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  1. One of the most challenging and subsequently wonderful things an Airbnb host experiences is the review process. Honest reviews are what the whole Airbnb process relies on. As a host you read past host reviews of guests to make sure they are a good fit for your space, while guests read reviews of hosts and their spaces to determine if the listing is all it cracks up to be. But humans are humans, what happens when reviews are a bit off from the truth?

    When I first joined Airbnb, and listed our space, I did a bit of research on how to create a strong listing. Every resource stressed how important reviews are; in which the first few reviews could really make or break your opportunity for success. If your first few reviews were below amazing, if felt like there you really had no future on Airbnb. What pressure! It felt as if, no matter how hard I worked, if my guests didn't leave the most sparkling review ever, I would be rouined. Maybe I over dramatized it... but I care and what my guests to have a comfortable and wonderful experience in my space.

    I recall preparing our house for the first group of guests we would receive through Airbnb; I was very excited and nervous, although I was confident. Everything was squeaky clean, the grass was cut, the bed linens were beautifully arranged, and we were about to go on our first "mini holiday." I felt prepared! My first group would love the space, or just as much if not more (because they were on vacation) than we do! My house guidebook was lovingly created with all the information my guests would need to manage the house and navigate our neigborhood.

    After their stay and a quick inventory of the space, I promptly wrote them a review. I was honest, but stressed how appreciative I was that they chose to stay with us. I felt I kissed a little butt in my review, but that was ok, I felt because I was a new host it was necessary. They were not even close to horrible guests, but at this point I wasn't quite sure how to leave a helpful review.

    The review we received back was great. They raved about the space and how wonderful we were as hosts. They also gave us some wonderful pointers on things to add to the house and think about. The suggestions were well meaning and very helpful, it was obvious they actually took a moment to think about their review and suggestions that could improve our space for future guests. Everything a guest suggests we take very seriously.

    The critical tidbits from a guest are sometimes hard to read, because they feel so personal, much like a mean personal attack. But I have come to realize, they are an extremely important tool. If you ignore these criticisms or completely brush them off as fluff, you would be missing out on something invaluable, that you could strongly benefit from. That being said, you may need to dig to find the actual nugget to information that is helpful, if the review is highly emotionally charged, it may be buried.

    I feel if at least one guest feels that way, it's very possible other guests will feel the same as well. To ignore any of these suggestions, would be doing myself a huge disfavor. Although I feel it's important to separate yourself from the review.

    I have received many wonderfully personal emails from guests after they have left, thanking us and raving about the experience they had. Unfortunately when they submitted their review through Airbnb it was impersonal and unextraordinary -- almost like it was written by a computer. It was my hope that their sentiments would cross over into the Airbnb site, but that's not what happened.

    That being said, I feel such wonderful elation when we receive a five star and thoughtful review. I feel like the person appreciated our space and realized the hard work we do for them to have a wonderful holiday. I say thoughtful, because it's one thing for a guest to quickly complete the review and check off five stars for every prompt, and write a one sentence blurb.

    When I receive a review that lists what they specifically enjoyed about the house and surrounding area, I'm so peachy-keen pleased. These moments (amongst others) are a large part of why I love doing this.

    Even if guest doesn't rate us five stars, I would like to know why. I try to make it very clear in the good-bye email I send before they checkout, we are extremely interested in their imput. It is their prerogative to find fault -- I try to cut down any opportunity for that to happen -- but if they feel the shower grout was dirty, I want to know that and take actions.

    In regards to star rating, guests are able to award zero to five stars for various factors regards their stay. This rather irritates me. Personally I feel three stars is middle of the road, average. It there was nothing wrong or if I was not blown away, I would give three or above. A five star rating is saved for things that are exceptionally specially and not often awarded -- that's what makes them special. Although I feel like five stars is now average. If you don't receive five stars on your Airbnb review it is viewed as sub-par and not as good. When in reality you may not have a fancy or luxurious space, but it's clean and comfortable. This is what your guest signed up for and they should not punish the host for delivering just that.

