Originality in the 21st Century. That’s bit of an oxymoron. Notes, shots, stitches and strokes, they have all come under the scanner and analysed as nothing more than recycled ideas. Sadly, the most inspiring brand story of 21st century fell into the same category.
It is rather painful when a strong vision as original as Air BnB’s gets labelled as a Logo that didn’t do its homework. In 2014, Airbnb revealed it now identity and came under fire from designers for the similarity between its new logo and existing branding for other companies. Some social media users were naughty enough to draw comparisons with human genitalia.
But then the question is, if we love a product, do these controversies really matter? To me they DON’T. No matter how their logo looks like, Air BnB never fails to amaze me. I have tried it to book rooms in Pondicherry and Shillong and was all smiles after doing so. So when it came to booking my stay at Seattle, there was no looking beyond http://www.airbnb.com.
There’s something magical about typing alphabets and special characters in this particular order. You feel positive. You feel cheerful. Most of all, you feel like a traveller. Air BnB has opened doors to some of the finest home stays for me till now and I was sure it was going be a repeat experience.
I wanted to rent a place 15 days. Budget was Rs.2,500 per day. Had no clue about areas though. So I took help of Jessica (who was hosting me and my friend Devdutta for first 15 days). She gave me a list of places which are great to stay. (Remember – ask a local. It helps.)
Now that I had names and a site that promised me a home stay at any of those names, the quest began. Now there are some pointers that you got to remember while booking on Air Bnb.
- Weigh your option: It’s a pain. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. It’s definitely not the first thing you wanted to do today. But you got to do what you got to do. The more options you look at the more likely you are to find the best option.
- Research the city: Don’t wait to land in the city. Start before hand to avoid landing in the soup. Make friends with Google Map. Track the city center from the address of your stay so you can see how far it will take to get places.
- Don’t overpay: Splurging is nice. But please keep a tab on the use of your magical plastic card. Look at each place individually and compare prices even if you’re not interested in staying there. Allocate a budget and stick to it.
- Read the reviews: No really. Read them. Even is they are like 137 in all. Because reviews help you to validate the credibility. One bad review could save you from a nightmare. And one good can make your whole trip a memorable experience.
- Focus on rails and roads: When on a specific budget, travelling is a task. So when looking into an Airbnb, research what the public transportation system looks like in that area. Try to find a location that appears close to a bus stop, metro stop or whatever mode of public transit they use in that city. This way it will be easy to get to and from places during your visit. Yes, there is Uber. But then why waste money in local travel. Save them. You can buy a couple of extra beers with it.
- Contact the owner: Don’t feel awkward to do so. Talk to him / her. They are nice people. They are there to help you. Ask them as many questions as you have. But please be a little intelligent. No one likes to answer dumb question. And please be decent. This is a platform built on trust. So no hanky panky…please.
- Don’t wait till the last moment: The owner of the place is the best local contact you can ever have. Make use of this opportunity. How to get from the airport, train or bus station to your lodgings. Figure it out. Again…make friends with Google Maps. Look the routes. Look up what’s around the the place you are staying. Find what’t not there.
I did all this. And booked a cozy place that looked like the best fit.
Since I booked for two weeks, I got a 10% discount as well. After a quick exchange of mails with my host, I was sure that I made the right choice. And yes. It indeed was. Roseanne (my host) told me that the bus stop is 10 mins away (yes, it was). She told that amazing places to dine out are just round the corner (oh yes, they were). She informed me that its a place easy to reach from any point of Seattle (well, it was). She wished me a great stay (her wish did come true).
So, Air BnB logo might have ruffled some feathers, but it the brand never fails to provide a nest that will make your destination an ultimate vacation.
And NO. I am NOT getting paid by Air BnB to say all this.