Travel Tech: Traveling in the Digital Age

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I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers told the audience that we are living in an age where the biggest hotel chain in the world does not own a single room to let and the biggest taxi company does not own cars.

He was speaking of Airbnb and Uber of course. I do not need to talk about Uber because all of us rely on Uber to make sure we reach our destination.

Wikipedia describes Airbnb as “a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging. It has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.” Airbnb is a great alternative to a hotel stay. The properties they list range from super budget to very luxurious appointments. So chances are, you’ll find a great place to stay in a very convenient and accessible location.
I’ve booked accommodations from Airbnb in Rome and Madrid this year and both were awesome properties in very nice neighborhoods. In Rome, we lived like locals in a top-floor apartment along Via Cavour just around the corner from Santa Maria Maggiore. Our apartment had a big master bedroom with a big bathroom, another loft bedroom with its own toilet, and the sofa turned into another Queen-size bed. It had a kitchen and dining area, a washer and dryer and Wi-Fi! And it cost us about a third less than if we booked in a 2-3 star hotel in that area.

In Spain, we stayed at a smaller two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom and a very small kitchenette but it was located in Calle de Silva, just a few steps from Gran Via in the center of Madrid.

Airbnb works just like any hotel online reservation facility. All you need to do is fill in the search box where you want to go, put in the dates, number of guests and then select whether you want an entire home or apartment, or a private room or shared room. You can filter it even further and specify number of rooms, bathrooms, and beds. You also have a choice to see only listings that can be booked instantly and/or if you want to rent from recognized
super hosts.

I like to book with super hosts because they have properties that are rented quite often (at least ten times within a 1-year period). They also get high ratings from their guests, always honor confirmed reservations, and reply to emails and messages quickly.

Payment is through credit card, so there’s really no hassle. There’s usually a cleaning fee charged on top, and depending on your destination, your host may charge the city tax for each night of your stay (paid in cash on your arrival)

Booking is quite straight-forward. But arranging how you’ll get the keys requires a few email and SMS exchanges, but once you let your host know your time of arrival, they will make certain that someone will be waiting for you at the apartment to let you in.

Whatever accommodation type you choose, whether it is a whole apartment, a private room, or a shared room, you will most assuredly live comfortable and quickly feel like you’re a local.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2015 – January 2016 issue.
Words by  Presy Alba
Artwork by Theresa Eloriaga