Airbnb and the Art of Travel – there are alternatives!
Airbnb‘s concept to rent an accommodation today is available in 190 countries and over
34.000 places. (Airbnb website)
What happened since 2008 when Airbnb was founded?
Basically the tourism industry, particularly in the field of hospitality, did not pay much attention to this new development. So Airbnb was given enough room to develop it‘s platform and to become stronger and stronger. In my eyes the development of Airbnb came in a moment when the younger generation of people were used to share flats as students or while being in education. Available money for life‘s extras like traveling was limited. Still the will to travel and to explore the world did exist. You remember the strong moments of the movement of „couchsurfing“? To me Airbnb seems to be a kind of successor of this movement.
To open private houses and flats to travelers has a long history. Let‘s look at the concept of Homestay. It still exists and still plays a role in learning about other cultures while sharing a time with your host in his home. Depending on the country the local tourism organizations – after quite a while – then recognized this type of tourism. Homestays were rated in categories, reservation platforms organized and general standards were applied. I find this scheme valuable compared to just rent out apartments. Since it contributes to the idea of sustainable tourism.
What is the point to choose Airbnb?
As an alternative to a hotel stay, holiday flat and private room rental has also a long history. So what is the point to choose Airbnb? In my eyes it‘s the sales platform that makes it very easy to access worldwide offers. So instead of searching for websites and offers by country and city people just go to the Airbnb website and find it all.
Really all what is offered? I doubt. But the offer seems to be sufficient for the Airbnb users to let the concept grow. Branding and the spirit of the time made it possible that Airbnb is today where it is. I don‘t have by far anything against new developments and clever people having visions to successful tapping niches in specific markets. Well done so far at this point! It is also admitted, that the founders could not foresee the economic and social development the world is undergoing since 2008. Especially the financial crises and it‘s worldwide impact on economies and the human society – which is, in my opinion – still shadowing all of us and by far not settled. I doubt it will in the future following the slogan of „change“.
But today I like to name some aspects why you should stop to use Airbnb – if you ever used it.
The system of Airbnb
-in some parts of the world and especially in metropolitan cities is taking away housing space from locals who work and live there. With speculators buying apartments to rent them out on daily rates to tourists instead of collecting a monthly rent from locals. Goal: to achieve a higher ROI.
-provokes that people who are suffering financial problems are renting out their home and sleep in their car, with friends or even „under the bridge“. This could by far not be the idea of tourism although one might think – well I am helping with my stay, so what could be wrong. The point is, you will not even be aware about it.
-cuts the business model of local holiday rental businesses, which are also serving as a consultant and sales platform for those not being familiar with internet procedures and electronic payment models.
Six years ago I started to support the Karala Homestay association in India with the travel advisers community. Since then I learned a lot about this scheme of making holidays. It made me conscious about sustainable tourism. Of course everybody is free to define his own way of „Art of Travel“ . This post article should serve to raise a little bit of awareness what consequences bears the Airbnb System and that there are alternatives. An open discussion is welcome!