using Airbnb on short stays and I don’t actually want to pay for hotels on long stays. I’ve used points to book very long stays at InterContinentals, Hiltons, and many Radisson hotels recently. I’ve yet to do a long purely paid stay, and so why pay money when I don’t have to?
Airbnb is the worst at actually being able to find the place
In Wroclaw, Poland we made the reservation and the auto reply sent the address of the apartment, which was right on the main square. However, it didn’t tell us that you need to get a key from an apartment management office first. At night, in winter, and no one is answering the door. Long story short a business below the apartment was open and called the number I had a screenshot of on the phone and we walked over and got the key. A huge pain that involved lots of stairs, banging on doors, asking strangers for a favor, more stairs, and two or so hours of our time.
And just a reminder, this is a one night stay after a long ride from Prague. We would only be in town like 16 hours and at least two of that was spent confused. For a long stay, it doesn’t much matter to me. But for a short stay, a hotel is in and out.
Yes, this was a user error thing on the owner’s side. But also in Montenegro, the address didn’t tell us exactly where to go either. And our neighbors here had the same problem. I’m just saying it happens, especially outside the US.
But with a hotel, I could have asked any taxi driver on the street, “where is the ___” and they know. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Holiday Inn or the Hyatt, someone will know. So even if the address is right, there are benefits to a hotel.
Another time I wanted to book an Airbnb, it was the day before and I never got a response. I canceled and booked a hotel. Because I tend to fill in the plans last minute, airbnb has failed me on last minute bookings more than once actually.
Don’t get me wrong, I still will encourage it for most people and use it myself from time to time. However, there are a few pain points I have with it. Although my biggest complaint is the inconsistency in things like internet and how you have no way of knowing if it’s good or not.
Rules for getting Airbnb credits
I’ve mentioned that you get $25 when you sign up for an account via a refer a friend link, and how the referrer gets $25 when you sign up.
But what are the rules for this and referring someone else?
You can only use coupons on stays $75+ (pre tax/fees)
Any coupon or credits you have can only be used on stays that are at least $75 and that’s before the cleaning fees and taxes, or whatever fees there are. If you have a million dollars in airbnb credit, it still won’t cover anything unless the stay is $75 pre tax/fees.
$25 bonus for stays of $75 or more
You only get the referral credit if the other person makes a stay that’s $75 or more. Basically, they can’t even use your coupon unless it’s $75 anyways. But when they use the coupon on a stay $75 or more, they not only get $25 off, you get $25 for referring that person.
Travel credits expire after 1 year.
You get $25 for referring someone who stays and $75 for someone who hosts
So if I refer you and you complete a stay I get $25. But if you host someone I earn $75. I can potentially earn $100 airbnb credit from a single referral.
Again, the hosting stay has to be $75 or more to get the $75 credit.
Also, I noticed that the terms and conditions say that you would not get referral credit if you referred two people and they stayed with each other. In other words, I can’t refer you and Caroline, and you stay at Caroline’s house (which doesn’t exist anyways). I wouldn’t get the $75 credit from referring the host, nor the $25 credit for referring you.
Airbnb takes from the host 3% for credit cards and another 6% to 12%
Airbnb charges 12% and lowers it to 6% on longer stays or higher amounts. This is one reason that hosts make the pricing more favorable for longer stays. In the end this means that you can get charged 9% to 15% as a host.
Let’s just say that you and I each refer someone we know and they stayed together. I referred my mom, and you referred your mom. And my mom travels and stays at your moms house. This is odd… but I need an example and don’t want to say person x, y, z.
So if done right, what is the most money we could make off of the stay, assuming that this is a totally real stay and we don’t know each other, but we’re both referral savvy. What would happen?
Also let’s just assume that the stay is exactly $75 and there are no fees.
- I get $25 for referring my mom
- My mom gets a $25 discount off her stay, making it $50 (instead of $75)
- You get $75 for referring your mom
- Your mom gets paid $63.75 ($75 – 15%)
In other words, $50 gets paid (by my mom), but $63.75 cash money gets made (by your mom). And we get a total of $100 Airbnb credits. In other words, $50 gets paid, and $163.75 gets made. $63.50 cash and $100 in credits.
Of course that only happens once since it’s a sign up bonus. But that’s per person you refer. So if you and I were evangelists for Airbnb we could continue to make $25 to $100, and the people doing the transactions are making profit, sorta.
Really, I love Airbnb. I love everything about it, but I prefer staying in hotels. However, if I can up my evangelism game I could potentially get a lot of free credits. All the keys to the kingdom are in this post to rack up a lot of credits and make profit. Personally, I will likely only use it in places like Kotor and Wroclaw, which are cool places without chain hotels.
Also, Carrie told me that our friends in “Hoky Homestay” in Amed, Bali are now on Airbnb and they already have 20 positive reviews. How cool is that? That this Indonesian couple can build a homestay and now have it up to market to those people who like to prebook. Or how else would they have the power to market two rooms so well?
Mostly, I love it.