Airbnb pushes social travel forward with monthly rentals
Monday 05 September 2011
Silicon Valley wunderkind Airbnb announced this week that travelers will also be able to book month-long sublets using its site.
The popular website, which allows people with a spare room to rent it to travelers with little administration, has traditionally focused on short stays in the same manner as Couchsurfing, but the September 1 announcement catapults it into a different market of long-term visitors.
A new website has been launched for the service which lists over 30,000 available sublets in over 5,000 cities, all bookable using a credit card.
"Whether adjusting to a new city, studying for a semester abroad or doing an extensive travel for business, Sublets are the best way to feel at home quickly, but finding one is tricky," Airbnb wrote on its blog.
"It often requires repeatedly searching through listing sites, scheduling appointments to view places one by one and a lot of cash up-front."
Like the short-stay version of the site, users can also see and contact users before they book, helping to build a relationship - although that approach came under significant criticism earlier this summer after one blogger's story of an Airbnb experience gone wrong went viral.
Airbnb responded by introducing a $50,000 compensation guarantee for hosts and a bulk of other new security features.
However, the episode may have played into the hands of Couchsurfing, a more established website that offers a similar service, albeit without a focus on couches rather than rooms.
Last week, CouchSurfing announced a significant investment and plans to expand its staff and infrastructure.
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