I think I can call myself an AirBnB regular after opting for a BnB over a hotel thrice in the past year. It hasn’t always been smoothsailing – my first left me with very, very unhappy memories. Luckily, excellent customer support forced me to give them a second chance, and I feel in love for real this time.
Last week, I spent three days in South Goa with a friend at a plush AirBnB and had one of the most relaxing and happy getaway of my life. Our host and the place we stayed at had a lot to do with it. If you’re contemplating going the bnb way, here are a few lessons I’ve learnt that should help:
Do your homework: When we decided to book an Airbnb in Singapore, what a terrible disaster it was. The Bnb was nothing like the photos, it was filthy and our host wasn’t sure when we were arriving and was surprised to find us at her doorstep when she wasn’t there. I had tears in my eyes. The only great thing was that we indeed had wifi and were able to book ourselves out of there and into a standard hotel (we were not in the mood for any more surprises). The support team at AirBnB were a lot of help, but after that experience, I decided to do my homework thoroughly. It’s important to look at the location – how far is it from the airport? How accessible is it? Are there any restaurants, markets around the area? Thanks to the internet, you have all this information right in front of you. You don’t have to rely on what your host says about the place. According to your host, the beach is a 5-10minute walk from their house. Is it really? Check google maps. Read reviews.
Chat with the host: Before booking, Airbnb allows you to chat with your host. This is a great way to assess how accessible your host is. If they’re really keen to have you, they should respond within a day. Ask him or her about issues like safety around the area, how far and how accessible the must-visit places are. For me, it’s a great way of knowing if they’re as excited to host me as I am to book their place and plan my perfect holiday. Assess to see how much effort they’re putting in to make your holiday memorable.
State your purpose: One of my hosts actually asked me what my agenda was on this holiday. Since it was a girlie getaway, she sent across nail paint, some wine and chocolates to surprise us. That was amazing. She also addressed issues like safety because she knew it would be important to us. I think giving that extra piece of information (with or without being asked), is a good way to align yourself with the host and create a rapport. The whole idea of choosing a homestay over a hotel is making the experience more personal and less transactional, and this is a great way to start a conversation.
Carry some essentials: Even the best of hosts may forget to pop a tube of toothpaste in the loo, so don’t rely on them completely. Pack the basics, drinking water, toiletries, walking shoes! You could have done all your homework but that shop in the neighbourhood may still be shut or is probably being renovated. To avoid too many adventures, be prepared with the essentials.
Review, review, review: Remember that a review helps you make the right decision, so it’s important to give back. Whether you’ve had the best experience or a terrible one – do not forget to give that feedback. Letting your host know how amazing your stay was, will encourage them and telling the truth as it is and raising red flags where required will force the company to take action (hopefully).
Here’s to many more happy holidays at magnificent homestays!