Treat your Airbnb with gratitude

By Li Luyuyang, Columnist

Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Do you consider it a hotel or a home? With college taking a toll on my budget, I’ve stayed in Airbnbs while on vacation. At first, I treated them like hotels — until my stay last week.

Airbnb, and similar websites like VRBO, function as a middleman for people to rent out their houses and stay at others’ for a short time, usually during vacation. What makes Airbnb different from regular hotels is that it’s essentially more flexible on time, space and price.

The upside is it doesn’t have a unified check-in and check-out time; these times are usually set by the host and may be negotiable.

Moreover, spaces rented out on Airbnb vary largely. In a hotel, one may stay at a standard queen/king room or in various suites, but floor plan options are comparatively limited. Unlike hotels or resorts, there are all kinds of places you can choose from on Airbnb. One may stay at an apartment, a house or a single room in someone else’s home.

Another thing that makes these websites so popular is the price; one can book a room in the Hollywood Hills for the price of a room at Motel 6.

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Unfortunately, more freedom among regulations can pose serious issues. There’s no unified, set price for how much the host should charge for late checkouts, and each host expects a different standard of behavior and level of cleanliness. Many times, the host and tenants can solve their issues satisfactorily. Other times, they’ll take the last resort — writing mean reviews about each other.

I’ve been an Airbnb user for years now, even staying in many countries for short and long periods of time. As a previous hotel-stayer, I considered Airbnb as another form of hotel room. I assumed these people were opening their hotels in empty real estate; however, my last stay in Seattle completely altered my attitude.

I first saw the house from afar up on a little hill. It was a lovely two-story wooden house, painted blue, in a residential neighborhood. The minute I opened the door, I realized I must not treat it as a hotel room, as the pictures on the wall indicated it belonged to a lovely newlywed couple.

The more I explored the house, the more I found each little thing they had done to improve their home: matches by the candles, many books and decorative pieces. Each presented me with a fragment of the their lives.

I was exposed to a flood of feelings triggered by the emotion and zeal presented everywhere in their home. I soon realized what had been missing in my previous stays: gratitude.

People who are willing to share their most delicate happiness with you. Hosts who rent out their own homes for your vacation are indulging you with their trust — that you’ll take care of their homes as if they were your own.

Airbnb isn’t just a website for cheap places to stay, but a platform that encourages sharing and trust among strangers. When others offer you their trust and share their homes with you, try to reply with gratitude and treat the place with care, because where you’re staying for vacation carries more than it seems.

Luyuyang is a sophomore in LAS.

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