We don’t usually put too much weight into opinion pieces (we have plenty of those ourselves), but a recent article in Business Insider questioning the ‘moral sketchiness’ of Airbnb might just be worth a discussion.
The writer seems to believe that, besides the fact that many locals are being driven out by investors buying up properties for Airbnb purposes, the financial reasoning for renting someone’s private home over a hotel has become debatable.
Now before this opinionated writer dissects that writer’s opinion, let me say that I also dabble in Airbnb properties, so my first reaction was to dismiss the piece. After all, anyone with a house for rent in Cape Town over the summer months can hardly call Airbnb ‘over’.
There have been more than 1.4 billion guest arrivals at Airbnb listings in 220 countries and regions around the world since its founding
My family also likes to make use of alternatives to hotels when we travel, and it’s provided us with lodging in places we would never have seen if not for a stranger allowing us entry into their ‘investment’. So ja, it’s a lekker passive income for the lucky few, and a doorway to some of the nicest houses in the world for others.
It also makes group trips more affordable. Or does it? This would seem to be the writer’s biggest gripe.
I started noticing high cleaning fees that just seemed ridiculous to me — sometimes, the cleaning fees were up to $500 (R9 000)! Then there were the rules and requirements, like having to clean up after yourself before you leave.
I’m not a slob or anything, but having to wash all the dishes, wipe down the countertops, strip the sheets, and put the towels in the wash — it just felt like too much. And on top of that, I was still getting charged a cleaning fee.
Hailing from New York, the writer decries that there are now more apartments available on Airbnb than there are available rentals, which seems unfair toward locals. House prices have also been going up as more and more people turn their homes into businesses.
Several European countries are even capping the amount of Airbnb’s that are offered. Prominent cities including Lisbon, Paris, Florence, and Barcelona have implemented restrictions on short-term rentals to prioritize housing for local residents in need of permanent accommodations.
Looking at the actual cost versus amnesties between hotels and Airbnb, the article actually lists a few things that we seem to have forgotten about the ‘hotel experience’. Coffee and breakfast in the lobby every morning, staff freshening up your room each day while you are out, and hotel employees and security at your call 24/7.
We have a trip coming up, and in an ideal world, we would stay in a locally owned bed-and-breakfast. That way, we get the charm of a local place, and we know the money goes to the owners and the community.
Just like Uber, the service and quality have steadily been compromised as more and more people jump on the cash wagon. Have we become so used to Airbnb ‘being better’, that we no longer ask if that still holds true? I don’t know, and as December in Cape Town approaches, I will likely say hell no. Ka-chinggg.
My experience with Airbnb in recent months might have put me off the hosting experience as well. Some guests seem to now treat homes like hotels, leaving them in a state that makes the gripe about cleaning services moot, and the income generated from an Airbnb is often not worth the trouble of replacing bedding, washing walls, or defending yourself from dodgy tenants who invite even dodgier friends over to party.
Like this ‘drug-induced orgy’:
Alas, opinions are like a**holes, and I am certainly the latter on some days. Perhaps Airbnb was the panacea for overpriced hotels and boutique guesthouses, even if at the expense of some cute B&B’s. But it would be nice to just rock up somewhere with a single suitcase and be catered to, or not have someone threaten to shoot you because the showers took too long to warm up. True story.
You can read the full article here if you are still on the wire about this, but let us know in the comments whether you still think Airbnb is better than B&B’s or hotels.
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