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Who else wants an Airbnb alternative?

Plus: answer to where in the world?, recent headlines

In today’s issue

  • Airbnb’s gone wild: Good idea. Great execution. Problematic at scale.

  • Where in the world?: Answer to our last issue’s quiz

  • Headlines: what are all those laid off tech workers doing?, digital nomad family that went for it, the new official digital nomad hotspot

I think we can agree that Airbnb has gotten too big

Think of any beach town. How many homes do you think are vacation rentals?

Once upon a time, 2 broke roommates in San Francisco needed to make rent, so they launched a novel idea that had the promise to change the way people travel: “Book rooms from locals, rather than hotels.”

Well, it’s 15 years later and Airbnb — with its $90.4 billion market cap — has delivered on its promise to change the way people travel. Before Airbnb, it wasn’t really possible to enjoy “slow travel,” but now we can:

  • enjoy comforts and amenities of home that we can’t get in hotels, like kitchens, patios, and living rooms

  • “live like a local” in residential hotspots and neighborhoods

  • pick from oodles of accommodations types, from single rooms to quirky treehouses to yellow submarines to $32k/night luxury estates

Mo money mo problems

Some Airbnb guests being charged a cleaning fee are also being asked to clean before they leave

The system worked in the early days, but then Airbnb scaled into its own economy and hosting became a big business. This shift has stirred up a litany of complaints, such as:

  • An Airbnb costs the same or more than a hotel, but without the enticing loyalty program

  • Fees up the wazoo: cleaning fees, service fees, and taxes that can add up to 35% to the total rate

  • A roulette of guest experiences, from pristine to pitiful. While most stays are enjoyable, it’s the chore lists, bizarre rules, creepy hosts, and hidden cameras that we hear about.

  • Housing downfall: short term vacation rentals are cannibalizing the long-term rental market, making it next to impossible for local residents to afford basic housing.

  • The sharing spirit is dead. Airbnb has roots in the sharing economy. Now — as one disgruntled Redditor puts it — Airbnb is a “nameless, faceless cash grab. I miss actual hospitality.”

So now what?

Airbnb's near-monopoly status has created a state of complacency and discontent.

With little in the way of competition, the drive to innovate and improve for the sake of the guest has all but vanished.

It’s not clear what’s next, but we’ll continue to cover this topic in future issues.

Accommodations is not just about finding a place to sleep — it's a huge part of the joy of travel.

Answer to “Can you guess where this is?”

Transfăgărășan, Romania

Transfagarasan is perhaps the best roadtrip roads in the world thanks to spectacular landscapes and — well, just look at that road.

The 90 km drive connects the south of Romania with Transylvania and stays open from July to November. Transfagarasan was built in the 1970s under communist powers as a propaganda landmark and major tourist attraction.

Nowadays, you can take your time and stay in nearby guesthouses and hotels, and enjoy attractions like Vidraru Lake, Balea Lake, Balea Waterfall, and multiple hiking trails.

Here’s a reverse view looking down the valley:

Recent headlines

Stay shaded,
—the Palmtree Editorial Team


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