NEW YORK (MainStreet) The numbers dazzle. Out of nowhere, sharing economy based hotel alternative Airbnb now claims some 600,000 listings - everywhere from Phoenix to Rome to Sevastopol in Ukraine, where a private room in a waterfront home is $13 per night.
You read that right: $13.
The other number that dazzles: $10 billion and that, per gossip on Wall Street, will be Airbnb's IPO target.
Word of advice: before your next vacation trip, whenever you are paying with your own dollars, check out what your money buys via Airbnb.
The Airbnb promise: it connects ordinary folks (11 million so far, said the company) with accommodations they want to rent on a short term basis. There is everything from "shared" spaces to private rooms and also whole apartments and houses. Airbnb makes its money with a host service fee (3% of the total) and also a guest service fee (6% to 12% is added on; the higher the cost of accommodations, the lower the fee).
Hotel brands are driven by a quest for uniformity - the goal is to make every Holiday Inn Express room seem much like any other. Airbnb is the exact opposite. There are yurts, palaces, cabins and of course there are lots of apartments and single family houses. Whatever you can imagine probably is available via Airbnb.You want prime hipster: how about Lula's studio apartment on East 9th in Manhattan's East Village, steps from Tompkins Square Park? The price: $149. She has 20 reviews, and they are raves. Note: accuracy, cleanliness, communication and value are rated by guests. Listings typically feature a photo of the owners too. Carefully check the details and the ratings before clicking "Book It."
You were hoping for cheaper? A short bus ride through the Lincoln Tunnel is West New York, N.J. where $50 per night buys you a private bedroom from Airbnb host Stefanie O'Connell who said her guests are "almost always" early to mid 20s and "typically European."