So I’m starting something new on here… since I’ve got this Airbnb adventure going and it’s doing pretty well I thought I’d start answering some questions that have been thrown at me through messages and such and give some of you who are considering this an idea as to how I make this work and the realities of having strangers in your home on a regular basis.
Okay, the short answer? It’s going well but it’s definitely a learning process. With each new guest I’m getting better at the process, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. My beginning? I stocked the Refrigerator with soda and water, actually scrubbed the entire house top-to-bottom, and hoped for the best. There were some hiccups… like me losing my own housekey and the guest having to leave me his until I could get another one… but all in all it went pretty well. The second guest was great – one night, no real needs other than internet, and bonus! He left me a fantastic review. The third set of guests was my first time with both rooms in use. Grandparents and mom of FSC student. Nice people but very much morning people and everybody knows I don’t do mornings until around 11 or so. Also they’d never stayed via Airbnb before and didn’t know what to expect. I was much relieved to disabuse them of the idea that I would be making up the room every morning after they went out for the day. Um, well, no. Not to say that I don’t check everything over in the bathroom and replenish what needs replenishment but I leave the guest rooms alone. I don’t want to invade people’s privacy and unless I hear sounds of ritual sacrifice or ongoing demolition you can be sure I will not. My longest guest thus far (4 nights) just departed yesterday and she was absolutely wonderful. Very nice, brought a hostess gift, very low maintenance, and she’s the first where I started experimenting with offering breakfast as well. I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started getting used to a revolving door and people coming and going… at least I’ve stopped waking up with a start when I smell coffee in my house and taking 5 minutes to reason through knowing that people who rob your house likely won’t make coffee first and then finally remembering that there’s people staying with me. And with that now I’ve got a month-long guest arriving tomorrow and weekend guests arriving 3 of the next 4 weekends so things are getting busy and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I’m sure this is going to get even more entertaining for me, especially with the holidays and all that coming up, so I’ll keep sharing the fun on here and giving you guys the back view on my new gig by default.
After that recap of my adventures, based on questions I’ve gotten and things that have been said, here’s the things I recommend if you’re considering this gig:
1) The basics – Invest in good high thread count sheets, good all cotton white towels (bleachable, more sanitary, and if they stain you throw them out), and good pillows. Don’t eye-roll me or say you can’t afford it… just shut up and do it dammit. Rue Lala has 500tc Egyptian Cotton sheets for $39.99… Sam’s has Serta Pillows for $9.95 a 2 pack… Macy’s runs Ralph Lauren towels on sale several times a year. Trust me when I tell you it will pay off in the end. And don’t argue about the white towels… things happen… bleach solves it… can’t do that with cornflower blue or brick red… argument over.
2) Upgrade your guest room so it looks like a place people want to stay. So here it is, if you’re still holding onto that Hello Kitty bedroom stuff from your daughter’s teen years it’s time to make like Elsa and let that ish go. My decorating rule is to make your guest room and your guest bath inviting and comfortable. There’s no need to get House Beautiful to come in and redo the rooms and you probably want to lay off the more esoteric and complicated Pinterest stuff, but definitely choose things that are comfortable and cozy, and also make sure those things are sturdy and can take frequent cleaning. No need for Louis XIV antiques, but a well-placed reading light, a soft throw, a luggage rack, and a chair to sit in will never be out of place. Throw in a drawer or two available in the dresser, some decent closet space, and extra hangers and you’ve got it done. It’s not hard… just look at the room and envision where you would want to stay. Create that.
3) Put a power strip near the bed for plugging in multiple electronic devices. Not sure about you but that’s something I bitch about in every hotel room I stay in… no matter how cheap or expensive. So with my rooms whatever I’ve missed in a hotel room? I’ve made sure it’s in mine. Electronics recharging is a part of life today… get with the program.
4) Go sleep in your guest room… make sure it’s a bed you would sleep in, make sure the room is comfortable for you, and if you’re not comfy there then fix it!
5) Get fast internet. Everyone I’ve had here has used serious bandwidth their entire stay. Everyone. I’ve got streaming devices on both televisions in those rooms and they use the heck out of them. So plan for that… the demographic that is adopting Airbnb the fastest is the millennial generation. That’s their MO… you need to make it yours if you want them back. They might enjoy the novelty of your in-room Keurig but they’ll demand fast internet. So do I… so make that happen.
6) Don’t waste money on things that will likely not pay off. An in-room refrigerator is nice, an in-room coffee pot is convenient but offering use of the kitchen and extra space in the refrigerator if there’s things they need to cook or chill is just as good. These people are guests in your home. If they wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn they’d be there. Make them a part of your home to the degree that they’re comfortable with but know upfront that if they’re renting a room in a private home they already expect that they will become a part of a home dynamic. I tell all of my guests that they are welcome to enjoy all common areas of my home. If they want to sit in the Living Room and watch the big TV they’re welcome to do so. If they want to use the pool then come on out. They aren’t expected to just stay in their room and out of my hair. Part of the adventure in this kind of travel is meeting new people and experiencing new things. If you’re not into that, don’t sign up and choose to rent your room. Seriously. This takes peopling. You have to be good at it. At least sometimes. So keep that in mind.
7) Don’t stress out and remember to have fun. I schedule the day after departure for cleaning and restoring the room(s) back to clean and ready. I also schedule the day before arrival for cleaning of the entire house to make sure I’m ready. When I go back to work I may look into a cleaning service to assist me with this part. But outside of those two days of effort I’m a neat person and my house stays pretty well put together so it’s not something I focus on. When guests are here I run the sweeper every morning because of the additional foot traffic and I also wipe down the bathroom and kitchen counters, just because I’m OCD like that. But that’s about it. I would much rather spend a few minutes chatting with the guests about restaurants I love and things to do in my beautiful little town than worrying about whether the bathmat is hung up properly. Perspective… it’s important… get some.
Okay… there you go… that’s my innkeeping manifesto… now go figure it out for you. We’re all different and our spaces are different too. If you’re leaning toward trying this out this just starts your conversation about it. And if you have any other questions ask away. I’ll do my best to help. It’s fun… I’m enjoying it… good luck! Oh… and for a bit of shameless self-promotion, here’s my listings from Airbnb… share amongst yourselves!