Whatever the season, many people from near and far visit paradise, which is located right here in the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island area.

To cash in on paradise, consider using Airbnb to rent out part or all of your home.

What is Airbnb? Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people who have places to rent with people who need a place to stay. Properties rented can be apartments, a room in a house, yachts, houseboats or entire houses.

What’s the cost to sign up? It’s free to create a listing. Upon renting, the cost is 3 percent of the rental fee. Each listing includes options for titles, descriptions, photographs, host profiles and testimonials. The host decides how much to charge per night, week or month.

How does it work? Travelers, who must register to book a reservation, search the database of properties by entering details about where and when they would like to stay. Travelers contact hosts using an online form and submit a reservation request, which must be confirmed by the host.

Airbnb accepts all major credit cards. Travelers are charged when the host confirms the reservation, and the payment is held for 24 hours after check-in before releasing the funds to the host.

What are the pros and cons? Airbnb can benefit both hosts and travelers. Hosts get to meet people while making some extra money and travelers pay less than the cost of a hotel. Travelers also enjoy personalized service, which can be a good away-from-home experience.

There are concerns to consider. The biggest risk for hosts is that their property will get damaged. However, Airbnb does provide a Host Guarantee Program that covers property damage.

Two problems for guests are: 1. the property might not match the description; and 2. the host might be unresponsive to guest needs.

Host risks and concerns may be minimized by requesting and carefully reviewing guests’ applications. Traveler concerns may be alleviated by reviewing traveler testimonials.

In the past, these services have been used mostly by thrifty tourists looking for a cheaper place to stay in a particular city. Now, business travelers and professionals are also looking to Airbnb for a more affordable and memorable away-from-home experience.

Larry Stoller is a real estate consultant and advertising executive who loves living in Bluffton and helping real estate agents and sellers get homes sold.