What is the difference and which is better for you?
Is there a difference between an Airbnb rental and a B&B? If you answered “Of course”, you may be an experienced traveler. But if you just shrug your shoulders, then join the rest of us.
The lines between an Airbnb – an apartment or room rented through the home-sharing site – and a traditional bed and breakfast (B&B) are blurring. Even the pros have trouble keeping up. And that’s a problem.
“Airbnb has co-opted the B&B name,” says Heather Turner, marketing director of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, a marketing organization for the B&B industry. “The terms Airbnb and B&B are used interchangeably by guests – and by journalists.”
In short, here is the difference between Airbnb and a B&B. Airbnb is a lightly regulated home-sharing site that allows almost anyone to list homes for rent. A B&B is a small, regulated hostel subject to state or local lodging laws. Think of it as a small hotel with a few extra perks and personal touches.
why people are confused
It’s not just the name that confuses travelers. It’s also that you can find a B&B on Airbnb, says Jordan Locke, principal consultant at Rev Party Board, an industry consulting firm. And since Airbnb is technically an online travel agency, you can find professionally run guesthouses on the platform. “Many B&Bs and boutique hotels sell through Airbnb,” he says.
Airbnb owners also act as B&B owners in some locations.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that Airbnbs in Europe, especially in Amsterdam, Ireland and Scotland, have been run more like bed and breakfasts,” says organization manager Betsy Brown. nonprofit in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It blurs the line even more.”
In other words, Airbnb hosts mimic the more established bed and breakfasts and perhaps inadvertently create more confusion.
So what is the difference?
The second “B” in B&B (as in “breakfast”) is the biggest distinguishing feature.
“The difference between an Airbnb and a B&B starts with a free full breakfast,” says Brian Shields, owner of Mansion on the Golden Pond, a small inn in Holderness, New Hampshire. Manor guests start breakfast with a buffet of fruit, cereals, yogurts, pastries followed by a menu of eight hot starters. It is included in the price of your stay.
A typical Airbnb will have a kitchen, sometimes stocked with coffee and tea, but rarely, if ever, will a host prepare a full breakfast.
But there is more :
A “unique” property with personalized service. “A true B&B is usually independently owned, and the owner lives on or near the property, provides daily breakfast and housekeeping, and the experience is very personal,” says Hana Pevny, Airbnb host and innkeeper at the Waldo Emerson Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. “In many cases, the B&B is a historic property or has a unique quality about the building or property.” A house rented online through Airbnb can also be special, but you may have to cook and clean yourself. You might also never see your host.
License and training. A real B&B is usually run by someone with formal training in the hospitality industry. And this person has insurance – lots of insurance. Renée Humphrey, who directs the Rainforest Inn in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest, says his property requires expensive liability insurance. “We are also inspected by the fire marshal and the health department as part of our licensing,” she says. Vacation rentals booked online come with some insurance (you can buy more to cover possible cancellation), but your hosts probably don’t have any formal hospitality training.
No hidden fees. At least that’s the assessment of Pam Willis, who directs The Gables Wine Country Inn in Petaluma, California. The rooms on his property are also available on Airbnb. “The published Airbnb rate seems much cheaper, but the fees drive up the costs,” she explains. “Although we don’t charge a cleaning fee, I’ve seen guests pay up to $70 per night for service fees. Airbnb charges us 3% of the room rate, so for $250 per room, that’s $7.50 in commission, but the client ends up paying a lot more.”
Is one better than the other? No, say guests.
“I think it all comes down to hospitality style,” says Clayton Durant, CEO of CAD Management, a entertainment consulting company At New York. “Many B&Bs offer many of the same amenities, such as a single bed, bathroom, and breakfast. Each Airbnb has a unique personality to each house and apartment I may stay in. You can’t beat the travel experience.”
But now more than ever, it’s important to know that there is a difference.
Which is better for your next vacation: an Airbnb or a B&B?
Here are three key questions you should ask yourself:
Are you a handyman or do you like personalized service? If you like breakfast, daily housekeeping, and concierge service, you’ll want a B&B. If you like to cook your own meals (and have lots of privacy), go with an Airbnb.
Cozy or spacious? The thing is, most bed and breakfasts give you a room – a bedroom – with a shared common area. An Airbnb can give you the whole house. If you like to spread yourself out during your trip, choose Airbnb.
Are you trying to save money? If you’re staying somewhere longer than a week, an Airbnb can be much more cost-effective, even with the extra fees.
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