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(Air) bed sharing for a fee

Travel & Tourism

Travellers to distant lands have long had the option of “couch surfing” for free through the likes of, but now a paid alternative from AirBed & Breakfast gives hosts an additional incentive. Hosts with space to share begin by registering with San Francisco-based AirBed, including the price they’d like to be paid and any extras—like breakfast—that come included. (USD 50 per night seems to be a common rate, though one host recently earned USD 500, according to the site.) As part of the process, they also authorize AirBed to transfer money into their account at any time. Travelers can then search by destination and dates of their trip to find available accommodations. When they make a reservation through the site, they authorize AirBed to charge the stated amount, and unless either party cancels, that amount is charged on the day of arrival and the funds are transferred directly to the host’s account. All billing is secured through Amazon. AirBed, meanwhile, charges a transaction fee of USD 5 per night. Both hosts and guests can create profiles with photos and links to their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and they can also review and rate each other. Online transactions were recently added to provide better records of a user’s activity on the site. Given the prevailing belief that “you get what you pay for,” AirBed’s fee-based service could help alleviate travellers’ concerns about the quality and safety of their accommodations, as well as encouraging hosts with nicer places to get involved. The site currently serves only the United States; one to bring to a tourist destination near you? (Related: Soccer fans to share beds at Euro 2008.) Spotted by: Cagla Pakel



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