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Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

China
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Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Anyone travel to Cuba with Airbnb accommodation? Lately I found it is driving down to the price to hurting family business of casa particular, like 3 USdollars or 6 dollars per night per room, this makes me start to rethink its business ethics!

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Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

As has been stated numerous times by some of us who spend a lot of time in casa accommodation in Cuba -there is no need or advantageous to the customer in using Airbnb rather than a Cuba based agency. But by using a Cuba based booking agency you are giving employment to Cubans rather than someone in San Francisco.

My husband would say that "business ethics" is an oxymoron.

Edited: 21 October 2017, 06:59
Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

AirBnB is not driving prices down, in fact might have driven prices up. They have also seemed to encouraged the practise of non refundable deposit. The fee that AirBnB charges the casa is actually less than what the casas have to pay the local search websites, however their fee goes to a US company, the local websites are Cuban owned or located outside of Cuba, but Cuban expat owned. There were problems with AirBnB payments to casa owners, one owner I know said at one point they owed him over 1000 CUC. They had set it up that after a customer arrived AirBnB in the US would release payment, it would be transferred to a local Cuban representative and he would in turn hand deliver it to the casa owner. They have two other options now, the casa owner can go to a central office to pick up payment after about a week, or the casa owner can get an AIS card, and the money will be transferred to card in about 3 days. With AirBnB you pay up front, which has a benefit of not having to exchange and carry a chunk of cash, however if the casa is not acceptable you haven’t get refund, and you then need to have cash for replacement accommodation. The Cuban websites largely just book casa and you pay the casa owner in cash, giving you more flexibility if you want to change casas. There is more risk of over booking issues going through Cuban websites, and you being offered accommodation different than what you see on line.

The ethical issue though, that I have been struggling with, is that although renting casa particulars is an effective and direct way of helping Cuban people and growing the middle class, the popularity has caused many places that have traditionally been rented to Cubans to be rented to tourists. A casa owner can make in one night more rent that they would have made renting to a Cuban for a month. Affordable rentals for locals is becoming a real issue in Cuba. So on one side by renting a casa particular I am helping grow a middle class in Cuba, which in turn will create more employment, but At the same time hurting lower income Cubans and helping to increase the gap between those Cubans with non government sources of income and those with only government income.

Cruces
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3. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Karina, you're right, it's better to book at a local agency than many do not require advance payment and this is really perfect. airbnb is an intermediary that only yield money to a few in San Francisco and they don't pay taxes in Cuba! ... when there was no airbnbn in Cuba you could easily find Casa Particular.

United States
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4. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

thanks to Paul in post 2 for a very good analysis of the Air BNB operation pro and con in Cuba. I do note that we are not reading very much anymore about people being "walked" to another casa due to overbooking. Frankly not sure where Paul is getting that much detailed info but it all seems reasonable. For anyone a bit more specific on their requirements for a casa I think Air BNB is a good option. I also like the upfront payment in Cuba to avoid the "walking" issue ...can it happen with Air BNB sure but not as likely.

Dartmouth, Canada
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5. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Gene, quite easy/possible to prepay with Cuba based agencies, and to be specific with requirements; that is not exclusive to airbnb

United States
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6. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Okay...I know I have been told that before but thanks for reminding me...whatever works for people to do their booking is fine with me....I think the point being hammered by so many that Air BNB is somehow not good for the Cuban People and I just don't see it that way...I think it has opened up a great business opportunity for casas and clearly if they do not like the business model that don't have to sign on. Simple.

Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

hola. paul reply #2, very good post, well stated. buen dia! :)

Phoenix, Arizona
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8. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Prior to my first trip earlier this year; I tried 4 different Cuban based agencies over a month's time.

Based on recommendations on the forum; I modified my submissions for the last 2 agencies.

I never received a response from any of them prior to my visit.

I did however receive a response from 1 of them: after I returned home!

Freedom of choice, what a wonderful concept.

Using AirBnB for next month's visit also.

United States
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9. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Frank as post 8 above I had a similar experience..one no reply at all and one with a very strange message and offer for different dates....the amount of back and forth required seemed too much. As things move along with internet in Cuba more and more places will be taking bookings direct .

Dartmouth, Canada
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10. Re: Airbnb, free market vs ethical accommodation

Last two trips we booked casa and transport with Cuba based agency. Excellent communication and service.

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