Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Booking An Airbnb

A Story by Kristopher Hochart | Updated 07/22/2020 12:00pm

Have you ever wondered how booking an Airbnb works? This article will answer common questions (and give you a little history) about Airbnb.

Frequently Asked Questions about booking an Airbnb


Will Airbnb Refund Me?

Yes, but refund amounts can vary. In general, if you cancel within 48 hours of booking, a full refund will be issued.

Partial to full refunds and/or alternative accommodations can be arranged if cancellation happens after your arrival.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with Airbnb's guest refund policies.

Can an Airbnb host cancel on me after booking?

Yes. If an Airbnb host cancels, Airbnb will give you a full refund. Because host cancellations can be disruptive of guests' plans, there are penalties applied to an Airbnb's host when they cancel a booking.

Which cancellation policy is best to look for when booking an Airbnb?

Airbnb has three main types of cancellation policy: flexible, moderate, and strict.

Your Airbnb host selects the policy they prefer.

When booking your Airbnb, you’ll find cancellation details towards the bottom of the listing you’re considering.

You can review the cancellation policy before you book.

After booking, you’ll also receive details of the cancellation policy in your confirmation email.

Are Airbnb prices negotiable?

Most guests do not know this, but YES. You can negotiate the price of an Airbnb.

There is a discount hosts can use called a Special Offer.

The host can only send you this Special Offer if you first message them with specific dates in mind.

Who cleans an Airbnb?

Many hosts choose to hire a cleaning service, but some hosts clean their properties themselves.

Your Airbnb will be cleaned before you arrive and after you leave. A cleaning service does not come in during your stay, so you are responsible for keeping the area as clean as you prefer during that time.

Many Airbnbs also have a short checklist of recommendations to be done before you check out.

This list might include items like taking out the trash, starting the dishwasher, leaving the beds unmade or placing linens in a pile on the floor, and adjusting the thermostat.

Who owns Airbnb?

Airbnb the company is privately owned.

However, each Airbnb property may be owned by a team or an individual homeowner. It really just depends on the particular property being booked.

Some hosts own several groupings of properties. These hosts may live in the area, or may live in another state and have a property management company handle their property and tenant concerns.

Other hosts offer their personal home or guest home as their Airbnb listing(s).

Who pays for any damages at an Airbnb?

48 hours before your stay, an authorization hold will be placed on your chosen payment method.

This hold is for a security deposit amount set by your host, typically somewhere between $100-500. You won't actually be charged, but you won't have access to these funds either until the hold is released.

If no damages are incurred during your stay, this hold will be released 14 days after your checkout, or before the next guest checks in.

If damages are incurred, the cost of those damages will be subtracted from the security deposit amount, and should any funds remain, the hold on those will be lifted.

Your host will communicate with you regarding any damage and security deposit related issues.

Is Airbnb safe?

Safety is Airbnb's number one priority.

The number one thing to do to make sure the home you're staying in is safe is to look at the reviews on that listing!

Look for hosts with excellent reviews, superhosts, hosts with 50+ stays, and check reviews for consistency.

Airbnb guests are happy to leave reviews for excellent stays but are also ready to leave honest reviews when a stay feels less than safe in any way.

And Airbnb will remove a listing if guests consistently leave negative reviews.

Where Airbnb Started:

Airbnb began in San Francisco in 2007. Initial offerings were shared spaces with air mattresses and breakfast at $80 a night.

To help keep the company going, the founders sold 2008 presidential campaign related cereals!

After tweaking Airbnb’s advertising and changing their focus from shared spaces to all types of accommodations, the company really took off in 2009.

You can read more of Airbnb’s story.

Why Airbnb Asks for ID

Airbnb requires all guests (and hosts) to undergo verification before they may book (or list) a property.

This is Airbnb's way of maintaining security within the Airbnb community, as well as fighting against fraud.

You may be asked to provide ID for any of the following reasons:

  • The host may require a valid government ID in order to book a property.
  • Airbnb may ask for additional verification in order to confirm it is really you logging into the platform.
  • Airbnb requires users to be 18 or older, so asking for ID is a way to verify the age of the guest or host.

Airbnb Booking vs. Hotel Booking

When it comes to an Airbnb booking vs. a hotel booking, it really depends on what you're looking for.

You often get more bang for your buck with Airbnb.

You'll have access to your host should your Airbnb need maintenance or should you have a question.

Airbnb yields a more local feel; plus you'll be cooking your own meals (or going out to eat), making (or not making) your own bed, and living independently for the duration of your stay.

With Airbnb, the luxury of your experience really depends upon the booking you choose.

If you like your independence, enjoy ample space, and don't mind making your way around the kitchen, Airbnb may be a great fit for you.

With a hotel, you can expect maid service daily, onsite gyms, room service if desired, and maybe even a mint or chocolate on your pillow.

If you're looking for a luxury experience where everything is taken care of for you, a hotel may be your best fit.


Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb?

Was it a good experience for you/your family?

If you're looking to travel, Airbnb may be a fun way to change up your usual plans.


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