Tammy Levent | July 06, 2016 1:36 PM ET
Agent to Agent: Is Airbnb Safe?
Dear Tammy: Airbnb is becoming a popular way for vacationers to book their accommodations, but I’m finding that my business is suffering a little because of it. What should I do? Is it a safe way for them to travel? I don’t really know a lot about it.
Tammy: Instead of staying at a hotel, more and more vacationers are choosing to stay in short-term rentals they find through online rental services. Airbnb is not the only short-term rental service. There is also HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, and many others. Right now Airbnb is getting a lot of publicity, so it seems like a trendy thing to do.
Unfortunately, while these services are popular, there have also been a series of problems with renting from them. For example, one Airbnb North Carolina host unleashed a slew of racist remarks at a guest who had booked a stay in the host’s home. “There’s been a lot of news about prejudice and bias on our platform, and this is a huge issue for us,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. “We have zero tolerance for it and we will take swift action.” We’ll have to wait and see what it is.
Short-term rentals like Airbnb can benefit both hosts and travelers because of budget, but what about the risks? There have been stories of properties that get damaged and that do not match the listing. Then there are those states where it is illegal to sublet the apartment. One Airbnb renter thought he was renting to a quiet family, but he rented to dozens of party-goers who wrecked his house and did drugs. Airbnb does offer a Host Guarantee program for $1,000,000.
It has also caused a challenge for travel agents because every time a client doesn’t book a hotel with you, they are booking with Airbnb or another site. You’re losing commissions.
So what do you do for your business? First, don’t say anything. And what I mean by that is don’t put down these services to your client. You may come across bitter and jealous. Instead, if your client says that they are utilizing one of these services, you should just advise them of both the pros and the cons and let them know that you’re here if they change their mind or need different accommodations. It’s not easy.
You can also tell your client that you can make the reservation for them and include this in your services. This takes the stress off of your client’s plate, but provides an income for you. You can have a role in the process and keep information about your client’s selections.
Get used to these short-term rental accommodations being around because they aren’t going anywhere. Try to find a way to work it out for your business.
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