Australians overwhelmingly prefer hotels over Airbnb reveals a new survey by comparison site Comparetravelinsurance.com.au.
Despite the popularity of Airbnb, the survey found that travellers continue to harbour reservations over home sharing services. 73.8% of respondents say they would prefer to book a hotel over an Airbnb for reasons such as; ‘reliability, ‘better convenience’ and ‘safety issues.’
The results come amidst Airbnb’s huge surge in popularity over recent years. The home sharing site has proven to be particularly exceptional in Australia with a year-on-year growth rate of 106%. Sydney has been ranked as the top 8th Airbnb listed city in the world with more listings and users than San Francisco.
However, despite a rosy outlook, the home sharing economy still has a way to go in convincing consumers.
Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au says,
“Australians have always been quick to embrace trends like Uber and Airtasker but never more so than with services like Airbnb. We have readily accepted the sharing economy but expect great quality service in return. When it comes down to it, value for money will always prevail. Our survey findings reveal that despite the great benefits of Airbnb, many consumers still find hotels to be a more trusted mode of accommodation.”
Airbnb: an insurance minefield
In October, Qantas struck a world-first deal with Airbnb, announcing a deal to reward frequent flyers with a point for every dollar they spend on the home sharing site.
Prior to that, a 2015 partnership with the Sydney Swans encouraged fans to use the home sharing site when travelling to games across the country.
Both deals have shocked and angered hotel groups who feel that that the partnerships help to legitimise an ‘unregulated’ operator.
A chief concern for hoteliers is the belief that Airbnb is not bound to any insurance regulations, jeopardizing the safety of its guests. And while the Airbnb ‘host guarantee’ promises to protect hosts for up to $1 million in property protection, experts are quick to point out that this does not replace landlords’ or home-owner insurance.
To further complicate the matter, most Australian home insurance policies do not cover Airbnb hosts and their tenants. In the event of injury or death of a guest, a host could be liable for millions of dollars’ worth of compensation.
Travel insurance and Airbnb
While travel insurance would cover you for lost or stolen personal belongings, cancellations and personal liability when staying at an Airbnb, it’s acknowledged that certain risks exist when staying in a stranger’s home. It’s advised that you use common sense when using Airbnb and if something seems off, proceed with caution.
“From a travel insurance perspective, whether you have booked an Airbnb or a hotel room, the same rules apply. The onus would be on you to protect yourself and your belongings. Similarly, if you are sharing the lodging with other guests or a host, you would be required to lock away your belongings in a private room.”
“We strongly advise those using share home accommodation options to exercise a good deal of caution. Ultimately, if you are staying in a stranger’s home it’s up to you to use common sense in assessing any potential risks. If anything about the situation seems suspicious or fraudulent, report it to Airbnb. And of course, if your personal safety is being threatened contact local police or emergency services immediately.”
The scam scare
In recent times a slew of negative Airbnb experiences has attracted media attention and encouraged criticism of the service.
Sophisticated fraudsters have managed to fleece countless tourists with roughly 1.5 million people reporting that they have lost money through travel website scams. Travel association ABTA estimates the figure to be much higher.
IT expert Damian Teh White lost $9,000 when he unknowingly booked a fake listing. White says that Airbnb displayed ‘flagrant disregard’ for his complaints. “I was shamed, humiliated and made to feel like a fool,” says White after Airbnb refused to remove the scam listing from its site.
Similarly, strict refund policies and hefty booking costs have caused some to rethink Airbnb as a viable option.
“Today’s travellers are savvy and risk averse. Despite the popularity of Airbnb the dangers of unregulated rentals and scam listings cannot be ignored. Once bitten consumers are twice shy and understandably reluctant to repeat the same mistakes. Hotels will most likely continue to be viewed as the more trusted, reliable form of accommodation for some time to come.”