Archives May 2018

The delicate balance between earning money and enjoying your own space

Hosting (or good hosting, at least) is hard work. This is particularly true when you’re hosting a space that you also live in.

You have to do all of the normal things, of course. Take care of linens, clean, make a welcome basket, etc. 

But if you live there, you also have to be on all the time.

You have to be friendly and welcoming and willing to listen whenever they want to talk. You have to interact with your guests, even when you just want to sit down in front of the TV by yourself with a glass of wine or bowl of ice cream. 

It can be exhausting, especially if you’re introverted like I am. 

Yet many people find it difficult to not allow guests to stay with them. If you’re hosting as a side hustle, it’s hard to say no to the extra cash that guests will bring in. You’re saying no to hundreds, potentially thousands, of dollars, depending on how long you decide to block your calendar off for.

If you find yourself in this mindset, please remind yourself that money isn’t everything.

It’s important that you make sure to take care of yourself, as well. No amount of extra income can make up for you destroying your sanity and mental health. Plus, if you’re exhausted and tired of people, you’re not going to be able to be a very good host! 🙂

I myself have turned off my Airbnb account for months at a time. I don’t turn it on again until I’m itching to host, so when I do, I actually enjoy the experience.

Don’t allow guests in your home just for the money. If you resent their presence, they’re going to be able to tell. It’s just not worth it. Make sure you’re creating an environment that both you and your guests can actually enjoy. 

 

Tuesday Tip: Coasters

 

 

Ice cold drinks have the potential to create problems for hosts in their spaces.

When the condensation starts accumulating under the cup, it can start to make nasty water rings on all your furniture. 

That’s why I recommend providing at least 1 set of coasters in your space for guests to use. If you’re hosting a larger space, you’ll want to provide more coasters. 

If you don’t like ice in your drinks, you may be tempted to think you don’t need these. 

You’re wrong.

I promise you, you will have guests who like lots of ice.

And they will leave water rings on your furniture if not provided with an alternative.

Coasters are an investment of a few dollars that could save you hundreds of dollars in furniture replacement later on.

Find a collection of different coaster designs and styles here

How to protect yourself against scammers

 

 

One of the hardest things to get right in the world of short-term rentals is dealing with guest complaints. 

Most hosts truly care about their guests’ experiences and want them to have a great time. As a result, I would hope that most of them are very responsive whenever guests voice complaints. (I certainly am!)

However, it’s also a sad reality that many guests try to game the system. It’s not unusual for them to make up reasons to complain as an excuse to get money refunded to them. I suppose that’s not specific to the world of short-term rentals. It happens everywhere, in every industry and country :). 

I’ve had people complain about rings in the toilet, only to admit later on that the rings showed up many days after they had checked in. I’ve had people complain of bugs, insisting that they took “tons” of pictures, and then refuse to send me any to verify their story. I’ve had people complain that they were surprised that couldn’t smoke in my listing, which is clearly labeled as “no smoking allowed.” I’ve had people ask for refunds because there were stairs in the space (which were also clearly listed). 

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. 

As a host, you have to be proactive about protecting yourself against scammers.

Take pictures of the space after every cleaning (or have your cleaner take pictures and send them to you). Be sure to get shots of things like the insides of toilets, sinks, showers, fridges, microwaves, stoves, etc. 

Don’t ever call your guest a liar; but be firm in asking for verification when they have a complaint about something. 

Be as clear as possible about your house rules before they arrive, so they can’t claim ignorance as an excuse. 

The vast majority of the time, these precautions will be unnecessary.

But if an issue does come up, they will prove invaluable to you in helping you sort it out as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

 

 

Tuesday Tip: Hand soap

 

 

When you go to an unfamiliar bathroom, what’s one of the first things you look for? What really irritates you if it’s not there?

For many people, the answer to those questions is one and the same. 

Hand soap.

Hand soap is one of those things that people often forget about when stocking a bathroom; but they never forget about it when using a bathroom :). 

Don’t make your guests scrounge for a way to clean their hands. Make sure that there is a bottle of hand soap in every bathroom and kitchen sink. Then buy a big bottle of hand soap refill for easy and cheap dispenser refills. Your guests will thank you. 

Why you should always communicate through Airbnb

 

 

Everyone hopes that they will always have wonderful guests. But what do you do if you don’t have a good guest? How do you protect yourself if they’re complaining about you to Airbnb? What if they’re saying flat-out lies?

One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself secure as a host is to communicate as often as possible directly through Airbnb.

Even as I say this, I know full well that I’ve not always done this. I often communicate in person. Occasionally I’ll just leave guests notes. For longer-term stays, I usually just end up texting them about most things. 

So I get it, it’s not always the easiest thing to do.

But if a guest ever complains to Airbnb about you, it’s incredibly important that they be able to look back at your message history and see what transpired between you and your guest. 

