Travel | What to know before booking on Airbnb

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The low cost of using Airbnb and ability to stay in some real gem properties has us all flocking to the online system. But what do novices need to be careful of when booking on Airbnb?

For every good story about someone staying in some palace for a fraction of the price of a three star hotel, there is another bad one about scammers and ‘eccentric’ hosts. Unfortunately, as with booking anything online, you do not really know what you get until you physically arrive at the premises.

As with all online ads, the images presented may be totally different to what you actually get. Hosts can apply to have Airbnb’s professional photographers take pictures of their rental space. Such images generally have a watermark. As Airbnb have seen the property and worked with the host for this, such properties have a lot more credibility than others.

The cancellation policy can be different for various properties as Airbnb has three policies in places. Each policy pertains to which kind of refunds guests will receive, in addition to how quickly they can cancel their reservation. For example, the ‘Flexible’ policy allows users to cancel one day prior to arrival, while ‘Strict’ requires seven days.

Airbnb do not do a screening of each user, leaving it up to your to determine where to stay. They have encouraged hosts to get verified IT which means they have scanned this official documentation or asked knowledge based questions. As such, it may be better to stay with hosts that can provide this verified ID.

You cannot pay in case and you will be charged a service charge of between six and 12 per cent when booking a room. Hosts can also add a one-time cleaning fee and a security deposit charge to the overall cost of the rent.