Forget travel agents, forget comparing flight and hotel prices on Travelocity and Expedia. It's time for you to try something new; Airbnb.
Here's how it works; I am a traveler in need of a cheap room in the heart of Manhattan. You are a young professional living in a loft in Midtown with rent that costs an arm and a leg. I pay to use your room as a home-base for my weekend stay in the city and avoid being price-gouged by a hotel near Times Square. You get my money and a chance to keep your land lord happy one more week. We both win.
Simply put, Airbnb is a website to connect travelers with people from all over the world willing to rent vacationers pull-out couches, spare bedrooms and, in some cases, entire homes. Airbnb is my need meeting your opportunity.
Neither the concept nor the website are new, but both have been gaining attention of late. Reuters writes:
Three years after the San Francisco-based company Airbnb began inviting real people to list for rent their homes and apartments, castles and houseboats, users have booked 1.9 million nights in more than 184 countries; bookings are growing an astonishing 40 percent month over month; and roughly 1,000 new properties are entered into its system each day.
Going beyond the success of the company and the unique opportunity it is providing travelers, let's talk about the one thing I really care about; the app.
Airbnb is one of my favorite apps for the iPhone. Its user interface is intuitive. Its visual design is smooth. And it hooks the user. I thought the idea of Airbnb was interesting, and I thought it might be a great website for someone else... but not for me. And then I used the app. And now I have an account. And now I daily browse my travel options. Chances are if you search for places to stay in Austin in the near future, my apartment might even come up. I think that's a mobile win.
Years ago we all said price-comparison and booking websites for travel were going to kill brick-and-mortar travel agencies. Now I wonder if crowd-sourcing travel options will kill the booking websites? Only the app store (and time) can tell.