Posted on Oct, 24. 2013 Category in my journal Tags
This is the second part in my little series about advice gained from my experience this year as an Airbnb host. (If you want to, you can go back and read the first post, “How to be an Excellent Airbnb Guest.”) I may not be a “fantastic” host as the title suggests, but goodness knows I’m trying. Every guest helps me learn how to communicate better, how to anticipate problems more readily so both the guest and I have a better experience, and how to add a little something extra for every person I host to make their stay as easy and comfortable as possible. The more I can offer as a host, the more fun I tend to have with my guests. And there’s no more satisfying payoff than a good review and a little more money in the bank.
Excluding the most common sense stuff (don’t allow weirdos, don’t allow drugs, maintain control, be responsive, blah blah), I made a list of tips and advice I would give to anyone looking to get into the Airbnb game. I love that Airbnb is relevant for so many types of people–from those with an extra room who just need temporary roommates, to those who have entire homes or condos to rent out for extra cash, Airbnb has the possibility to be an incredibly enriching personal adventure.
1. Type out a personal note for each guest.
I didn’t start doing this until recently and people have been responding really well to it, understandably. I print off a page-long thing for each guest where I greet them, remind them of the house rules, anything weird like how to use the TV and where to find extra trash bags/toilet paper/towels, and finish it off with a list of my favorite shops, restaurants, and places to enjoy nature in walkable distance. Use ballot boxes instead of bullet points and include a pen so they can check things off!
2. Be honest with yourself about what rules you want to set for visitors.
I used to try to be more chill and laid-back with my house rules because I wanted to get good reviews, but I found myself cringing too often about behavior that I was letting slide, or telling guests that I didn’t mind what they were doing when I did. That kind of attitude just made me resentful about being a host because I was finding myself annoyed with my guests when they didn’t even do anything “wrong.” The truth is, your guests do not want to bother you. They want to respect your home. Let them do that by telling them specifically how to do that. Explain where wet towels go. If you want them to use coasters on tables, mention that and say where you keep them. Tell them how to handle spills or messes. Explain whether or not you recycle. If you allow smoking guests, be specific about where they can smoke and what they should do with the butts. I still think fewer rules are better in the spirit of hosting, but if there are basic laws of the land you have to lay ‘em down.
3. Leave a bottle of wine.
I leave each guest a glass monogrammed tumbler (thanks Grandma Edna) and a bottle of wine (thanks Mr. Shaw) on the appropriate embroidered day-of-the-week tea towel. It’s cute. It’s nice. Over half of my guests don’t take it or drink it. It’s not that much of a cost to me and it’s a sweet hospitable touch.
4. Figure out what’s in your quick-clean toolkit.
I sometimes have visitors leave and arrive just a few hours apart on the same day, so being able to clean up and “reset” my house quickly is a big priority for me. I do this: Wipe all surfaces (desktops, nightstands, headboards, windowsills, doorknobs, tables, telephone, lamp bases, countertops, chair arms) with disinfecting wipes. Mop floors with Swiffer WetJet (I use five pads for the whole place). Get on your hands and knees and scrub every surface in the bathroom with a bleach agent. Change sheets and leave out fresh towels. Spray Febreeze with Gain (AMAZING PRODUCT) lightly over any fabric surfaces. Throw old sheets and towels in the laundry basket and carry it to my trunk to go wash at the office. BOOM. Never any dust, always smellin so good. And yes, I am constantly cleaning the house.
5. Leave the listing photos to a pro.
Airbnb sends out photographers for free to hosts and it’s definitely worth taking advantage of. Once I had Airbnb-verified photos uploaded to my listing, my guest inquiries more than doubled. All guests have to go on are your pictures and reviews, really. A professional first impression goes a long way and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
6. Take your cues from your guests.
Some people have a full itinerary and will stay out of your way, and some just want a place to crash. If you’re only renting a room and living there at the same time as your guest, it’s worthwhile to ask them in advance before they book what their plans are while they are here. I usually offer to take my guests out for dinner or drinks in the neighborhood–it’s nice to provide a “local” experience, which is why so many people use Airbnb instead of hotels. But once in a while you do get a guest who seems to expect a “hotel” experience, and when they come along I do my best to just leave em alone. Just take cues from your guests regarding how little or how much attention they need from you. And even if it’s obnoxious, it’s only a few days.
7. Charge what you would pay.
8. Remember that it’s your house, and you decide who gets to stay.
That’s just the bottom line. Airbnb will support you completely if circumstances ever lead you to reject a guest early. Don’t ever hesitate to do it if you have a bad feeling.
I started using Airbnb in March to fund my ecommerce startup (never met a bootstrapper who wasn’t hosting), and as life’s circumstances changed, I continued using it to support my daughter and myself after I got divorced. I accept guests according to my comfort level completely, and I have had immensely positive experiences with the majority of the people I’ve had the privilege to host. Students traveling abroad from other countries, young couples on cross-country road trips, women my age who are just passing through. Airbnb has allowed me not only to regain some security in a very uncertain season of my life, it’s even helped me live vicariously a bit through the exciting travels of my visitors. And I already know that the guest book I’ve started to build up in the last year will be a treasure for the rest of my life.
Posted on Oct, 23. 2013 Category pertaining to alice Tags
I always planned to get a land line after I had children in my house, and sure enough I now have both.
Alice loves dialing on the phone herself, and is learning how to politely say hello, chat, and say goodbye.
So far she has called Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Sarah. It’s her favorite thing to do after school now.
I’ve loved talking on the phone too to friends after bedtime. It’s been so long since I sat on the phone to catch up and chat, and for some reason that’s not as easy to do with a cell phone–low call quality. I can’t wait to hear it ring for the first time!
Posted on Oct, 15. 2013 Category in my closet Tags
I try to take an outfit photo every day for Hello Holiday, and I extra-like this one from today. I never felt like blue was my color until I tried on this combination–the dress is from Spring 2013 (it’s now 60% off), the coat is brand new for Winter, and the shoes are my own. They’re from an older season and we have the last few pairs in the world! They were a popular style and have been seen on bloggers like Keiko Lynn, A. Loo, and Kirstin Marie! I don’t blog every outfit, but this will be a favorite of mine for a long time.
Tonight I’m planning to throw in some velcro rollers (which I used to achieve the style pictured), do all the dishes in my sink and have my favorite simple dinner–baguette, avocado, almonds, cheese, grapes, and maybe some plain roasted chicken if I get some at the store. Mad Men is likely (I’m always re-watchin’ that…I’m back on season 5 again), hanging out with a friend or two is likely, and closing the night out with a new episode of Art Bell is super likely. My free month trial of Sirius XM is up this week, so I’ll either have to pay up to keep listening to Art’s new show or sign up for a new free trial. Do I have any other readers who are Art fans????
I love it when Sarah (my business partner/photographer) catches me laughing.