You're headed to a new city, but what if, instead of staying in a hotel, you'd rather book a room in someone's house? Online marketplace Airbnb launched in 2008 to connect travelers looking beyond traditional tourist accommodations with locals who have rooms to rent. Hosts all over the world list their available spaces—from couches to castles—and guests enjoy cheaper rates along with more authentic experiences. Potential hosts and guests can read each other's user reviews and communicate through the site's messaging system before a host accepts or declines a reservation request. Listing a space is free, and Airbnb takes a percentage of the rate a host decides to charge.

Rapidly growing as a presence in international hospitality, Airbnb boast a number of impressive statistics. However, safety is increasingly becoming a concern in light of recent events. This infographic explains what has happened recently on Airbnb and how you can use a free background search to protect yourself.

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Originally published August 5, 2011 1:35 PM