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by Anjali Balakrishna

Photography courtesy of Tech Crunch

Travel is a luxury—especially for students. Long weekends and spring break offer brief hiatuses from school, but going anywhere beyond the university can be pricey. Popular online marketplace Airbnb connects travelers with people looking to rent their homes, making travel easy and affordable for the masses.

The travel service was established in 2008 with the aim of allowing people to “list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” Their numbers boast listings in over 65,000 cities across the globe and upwards of 200,000,000 guests who have already used their services.

Airbnb filters results to help users find the best deals and destinations within their budget. It also ensures each guest’s safety. For example, hosts whose homes contain weapons must firmly secure them before guests arrive. Airbnb categorizes a weapon as “any mechanism that can be used to fire a projectile.” If a host fails to properly store a weapon or include a notice on the listing that weapons are in plain sight, then guests are free to cancel their booking without any penalty.

Hosts are also protected. They can request certain information from guests, such as a valid I.D., and they can set important “house rules.” If a guest breaks this agreement, or if their behavior makes the host uncomfortable, the host can easily cancel the reservation. Hosts can also purchase Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance plan, which provides up to $1,000,000 in liability coverage. An additional Host Guarantee Program covers any damage to the home.

“In my experience, people always advertise the best aspects of their homes when attempting to rent them,” said Megan Arambulo (Questrom ’20). “A lot fail to mention steep stairs, so I’ve fallen down many a staircase.”

Arambulo spent last spring break in Montreal with friends. Her experience with Airbnb was exceptionally positive. In addition to commenting on the easy navigation of the site, Arambulo said, “it was helpful that there was a way to filter results so [they] could get a place within [their] budget.”

Airbnb’s online Help Center has an abundance of information on various subjects such as travel expectations and professional business trips.

Diversity in the company is extremely important for CEO Brian Chesky.

“At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong,” he said.

Chesky’s goal is to reduce the presence of prejudice and bias in the global platform. The website provides resources for hosts to identify and combat discriminatory behavior within their Airbnb community through an online toolkit and Airbnb Citizen, a forum where individuals can share ideas and advocate for diversity.

If you’re looking to live life like a local, then Airbnb is a perfect fit for you. The travel service opens doors and lets travelers in. Plan a city escape and book your first unique home today!

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