That will be the first thing the resolution center agent will look for. Did your guest complain about this issue to you? How did you respond? Things like that. 

Of course, sometimes even the best-laid plans don’t work – like when I deleted my listing and lost all of my message history. *facepalm* Not my best moment. 

And to be honest, 98% of the time there won’t be any issues, Airbnb will never get called, and having a message history within the app will be a moot point.

But if there is an issue, you’re going to want that record. 

Just do yourself a favor and get in the habit of communicating through Airbnb as much as possible now, before you have problems. It’ll save you headaches in the long run. 

How to keep from crippling yourself

 

 

When I first started hosting on Airbnb, I did a lot of experimenting. 

As part of my experiments, I ended up making several different listings for the same space. Once one became inactive, with no future bookings, I decided to delete it to make things a little less confusing for myself. 

Big mistake.

What I didn’t realize was that, when you delete a listing on Airbnb, it deletes everything – including message threads with anyone who’s stayed with you under that listing. 

And lo and behold, just a day or two after I deleted my listing, someone who had stayed with me decided to contact Airbnb and request money back. 

This by itself is not a problem. Resolution requests happen; you just have to deal with them and move on.

But I had unknowingly crippled myself.

By deleting my listing, I had also deleted my message thread with the guest, leaving me unable to refute her claims. 

What should have been resolved in just a day or two ended up being drawn out for weeks. To this day I still can’t quite believe that I hadn’t been warned that my messages were also going to be deleted. Maybe I was, and I just missed it.

Anyway, the fact remains that I had put myself in a pickle, and it was a huge hassle to get out of it.

So, the moral of the story? Don’t delete listings unless absolutely necessary. You can make them inactive, or change their name to something that makes more sense to you to ignore. But if you delete your listing, especially when you have guests who are still within the window to file a complaint, you’re really just asking for trouble. 

Tuesday Tip: Irons

 

 

While it’s true that most of your guests won’t end up using a first aid kit, a large percentage of them will need an iron at some point in their stay.

Irons, like first aid kits, are something that few travelers bring with them. Yet, like first aid kits, when they’re needed there is no substitute. 

So make sure you have an iron in your space for guests to use.

Especially if you’re renting an entire unit! This is something that many people don’t consider when they’re furnishing a new space. It’s a relatively cheap investment that your guests will really appreciate.

Here’s one of my favorites. 

Bad surprises – the challenge of mismatched expectations

 

 

Last month I stayed in several Airbnbs all around the country. A few of them had multiple private rooms that they rented out within the same house.

I have no problem with this. I’ve been able to meet some fascinating people through shared Airbnb spaces. 

HOWEVER, I like to know what I’m getting myself into. 

These places I stayed in last month made no indication in their listing that there were other guests staying in the space at the same time. They didn’t even mention that the bathroom was shared among all guests. 

Some surprises are good. This scenario isn’t one of them.

The thing with Airbnb is, it’s all about expectations. With hotels, everyone more or less already knows what to expect. There’s a basic template that almost all hotels follow. People know what to expect when they check into a hotel.

But with Airbnb, there is no standard template. There is no set of basic expectations that people can count on. I’ve stayed in a “glamping” tent, a 3-bedroom chalet right on the waterfront, a converted garage, a weird pseudo-hostel run out of an unused schoolhouse, a tiny spare bedroom in a crummy apartment, and everything in between. And those are some of the tamer listings on Airbnb!

The variety of Airbnb is what attracts may travelers to it.

Nevertheless, people still want to be able to know what to expect before they arrive. 

It doesn’t really even matter what those expectations are, as long as they’re accurate. Linens or no linens provided, shared spaces or entirely private, street parking or reserved spaces, stairs or totally flat…most people will be happy with what they get, as long as they expect it before arriving

So do your guests – and yourself – a favor. Don’t let them have any bad surprises. Give them all the details they’ll need before arriving, so once they get there they can just enjoy the experience. 

Tuesday Tip: First aid kits

 

 

My husband says I have a special talent for hurting myself. 

I’m always hitting my knees on the bottoms of tables, running into walls, and finding mysterious bruises all over my body. Yesterday I even dropped a kitchen knife on my foot! (Thankfully it landed handle-side down.) 

I take some solace in the fact that I’m surely not the only one to hurt myself occasionally, even if I do do it more than the average person. 

Most people, though, don’t think about bringing band-aids, alcohol wipes, and Neosporin on a trip. We never expect to get hurt on vacation, right?

That’s why I always recommend that hosts keep a basic first-aid kit in their space.

It’s the kind of thing that you’ll rarely need to replenish because it will be rarely used; but when it IS needed, there won’t be anything else that will work. Super hosts, to the rescue!

Find a variety of basic first aid kits here

Almost done!Just tell me where to send all your goodies 🙂