A few weeks ago, I did something that went completely against everything I had been taught. In an effort to partake in a new experience, there I sat at 7 in the morning slowly repeating my credit card information to a man whose face I still had yet to see, who I had only known for a few weeks, AND who was thousands of miles away. It was my very first “Skype.” It was also the very first time I heard the warm, inviting voice of Mr. Stefano.
What had led me to that moment of breaking the “laws” of cyber security 101 is the same thing that had led me to most of the amazing things I’ve come to remember in my life – my desire to experience.
A few days earlier, I had come across an article about some great, new travel apps, one of which was Airbnb. I was drawn especially to this app because lately I’ve grown tired of the hotel chain scene. And, from a quick scan of the description, I concluded that Airbnb could definitely quell my boredom. The company described itself as:
a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone.
From the first hit, I was hooked. I sat for hours scanning through the apartments, rooms, and B&Bs for rent all around the world. What really grabbed my attention, though, were the great prices. Studio apartments in the middle of Manhattan, villas in Thailand, beautiful country homes in Ireland… all for extremely reasonable and affordable prices. It took me only a few minutes to decide that there was no way I was going to Rome and staying in an everyday hotel. No Way! Time spent reading through the reviews and descriptions of each offering only cemented my desire: I wanted to stay amongst the locals. I wanted breakfast each and every morning prepared especially for me. I wanted to “stay with family” while in a faraway land.
I began making a list of the B&Bs I came across on the app that satisfied my wants: high-ratings, great customer reviews, proximity to the local sites, proximity to public transportation, a great breakfast menu (of course), and price. Each click into a new option made me second-guess the hotel reservation that had been scheduled for months. But at that point, I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t make it through all the pages of options in Rome, but I had created a great list of places to start with, and after some blood, sweat, and (literally) tears I booked a great B&B.
MyGuestRoma was far from my first option. It had been outshined by a number of beautiful, centrally located, and well-priced B&Bs. But, they were all booked for the dates we would be in the city. I actually received at least 3 no’s before MyGuestRoma said yes. I was so excited when I received the confirmation of availability from Gioa (pronounced Joya), especially since they were rated the #4 B&B on Trip Advisor. As a pat on the back to myself for such a great choice, I reread the great reviews about the cleanliness, the spectacular breakfast prepared each morning, and the, sometimes exclusively focused, posts on the kindness and attentiveness of Mr. Stefano, the B&B’s owner and operator.
Then it came time to confirm the reservation with a credit card. No problem, right? Not so right. Here were my only options:
- Send my credit card info through email (yeah, right)
- Wire it (too much work and money)
- Use Skype (this could work)
There was no online space for me to securely input my information, no “https” to ease my discomfort. Nothing. I got a little anxious about this. There was a 6-hour time difference and to be honest, this was just out of the ordinary. It actually took me a few days of thinking and rethinking to finally make my payment decision and move forward with the reservation. I think that it’s important to mention that at no time did I question the authenticity of the people at MyGuestRoma. I truly believe in trusting one’s gut.
Which brings me back to that early weekday morning: the moment Mr. Stefano and I ended our video session, a big smile spread across my face. The uneasiness I felt before and during our discussion quickly dissipated. I remembered the beautiful pictures I had seen of the establishment, and I just couldn’t believe that in only weeks I too would experience a “home away from home” in Rome.
I am glad that I pushed past my discomfort, because on the other side is what I expect to be a great, new experience.
Have you missed out on a great experience simply because you were unaccustomed to it or it was different than what you experienced in the past?