Airfares and lodging rates keep going up, making travel increasingly difficult in a fragile global economy. However, with sharing sites like Airbnb, the lodging costs at least can be significantly reduced, if you are willing to embrace the unconventional.
Unconventional lodging through Airbnb
The website Airbnb matches up travelers with those willing to rent out rooms or spare homes, often for a fraction of the cost of standard hotel lodging. Others, willing to share with strangers, are also cross-indexed. By typing in your destination and the dates of your stay, you can see what is available for your travel plans.
Oddly, the site’s name does not refer to air travel. It is the name the company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, and his co-founder used to call an air bed they rented out to others looking for a place to crash.
Read the fine print
Airbnb adds its own fees, as do some of those who provide the lodging, so it is essential to read the fine print before booking a place to stay. Also, the amenities may vary greatly from venue to venue. However, the site offers user reviews, which may give you a better idea of what to expect from each offering.
The homeless executive
Chesky, speaking at the South by Southwest interactive conference this week, said that he has no home. That may sound like a bad sign to those intrigued by the site, but read on.
Chesky officially launched his site in 2008, and it was not an easy sell. He said it had three launches before it caught on. According to Bloomberg, he was once so desperate for investors that he offered a 10 percent stake in the start-up for only $10,000. There were no takers, but if investors had been more long-sighted, that stake would now be worth $250 million.
Two years after that launch, Chesky became homeless. “In June, 2010, I moved out of my apartment and I have been mostly homeless ever since,” he said.
Keeping a finger on the pulse
Since that time, he has been crashing in apartments and homes owned by others, taking advantage of his own company’s offerings.
“It’s the best way to take the pulse,” Chesky said. “The key is to always use your product.”
It probably doesn’t make for bad promotion, either.