Pillows in Airbnb can tell you everything you need to know about how the company is changing for the worse

  • I've been an active user of Airbnb, a popular home rental company, for almost ten years, using a platform to visit more than 30 countries.
  • In recent years, I've noticed a shift on the platform from ordinary people leasing their own apartments and spare bedrooms for more professional service with owners who work in several places.
  • From my point of view, the shift meant that the lists of apartments are equipped in a simpler and more economical way.
  • My main complaint is that many professional owners dress beds with inexpensive inexpensive pillows, leaving me with a weak night's sleep.
  • If Airbnb or hosts do not recognize and are not working to fix the problem, I will use Airbnb less and less in the future.

Since I started traveling in the early 20's, I visited more than 30 countries. Despite the fact that in many travels for many decades it was too expensive, Airbnb, a popular rental service, made the trip affordable.

Listing on the platform, as a rule, is part of the cost of hotels, while providing much more space and something like a local point of view.

For a long time it was very much. But over the past couple of years, I've noticed changes that can make me leave the platform forever. It all boils down to pillows.

I know what you're thinking about: pillows? Does he complain about pillows? Let me explain.

When I first started using Airbnb in 2011 – about three years after the launch of the company – most of the listings on the site were someone's actual apartment. Either you rented a spare bedroom in an apartment, or your landlord stayed somewhere else on the days when you were there.

It was a general atmosphere where you felt that there was a real exchange: you helped them to compensate rent, and they told you about their favorite restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.

But somewhere in the last few years the dynamics has shifted. Now, in my experience, you almost always rent from a landlord who manages Airbnb lists for life or for a lucrative side bustle.

Usually they own – or rent, depending on how strict the laws of the city are – several properties and use them all for Airbnb. In fact, they manage an impromptu hotel, scattered throughout the city.

Although Airbnb did not publish official statistics, the report from 2017 CBRE Hotels & Americas Research found that the company's growth in the US Managed by owners who lease several units or whole houses. The report found that income from hosts with multiple lists was the fastest growth on the platform, and 64% of hosts in the US rented the whole house.

As the report was released for the American Hotel and Hotel Association, take it with salt, but I also saw a transition to professional masters in my personal experience.

Only in the last 6 months I stayed at 14 Airbnbs, from Athens to Seoul. And what I saw does not bode well.

Airbnbs lose their charm

Last year Airbnb began to "push", "With the words of one master, his masters, in order to standardize the Airbnb experience.

Now the company encourages the use of its "Instant Book" function, setting standards for cleanliness and recommending that hosts carry "basic convenience""Like toilet paper, towels, soap, clean bedding and at least one pillow per guest.

And, at the beginning of this year, the company even announced that it is adding hotels to the platform.

Airbnb is stuck between the standardization that he needs to grow and the ideal of cohabitation that has made him what he is.

Airbnb is stuck between the standardization that he needs to grow and the ideal of cohabitation that has made him what he is.


These two shifts – Airbnb, promoting standardization and hosts becoming more professional – have changed Airbnb from its idealistic roots at home to booking sites for cheaper, special hotels, hotels and bed and breakfasts.

This change is necessary in many ways. People use Airbnb for work trips now, including me, and more casual users expect standardization.

My problem with the professionalization of Airbnb from the perspective of the user. As more and more properties listed in Airbnb come from professional hosts (people managing property solely as an Airbnb location or working in several locations at once), the properties begin to resemble each other.

In the end, it's business.

You can see the distinctive features of such properties: cheap furniture, Spartan jewelry, several wall prints, a kitchen with barebones. Of course, professional, bright photos in the listing always make the apartment look dreamy.

But in the process you lose a lot of the charm of Airbnb – from staying in the home of the local population to view your bookshelves – and its functions – like access to a kitchen with the smell of spices or to using your fashionable Argan Oil shampoo.

About those pillows

And the truth is that for me all this would be good … if it were not for the pillows.

Let me tell you this: most people do not buy crappy pillows for themselves. They are very important for a decent night of sleep. Therefore, if you stay at Airbnb, which is a real home, you can be sure that you will have decent pillows to sleep on.

Does not apply to the professional properties of Airbnb.

This year I traveled a lot and slept on a lot of bad cushions in Airbnbs.

This year I traveled a lot and slept on a lot of bad cushions in Airbnbs.

(Harrison Jacobs / Business Insider)

The property, which is the main business of Airbnb's business service providers, they try as cheaply and efficiently as possible to equip real estate. This usually means that you get cheap bedding and cheap pillows, some of which could be better described as a few pieces of stuffing stuck in the fabric. It does not promote a good night's sleep.

While traveling to Business Insider for the last six months, I used Airbnb a lot at the beginning. In many ways, this is the ideal way to travel.

But, since the Airbnb property after the Airbnb property I rented had crappy pillows, I was increasingly turned off. Waking up at night after a night, exhausted from a bad night of sleep, is not fun.

I recently started booking boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts, many of which are about the same price as Airbnb, because they know they have to compete.

And, at least with the hotel or with breakfast, I can be sure that they will have good pillows.

In some ways, pillows are a metaphor where Airbnb is now a platform: stuck between professionalization and standardization, which it must grow in an attempt to maintain the ideal of cohabitation that has made it what it is.

Pushing the platform one way or another, most likely, will solve the problem. But while they do this, I will use it less and less.

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