This week, I used Airbnb for the second time ever to book accommodation for two nights in Kyoto. It was really easy and I confirmed my reservation within a day of making my request.
The first time I used Airbnb to find a place in Los Angeles in June, it took me three days to get secure a confirmation. I was flatout refused, or told my dates weren’t available, and I could not understand why. The reservation process for Kyoto was much easier this time because I learned that there is a helpful step to take before booking:
Send a message to the host before you click “Request to Book.”
This helps give the host more context as to why you want to rent their place. The host might be more likely to issue you a preapproval (if your dates are available), which can help expedite your booking.
Back in June, part of the reason it took me three days to make a reservation was because I would put in requests without any sort of note introducing myself or explaining why I was interested in their place. Was I committing a Airbnb faux pas? Perhaps.
After Googling something along the lines of “How to use Airbnb”, the handy-tip blog Lifehacker drove home the importance of messaging hosts because “Airbnb is NOT Expedia.” (This post is just immensely helpful in learning the ins and outs of Airbnb).
See, on Airbnb, the only places you can book immediately Expedia-style are ones with a little lightning bolt by the price. Properties without the lightning bolt require the host to approve your reservation request. The Lifehacker post recommends to hosts that they ask for a message from potential tenants, so they can decide if they approve of your visit or not. A little note can help convince guests that you’re respectful of their property.
I wasn’t sending any hosts any messages. But I changed that habit quickly. I sent the following note on my next request to the host of a cottage I wanted to rent:
Hi [host], my name is Tina and I live in DC. My Kiwi husband and we [sic] would like to stay near the beach before we go to a wedding in DTLA on Saturday night. We’d love to stay in your place for two nights — we get in to LAX Thursday afternoon. Could we take good care of your place for a couple of nights? Cheers, Tina
The host preapproved the stay within a day; I booked it; we showed up. We arrived at an awesome little Venice bungalow with a cute front yard and a solid bakery down the block.
For the Kyoto trip, I messaged two hosts with information about our trip and quickly got preapproved for my dates both times. I booked a property with one host; then thanked the other host for preapproving dates while informing her that I went with another option. The other host’s offering would have been great and I bet she will fill the place for the dates I requested.
The lesson here: If trying out Airbnb, send the host of your potential crashpad a note about yourself and your trip. This has helped me book and will be something I do when I book again in the future.
Want to try Airbnb? Here is a referral link for $25 off your first reservation. In full disclosure: I also receive $25 if you set up an account and make a booking. Referral terms here.
If you have used Airbnb before: Any recommendations on great places you found?