My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property

While it’s fairly common knowledge that Airbnb’s mission is to make travelers feel at home, and immediately have a sense of belonging to a new area; my travel method is to capitalize on that plan, so I developed a method for booking great Airbnb properties.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property

You might not know about Belo.

Belo is the symbol for Airbnb, the one that looks like you took an old metal hangar folded it over. It actually was designed in 2014 to represent belonging, and the three components are a head to represent people, a location icon to represent a place, and a heart for love; together, they combine into the Belo.

The Airbnb idea is for a traveler to feel at home anywhere, that you can travel anywhere in the world and feel at home, to belong, and to be a part of the community. That’s exactly what I want when I travel; to blend in and experience a bit of the local flavor. I’ll put discount codes for you to use at the end of the article.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
The African Suite at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando. It was huge!

My Method

When I first started booking Airbnb properties, it was a fairly new company, and I immediately developed a method for searching and choosing. One of my first bookings was at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando. I was thrilled and delighted at the value!

When I’m booking any type of travel, first I look at all the offerings in an area. For example, if we are going to book a dive trip on an island, I will look at every dive shop, and each of their offered dives. I like to be thorough, and know what all is available. I do the same for accommodations.

So, for somewhere to stay, I look at everything that is offered in the surrounding area. I thoroughly get a feel for what’s available.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Mid-city break for paddling and duck watching at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Airbnb or VRBO

Despite Airbnb’s nearly-new six year-old redesigned logo, and VRBO, Vacation Rental By Owner’s own recent rebranding, I seem to find more interesting offerings on Airbnb. While VRBO is older, going back to 1995, I just haven’t seen the depth of offerings there.

To me, it seems Airbnb has more offerings in more places, and more unique properties. VRBO seems more limited in the depth and breadth of their options, which seem more likely to be vacation rental condos than residential properties.

Since 2008, Airbnb has been catering mainly to individuals with rooms or spaces, while in 2006, VRBO joined the HomeAway network which also includes VacationRentals.com.

The uniqueness of Airbnb’s offerings is one of the aspects that sets them apart. Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Everything you need to know about both accommodation sites has good information on both companies.

The main difference is Airbnb can rent rooms, VRBO takes only entire homes, so, fewer rental choices. Airbnb boasts four million properties versus VRBO’s two million, again, fewer choices.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
We needed to be close to the dive site: Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

Distance in Time and Traveling

My method is next to determine where we are participating in an event, and how far from that even is our outside distance. That gives me an exact area in which to search.

For some events, we might want to be in walking distance, for others, no more than a five minute drive. Other occasions, we might be able to tolerate a twenty-minute drive; that’s my first step, exploring the maps.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
For a cycling weekend, Gospel Island Lake House – Inverness Florida.

Comparables

Then I work on the prices – I research what the typical hotel in the area is like so I know what the going rate is in that neighborhood.

While I have no intention of staying at a hotel, I do like to see the rates for the area to determine what are the low- and high-end prices for that region.

I like to know the going rate, then, I try to find something even nicer than a hotel, and maybe for a bit less. If I can find something for a bit more, that’s ok too, since I can plan on cooking some or all meals.

Sometimes due to time and distance constraints, we still book hotels for a single night here and there when that’s the most efficient method of staying somewhere. Some Airbnb’s prefer multiple nights, so a hotel it is for us when we need a location that has a shuttle to an airport and we need to be very close due to early morning flights.

For sleep, park, and fly, or sleep, cruise and park, some Airbnb hosts will allow you to park additional days for a small fee, and provide a ride to your flight or cruise – you just have to ask if that is a possibility. Or, there’s always Uber available to help you make your connection.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Added views and wildlife at Gospel Island Lake House – Inverness Florida.

Location

Always, I look for a place on the water. Whether what we are doing is water-related or not; that’s what I seek. Even inland, you can find some way to be on the water, even if it’s only a pool or pond!

The benefits of being on the water are, first of all, no neighbors in one direction.

That usually means less noise, less traffic, more space, and an opportunity to see other wildlife or boats or both.