    This article was inspired by a review I received last week. It was one of the most thoughtful reviews we have ever received from a guest. Honestly I wasn't sure they were even going to write us a review. Not because they had a horrible time, but because they seemed forgetful and busy, I also knew they were continuing to travel after staying with us. But their sweet words made me feel so proud, like my time was well spent.

    Being on the receiving side of reviews makes me a better review peruser, I now know how petty and silly people can be while writing about their experince. I now realize how important it is to take it all with a grain of salt... there may be a grain of truth, but it may be buried.


    Ashley Parent is an Airbnb host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com. She is having a hard time staying in her seat with the excitement of the release of her new eBook Portable Bed & Breakfast: Empower Your Freedom Lifestyle With Airbnb.
  2. I remember when I first became an Airbnb host, it was so exciting when I received my very first inquiry! It was a couple days after the professional photos were posted on the site by Airbnb and I think I peed my pants just a little. I had no idea on pricing, or really how the whole process worked.

    My first inquiry sent a little message, as many people do, with their inquiry for specific dates. I remember feeling extremely choosy about who we let into our home, our sancuary. I remember asking follow-up questions to help us determine if they were "good enough" for our space.

    I felt so protective of our space. I wanted to only accept people who I felt I would like to hang out with of be buddies with. I also need to add, we were renting out our whole space at this time, so there would actually be very little interaction with our guests after check-in and we left for our mini holiday. I never rejected someone, but I was being very silly.

    In the early days, there was considerably more back and forth through email. For one thing, I wasn't completely sure what guests generally asked or expected. I have professional experience with dealing with students studying abroad, but that is a whole different can of wiggly worms. Many of these emails now feel unnessicary.

    My goal was to make my guests feel cared for. I wanted them to feel as if they were the most important thing to me and they are special. I was polite and trying to wear the hat of a travel agent.

    Once I got past the initial honeymoon phase, this faded. I still got extremely excited when I received an inquiry, but I realized it's best to have potential guests book as soon as possible, with less back and forth. No matter how spellbinding my wiring is, people want to figure out their their accommodation as soon as possible. The longer we carried on, the more likely for them to book and finalize with another listing.

    Through experience I learned, when a potential booking him-hawed for some time, was not a good sign. Either they would eventually cancel or be really needy (this is not a hardcore rule, but a feeling)-- neither options I'm a huge fan of.

    As I learned what guests wanted and needed to know, I started to answer their questions before they even asked: I became preemptive. Doing this decreased the back and forth time-- fewer emails are being sent back and forth, with the same information being shared. This makes me sound very organized and experienced. Albeit, I am organized and experinced, but guests don't know this.

    I also created email templates, which saves me considerable time. I found I kept sending similar emails to my guests, so why not use the same email and not retype it each time? Of course, I would add personal touches to each email, but in general the message body is the same.

    I compiled a list of various templates, and may not use all of them. Some people ask for information about transportation rental, while others do not. Each time someone asked a new question, either I modify one of my current emails or create a new one. If one person asks the question, I'm sure other guests are wondering the same, but not asking. Therefore I wish to take advantage of this insite, and be forthcoming with the information. All additional local information about my area is a huge value to my guests. It is extremely appreciated when I am able to advise which scooter rental company, or airport transport is the most reliable and has the best prices.

    I use Google Docs to keep track of my templates. I love it because I can access the document from anywhere. You are able to easily share the document with other people and modify it. Although any computer program where you are able to store and modify text would work. Whatever you are comfortable with is best.

    Unfortunately Airbnb does not have the capability to have templates. I find this a little surprising, but I expect it is their attempt at keeping communication personal and unique. But there are ways to work around this -- my email template Google Doc.

