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Airbnb will rip off Americans - and all customers.

Airbnb will rip off Americans - and all customers.

Old Apr 3, 15, 11:46 pm
  #1  
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Airbnb will rip off Americans - and all customers.

There has been a broo-haha in the US TV media regarding how Airbnb is making inroads into Cuba - and specifically Havana. For Americans this has become quite the novel idea - coming into a formerly forbidden country and travelling ... For me as a non-US citizen, this is not particularly novel.

I have booked a casa with room for 3 of us and an ensuite at a cost of $35 a night for 9 nights. This was just 1 or many on offer for the time frame I am interested in.

For kicks I went to the Airbnb site and looked at what was on offer for the same time frame. Naturally, as a "broker" who has absolutely no presence in Cuba, airbnb prices were much more expensive - like $75 and more. The rooms looked of the same quality so there is absolutely NO added value in spite of charging double what casas and their booking agencies charge. What a cash grab!

And who will get the money added to the casa's cost? Certainly not the casa owner (a Cuban struggling to make a living). In true US business fashion, the airbnb CEO will be able to buy himself a Lexus/Rolls Royce with this big money grab.

I wonder how long it will take for Americans to catch on to the fact that they are being stiffed by airbnb - more cost but no added value Caveat emptoir Americans
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Old Apr 4, 15, 2:24 am
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airbnb is providing a service; you're just not seeing it. They are providing a marketplace, just like a grocery store provides a marketplace between food producers and consumers.

If they were not providing a valuable service to BOTH travelers and landlords, they could not remain in business.
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Old Apr 4, 15, 5:19 am
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The booking agencies that book casas have been doing a substantial business for years! Sometimes the casas are fully booked and through word of mouth (aka networking) other casas are found. The marketplace is there, BUT has been ignored by the USA because Americans "were not permitted" to come to Cuba.

The point I raised is that AirBnB is NOT providing any additional value to booking casas BUT is charging a LOT more $$. No one from AirBnB has checked out the individual casa situations but have hired Cuban middle-men to do the connections while AirBnB does the "marketing" to Americans (from what the media is saying). The rest of the world continues (and will continue) to use the casa consolidators as they have for years in the past.

The renting of rooms is quite wide spread in Cuba and all AirBnB is doing is charging substantially more to give American tourists a sense of comfort. Perhaps that is ALL AirBnB is doing - and charging for it. Renting rooms in Cuba is much more advanced than what happens in Greece, France, or Spain. Necessity for Cubans to survive resulted in the current system - and it works. All AirBnB will do is raise prices without adding value. Just my opinion, of course

I think many folks will see the value of going to casa booking "consolidators" who while not glitzy, charge a LOT less for the rooms than AirBnB. time will tell if AirBnB will make much of an impact. There are several examples of US marketers moving into a new market (aka foreign country). and going bust while the locals do fine.
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Old Apr 4, 15, 10:15 am
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AFAIK, the rates are set by the renter and NOT AirBnB. So where is the ripoff? Furthermore, travel agencies who have exclusive rights to the vacation/tour packages etc. have been ripping off the Americans for a while. While you being a non-US citizen are getting the best of the bargains, remember that Americans still are not being allowed en masse. Most travelers (I think) would be ex-Cuban residents and I am sure they are more savvy to be taken in by AirBnB.
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Old Apr 4, 15, 10:18 am
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I'm a bit lost here, if you don't like the price then don't buy it surely? Not really sure what point you are trying to make about it ripping people off.
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Old Apr 4, 15, 3:52 pm
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The owners of casas, or in some cases local agencies representing multiple casa owners, set the prices. Airbnb charges the casa owners 3% of those rates and charges guests another 6-12 % on top of the rates set by the owners. Airbnb makes additional $ from holding guests payment from the time of booking until 24 hrs after check in. So at most they are making 15%, which is pretty fair. Not sure what you are upset about?

I own a vacation rental property, but prefer to use other sites that charge less and don't hold my guests' payments for months at a time.
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Old Apr 4, 15, 8:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
I'm a bit lost here, if you don't like the price then don't buy it surely? Not really sure what point you are trying to make about it ripping people off.
The point is this: most Americans are new to coming to Cuba. AirBnb has a big name, so they must be great. Common sense eh? BUT if you look at the well-established casa system, most Americans don't know about it and thus will go to AirBnB - especially in light of all the free advertising from the US media.

