Most of us have probably heard about AIRBNB’s…but do you know their origins?
The enterprise began in October 2007 by two roommates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who, at the time, were having trouble affording the rent on their loft apartment in San Francisco. They came up with the idea of placing an air mattress in their living room…thereby, turning their apartment into a bed and breakfast. The following year, another former schoolmate, Nathan Blecharczyk, joined the operation which was now growing, and called it “AirBed and Breakfast”. The new company officially launched on August 11, 2008 and they had their first customers during an industrial design conference, where members were having difficulty finding affordable lodging in the city.
To help fund their enterprise, at its opening, Airbed and Breakfast had special breakfast cereals on their menu acknowledging the presidential candidates who were running that year: “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCain’s”. They sold 800 boxes at $40 each!
Now, over ten years later, they have a business with as many as 3 million listings in 65 thousand cities in 191 countries. None of the locations are actually owned by AIRBNB, which serves as an agent and receives fees. At each booking, the company charges guests a 6%-12% guest service fee and a 3%-5% host fee. Hosts can offer options, such as excursions, for an additional charge of which AIRBNB takes 20%. Before booking, users must provide their name, email address, telephone number, photo, payment information and, if requested by the host, a government-issued formal ID (driver’s license for example). Since these rental locations are, frequently, not well known names or businesses but rather very local entities, one may have some concerns about the offering.
To that end – and to allay some of those concerns – AIRBNB requires user profiles which can be found on the AIRBNB website: www.airbnb.com so that members can learn about their hosts and guests ahead of time. This information can work both ways. Hosts can decline reservations if they are not comfortable with the guests based upon online correspondence.
Ultimately, the best source of data may be from friends, relatives or acquaintances that have stayed at an AIRBNB that you are contemplating since they can give you the sort of personal data that you won’t get elsewhere. All in all, such a vacation rental may provide you with a much more rewarding experience since your host is, likely, a part of the community/area which you are visiting.