    Another reason I love templates, and one that many people don't mention, sometimes it's a rather challenging to sound positive and professional through email. If you receive inquire notifications to your phone, and respond to them late at night or early morning, sometimes it's best to have the message already written out. Therefore, you just need to copy and paste and personalize it. I know I'm not very good at writing out social niceties before my first cup of coffee in the morning, so I use my templates.

    My standards in regards to asking follow-up questions to determine if the potential guest would be a good fit, have seriously loosened. I am no longer looking for people to hang out with, but making sure they will treat my home with respect. If a potential guest sends an inquiry email that roughly says who would be staying and a little about themselves I am a happy camper and pre-approve them.

    I ask additional questions, when I question how many people will be staying, their purpose in town, or if I smell something fishy. The main reason I need to decline and say "thanks, but no thanks" is when a large group inquires and there is absolutely no way we can accommodate their size. Even if the inquiry doesn't have other host reviews, I take them seriously; I feel everyone needs to start somewhere.

    I am constantly updating my email templates. They have become an invaluable tool to me as a host, along side my house guidebook, I think they save me considerable time and stress. I feel as a host I am always looking for ways to streamline my system and this is one way I do it.

    How do you handle emails? Do you have a system? If so, what have you found to work and not work?

    Ashley Parent is an Airbnb host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com. She is having a hard time staying in her seat with the excitement of the release of her new eBook Portable Bed & Breakfast: Empower Your Freedom Lifestyle With Airbnb.
  3. Like many of my fellow Airbnb hosts, I feel like I fell into the position-- much like Alice through the rabbit hole... but less trippy and dangerous. Personally, I always find it so interesting how hosts first learned out the Airbnb phenomena and what drove them to allow strangers into their home. The stories you will hear, range far and wide.

    My story still surprises me, but I'm living it and it makes me happy. I have always been interested in having my own bed and breakfast since staying in one as a child with my family. I don't exactly remember where it was, but it honestly doesn't matter. What does matter, is the lasting impression it made: I felt like we were staying in someone's house. There were books and art everywhere. It was extremely eclectic and not to everyone's taste. But I loved it-- the house had a slightly weird flair. There was a great outdoor space and the hosts served us breakfast on a array of mix and match antique china.

    Fast forward to present day, the practical side of me sees the downfall of having a genuine bed and breakfast. You always need to be open and you always need to be there. You don't get to choose who you rent your rooms out to. To me, I feel this situation ties your hands in a very undesirable way. Most bed and breakfast owners are unable to afford to hire additional help, therefore they are doing everything.

    I was introduced to Airbnb years ago, but only became a host over a year ago. I was in the process if taking the humungous leap to becoming location independent with my partner. I had an office job and that could not be done remotely. Therefore I was essentially scrambling to figure out how I could make money on the road or from anywhere in the world. I was in a bit of a pickle.

    I wish I could remember what or who exactly planted the seed of becoming an Airbnb host is my brain, because today I would send them a huge thank you fruit basket. I realized the house I rented in any location in the world is a huge asset, and one that I could use to my full advantage. I realized I could rent my short-term rented apartment on Airbnb and make money from it.

    Of course there are many considerations to think about while looking at apartments. The big one I kept repeating to myself is, "Would someone wish to pay hard earned money, to vacation here?" That's quite the question to be pondering, while flitting from rental to rental with a realator chatting in your ear. But I thought it was great!

    This is how we found ourselves in sunny Thailand. Once we settled in a town we started to looked at houses to rent. It was incredible how much further our US dollars went in Thailand. This was certainly one thing that drew us to The Land of Smiles in the first place, and we certainly we not dissapointed.

    We rented a beautiful three bedroom house-- already furnished with stuff that spoke to our asthetics-- for less than what we were paying back in the states. The house was located in a gated community, where many other expats lived. There was a shared pool and gym. We certainly never pictured ourselves living in a gated community, but we were elated.

    Our landlords were ok with us having guests. We had a great space that screamed "luxury," so why wouldn't someone pay us to stay there?!?!

