Airbnbers Don't Know How Good They've Got It.

DISCLAIMER - I write this not as a slight against the service which at the moment seems very fashionable.

I also write this having already given up on the frustrating experience I encountered while on couchsurfing.com. It didn't matter how many I hosted, my profile never seemed good enough to just be able to find myself a host for myself when I needed the service.

The system after all was based on goodwill, I thought I had plenty of it in the bank.

The odd thing is, because rejection is so high, travellers would send multiple emails to would be hosts to maximise their chances of being accepted. On the flip-side, hosts would get upset on one level or another at not enjoying a personalised handcrafted digital mail. Hosts would deliberately leave breadcrumbs in their profiles to make sure travellers read their profiles and if you made a single mistake you can be rejected again.

I know, I also did this, people just do not read profiles, and they head for the most obvious button to click that grants them access to your house with minimum of pain.

I grew sick of the rejections from hosts when I wanted to travel and ran out of patience with the constant ignorant requests from travellers. I quit this year after being on the site since 2007. By the way, I can't 'delete' my account, I can only 'deactivate' it.

Along comes Airbnb and I thought, 'Ah, money is involved, things will be different". I signed up in July 2016, I'm quitting the service as a host in August 1016.

After the third request from Airbnbers to provide a discount I thought, 'fuck this'.

Things on Airbnb.com were certainly different compared to Couchsurfing.com

I just don't understand where Airbnbers come from because: 

  • Hotels are always more expensive, so you're saving money compared to using them, even though the quality of service is so much more (article regarding Airbnb in HK - Hong Kong hoteliers may become vocal opponents of Airbnb).
  • There are smaller (safer and with established services) hotels that are equal to some random Airbnb host.
  • There are also other Airbnbs that are cheaper than mine, but aren't private (in many cases).
  • I offered a discount at the weekly (10%) and monthly (15%) levels (this was after the first request for a discount) thinking I had done something wrong and now I entered this game/lie of raising the price in order to provide a discount therefore a perception that people were getting a good deal now if they booked with me).

These things apparently aren't enough, the price needed to be even lower and whatever attributes that attracted people to my apartment were, aren't really a selling point, it's actually a starting point to enquire and claim a discount for it. Cheapskates will be cheapskates.

The thing is, I didn't do Airbnb for a profit, I did it to make the rent and because I'm open minded, I am not one of the professional renters in Hong Kong that are creating a business on top of the Airbnb platform. I was just someone open minded enough to share my modest and well located apartment in order for people to help me make rent.

I'm British, I don't haggle, it's not in my DNA, I just move on and find something else if all I'm going to do is work on price.

In Hong Kong, you build up a relationship with those you perform transactions with before even considering the discount, this notion will not work on Airbnb. It's also alien to me to ask if nothing has been established, you know something like trust, or a long term relationship.

Just asking for a discount upfront means nothing. Whats the point of setting a price in the first place only for it to be ignored? The worst part would be then allowing the cheapskates into my house that they don't value for whatever their stay would be. 

I remember, my dad dealing with suppliers to his hotel, his hotel always paid cash on the day, with that itself there's nothing special, but compared to other hotels in the same town who would pay with credit or at the end of the month. Since they paid on delivery, they gave his hotel a discount. I could understand giving a discount for repeat travellers, but the chances of that are slim, especially when everybody is operating on price alone.

So for me, instead of the overhead of dealing with multiple requests and discussing prices while travellers were completely ignoring the prices I had already set, I've decided on getting a stable long term room mate again for simplicities sake. Forgive for taking all this personally, but I thought that was part of the appeal. Forget being a host on Airbnb, it literally isn't worth it.

 

Live Streaming Workflows

I wasn't surprised when I saw that the newly released top end 9.7" iPad Pro is the same price as the top end iPhone 6s+. I'm just noodling here as I put more into live-streaming and create a device workflow around live-streaming to mitigate connectivity or image quality issues I might have. By considering either one of these screens as a secondary iOS device I want to:

  • shoot 4K footage and take decent pictures (alongside the live-streaming)
  • replace my home WiFi (old Chinese apartments are limited to 2mbps)
  • have a back up Internet device (a mobile hotspot device)

As mobile devices (can someone come up with a better name yet*) technology advances, my retro digital camera is proving itself to be a bit of a stuck in the mud. (Of course it is, it's retro!) Any new purchase would also need to replace my digital camera. 

The general utility of an iOS device isn't interested in being anchored down by cables and with work flows crossing over to a desktop computer before final upload. I'm adapting my work flow to not concern itself over Raw handling and image quality. I think the tradeoffs are there where I can say it's good enough now on a mobile device. 

Just for the record, the price of a replacement camera for my Fuji x100s is also roughly the same price as either of the two iOS devices. Amazing hey? Now which iOS device to buy?

The basic internal specs of both devices are the same with a few features leapfrogging the iPhone for the moment. A data plan is basically the same with both devices so we can ignore that. So it comes down to these basic things:

  • Battery life 
  • Portability 
  • Screen size (workflow dependent)

Battery Life

Hands down, the iPad wins and as a base station outside the house it's much better than the puny battery in the iPhone 6s+ to provide internet connectivity to say a laptop. I still hope Apple bring out a battery pack for this larger model. Periscoping hammers the battery and I've never benefitted from going from an iPhone5 to the iPhone6s+ when it comes to battery life. WINNER - iPad. 

Portability

Both devices are already super thin and this is truly a first world problem for the minimalist such as myself. But still, which one? I can easily hold two iPhones together, one streaming, one shooting 4K (some velcro will solve that). I wouldn't be drawing attention to myself too much with that set up. Now live stream with an iPad and iPhone combo, it's a bit more awkward. WINNER - iPhone. 

Screen Size

Do I want to edit my work on a 9" screen or a 5" screen? Do I want to multitask with the iPad or solo task on the iPhone? Don't forget this is a secondary device, so each device can operate independently of each other. But what is the benefit of the larger screen? WINNER - Unknown

But the iPhone 7 (Conclusion)

This basically means can I and should I wait with what I have already? What will the next generation phone bring, especially when it comes to image quality? The potential downside to waiting for an iPhone7 means I'm only six months away from another, better iPad! This throws up the issue of whether to buy now or buy for tomorrow. I would like to buy for tomorrow (with portability in mind), while the iPad does have the better battery, I do have power packs at my disposal, ready to fast charge both iPhones if I opt for that and in all honesty am I going to use both devices constantly? The screen size doesn't need to be an issue if I can multitask on two phones and of course, two iPhones are smaller than an iPad!   

* I like the German name for a mobile phone, 'handy', which they most certainly are.

UPDATE: I forgot Apple released this as well. It basically means I can plug in a USB microphone and charge both the iOS device and said microphone, not an issue for a fully charged iPad, but the iPhone itself has become a lot more flexible because of a $300HKD add-on for either my periscopes or podcasts.

UPDATE 2: No optical stabiliser on the iPad, you'd think with that bump that justified the newest protrusion to the iOS family, alas no. It's more likely I'll purchase a second iPhone.