First I get an initial idea of what is available for what rates, then I start making some calculations on what that view is worth vice a view of a parking lot from the fifth floor of a hotel on the highway.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Beautiful landscaping, private pool at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Time to Award Some Hearts

At about this stage, or whenever I start seeing properties that really, really interest me, I establish a trip folder online in Airbnb. Whenever I find a location that suits several of my criteria, I mark it.

Sometimes a property will come and go depending on dates you are putting in, so it’s best to mark it so you can find it later. I usually tackle a booking in several stages. One evening I might look at an area, the next evening mark several properties. Then the next night I might really dig into each location, and the next night contact a few if I have questions.

I have found instances where I contacted the hosts, and a date that was not available could be made available once they knew my time schedule. Once it was simply a matter of moving the cleaning from the morning I wished to arrive to the previous evening after that guest had departed.

You don’t know if you don’t contact and ask, and sometimes they have more than one property or room on that property that you just had not found; that has happened to me as well with a location that had several separate buildings, each with its own suite.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Hot tube and on-site massage at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Amenities Desired

I usually opt for a place that has a full kitchen so we can cook and enjoy brewing our own morning coffee.

We have found while we do like to contribute to the local economy, and lunch is a perfect time to do that, sometimes we prefer to shop the local markets for something even nicer that we would order if we ate out – much like our overall Airbnb method!

At this stage, a lot of my time is spent looking over the selection in the area that appeals to us – and then I try to comb back through the places I marked and find that special something, whether it’s a huge fireplace, big view, eclectic mix, or some side benefit.

A property that also offers use of a canoe, kayaks, paddle boards, a dock, a pool, bicycles or anything like that is an added bonus, and I look for those.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
We enjoyed paddleboards and the canoe at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Narrowing Down the Choices

Next is the narrowing down procedure. I carefully look over all the offerings in an area, and determine my goals. At this stage, I try to kick a few choices out – eliminating them as too far, too expensive, questionable reviews, or anything else I can select.

For any area, I like to find something that is very vernacular to the area, maybe something built in the era most influential in that location. So, a very “cookie-cutter” property might get jettisoned at this stage in favor of something more “charachter-y.” I do like to seek out the very unusual.

Either I try to find a home in the style that is typical to the area, or has some link to the history of the area, is linked to the ecoconscious goals of the area. I try to find something special that ties it to that location.

A property that is powered entirely by solar, or a location with a vegetable garden, perhaps the availability of bicycles or kayaks; all these would possibly swing a choice with their added value.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Outdoor shower at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Running the Numbers

Then I start calculations – making dry bookings to compare. At this point, if I have three that really appeal to me, I pull out a piece of paper.

I’ll make columns for the various amenities. I remember once i got to this stage for one trip, the only difference was canoe versus kayak, canoes are tippier, so I selected the location with kayaks.

Once I run the numbers, that might eliminate a property if they have an unusually high cleaning fee or other surprise. I have negotiated lower cleaning fees for properties with two bedrooms that we were only going to use one bedroom.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property

Reading the Reviews

Next, I read back through all the reviews on a property, scanning for anything like “hard bed” or “noisy neighbors” or anything slightly questionable that I overlooked in my initial excitement.

That is one of the really, really great aspects of booking with someone like Airbnb – each property has reviews, and the reviews are specifically for that property.

For a hotel, there could be hundreds of reviews, but with a couple hundred different rooms – you are not sure if any of the disappointing aspects of the reviews could be duplicated during your stay or not; it’s just too impersonal.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Outdoor lounging areas at Casa Paraiso – The Paradise House in Orlando.

Breaking the Tie

Sometimes I’ll end up with three or four rather different but equally interesting properties from which to choose.

Then I draw a grid on paper. yes, I actually put everything down on paper. Usually, I list the price, the view, and the distance to where we want to go. Then I make a column or two for the additional amenities like pool or bicycles or walk to lunch or whatever makes each property special.

I start circling things that I really like or dislike. I underline, highlight, rank, and rate. Having the choices all in front of me lets me see what they have in common, and which ones have a lot of “extras.” Usually I can make a decision at this point.