    As soon as we could we posted the space on Airbnb. Of course, we added great personal touches. We purchased colorful Thai silk throw pillows and knick knacks for the shelves. Although we hadn't lived in the space long, we took efforts to make it feel homey and inviting, but still luxurous. We purchased fun sheets sets and comforters for the beds.

    Also, being in Thailand we were not familiar with the stores. Where does someone purchase housewares-- people must buy them someplace. We weren't able to pop into the closest Target or Marshals, to find affordable, yet decorative goods. We soon discovered Thailand's version of Target or Walmart and shopped away.

    Honestly we were unsure of the whole Airbnb procress; like many new hosts we were unsure of pricing and if our description was "good enough." We traveled the learning curve road and kept playing with prices and titles.

    Christmas and New Years are the highest of peak tourist season in our area, this was not surprising. When we received our first booking for over New Years, we were eleated. The group was from the US and what they payed for a few nights in our space, covered our rent for the month. Wowzers! We knew this is when we were onto something.

    Admittedly that was the only time we were able to charge as high a fee; after New Years, the demand started to decrease so we needed to lower our prices as well. We were still making a profit.

    Every time our whole house was rented, we would clean like hell, then leave for a mini holiday once our guests had checked in and settled. We never traveled too far or do anything glamorous, but it did give us a chance to check out the region in a fun new way. We stayed within a two hour scooter ride, incase we needed to hurry back for an emergency.

    Often we stayed in the same town, booking a room at a local budget hotel or bungalow. we though the change in atmosphere was great; it was nice to kind of already know the area, but the sights and smells are very different than what you are use to.

    We stayed in that house for six months. After that time, we sold what we could, then moved to a different country, to start the process all over again! This may seem crazy, but we love the process of decorating and creating a new lovely space! We love scoping our new fun cities with a low cost of living and high tourist interst. It's so interesting to research rental in a new city and see how people live. I'm even a huge fan of closing up house at the end of the lease-- it's a guilty pleasure of mine.

    We have had great success and fun with this porcess, and I realize it's not for everyone, that's cool. I just wanted to share my story, it may be inspiring to some.

    I'm interested to hear how other hosts came by Airbnb?

    Ashley Parent is an Airbnb host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com. She is having a hard time staying in her seat with the excitement of the release of her new eBook Portable Bed & Breakfast: Empower Your Freedom Lifestyle With Airbnb.
  4. How do guests effect your behavior? More-so, who decorates their house with guests in mind? This may seem like a weirdly timed post, but the 4th of July is soon approaching and I have streamers on the brain! Being someone who loves any reason to celebrate and put out festive decorations; combined with picnics with friends, bbq smells, cold drinks and crocque... I'm a sucker for Independence Day. I've been wondering about how my decorations are viewed by guests, but don't worry-- I'm including Christmas, New Years, Chinese New Years as well.

    I completely understand there are religions, in which holidays are not celebrated, or that some decorations can be highly offensive. I'm not referring to these items. Picture a cute bunny for Easter, red good luck charms for Chinese New Years and a tree for Christmas-- all very generic and Hallmark.

    Although I'm wondering if they are enjoyed by my quests.

    What have you found?

    Also, if you found out a group was celebrating a birthday during their stay, would you do something special? Would you have candles, birthday hats and a sign on hand?

    I used to have a lovely birthday banner that I kept just for this reason! But I never used it for a guest, so it got tossed-- I was slightly disappointed. Admittedly I was also a fledgling host, new to Airbnb, and wanted to go the extra mile for my guests.

    My thought behind all this rambling, is wanting to make my guest's stay something special and memorable. I love the feeling of visiting somewhere new and seeing a little extra festive cheer. I don't consider myself a burnt out host, but I do wish to be conscience of making the most of my time and efforts.

    Also a cornerstone of Airbnb is for guests to be immersed into the local culture and to live like a local, even for a short time. I think it's a fun way for a guest-- especially if they are from another country-- to see how a holiday is celebrated. It's such a unique experience that not many people take advantage of.

