Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Slight Change Of Plans

Originally Veronica and I were planning on staying in Paris for a few days in October of this year. We were then going to board a train and go to Bruges in Belgium. After spending a few days in Bruges, we were going to once again board a train and return to Paris where we would finish our 2 week vacation.
Due to the cost of riding the rails,we decided to not travel to Bruges, but instead spend our entire 2 week vacation in Paris. Instead of paying for a hotel...they are rather pricey in Paris, we decided to try something different. We are now planning on renting a studio,  a regular apartment or a house in Paris. We have heard quite a bit about renting places all over the world as a money saving option compared to getting a hotel. We have checked out several recommended rental agencies so to speak. We will most likely be using airbnb. This is the basics of how airbnb works. First you join and the go through an ID Verification type of procedure:
  • Guests and hosts verify their IDs by connecting to their social networks and scanning their official ID or confirming personal details
  • When you book reservations on Airbnb, you can earn reviews that appear on your Airbnb profile. Reviews are written by real Airbnb users who have booked reservations on the site and want to let the community know of their experiences. If you don't have any reservations planned yet but want to allow friends to vouch for you, check out references.
  • The envelope icon found at the top of any Airbnb webpage will take you to your inbox. Click on a message to be shown your complete message thread with a particular host or guest. All message threads have a status.
    When sending a message to a host for the first time, guests use the Contact Me button on a listing's page. Asking questions is a great way for both hosts and guests to build a rapport and set expectations.
    Before booking -- confirm details on specific amenities, who (if anyone) will be sharing the space, and what rules might be in place at the listing. Please make sure to keep your communication on Airbnb.
    After booking -- be sure to plan check-in details. Continue messaging on Airbnb to keep all your details in one place for easy reference.
    The user flagging feature found in every message thread allows you to notify us if you feel uncomfortable or there is an attempt to book off-site. Here's what a flag looks like:
    flag example
  • How to Travel

    1. Step 2

      Contact

      Message hosts by clicking the blue 'Contact Me' button below their profile photo. Ask any questions you might have, and confirm availability. We recommend messaging multiple hosts, and we make it easy to reuse the same message. Your personal contact info is kept private until after your reservation has been made to protect your privacy and keep you safe.
      Learn More
      • Profiles

        It's a good idea to fill out your profile before you start contacting hosts as many hosts prefer to learn about potential guests. The fastest way to fill out your profile is to connect your Facebook account. You can also edit your profile by clicking the down arrow next to your name all the way at the top of the screen, selecting Profile, and clicking on Edit Profile. Some hosts require complete profiles, so if you haven't done so already you might get asked to upload a photo, add a description, or more when you try to message them.
      • Communicating

        Airbnb keeps direct contact information private until after a reservation is accepted to protect everyone's security and privacy. But we make it easy for hosts and guests to contact each other with built in messaging and Voice Connect. Voice Connect allows hosts and guests to talk on the phone in a private call through the Airbnb system. Click the blue 'Contact Me' button below the host profile photo to send a message. There you can choose to allow the host to call you between 9am and 9pm in your time zone using Voice Connect. If you'd like to talk on the phone just ask if the host can call you in a message.
      • Preapprovals & Special Offers

        If you've been messaging a host, they can pre-approve your stay and even make you a special offer. If a you receive one of these offers in a message, clicking 'Book It' will take you straight to the payment form and confirm your reservation right away - no waiting necessary.
    2. Step 3

      Book

      Click the green 'Book It' button on a listing to send the host a formal reservation request. The host will then have 24 hours to respond. (If the host does not respond in that time, the booking expires.) If you see a listing labeled 'Instant Book,' that means there is no messaging or approval needed. In this case, clicking 'Book It' will confirm your reservation immediately.
      Learn More
      When a host accepts your reservation request, you will be notified by email and provided with a receipt, an itinerary and the direct contact details of your host including the exact address of the listing.
      After your host accepts your reservation, you'll be charged for the stay. However, Airbnb will hold on to your money until 24 hours after your check in date, giving you an opportunity to see your accommodations and make sure they're up to scratch.
      • Reservation Requests

        It's a good idea to fill out your profile before you start contacting hosts as many hosts prefer to learn about potential guests. The fastest way to fill out your profile is to connect your Facebook account. You can also edit your profile by clicking the down arrow next to your name all the way at the top of the screen, selecting Profile, and clicking on Edit Profile. Some hosts require complete profiles, so if you haven't done so already you might get asked to upload a photo, add a description, or more when you try to message them.
      • Payments

        After you click 'Book It,' you'll be asked for your payment information. After filling out your payment details a reservation request will be sent to your host, who then has 24 hours to accept your reservation. Once a host accepts your reservation you will be charged for the reservation, including any fees. However, Airbnb will hold on to your money until 24 hours after you check in, so you have a chance to make sure the accommodations are up to scratch.
      • Confirmation

        Your reservation is not final until your host accepts your reservation. Hosts have 24 hours to accept a reservation request or it will expire. After your host accepts your request you will receive a confirmation email, a receipt, an itinerary, and the direct contact information of your host, including the exact address of the listing. You can always access all of this information by going to 'My Trips' within your dashboard.
      • Security Deposits

        Hosts have the option to add a security deposit to their listings to cover things like wine stains and broken dishes. If your reservation includes a security deposit, we will pre-authorize your payment method for the amount of the deposit 24 hours before your arrival date. Hosts have 48 hours after you leave to file a security deposit claim with Airbnb. We will mediate claims if necessary, or release the funds authorization if we don't hear from the hosts.
    3. Step 4

      Travel

      Your vacation is so close you can almost taste it! But well before you hit the ground, contact your host to confirm arrival times and key exchanges. You can always find all the details of your stay, including host contact information, under 'My Trips'. 
So basically we pick a location or several neighborhoods and the amount we are willing to pay for a night, week or whatever span of time you want to rent in Paris and refine abnb's search engine for the type of apartment, what is included in the rent for the apartment along with several other factors. You will then be shown whatever apartments, studios or houses that fit your criteria. Interior and exterior photos are shown on most of the listings along with just about anything else you would want to know about the place. Even all of the financial and legal particulars are shown. You can also see a photo of the owner along with reviews and feedback from previous renters. 
Veronica and I have just started our search on airbnb. When we really start getting serious about putting in a request for a specific accomodation, we will actually join airbnb..which is actually free.
Whatever fees airbnb has on the rental property, it is already built in to the totals that are shown for the duration of your stay in the property. 
It is really kind of a cool way to see a destination and live somewhat as the locals do. We look forward to whittling down our choices and finally contacting the owner to see if they agree to rent the property to us. For us the approximately monetary savings of going through airbnb compared to the cost of a hotel in Paris is around 50%. Of course this all depends on how much you are willing to spend for the rental property...nightly...weekly or for whatever time you want to be in the rental property. 
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