Looking for a place to stay in NYC? There are some lovely hotels to choose from, but if you really want to experience the Big Apple, why not spend the night at an actual New Yorker's pad? That's exactly what home rental service Airbnb offers by matching NYC homeowners with vacationers looking for accommodations of the non-cookie cutter variety. There are designer lofts, one-bedroom homestays, tony penthouses and everything in between to peruse on their site, and prices start from around $17 a night. We recently had the chance to ask Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia some important questions about how the service works, so if you're interested in making some extra bank by renting out your place or booking one of these NY apartments for a stay, read on for his answers.
Inhabitat: Can you tell us a little but about Airbnb and how it works?
Joe Gebbia: Airbnb is an online marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. From a private room to a private island, we offer an entertaining and personal way for travelers to discover new experiences and see their surroundings through the eyes of a local.
Inhabitat: What are some reasons travelers might want to choose Airbnb over a hotel?
Joe Gebbia: Airbnb offers an incredibly wide range of unique travel experiences – from the types of places you can rent to the experience you have once you’re there. On Airbnb you can stay at a house shaped like a boot in New Zealand, a houseboat in Paris, or a solar-powered home in Oahu. Even if you’re not staying on a boat or in a boot, you still get a truly memorable experience no matter where you are by living like a local and gaining insight into your surroundings from a fresh perspective.
Inhabitat: Could you give us some sample rates for studios, 1 bedroom apartments and larger dwellings in NYC? Is Airbnb typically more affordable than a hotel room?
Joe Gebbia: Since there are many neighborhoods in New York City, there isn’t one specific rate associated with an apartment type. But one of the advantages of Airbnb is that you can find a unique, local accommodation in New York at virtually any price level. There is something for everyone to choose across location, price range, apartment configuration, and amenities. Sometimes the choices go beyond what traditional accommodations offer, like these in NYC: https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/4038097
Inhabitat: How much could an owner stand to make per month by renting their apartment out with Airbnb?
Joe Gebbia: The amount of money a host can make on Airbnb depends on how often they rent their place, what type of place it is, what neighborhood it is in, and a variety of other factors. Some New Yorkers rent an extra room in their home, while others choose to rent their entire place when they’re out of town. Some hosts list their rooms year round, while others just occasionally. And while the income varies from host to host, it makes a real impact on their lives. We have hosts who have been able to save their homes from the money they make on Airbnb; who use it to pay for their education, or medical bills. We have hosts who use their extra income to save for weddings, honeymoons and vacations. For those hurt by the down economy, Airbnb brings hope in a challenging time. We traveled around the world to capture some of these stories on www.airbnb.com/life.
Inhabitat: How do you prevent vandalism or just plain old disrespect of property?
Joe Gebbia: Trust and safety is very important to us. We do our best to make the platform as transparent as possible, so people are empowered to make decisions they are comfortable with. Airbnb has established a $1 Million Dollar Host guarantee incase anything goes wrong, transaction based reviews, and a variety of additional features that facilitate transparency in the marketplace. We provide our users with the tools they need to flag users, message threads, and listings, and provide them with 24/7 access to our Customer Service team if they need support. We maintain a Trust & Safety section of our web site with more information, www.airbnb.com/trust.
Inhabitat: Have you seen a high demand for Airbnb in the NYC area? How is the supply?
Joe Gebbia: New York City is a destination for the world, and we can enable more travelers to visit. There are currently over 17,000 active Airbnb listings in NYC, a figure that has doubled in the last year. Over 2.6 million nights have been booked on Airbnb in New York City, making it Airbnb’s biggest and highest-demand market. Clearly there is demand for this type of travel in NYC, and we have guests staying in all five boroughs, bringing business to parts of the city that don’t typically get visitor traffic. Our local NYC hosts are recommending local NYC establishments to their guests – this is after all the experience guests want. The benefit for local businesses is getting a lift from customers that wouldn’t normally patron them.