Archives August 2018

A simple checklist to make sure cleanings are done right – every time

As a host, I know first-hand how hard it can be to find good cleaners for your spaces.

This is especially true if you manage multiple properties. If you’re not there to inspect their work, they can do as good – or as bad – a job as they want and they’ll likely get away with it. In fact, many hosts have had so many problems with their cleaners that they just clean all their spaces themselves now. 

But obviously, that’s feasible only to a point. If you’re managing dozens of properties, there’s no way you’re going to have the time to clean every single turnover. 

So how do you maintain a high level of cleanliness without doing all of the work yourself?

I think a big part of the problem comes from the fact that expectations aren’t clear between the hosts and their cleaners. The hosts say “clean this,” and assume that’s all that needs to be said. But frankly, people have all sorts of different standards of what “clean” means. It’s not enough to just ask them to clean the space – you have to spell out what you’re expecting. 

So I created a checklist that I give to every prospective cleaner before I hire them.

It is a summary of what I expect from them in every space they clean from me. If they don’t agree to it, I don’t hire them, plain and simple. If they do agree to it, then I’ve got an easy record to fall back on if I find that they’re not completing the checklist during every cleaning. If it happens multiple times, then I find a new cleaner. No hard feelings, but the expectations were clear and aren’t being met. It’s so much easier to deal with when you lay out your wishes ahead of time!

If you want to use it as a template to give to your cleaners (or for yourself), feel free! You can find the checklist for every space in the house here.

Tuesday Tip: Poo-pourri

Have you ever had a particularly smelly trip to the bathroom? One that no amount of fan-sucking or arm-flailing can fix? 

Let’s be honest – we’ve all been there. And no one wants to be the one to stink up the bathroom for everyone else. Especially when they’re on vacation together!

Enter: Poo-pourri. 

This amazing product doesn’t mask the odor. It actually traps the smells in the bowl, before they ever get out into the wild. You spray it on the surface of the water before you start, and it creates a film that keeps odors from escaping. It’s kind of a miracle worker. 

Find it on Amazon here


The great goat adventure – results are in!

The great goat rental adventure of 2018 has finally ended!

The reviews, I have to say, are a bit mixed. 

On the one hand, the goats really did eat an enormous amount of ivy. See below for some amazing before and after pictures!

On the other hand, goats are apparently the Harry Houdinis of the animal kingdom.

They got into (and out of) everything. Everything that we didn’t want them to eat got eaten. Every weakness in our fences was found and exploited. The goats got out so many times. We were told that pretty much all we’d have to do was make sure the goats had enough water…the reality was that I became an almost full-time goat herder for a couple of weeks. It was not fun. 

Plus, the ivy in our yard was so matted and tangled that it proved very difficult for the goats to pull the ivy up by the roots, which is what we were hoping for. So now that the leaves are gone, we’re having to go back and pull up the majority of the roots by hand. It’s proving to be a very laborious and time-consuming task, especially since we were hoping that the goats would do most of the heavy lifting.

Also, goats poop a LOT. When you have 14 goats in your backyard for 11 days, you can imagine how much it can build up. Our yard still smells like a farm!

My verdict on our little goat experiment is simple.

Because we got the goats for more than half off what they should have cost, I still think it was worth it. But if I had paid any more for them, I would have felt like I was getting seriously ripped off. So just be forewarned if you’re thinking of renting goats yourselves! 🙂

To be fair, though, they really did eat a TON. Check out the before and after pictures below!





Tuesday Tip: Toilet bowl clips

Ah, toilet bowls.

That thing that everyone uses but no one wants to touch. 

Make things a little easier on your cleaners (and more pleasant for your guests) by putting a toilet bowl clip on the insides of your toilets.

You can buy ones that are just air fresheners, or ones that are actually supposed to clean the bowl as well. (Although frankly, I’m skeptical of a product that says it can clean something with no elbow grease at all.) 

Find a selection of different options here

Tuesday Tip: Goat rental

Is your yard overgrown with ivy or kudzu? Are you putting off taking care of it because you don’t want to wade through thigh-high plants, or get poison ivy, or find unwelcome visitors like snakes or rats?

