Airbnb, the online phenomenon which allows anybody to rent out their unused space on a short-term basis, is gaining an increasingly large following in South Africa.
Founded in 2008, the website now boasts listings in almost every city in the world (click here to visit the Airbnb website).
The space that is rented on the site could be anything from a spare bedroom with a mattress or a single bed, to an entire apartment, house or mansion.  The site features every conceivable type of accommodation, and even includes some unusual living spaces like a tree-house,  a boat and a caravan.
Airbnb charges travellers a fee for booking the accommodation, and charges hosts a fee for processing the booking.
Popular tourist cities like New York, London and Paris have thousands of listings and a high level of demand for accommodation.  This has created a market for hosts to create a reliable income stream from the website. While the demand for accommodation in South Africa may not be as great as in other countries, Capetownians have found that the great volume of tourists who flood to the city year-round, can make for a steady stream of guests, and a steady income stream.
Airbnb allows hosts to set the booking fee at any level that they are comfortable with.  The site also allows hosts to charge a cleaning fee in addition to the booking, as well as an additional amount per extra guest. Another feature offered by Airbnb is the free professional photography service, which allows hosts to have their space photographed by a professional photographer, so that the pictures on the site are more attractive and enticing to potential guests.
We expect the site to grow to new heights in South Africa as it becomes more widely known, and as South Africans understand and embrace the concept.
With around 450 listings in Cape Town, and over 200 listings in Johannesburg, the majority of the listings are concentrated in these cities, with the remaining listings littered around the remaining areas of the country.

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