Fans say homestays make the trip more authentic and affordable, CR offers five ways to increase the odds of a happy stay
A recent nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports, the independent not-for-profit consumer organization, found that 92 percent of Americans that have booked a home-sharing service like Airbnb or AwayHome, say they are likely or very likely to do it again.
The Consumer Reports’ National Survey Research Center asked more than 2,000 American adults about their experience when using home-sharing services. Overall satisfaction levels amongst respondents that have used a homestay service were very high with 37 percent indicating their experience was “good” and 53 percent saying it was “very good.” The survey found that some reasons why homestay fans use the alternative-to-hotel experience are to save money (70%), to have unique accommodations (58%), and for the availability of a kitchen (53%).
“While home sharing services may offer consumers a chance to save money on a unique experience, services and consumer protections vary,” said Lauren Lyons Cole, CFP and Consumer Reports money expert. “Travelers should be aware of what they are getting into before opting for a vacation rental.”
While CR’s survey found many of respondents who have tried a homestay have had no problems (65%), there is still some hesitation from many Americans. The survey revealed nearly 90 percent of Americans say they haven’t booked a homestay. Among the respondents that wouldn’t consider it (53%), some 57 percent say it’s because they don’t know what to expect, 55 percent have safety concerns, and 40 percent say they don’t want to interact with homeowners.
However, the allure of finding that unique cultural experience is enticing for many of Americans. Almost 75 percent of respondents that have never used a home-sharing service (but would consider it) told CR they would consider doing so to experience the local culture.
For more survey results on home sharing services or to get CR’s complete report on “Homes Away From Home” visit CR.org starting May 3rd.
When comparing the largest services: Airbnb, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor Rentals, Consumer Reports found that Airbnb offers the largest number of properties in the United States and across the globe. Company protections and policies vary, and so do the additional fees. Airbnb charges between 6 to 12 percent in service fees and HomeAway charges 5 to 12 percent. TripAdvisor Rental tends to charge a higher service fee ‒ between 8 and 14.5 percent.
For travelers looking to increase the odds of having a happy homestay experience and choosing to book with a home-sharing site instead of a traditional hotel, Consumer Reports offers the following advice:
- Compare prices carefully. The per-night or per-week price you see in search results is only part of the total cost. Check the listing for the service fee, which can add up as well as additional cleaning fees, which can vary as much as the properties themselves, depending on the size of the rental and the length of stay.
- Read between the lines of the reviews. Because the average Airbnb rating is 4.7 out
of 5 stars, it’s essential to read reviews with a critical eye. If something is the slightest bit negative, pay attention, as people have different ways to describe their complaints.
- Choose a property that has many reviews. Airbnb’s “Superhosts” have hosted at least
10 times in a year and received a 5-star review for at least 80 percent of stays, so listings with that status are a good bet.
- Leave nothing to chance. Manage your own expectations by double-checking everything from how many people can shower before the hot water runs out to whether or not the kitchen has a microwave and a coffee maker. Available amenities such as WiFi will be shown on the listing, but if you don’t see something, don’t assume it will be there.
- Negotiate a discount. If your favorite option is a bit rich for your budget, try your luck at asking for a discount.
For more helpful tips and advice on how to make the best of your homestay experience pick up a copy of the Consumer Reports June 2017 issue, on newsstands starting May 9th.
Consumer Reports 2017 Survey Methodology
In February 2017, the Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,023 U.S. residents to assess the opinion of Americans regarding homestay services. Respondents reported on homestay experiences in the past 3 years. Respondents were selected by means of random-digit dialing and were interviewed via phone. The data was statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey are demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.