I have a solution for you.

Rent goats!

I’m totally serious. My husband and I have a serious ivy problem in our yard – about 2/3 of the back yard is covered in the stuff. We’ve been putting off getting rid of it because of all of the problems I just mentioned above. 

But a few months ago, I found out that there are actually companies who will rent you a herd of goats to do the heavy lifting for you. I quickly become enamored with the idea. 

After lots of research, we finally decided to pull the plug.

We now have a small herd of 11 goats in our backyard, munching happily away. We’re hoping to have most of the ivy cleared away within 4 or 5 days. 

It seems rather ridiculous, but so far it’s been worth it. I’m happy to pay a little money and clean up some goat droppings to avoid spending my whole summer dealing with the foliage myself!

If you’re interested in renting goats, just search for “goat rentals in ‘your city’.” More likely than not you’ll find someone who services your area!

How not to get a good review

I recently stayed in an Airbnb in New York City. It was a pretty decent place to stay – aside from the giant signs right outside telling me that it was illegal to rent on Airbnb in the city. 

But after I checked out, I got a message from the host that made me extremely uncomfortable.

It more or less said something along the lines of this: “I’m trying to build up my 5-star ratings, so could you please give me a 5-star review? If you do, I’ll credit you back $15 from your trip.”

Now, at first glance, this didn’t seem so bad. But then I started thinking about it a little more. This, I realized, was nothing short of a bribe. Sure, it was worded nicely and I had the option to refuse it, but it was a bribe nonetheless. 

I started to do a little digging, and soon found Airbnb’s anti-extortion policy.

The host’s actions had been in direct violation of it. 

Let me be clear about something here. There is nothing wrong with reminding a guest to leave a review for you after they check out. Reviews are very important to hosts on the Airbnb platform, and it makes sense that they would want to build up their review base. 

HOWEVER, there IS something wrong with bribing the guest to leave you a good review.

Don’t ever do it. Many guests may not saying anything, but you’re being dishonest regardless, and eventually you will host someone who decides to report you to Airbnb. It won’t go well for you as a host when that happens.

Don’t take the risk! Put in the work to host the right way, and you’ll get plenty of 5-star reviews without having to bribe anyone to give them to you. 

Tuesday Tip: Signs

When people come to a space, they assume that everything they see is going to be working properly.

If that’s not the case, make sure you make that clear. An easy way to do that is just to put a simple sign up to alert guests that something is nonfunctional. 

I went to a BnB a few weeks ago that did this. The ice machine had stopped working, and rather than having guests figure this out on their own, they just put a simple sign up. It let people know about the problem, and also that there were ice trays in the freezer if they wanted them. 

It was just so nice to have expectations set from the start. Plus, the ice tray was a sign reminder that the hosts were doing their best to address the problem. Definitely recommend!

The key to great hospitality

I recently did a coaching session with a client who is looking to start hosting on Airbnb. 

We were walking through some of the things I do to make my guests feel welcome, and we got to the part about bathroom extras. I like to leave a travel-sized bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel, plus a little bar of soap for every guest that comes into one of my spaces. I also have toothpaste and toothbrushes available if they forget theirs.

When I told her this, she seemed skeptical. “Do you even need to do that?” she asked. “Don’t most people bring their own toiletries?” 

She had a point. Most of my guests do bring their own toiletries, leaving my little bottles untouched. 

But looking at it that way misses the heart of the issue.

True hospitality is not about providing basic needs. It’s about how you make people feel

I’ve stayed in tiny, cramped homes with dirt floors and no running water. Yet those people made me feel so special, so loved, that I have yearned for years to return. On the flip side, I’ve stayed in very nice residences where the hosts were so cold and distant that the thought of coming back never crossed my mind.

So yes, it’s true that most guests don’t need little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. But almost all of them will appreciate the extra thought you put into making them feel welcome. They will appreciate how you made them feel

That’s the key to great hospitality.

Don’t look at it as a checklist of things to do. Think of it as a way to engage your guests in your space as creatively and thoughtfully as possible. That shift in perspective will create a drastically different experience for the people that you host!