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Article source: What is Airbnb? And How Does Airbnb Work? by TechBoomers.com

Traveling later in life can be the adventure of a lifetime. If you need a good excuse for packing your bags and exploring the world, check out these Benefits of Traveling at 50+. Whether traveling near or far, for business or pleasure, your accommodations can make or break an out of town stay. Amenities, location, price, and availability are just a few of the factors to consider when choosing a place to be your home away from home. Not long ago, a hotel was the only option. Nowadays, savvy travelers around the world are discovering the benefits of booking accommodations through Airbnb.com.

What exactly is Airbnb?

Airbnb (as in “Air Bed and Breakfast”) is a service that matches property owners renting out their spaces with travelers looking for a place to stay. People can rent a space for multiple people to share, a private room in the host’s home, or — sometimes — the entire property.

Airbnb is similar to services such as FlipKey.com, HomeAway.com, and 9flats.com (in Europe).

How Airbnb works: 16 things that you need to know

Being a guest

  1. It’s free to create an account on Airbnb.
  2. Airbnb has listings for more than 4 million venues in 191 countries and 65,000 cities, so there’s bound to be a place that you’ll like.
  3. The only search criteria you need are where you want to go, when you want to check in, when you want to check out, and how many guests will be staying.
  4. You can also add extra search criteria, such as neighborhood location, price, type of property, space availability (i.e. having a private room vs. having the whole place to yourself), and more.
  5. While your billing details are needed in order to hold a booking, you don’t pay until a host accepts your reservation request. Wimdu.com has a similar system, where your payment isn’t released to a host until you actually check in.

What hosts do

  1. It’s free to post a property for rent on Airbnb.
  2. Accurately describing a property and listing its amenities helps to match with the right guests.
  3. Professional photography services can help guests know exactly what they’re renting and show off how nice the place is.
  4. Prices and availability can be set according to a host’s schedule, or what they work out with a guest.
  5. The host has the final say on whether or not they want to book someone.
  6. A host can set up a property listing to auto-book anyone who is interested in their property and meets certain specified criteria.
  7. Airbnb covers hosts against damages to their property by guests. Similar sites, like VRBO.com, also have insurance plans to this effect.

The Airbnb community

  1. Both hosts and guests can set up profiles on Airbnb. Hosts can share their preferences and policies for hospitality, and guests can specify the kinds of things they like to do during their stay. This helps match users with hosts they’re likely to get along with.
  2. Hosts and guests can send each other messages to make arrangements and communicate check-in details, house rules, and any special requests. 
  3. Guests can also privately ask other guests whether or not a property is worth renting.  Similarly, hosts can privately ask other hosts whether or not they can trust certain guests to behave appropriately.
  4. Hosts and guests can review and rate each other. Guests can say what they liked or disliked about the property, the neighborhood, or the host’s style of hospitality. Likewise, hosts can critique their guests’ adherence to commitments and house rules, courtesy to themselves and neighbors, care of the property, and so on.  Reviews can be written only after a stay is booked and completed, so it is difficult to write dishonest or fake reviews.
  5. Hosts and guests can receive recommendations from others. If you know someone who is a great host or a guest who is always on their best behavior, write them a recommendation to let others know that they’re someone who can be trusted.

To learn more about using Airbnb, take a look at this Airbnb course on Techboomers.com.