If it gets really close, I have had to try to assign values to various amenities, and come up with a subjective means to make a decision, This often works better with comparing cruises, but I use it here too.

Then I make the plunge and book.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
View of inlet traffic – my favorite kind – at Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

A Few Odd Tips

In addition to contacting hosts to inquire about parking while on a cruise or flying, there are other smallish things you can ask.

For one property I was interested in, the price was just a bit higher than another due to it being a two-bedroom instead of a one-bedroom. I did not need the additional bedroom, and the price difference over the course of a couple days made a difference to me.

So, I contacted the host, and they decided that due to not having to clean or change linens in the other bedroom and bathroom, they would have less expense, and could pass that on to me. That made the price the same on the more desirable but larger property, so I booked it.

They probably had to make a choice whether to accept booking me at a slightly lower rate, or chance not booking it at all.

Sometimes arrival and departure times can be adjusted slightly; you just need to ask. Due to turnaround times, sometimes they cannot, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Recently, we were at an Airbnb with a grill and could not find grilling utensils. With the handy app, I texted the manager, and she arrived in under five minutes with utensils borrowed from another property, and an invitation to use all three properties’ grills. If you don’t ask… you won’t know.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Access to beach, sunrises, sunsets at Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

Results

So far, my on-the-water preference has landed us in the middle of downtown Orlando, which is a concrete jungle, yet we were on a large lake that made it feel like we were nowhere near the metropolis, but at some island resort. We were only a three-block-walk to Amway Stadium for an Eagles/Jimmy Buffet concert. I wrote about that experience in Finding Tropical Lodging in Orlando for a Jimmy Buffett Concert.

That was an incredible paradise right in the middle of impossibly hectic, noisy, crowded city life. What a find! It was so amazing that friends who live in the area just had to come see it for themselves; they could not believe we really were in downtown Orlando.

We’ve stayed on an inlet in Riviera Beach with a $13 million dollar view. Twice, it’s so nice. Watching the boats in the inlet all day long is fascinating and relaxing. Close access to everything fun, and a pool to boot makes this property an unbelievably lucky find. Check out how beautiful: Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

A bicycle ride weekend resulted in us spending time on a lake with a dock, rocking chairs, lanai, and sandhill cranes. For the vernacular part – it was the most kitschy, 60’s, terrazzo floor and, oh, just SO 60’s I felt like “I Dream of Jeannie” every time I stepped into the kitchen. That one is featured at: Gospel Island Lake House – Inverness Florida.

So far, we have never had a bad experience. I think that’s due to my very cautious selection process.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
It’s never crowded at Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

Discount Codes

Ok, so, here are two Airbnb discount codes. Try either one! The offerings from Airbnb change every couple months, so use whichever gives you the best deal. You can only use a code one time, so compare, choose whichever gives you the best deal since they change periodically, and make it count!

As of today, this one, Airbnb http://bit.ly/dwhAIRBNB says, “Kimberly gave you up to $55 off your first trip.”

Also today, this one, Airbnb http://bit.ly/dwhAirbnb2 says, “Deep gave you up to $415 off your first adventure. I’m ready to book from this one right now! I’m thinking it’s a computer glitch – so jump on it fast!

Today, this one from Uber: http://bit.ly/dwhUber This link currently is for $2 off first 3 rides, however, this also can change – sometimes it’s $5 off your first ride.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
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Remember; toxic sunscreens are banned in more and more vacation destinations; it’s happening so fast now, I can’t even keep up with the list! Yay! Don’t get sent to the sunscreen police! Use code “KimW” for 10% off your order.

, My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property
Shady reading spot at Portside – Riviera Beach Singer Island.

What to Read Next

12 Plastic-Free Vacation Tips

How to Dispose of Toxic Sunscreen Banned in Several Vacation Destinations

Attempting a Plastic-Free Vacation in the Florida Keys

Or, you can watch S2S Best CoralReef Safe Sunscreen at http://bit.ly/dwhYTbestsunscreen  

How to apply mineral-based sunscreen at http://bit.ly/dwhYTS2Stryapply

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