    In the past I've always sent my guests a quick email before they arrive, asking if they minded a few decorations for the upcoming holiday; always keeping my fingers crossed that my next guest group would not be against festive decorations. Fortunately, I've never had someone respond with a negative answer.

    A part of me worries about insulting someone or misrepresenting my space. There is the voice in the back of my head saying, "this is not what the photos on my Airbnb listing look like, this is not what they paid for." I feel all the tinsel and streamers are extra. A little extra hosting love.

    I realize the main point I'm circling is: how should being an Airbnb host effect your life? Bam!

    For some hosts, the soul purpose of their space is for renting out, while others live and share a space with their guests. I'm certainly not saying one is better than the other. But if you are sharing your space periodically with paying guests, how do you modify your actions? Do you decorate as wildly as you really want for Halloween?

    I feel another factor is how often you rent your space. With Airbnb you are able to control how often and to whom you rent to. That's exceptionally nifty, but do you treat your space differently if you have a new guest in your spare room every three nights as opposed to a guest group once a month? I certainly do.

    I have found, I do modify my actions a great deal. I often think, "How would this appear to guests just arriving to my house?" "Does it come across the way I want?" The big question I ask, "Does it make my space feel more luxurious and comfortable?" I have settled upon, seeing my bathrobed, bed-head self lumbering through the hallway is not something a guest wants to see first thing in the morning.

    A perfect example happened this past Christmas. It was our first Christmas together, so we were creating non-traditional traditions left and right, because we didn't really have any together. As I said before I love decorating for holidays, my partner does as well. So we decided to create a sequin Christmas tree and decorations. Admittedly it was a bit tacky! But we ended up taking down the tree the day after because we had a group coming for New Years. We enjoyed it while it was up, but I felt it took away from the space.

    Do you act differently? I certainly keep my space clearer-- please don't judge. I would certainly consider that a benefit! I always have more than enough toilet paper on hand and additional new sponges. I also don't walk around in my bathrobe when we have guests.

    I also feel differently while I have guests sharing our space. More often than not we rent the whole house and we go on a mini vacation: so we have a very different interaction than if we are staying in bedrooms next to eachother. I feel like I need to be on my best-est best behavior and not act grumpy before my first cup of coffee (which is sometimes a challenge.)

    It sounds as if I an only focusing on the negative aspects of hosting, but there are so many ways the experience is enriching. Not for just the guest, but the host as well! Not only do I get the chance to interact with people from all over the world, and welcome them into my home, I'm making money. Sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more.

    It's been an absolutely interesting and fun adventure, that comes with a learning curve. As a host, I needed to learn how to live my life comfortably, while still creating a luxurious and welcoming space for guests. I've made silly mistakes and will certainly make more in the furture. Although I'm glad I go all out and decorate for holidays, it's unique and festive!

    I would love to know your views?!?!

    Ashley Parent is an AirBnB host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com. She is having a hard time staying in her seat with the excitement of the upcoming release of her eBook Portable Bed & Breakfast.
    Rosatti and Estuarto like this.
  5. There is a short list of amenities that are incredibly cheap, but offer huge value to your guests! I'm always looking for great ways to get a bigger bang for my buck-- when someone is traveling there are a few things that make all the difference to them.

    A few things on that list is offering:
    towels and linens
    toiletries
    continental breakfast
    alam clock
    map of your city
    bottled water
    television in livingroom
    wifi

    Keep in mind, people who stay in your space have similar expectations as those they would a hotel room: they are holding you to hotel standards. Even if you try to manage expectations in your discription, people have come to expect certain amenities.

    Also a quick note on how Airbnb lists amenities: everything you don't check-off, has a strikethrough on your listing. This makes it very clear what you are not offering.

