Why Airbnb Beats Hotels: Personal, Authentic, with Local Perspective
For some travelers, Airbnb has a clear dollars and cents advantage over the traditional hotel experience. Like hostels, it’s easy to find good, cheap Airbnb listings in the heart of a city or town, helping adventurers on a budget — be it the backpack-toting college student or the single-suitcase business person — save money on room and transportation. And that’s great, because each dollar saved on the bare necessities means another dollar that can go into your explore & enjoy fund.
But be careful, sometimes when planning a trip we can get so carried away with comparing prices and numbers, we forget to factor in the more hard-to-define, emotional considerations. The things beyond price, location, and bed-size — the externalities, to use economics lingo.
What are these mysterious extras? Well, let’s think about all the little things that differentiate Airbnb from the traditional hostel or hotel. Conversation, for example. How many heart-to-hearts have you had with a bellhop? Traveling is all about collecting stories, so it’s only natural that a great traveling experience is made up of both making memories and sharing memories. We forget that great travel moments don’t just come from what you do or see, but also from what you hear. Letting your local Airbnb host regale you with life stories from the area is one of the best ways to learn about your destination’s culture and distinct flavor. A far cry from the eerie silence of hotel hallways, Airbnb listings often come livened with the sound of laughter and the delicate “ping” of Facebook friends being added. It’s like what Airbnb Co-founder Brian Chesky told Stephen Colbert about the company: “What we wanted to do was take the strangers out of it.”
Of course, the best part about gabbing with Airbnb hosts is all the Local Tips they give. Nobody likes feeling like a tourist. All the lines and souvenirs and fanny packs—we’d much rather feel like we’re a part of whatever foreign place we’re staying in. You don’t get to know a city just by touring its most famous building, you get to know it by exploring and enjoying all the little details of daily life. This is where local tips come in handy, things like coffee joints and restaurants and favorite stores, they help make your stay a more individualized, interesting experience. When abroad, discovering these hidden gems is how we start to feel like we belong.
Though hotels are great at comfort, they aren’t so hot with making you feel like a special guest. Rooms are nice but standardized, a couple beds, a couple chairs, an ice bucket, you know the drill. Try as you might, while flipping through the twenty or so TV channels or munching on the bed chocolates, you can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’re a customer and not a guest. But an Airbnb room comes with a Personality, an individual style that reflects not only the tastes of your host, but the tastes of the whole foreign culture you’re immersing yourself in. When you lay in your freshly made bed, you know that that bed was made for you, and not just a room number. The atmosphere is unique and exciting, you can walk through the house, see the family photos and stacks of books and know that actual people live here.
There’s a comforting Authenticity to feeling like you’re staying in a real home instead of a room mimicking a home. It’s the difference between staying in a small European flat in Madrid, admiring the rows of balconies as you stroll to Museo Del Prado, taking your afternoon cortado coffee at the local café amidst the nighttime chatter, and staying on the 52nd floor of a building, taking a taxi to the museum, and having coffee in the lobby.
It just isn’t as exciting staying in a place that’s strictly a business and nothing else. It’s all too sterile, there’s no Surprise, no meeting new, interesting people from a different country, no surrounding yourself with the sounds, smells, and sights of a different place and lifestyle. Nothing that hasn’t already been laid out in the travel itinerary.
When choosing where to travel, we always like to take into account not only costs but also the amount of enjoyment we’ll get from the experience. Choosing travel accommodations should be the same way. A part of the story of your trip, and not just a place to sleep.
A takeaway for Airbnb hosts: By taking care of the “front desk”, the booking requests or guest questions at 2 AM, the call to a plumber, Guesty allows you to host more fully, to focus on hosting alone, to give the personal touch, the personality and authenticity that separates what you can provide guests from what hotels do. Guesty helps you focus on doing what you do best – hosting.