Travel Tip: Airbnb.com

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What is Airbnb? That’s the question I asked when someone suggested I should check out the website. It proved to be a valuable referral, especially to my wallet.

Fall is a beautiful time in Michigan. The weather cools, Big 10 football starts, and the leaves change color. Traverse City is one of the most majestic locales to view the fall leaves. Colorful hills dip down to white sandy beaches and clear blue lake waters. The wife was anxious to make the drive to the northwest corner of the Michigan peninsula and view the scenery. Great idea, I was onboard for the trip. Until it came time to book the hotel.

At $250-$300 a night, accommodations were definitely out of our price range. Of course, we were trying to book three days before the weekend. We had waited to be sure the leaves would be at their peak color. Availability was also a problem.

The next day at work I mentioned in a conversation my frustration with trying to make a room reservation. Someone spoke up and asked if I had ever tried airbnb.com. “Nope!” Her response intrigued me, “I bet you will find a room if you go online and check them out.” Thankfully I did.

Airbnb.com, according to their About Us page, “is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet.” From their homepage, you can select the location you wish to visit. The type of accommodations you are looking for, private or shared. It’s even possible to search a specific price range.

First Experience with an Airbnb Rental

Why not give it a try, the wife really wanted to make the trip. Happy wife, happy life. Wow, in a matter of minutes we booked a lakeside cabin, totally private for two nights. The price, $75 per night. It was a beautiful setting, with a comfy atmosphere. A dock into the lake gave us a place to sit and relax, even caught a few largemouth bass.

The location, just outside of Traverse City, made it a convenient place to venture out on day trips. But, still close enough to run into town for a fine meal. Larry, our host, even suggested a few places to try. The weekend was one of the most enjoyable getaways we’ve experienced in over 40 years of marriage.

Covering NASCAR Race Weekends for The Lasco Press

Anyone who’s tried to book a hotel room close to the track for a NASCAR race weekend knows the facts. If you stay any other time of the year the price is $100 per night. Race week, it’s $400 a night with a three-night minimum. Generally, we book reservations up to an hour away from the track to find reasonable prices.

Traveling to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500, we had to look 45 minutes out to find a room under $100. Charlotte is a beautiful city but their traffic situation is legendary, and not in a good way. Not wanting to increase the commute to the track by sitting in bumper to bumper traffic we looked at Airbnb.

Sharing a two bedroom apartment with a wonderful couple we booked four nights for less than a single night at Hotel Price Gouger. The commute to the track, less than 10 minutes. A comfortable memory foam mattress and private bathroom. Perfect when you just need a place to sleep and shower. Live coverage of NASCAR events means long hours at the track.

Our Host Collin

When booking on Airbnb.com you are encouraged to send your host an introductory message. Responding to Collin regarding my trip to Charlotte I told him that I was a journalist covering the race weekend at the track just up the road in Concord. Collin texted back his phone number and encouraged me to call him. He had a story we wanted to tell. What reporter is going to turn down an invitation like that?

Turns out Collin works for Airbnb. Previously Collin worked as a field organizer for candidates political campaigns including Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. In 2014 he moved to Charlotte taking a position in the Kay Hagan for Senate campaign. As he and his spouse were looking for an apartment to rent they were surprised at the high rental rates. Moving into an apartment that was near the top of their budgeted amount, they decided to offset some rental expense by renting out the spare bedroom.

Almost immediately they were booked 100% of the time. Paying all of their rent with their Airbnb income. When Hagan lost her Senate bid his abilities were in demand, taking a position with Airbnb in a similar capacity. Collin moved to San Francisco where Airbnb’s home office is located.

Working for Airbnb.com

Collin’s job responsibilities could be described as a lobbyist for Airbnb. He works with local communities, cities and state governments to pass laws that protect homeowners from archaic housing laws. Giving homeowners the opportunity to earn a good income from home sharing.

The benefits of being an Airbnb host are notable. In addition to turning your home into an income producing asset, Airbnb assists in several crucial steps of the process. From listing your rental space to marketing, insurance, collecting income and dealing with local tax and zoning authorities. Airbnb is there every step of the way to assist. Visit their Become a Host page for complete details.

Collin says, “My friends say I have drunk the Airbnb cool-aide and they are right. Having seen the difference this service can make in the lives of everyday people, I am all in. Rent a room, change your life, reach your goals and dreams. Airbnb can show you how.”

Follow the link to Collin’s Profile Page for more information on the properties he rents.

The Stay at Collin’s Charlotte Property

Our visit to Collin’s place in Charlotte could not have worked out better. Close to the track, plenty of restaurant options in the area. A nice apartment in a gated community. And we made a new friend.

Sharing the apartment with a couple from New York City. We spent some time sharing interesting aspects of our working visit to Charlotte. We talked about The Lasco Press and NASCAR. Discussing our efforts to build our brand through the social media aspect of the sport. Then kicking into reporter mode, I quizzed them about their interests.

In response, I found out the young couple came to the U.S. from Maldova. Married with one child they’ve lived in the States for the past 16 years. Catalina and her husband were in Charlotte for a work assignment. Most significantly Catalina is a social media star. Her website sweetandsavorymeals.com is a food blog with a massive following. Her Facebook Page lists 95,000+ followers. Here is a sample of Catalina’s work.

They booked the room on Airbnb because they had trouble finding a hotel in the northeast Charlotte, I explained why. Never having attended a NASCAR race Catalina wanted to know if the driver’s got dizzy running around a circle for 500 miles. Again, I explained and invited them to attend over the weekend.

Will I book more often on Airbnb? Already set up for our Miami-Homestead Speedway visit. Staying just over five minutes from the track for 4 nights.  Saving $550 from the cheapest hotel I could find in the Miami-Dade area.

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines, a freelance technical writer, and a contributing author to a consortium that provides “how to” articles for eBay Buying Guides. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve on the Lasco Press with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.

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