Over the past several years AirBnB, has been continuously gaining steam. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Nor should it. It is a great resource for those who want to rent out vacation houses, spare rooms, etc. and provides a decent hotel alternative. Plus it provides a local “host” who can provide more insight into the city than a typically hotel. However, I absolutely despise AirBnB. Like with a passion. This being said, I still use AirBnB whenever it is the cheapest option, but every single time I get very fussy. It drive me nuts. So I figure I might as well share with you the issues that I have with the ever so popular hotel alternative.
AirBnB is a Practice in Deceptive Advertising
As someone who above all else values cheap travel, I expected to love AirBnB. It provides an often cheaper alternative than booking a traditional hotel. When this is the case I will always look into my AirBnB options. But my god is their pricing ridiculously deceptive. You have to go through multiple layers of fake pricing before you even can find the actual price of your stay.
AirBnB Initial Search Deception
I am currently planning a weekend trip to alaska for the last weekend of June, and hotels in Anchorage are crazy expensive. You will be lucky if you can find a decent 2* hotel with a private bathroom for under $130/night. I have never been to Alaska before and did not know this is what I could expect regarding pricing. So I searched AirBnB for a private room with a private bathroom for less than $100 a night, and this was the resulting map.
Looks good right? However, the price filter, ignores all of the hidden fees built into AirBnb. These include cleaning fees, services fees, and local fees and taxes. Theses fees can substantially increase the nightly cost of your AirBnb, but do not appear on the map. However, once you hover over a place it shows you what the “total price” is. It also appears in the less convenient sidebar (I find the map way easier to use).
Brittany’s place which advertises for $65 dollars a night, would have cost me $215 for a 2 night stay $107.50/night, when you consider all of the airBnB fees. $42/night more than the initial $65 a night. This would be bad enough if there was not a second layer of deception.
The Second Layer of Deception
While the initial search deception irritates me, you can find the “total price” easy enough. or it would be if the “total price” was actually the total price? But it isn’t. The “Total Price” is advertised nightly rate + cleaning fees + service fees. This total price does not include the state and local taxes. To find out what the actual total price you actually have to click into the booking page.
This reveals that there is another $23 of state and local taxes This increases our nightly stay to $119/night. This is almost Double the initial advertised rate. While you have to pay these sort of fee at hotels, all of these “fees” are built into to the advertised price (with the exception of the state and local taxes in some cases). Hotels are more straight forward with what you are paying, while AirBnb deceives you and gets you to their site by advertising prices that are half of what you pay at a hotel, but end up being the same if not more.
AirBnB Really Doesn’t want to Help You Get the Best Price
AirBnb’s website sucks. There is no doubt about it. They are really not as consumer friendly as they want you to think. Even if you put the deceptive pricing aside. The reason being, AirBnB makes it extremely hard for its users to even find the best AirBnB for them.
AirBnB’s Price Filter is Useless
AirBnB allows you to filter the price, which in theory would be helpful. You can set a floor and a cap on the average nightly price of a booking. Of course, as I mentioned above this only caps the “average nightly price’ meaning the price shown before the 2 layers of deception. As we learned, the real price could be as much as double the advertised price.
AirBnB Does Not Allow You to Sort Results
While AirBnb provides a lot of filters that allow you to narrow down the room to the ideal you are looking for, they do not allow you to sort. What this means is once you apply all of your filters, you are stuck going through page after page, to find the AirBnb you want.
In smaller cities like Anchorage where my filters limited my results to 40, that isn’t too bad. However, let’s take a look at New York City.
With the price filter set at <$100 (which you think would eliminate a good chunk of new york) and my only requirement of a private bathroom. I still have Over 300 places to look at. Yet, I have no ability to sort by price (deceptive or real), sort by review of the room, and while I can filter specific neighborhoods, I cannot sort from distance from landmark.
This is a real pain as it requires me to go through all 300 places to find the best one.
AirBnb is not Very Convenient
As I travel on the cheap, I generally travel with the worst flight times. Usually I find myself on a redeye or a first thing in the morning flight. In these situations, I generally land in my destination well before check in time and my flight is significantly after checkout time. When booking through a hotel this is not usually an issue. You just stop by the front desk and they are willing to hold onto your bags when you enjoy your morning/afternoon. With an AirBnb this is almost always not available. This means you are forced to lug your bags around for hours until you are allowed to access to the room. A huge inconvenience.
I also feel like I am an inconvenience when I stay at an AirBnb. During my stays I am literally a guest in someone’s house. I am constantly feeling self conscious about the level of noise I am making or the time I am spending in the bathroom. It is like I have a significantly decreased sense of privacy and I am hyper aware of my actions. That is how I am no matter whose house I am staying in. I don’t feel that way at a hotel. For whatever reason at a hotel my room feels like my own little world and if I want to take a long shower who is to judge me.
I use AirBnB when it is significantly cheaper. The AirBnB I booked for my Alaska trip saved me over $100 when compared to a dumpy hotel. However, AirBnb continues to frustrate me. It is almost like AirBnB goes out of its way to mislead and inconvenience its customers.