That is the point. Yes, there is freedom of choice - but the point is moot if you don't know what the alternative choices are.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 7:02 pm
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I agree but this is the new reality. Airbnb is helping Casa owner since they complain the online sites are flakey. Plenty of Cuban Casa owners aren't saavy about how to promote, they'll benefit, we'll suffer, those who know the ropes, because we'll be competing with the hoardes of Americans coming down. Wait until they realize how cheap it can be compared to other Caribbean places.

On the other hand booking Casas via emails can be a pain. I will probably take advantage of the service at some point for a last minute situation. I wish it didn't have to be US capitalism surging in but having just visited Cuba I can say they really need the help.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 8:55 pm
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Cuban infrastructure improvement is a totally different issue that AirBnb will not change. They are just charging a lot more without adding any value to the Cuban housing. The rooms will be the same. The casa owners won't speak better English. The individual casas won't have internet...

The added value will come from the Cuabans themselves. High AirBnB fees will not help the casa owners - a better internet and infrastructure will. AirBnB fees won't help improve either areas - only investors.

In the meantime AirBnB customers - the uninformed US tourist - will pay more for accomodation and get not moch more than current tourists are getting. Such is life in the business world
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Old Apr 6, 15, 3:03 pm
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My point is that they'll add value in the area of promotion. The Casa owners are mostly woefully dependent on somewhat crappy interfaces and individuals in the middle to get the word out. This way any Joe from 'merica can find their casa. It's the empty nights that hurt their business so in an overall sense the entrance of Airbnb means Americans are on their way and now have a familiar tool to purchase lodging.

I don't like it either, but we're going to see many instances of this and if you keep the Cubans MORE in mind you'll see they will in fact gain. The long time visitors stand to lose more as the Casas become less available and prices rise

Originally Posted by tmac100 View Post
Cuban infrastructure improvement is a totally different issue that AirBnb will not change.
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Old Apr 6, 15, 8:37 pm
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Time will tell, won't it. However, in spite of forecasts of how AirBnB will improve booking rates, at the moment, they are charging a LOT more, and the consumer (aka your average Joe, and the rest of the world) will pay more for housing but get no added value when booking through AirBnB. Kinda like paying for drinks in a side street "bar" in CUC while the locals are paying in CUP...

We shall all see, won't we. Glad I have booked my casa and am taking my sons now instead of waiting for the changes (improvements??) in 5 years. It isn't the Cuba of 10 years ago, but...
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Old Apr 7, 15, 1:27 pm
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You don't seem to understand - airbnb does not set prices! Hosts are free to ask however much money they desire, then airbnb takes a percentage cut.
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Old Apr 8, 15, 3:42 am
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First of all the host of a room in a casa particular needs a licence for renting to foreign tourists. Renting a casa particular which has no licence is illegal and may cause serious trouble with the police. It is not allowed to rent out the whole apartment or house only rooms in a house where the host lives. There are already some penthouses in first line to the see in Havana on the market where the price is 700 CUC per day. This rentings are illegal. For the licence the host pays 200 CUC per room and per month plus 40 % income tax. There is an official maximum price for each room which is never higher then 45 CUC - in general the prices are between 15 and 30 CUC. An agent - in cuban language an jinetero - will get 5 CUC per night for each tourist he brings to the casa and 1 to 3 CUC from every meal. What airbnb is doing outside is one side of the medal in Cuba the business of airbnb is (still) illegal. Usually the host of a casa will do his best to prevent any kind of burglary in his house because he will loose his licence while the tourist is reporting it to the police. It happened that some hosts lost their house as well. I do not recommend to book with this agencies, always try to book directly and in this forum there are so many webpages of good and reliable casas particulares.
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Old Apr 10, 15, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by carpetbagger View Post
...... What airbnb is doing outside is one side of the medal in Cuba the business of airbnb is (still) illegal. .....
This sentence reminded me of the big broo-haha in NYC regarding non-registered rentals.

Then in Berlin the same is happening:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/...a-1026881.html

As Dylan sang: The times they are a-changin.... And everyone is after their own benefit. AirBnB and others (like Couchsurfing perhaps) are changing the landscape of that is "illegal" and what is "legal". Prohibition in the USA didn't work and I wonder how "authorities" will deal with these non-registered hotels
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Old Apr 10, 15, 12:05 pm
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Originally Posted by tmac100 View Post
BUT if you look at the well-established casa system, most Americans don't know about it and thus will go to AirBnB
You started out saying AirBnB provides no additional service, and now you're pointing out that they do.

Anti-capitalist rant, meet reality.
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