I usually don’t write so much about work related stuff, but as my work and studies are related to tourism they get easily mixed with free time ;).
Have you tried Airbnb? I bet many of you have!
I have too – as a guest, many times since 3 years, and as a host since last summer. As a guest I have been renting only a room and the whole place, I have got to live with the hosts and not to meet them at all. I have stayed in private apartments, a boat, and buildings where all the apartments were used for Airbnb. I think Airbnb gives great possibilities for different travelers and almost all my Airbnb experiences have been good (on my last trip in London two different hosts cancelled our booking just one or two days before, that wasn’t really nice, but ended well). However, since I have started hosting my thoughts about Airbnb have got mixed – and I would like to share my feelings.
Last summer I helped my mom by co-hosting her guests coming to our house in Tampere and at the end of the summer we felt quit professional on house cleaning and laundry. And also the house was much cleaner than probably ever before! All the guests we received rented the whole house, not a room, so we only met them for giving the keys and showing the house. Now I am doing the same thing in Rovaniemi, where Christmas season is the busiest time of the year and the city is full of tourists. There are so many tourists here lately, that according to Lapin Kansa, the local newspaper, Airbnb apartments have quintupled in 1,5 year!
Home yard in Tampere
Most of the guests come only for one night, as Rovaniemi is the gate to northern Lapland thanks to its international airport and the railway station. I don’t really mind people coming for only one night, actually the good thing on it, is that in such a short time they don’t really have time to make the place dirty, so cleaning is always fast. However, what takes time are the laundries, as sheets and towels have to be washed daily so that they have enough time to dry for the next guests! On Airbnb, you are also suppose to attend certain ‘grades’ about your hosting, which in addition to cleanliness includes different things for different people, for example the quality of the bed, decoration or equipment of the apartment, soft towels… Actually it’s quit amazing on what kind of things people can give comments!
Many blogs about reasons to use Airbnb instead of hotels enhance the same things: You get to live like a local, you have more flexibility, you get interaction with the hosts, you have more space for a cheaper price etc. However, I don’t agree anymore with all these points and I am even starting to wander which are exactly the reasons people are using Airbnb nowadays? Well, for myself I know it’s the cheaper price and a different style of accommodation but i’ll go back to this later.
Christmas opening in Rovaniemi with the main attraction of the city: Santa Claus
As a host I have noticed that people’s expectations are starting to be higher and higher and sometimes it feels that the whole idea of ‘staying in a local home instead of a hotel’ seems to be totally forgotten. People are asking me to drop their suitcases to the apartment at 8 am, checking in at midnight, or asking if I can leave the key somewhere so that they can check in when ever it suits for them…. They don’t answer to my messages which makes communication and planning difficult, especially when I also work every day. The check in and check out times marked on the profile, the fact that the apartment is actually a home where someone lives the rest of the year, or that the host is a person who also has a full time work next to Airbnb hosting do not seem to affect the guests.
Tourists leaving for a safari in Rovaniemi
These things are probably related to the case that it is very common nowadays to rent many apartments for only Airbnb usage and make that as a full time work. Like mentioned above I have myself slept in that kind of apartments too – I didn’t know it when doing the booking, though. But honestly, the Airbnb experiences that I remember as very good ones, are the ones when I was actually staying in the house with the host and we were talking and sharing.
Here in Rovaniemi I had one guest like that, as we actually went to have dinner together. I was very tired and not sure I wanted to go, but it ended up as a very nice dinner – the guest was interested about life in Finland and about our culture. He thanked me later and told he had learned a lot. After that dinner I was feeling that this is what Airbnb should be! And that is what I understood about the idea of Airbnb when it first started… Stay like a local and meet the locals?
Once after the guests had left the apartment and I went to clean, I found some bottles and cans in the bin. No-one in Finland throws those in the trash as if one doesn’t recycle otherwise, everybody always brings their bottles back to the shop and get their deposit of them! Of course this kind of things you can’t know if you are a foreigner and you don’t talk with the locals – what is a shame is that you probably still don’t know it when you leave the country… And how many other things you have missed about the local culture in addition to the bottle deposits?
As guests and hosts on Airbnb we do save money, but I just think that we could get so much more. I have personally got good friends through Airbnb and I have learned a lot each time I have stayed in someones’ house – sometimes it’s been just the time of a breakfast but enough to get to know something new! I know the concept of Airbnb is changing, but wish people would still think about it as a homestay which could bring them something different than hotels, not as a hotel-service.
Throwback to Brazil and Iguassu Falls were I first tried Airbnb in 2015.