A few years ago, my husband and I went to New Zealand. It was a magical trip, a truly great experience!

We saw rare glowworms in Waitomo, visited Hobbiton in Matamata, played in the hot water beaches in the Coromandel, and more.

But what always strikes me about our trip whenever it comes up in conversation is that we always, without fail, talk about one of our Airbnb hosts just as much – if not more – as we talk about the amazing sights we saw.

Vee was everything you could hope for in a great host, plus much more.

She picked us up from the airport when we arrived at midnight. She took us to the rental car place – 3 times. She even quit a day of work so she could show us around her beautiful city of Auckland!

It has become almost a joke between my husband and I. Someone asks us about our time in New Zealand? We make sure to spend at least 5 minutes talking about the beautiful sights, and then rave for 15 minutes about Vee. She really was that amazing.

The interesting part about this story to me is that Vee’s space was pretty nondescript. We had two twin beds in a small spare room in a small house, and not much more. And yet, it was in this modest, unassuming space that we made some of our most treasured travel memories.

This is a critical point in the story.

If you’re using Airbnb as a guest, hopefully this story will encourage you to not judge a book by its cover. Reviews matter a lot more than pictures. If your host is genuine, you’re probably going to have a good time regardless of how nice the space you’ve rented is.

And for hosts, this story serves a reminder that the space alone does not make the experience.

You don’t have to have a great space to give a great experience. Most people who travel with Airbnb are looking for local connections and advice as much as they’re looking for a comfortable bed and good amenities. This is especially true of traveler who choose to rent private rooms instead of whole houses.

Perhaps you don’t have the money to invest as much in your space as you would like. That’s ok. Invest in your guests with time instead of money. Give them little personal touches other people don’t think of. Show them you care. Treat them like family. It will make all the difference.