Unbeknown to many, I am sure, we have rented out a room of our house, using the AirBnB platform (translation: website) and so far, things have been really rather jolly. It is not for everyone, to be sure, but for those with a spare room (preferably with an en suite shower and loo) it is a useful source of extra income.
How does this relate to business travel? AirBnB have been keen to promote use of their properties by business travelers; so what do you get?
Most people - probably all people - who rent out a room have themselves stayed in a hotel during their lives and are, I would venture, well accomplished in knowing what consitiutes a reasonable lodging; reasonable service and reasonable standards of cleanliness and facilities. Many renters almost see themselves as mini-hoteliers. It is safe to assume, therefore, that what you stay in, will be clean and will be (rather, certainly should be) WYSIWYG as far as any picture on the website. Most, probably all, offer breakfast of some sort as a matter of course.
As regards people (and I don't know how AirBnB accomplish this) both renters and guests, on balance, are good types. I have not read a review, giving 5 stars yet, along the lines of ".. turned up and got attacked by a psychotic dog and then punched on the nose". There is a comment and star rating system and reading many of them, they all seem pretty authentic - indeed, it is easier, perhaps, for AirBnB to check the reviewers and their reliability than it may be for some hotel review sites one could mention, where fake reviews could be inserted.
As renting is not for everyone, so staying in someone else's house is not for everyone. If you wish to try it, you will be welcomed (all renters want a good or at least, half decent review) "house rules" are shown; if you wish to be left alone in your room, you will be - many renters offer the opportunity to join them, so you do not have to be a hermit if you are of a more gregarious nature. With many, a cup of tea is usually to hand and if you do not wish to go out, then most will let you borrow the stove or microwave. I have known some renters who will offer dinner (not always free, of course!)
The largest factor is, naturally, cost. Near us, hotels will leave you with little change from £200 a night. An AirBnB property comes in at between £35 and £65 a night - and in most cases, that includes breakfast. You will have a clear picture of your actual room, rather than a generic hotel photograph and you will know your host and in 8 cases out of 10, it is the host who will open the door for you. You have a reasonable description of the property and its location.
I believe part of the issue with using AirBnb (I should say "and similar websites") is a possible stigma attached that, well.... it's a room in a house and not a hotel. You will have to trust me on this one, but it must be said, not using or at least, considering AirBnB (or similar) is a mistake. I have been in many hotel rooms and by comparison, what is offered in many people's homes, leaves an awful lot of hotels standing.