Is Renting Out a Bedroom to Random Strangers for You?

Courtesy frostopher/myBudgetTravel
A high-tech ashtray on a rooftop deck in Arhus, Denmark. is encouraging more people to "Live a Richer Life." How so? Naturally, by inviting strangers to crash on your couch or spare bedroom.

Airbnb, the online marketplace that hooks up travelers with hosts who have room to spare at the right price, has had an enormously successful run. Born in 2008 (and based in San Francisco, of course), the site recently hit the 5 million mark for total number of nights booked, and, at last check, boasted nearly 20,000 hosts in 192 countries.

Even so, the push is on to attract more business. A new "Life" page has just launched, featuring a series of videos designed to highlight the upsides of being an Airbnb host. It's all about making money from renters, and what that money can do for you. Empty nesters, homeowners struggling to pay the bills, artists pursuing their dreams, families who want to spend more time with their kids: They're all potentially good candidates for the "Airbnb" lifestyle.

The page also has a calculator where would-be hosts can estimate how much they'd make by taking in travelers. You enter your zip code, along with the kind of lodging you can provide (entire house, living room, bedroom, "unique space"), and the calculator spits back the amount you could be earning each month. A bedroom rented out at an apartment in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, for instance, is expected to yield a maximum of $2,850 per 30-day period, or $95 per night. An entire two-bedroom home in San Diego, meanwhile, could bring in nearly $5,000 a month, at a rate of $165 nightly.

Several of Airbnb's videos show parents discussing how taking in Airbnb renters have allowed them to stay home and spend time with their children, rather than being forced to work. Such an idea might strike many parents as bizarre, or even reckless. We tell our children to be wary of strangers, but here are parents who welcome them to spend the night?

Naturally, a big part of Airbnb's marketing push deals with concerns about safety, and how hosts can protect themselves. The efforts seem especially necessary after last summer's Airbnb scandal, in which a host's home was reportedly trashed, and the guests drilled through a wall to steal her jewelry, electronics, and other valuables.

Soon after the event made news, Airbnb announced the"$50,000 Airbnb Host Guarantee," explained here:

The Airbnb Host Guarantee is designed to reimburse hosts for up to $50,000 in damage to their property as a result of theft or vandalism by Airbnb guests who book the host’s accommodations through the company’s website.

The site also ramped up its Trust and Safety Center, which includes tools such as video profiles, requirements for complete profiles, an enhanced section for references, and various verifications designed to make it less risky to accept bookings.


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