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    I always have extra sheet sets and towels on hand. It is always best to have extra, than not enough. These are also items I use myself-- I don't have designated guest sheets or towels. Whatever is clean and fits the bed is the perfect set of sheets for that guest. That being said, it is best to invest a bit in these items and have them be a neutral color: white is always advised. They go through a beating with repeated washings and you want them to hold up. Otherwise you will be spending more money and time to replace them, then if you spent a couple extra dollars initially. Also a higher thread count sheet set will look "cleaner," they will look less wrinkly and feel luxurious to your guests. Decorative throw pillow go a long way to add character to the room. Seems silly, but these are extra touches that really add that special "something" that sets you apart.

    Something I personally always notice is if the bed is comfortable. Traveling through Asia the beds are predominately hard-- I think it promotes good health. But when I came across one that felt like a dream, I remembered that sleeping experience with a smile. Buying a new mattress may not be in your budget, but if guests complain you certainly need to do something. I suggest you look at pillow-top bed covers or adding a layer of foam. These extra layers will add nice cushion and also protect your mattress.

    I think having a basket of toiletries in the bathroom is the niftiest thing! I really enjoy arranging it before each group arrives. It's honestly nothing special, I purchased whatever cheap bathroom products I can find at the store; bulk is also great! I like to include shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, bar soap, disposable razor, q-tips, hairdryer and feminine products.

    This basket is an ever changing kaleidoscope of goodies, depending on what I have to restock. It was amazing how many guests leave obviously unopened bathroom products. For example, they purchase a package of six soap bars and only use one during their three night stay-- they leave the five remaining, fully wrapped, soap bars by the sink. Bam! That soap will eventually find it's way into the basket. Also, this is where I keep the first aid kit.

    When thinking about additional expenses, not every group will make use of this basket. Some will just use the shampoo, while others will absolutely devastate the toiletries, like they just found the last cheap toothbrush on this Earth. I find it averages out. I also don't replenish the basket of goodies during the guest's stay. To me the small additional expense is worth it.

    Having a pantry and a few food items available to your guests when they arrive is huge. Especially having a few easy breakfast items on hand. I don't make breakfast for my guests-- I'm not there to cook. No. Instead I have some dry cereal and milk on hand and they can help themselves. We eat a lot of eggs and fruit so those are things we always have.

    I know some hosts have issues with guests freely helping themselves to their food items, this feels horrible. I'm a huge fan of labeling things. For example, choose one cupboard for your special items and label that as the host's, you can do the same in the fridge. Also include this in your house guidebook and tour when they first check-in.

    Honestly, we don't cook too much at home--mainly breakfast. We also primarily rent out our full space. So we try to use most our food items up in preparation for out guests arrival. It makes room in the fridge and it looks cleaner. When we return to our house, days later, we go food shopping. Easy as pie!

    Alam clocks are cheap and a one time purchase. Many people use their phones as bedside alarms now, although some people do not.

    Arriving in a new city can feel a little daunting. Having a map of your area is a great way to orient your guest! Recently, when we checked into a new space as guests, we were handed a printed out map (nothing fancy) and given a handwritten tour of the city. We were advised where the best restaurants and bars were, along where to buy special local goodies. It was great and memorable! I would have all this prepared, maybe create your own map and have a bunch printed out. Of course mark your own space on the map.

    Bottled drinking water is not always something you think about. We have hosted in an area where you shouldn't drink the water out of the facet. We regularly purchased large jugs of purified water, to have an additional jug on hand for a guest's arrival was not challenging. Having a water filter on the facet is great as well!

    I also suggest having a television in the common space. Even if you don't watch TV, other people do and virtually every hotel room has one-- I believe there's a reason for that! A good sized, flat-screen television can be purchased for reasonable cost. It will put you out a few hundred dollars initially, but you really need to think of the return. You would be able to bump up your nightly rate and make a higher profit in the long run. I'm certainly not saying run out and purchase a TV for every bedroom, that's great if you do, but having one in the common area is perfect.

    Lastly, I would have wifi available throughout the house. I feel this is a given for me personally, considering how much I use it around the house. If you don't currently have wifi, I would speak to your internet provider or purchase a router. It may not be possible for you, or you may not choose to offer internet. I would think about the bookings you would loose by not offering wifi, or at the very least internet.

