Cracking open the Paris apartment door, University of Tennessee student Melissa Vargas is immediately greeted by the resident cat. The place may be small, but it’s hard to beat $12 a night in the city of lights.
Airbnbs like this one offer a more affordable and accommodating experience than hotels for young travelers.
The premise of it is fairly simple: it allows people to rent out their spare rooms to travelers, while those very same travelers are able to pay less than what a hotel room would cost. Airbnb enables people to list, find and rent vacation homes for a processing fee. It has above 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries.
People can list their home on the Airbnb site, and then travelers can book the home through the site or the Airbnb app.
“You can usually find a room to stay in for $30 a night compared to $100 for a regular hotel,” Vargas said.
Priceonomics looked at the average price of a hotel room versus the average Airbnb listing price in dozens of US markets and found that, on average, travelers could save close to 50 percent by renting a private room on Airbnb over a hotel room, and close to 22 percent by renting an apartment instead of a hotel room.
This idea of home-sharing is affecting hotels, Bloomberg reports. Financial analysts at Bank of America downgraded the stocks of several hotel companies including Hilton and Hyatt, citing pressure from oversupply and competition from homeshare services.
“Airbnb is definitely changing the business,” said Knoxville Marriott shift manager Trent Cardwell. “I don’t think it’s affecting business in Knoxville, but maybe in larger cities where hotels are more expensive. You definitely have a more personal experience at an Airbnb at a third of the price.”
Vargas also praised the personal experience Airbnb offered.
“I use Airbnb when I go to larger cities,” she said. “I like to ask the host for recommendations on museums and restaurants; sometimes the host will even go with me. I’ve always have had a positive experience using the site.”
In Paris, Vargas’s Airbnb host Lewis gave her a map of all his favorite restaurants. On her bed were fresh towels and a key to his apartment, much like a hotel.
Unlike a hotel, the host at one point grabbed a drink with her at a local bar and taught her some useful French phrases such as:
“Où se trouvent les toilettes/Where’s the bathroom?”
“Merci beaucoup/Thank you very much. ”
“Non, je ne soutiens pas Donald Trump/No, I do not support Donald Trump.”
Lewis even exchanged numbers with Vargas if any problems were to arise.
Young travelers everywhere are using Airbnb over hotels. Those backpacking Europe used to stay at hostels that lodge large amounts of people to a single room, but more and more students are turning to Airbnbs for their inexpensive and accommodating features.
“It was nice knowing that someone was looking out for me while I was traveling Paris,” said Vargas. “Lewis was really considerate and friendly. He spoke English really well and told me a lot of places to go that I wouldn’t have found on my own.”