Weekly Feature

2017-02-08 / Lifestyles

Airbnb... giving travelers a homelike atmosphere option


Lisa DeCarlo and her husband, Dan Buscaglia, are among the 290 Airbnb hosts in Erie County. This apartment is one of their two spaces in The Graystone XXXI building, located on Olean Road in East Aurora. 
Photo by Chuck Skipper.Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com. Lisa DeCarlo and her husband, Dan Buscaglia, are among the 290 Airbnb hosts in Erie County. This apartment is one of their two spaces in The Graystone XXXI building, located on Olean Road in East Aurora. Photo by Chuck Skipper.Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com. For those with an urge to travel, staying at an Airbnb gives the option of staying in a homelike atmosphere.

Many of these spacious per-night rentals come without the higher price tag of hotels.

The San Francisco based Airbnb was founded in 2008 and claims to be a “trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodations.” Homes around the world range from castles, to boats to a quaint apartment in a North Buffalo neighborhood.

Travelers get to experience what it’s like to actually live in a new city.

Airbnb which has seen over 60 million guests, has listings in over 34,000 cities and 191 countries. Worldwide there are 2 million listings.

In Erie County, alone, there are 108 hotels and 217 Airbnb listings. Currently, 290 locals have become hosts.

According to Peter Schottenfels, press secretary for Airbnb, from Dec. 1, 2015, to Dec. 1, 2016, area hosts’ median annual earnings were $7,200.

Lisa DeCarlo and Dan Buscaglia own the Graystone XXXI, a historic East Aurora structure built in 1824 as a home for railroad baron Aaron Riley. The couple was honored with the Kitty Turgeon Excellence in Preservation award last year for the project.

“We had originally purchased the property to renovate into a satellite office for my husband’s practice, but once we began the demo and did some historic research, we knew we had to change gears and felt a responsibility to its history, reconnecting it to its past and historic relevance,” DeCarlo said.

They listed two units inside the building and redesigned the space with engineer John Schenne. DeCarlo also owns Urban Design in East Aurora, so her natural eye dictated a lot of the decor.

“My goal was to bring it current but in a way that featured and preserved original details and craftsmanship of the time and because we were able to save different elements of the original construction,” she said.

The couple have hosted travelers from as far way as Germany coming to see Western New York and Niagara Falls, as well as a three-month renter and a family who rented the space for a communal Thanksgiving.

Other local hosts, Christina and Brian Shaw, have a different dynamic with the guests at their North Buffalo property. They actually live in the apartment downstairs.

Their home already had an income property when they purchased it.

“We knew when we purchased the house that we wanted to eventually use the space upstairs for our out-of-town family and friends to visit,” Christina Shaw said.

“Airbnb has been a great transition where we rent it out part-time for nights here and there, but still have the freedom for friends and family to be able to visit, and if for some reason a particular weekend isn’t good for us, we just block it off on our calendar.”

The Shaws are also dog-friendly, unlike a lot of other places, using that to attract guests in the title line of their listing.

The couple first heard about Airbnb eight years ago when they were looking to visit their old New York City neighborhood in Brooklyn but couldn’t find a hotel in the area.

“Using Airbnb, we were able to find a spot that was directly near our old apartments at an affordable rate, and we were able to spend the whole visit feeling as if we lived there again, which was nice,” she said.

Brian Shaw, her husband, mentioned that they have had a guest from Europe but the typical guests come from within an eight-hour drive. He suggests that visitors always look at the detailed descriptions of a space before booking.

The Shaws, who are fairly new to hosting, are a husband-and-wife wedding photography team who primarily work from home, which also makes being a host easy.

“As soon as the guests leave, we strip sheets, put on wash and give the apartment a good clean. The whole process takes both of us together one to two hours, with one of those hours being waiting for wash to switch so we can get work done in between,” Christina Shaw said.

Airbnb offers three hosting options

Listing an extra property owned.

Becoming a co-host with someone who already has an income property in the neighborhood.

Hosting an “experience,” which gives people with interesting occupations or hometown pride an option to become a tour guide for just two hours one day or a few days. Both couples agree that cleanliness and leaving information about the area for their guests are priorities for hosts.

“Travelers do expect professionalism even though it’s not a hotel. Realize that the turnaround for towels, sheets, etc. is very time-consuming also,” DeCarlo said. “Stick to the check-in and checkout times during busy seasons so you have plenty of leeway making it perfect for the next guests.”

Lisa DeCarlo, her husband and the Shaws all follow option one with their income property.

But income property options don’t have to be the entire home. Airbnb can even be a month-to-month rental for a room in an apartment.

“I know there are many U.S. cities and towns beginning to ‘watch’ the Airbnb short-term hosting situations. I can only think that this is spearheaded by the hotel industry fearing a loss of potential business? I honestly don’t feel this is the case,” DeCarlo said.

“People have been utilizing travel alternatives for a long time — much longer than Airbnb has been around. They are just really good at creating a visual, simplified and qualified means for travelers to find what best suits their needs. The people who chose these alternatives typically stay longer in an area because they can be more independent, comfortable and have a better community experience for a more authentic adventure.”

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