    There's of course a whole world or additional amenities that you could offer your guests. These are just a few cheap goodies that I feel are game changers. Take what you can can from this and have lots of guests!

    Ashley Parent is an AirBnB host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com
  6. When a guest finally arrives on your doorstep, everyone is excited! First impressions are made in a split second. In most cases, this will be the first in-personal interaction you have with your guests, even if you have been emailing back and forth everyday for the last month-- the initial greeting can set the tone for the duration of the stay.

    When I first greet my guests I am sporting the biggest smile and I try to make them feel quickly comfortable. I usher them into the house and let them know they are very welcome in the space. Often people are just excited to set down their backpacks and take off their shoes. Offer your guests some refreshing water and a chance to use the restroom. Accomplishing these small tasks may help your guests feel refreshed and help them feel more focused during your tour.

    We have many guests that have traveled long distances, all they want to do is start enjoying their holiday. This is when it's very important to feel out the situation- as the host you usually need to impart certain important information, such as where the towels are, how to use the locks and where their room is, etc. Read your guests mood. Give a great tour of your home, but if they seem really haggard keep it short and sweet.

    You will find some guests are eager to pick your brain about your city. They ask for restaurant and entertainment suggestions. They really take advantage of your local knowledge, often in the end saving themselves time and stress trying to figure logistics on their own. I like sharing these goodies; I love my city and want to share that excitement with my guests. Also, this inside knowledge is of great value to your guests.

    I've had a couple of check-ins that went too well! One that specifically comes to mind, was a family I loved; we had a great time talking about our different cultures and homes: they were from India and I the US. We reached a certain point where I really needed to leave because we had reservations for a ferry. They knew everything they needed about the house, they had the house guide and keys-- so I sweetly excused myself and went on holiday myself! After they left we exchanged personal email addresses, I hope to reach out to them when I get to visiting India.

    Having a stand-alone house guide is one of my strongest tools. It contains all the information from the tour, but with photos to illustrate my points. I also add additional information about local points of interest and phone numbers for taxi companies. No matter how much information your guest retained from the house tour, they will most likely remember the guide, and refer back to it if they have a question during their stay. I also like to give them a quick walkthrough of the guide. I point out important sections, such as emergency contact numbers, how to use appliances and the wifi password.

    I think it's a great idea to practice your tour ahead of time! Go through all the motions: turn on the gas stove, open the drawer to show more trash bags, etc. This may seem silly, and stuff you do everyday, but-- especially when you first start-- giving a tour of your space is not normal. You may feel nervous or stressed out. Once you nail it on your own, give a friend or partner the same tour. They may have suggestions on how to impove.

    Also as you walk through your space, try to view it as a guest who has just arrived. This can be a bit of a challenge. Guests are unfamiliar with it's nooks and crannies, so they will see things differently. I suggest this because, you may notice something that you didn't before.

    To keep the tour interesting, ask your guests questions. I wouldn't ask anything too personal, but as about their stay. What do they have planned? Where will they travel next? Have they been to the area before? I feel these questions often come up natuaraly anyways, but it's always nice to keep a few good ones in your back pocket to ask when the conversation starts to lull. Also, it's a great way to get a feel for your guest. If you are staying in the house as well, you will get an idea if your guests will be coming back late at night, etc. This is a great opportunity to make suggestions. If they mention relaxing with a margarita, suggest a place you think serves a killer cocktail.

    We primarily rent out our whole space at a time, during that time my partner and I go on a mini-holiday. We make sure to have everything we need for that time packed and ready to go by the time our guests arrive. We tuck our bags in an out of the way place and grab them as we're waving and sending well wishes to our guests.

    Of course, if you are staying in your space and only renting out a room, you don't to worry about that. But you do still need to think about timing and be ready for when your guests arrive.

