Are hotel prices stopping you from traveling this summer to the big cities? Looking to make a few extra bucks on during your summer vacation? Airbnb, a startup founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, can help you out. While the startup began in a San Francisco apartment, after its recent announcement of raising 112 million dollars from investors, it may be outgrowing that label. According to Jenna Wortham from the New York Times, Airbnb lets people rent out their extra rooms online to travelers looking for a place to stay. Airbnb handles up to 10,000 guests a night and offers a diverse selection of rooms, ranging from a villa to even a treehouse. Renters can set their own prices and Airbnb makes money by putting a surcharge on the rate. The locations of available rooms have expanded greatly, as rooms have popped up across the United States and in more exotic places like Greece and Fiji.
If any of this sounds a little bit Craigslist Killer-y, Airbnb has ways to counteract that. A ratings system is in place, much like eBay, where users can review where they stayed and the people they dealt with. The renters have the option of linking their offering to their Facebook profile, to allow potential buyers to check out the person they are dealing with. After the place is booked, guests can also send questions to the renter about the place they’re staying in.
The concept that Airbnb thrives on removes the broker as the middleman. But, instead of taking a piece of the rental game, which has already existed, Airbnb is creating its own niche. Many of the rooms that are rented out on Airbnb for a few nights would have never been pawned off for money. Renters get to make some quick cash if they have an extra room or are on vacation, and guests get a potentially cheaper place to stay than standard hotels. They also get the chance to have a unique experience of being in a foreign city without having to be in a standardized hotel. There’s something kind of cool in that. Well done, sirs.