    You want to avoid making your guests feel rushed. You want them to feel welcomed and help integrate them to their new "home." I have had moments-- especially when the group arrived significally later than they said-- when all I wanted to do was toss our extra set of keys at them and run out the door. I exaggerate a bit with that senerio. ;-) I enjoy welcoming new people to our space.

    You also what to avoid dragging out the check-in process. If you notice your guests starting to get significantly bored and antsy, I would jump to the remaining important points in the tour and make sure they know there is additional information in the guide. My feeling is they are paying for the space for a specific duration-- they probably want to use it.

    As you part ways from your guests, they have the keys and guide in hand, make sure they know how to contact you in case of emergency. I ask guests to freely email me, but only call me for emergencies. This is something that is important to me. I always have my phone available, incase something happens, but I do not want to be woken in middle of the night because they are looking for the hairdyer. This in itself keeps me from feeling like a stress case. But feel this out for yourself and choose whatever feels right.

    The check-in is more than just handing over keys and the guide; your guests are finally putting a face to the emails. Be thoughtful and have fun with it, your guests will be sure to have an enjoyable time!

    Ashley Parent is an AirBnB host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com
    Elixirty likes this.
  7. I feel one of the strongest tools I have as a host is the house guidebook-- honestly I think it preserves my sanity. I have constructed my guide to be a stand-alone reference for the house and beyond the front door. I give my guests a thorough walkthrough of the house with ample time to ask questions, but often I feel much I share goes in one ear and out the other. I certainly can't blame my guests, many have traveled long distances-- they are probably just waiting for me to leave so they can use the bathroom and take a nap. I get that. I've also been there.

    During the walkthrough, I point this and that out-- such as where more towels can be found or how to use the stove. I give ample time for questions. Usually people first ask what the wifi password is. I find myself repeating "there's more information in the guide." I may sound like a broken record, but my intention is when they have a question during their stay they first think "there's more information in the guide," and look there.

    Topics to cover are:
    • Emergency contact information
    • Arrival information
    • Check in and check out times
    • House Rules
    • Wifi password
    • How to use the television/DVD player
    • What to do with trash and recycling
    • How to use the kitchen appliances
    • Where to find more towels
    • Where to find the first aid kit
    • Parking information
    • Information on local markets
    • Suggested taxi company
    • Suggested local restaurants and bars
    • Suggested restaurants that deliver
    • Great attractions
    • What to do at check-out

    Use simple, straight forward language. I received many bookings from international guests in one location, in which English was not their first language. Therefore I made sure everything was understandable with a rudimentary understanding of English. Also guests don't wish to read a novel to find out what to do with their smelly trash. They want a quick and succinct answer.

    Introduce yourself and the space at the beginning before you start taking about business. It doesn't need to be anything long or too detailed, but it's a great way to welcome your guest again and express how excited you are to host them. I also like to include a small personal snapshot to give a face to the voice.

    It's true that a picture is worth 1000 words! Include a color photo of the stove knobs, television remotes, and anything else to help illustrate your simply written directions. Photos can also help decrease the potential of miscommunication. Use a photo editing program such as Canva or Skitch to add arrows and words to the photos. The simpler the better. Photos also help to break up your guide, to make it more visually interesting.

    image.jpg

    The guide is also a great way to showcase you insider knowledge of the area. You are essentially the unofficial local ambassador! You can recommend fabulous restaurants, fun events and great local markets. People who are unfamiliar to your area will greatly appreciate any and all advise you give. They already trust you to a certain degree (otherwise they would not be staying in your space), so to share knowledge that would save them time doing research on Google is usually extremely appreciated. You can do so much with this, with very little effort on your part; a lot of this is information you already know. These inside tips are adding incredible value to your guests experience with very little cost to you!

    Email a digital copy to every guest a week before they arrive. Do this to give them a chance to look it over and ask any questions, also include your address and additional arrival details. I once lived in a gated community; each visitor would be stopped by the security guard at the gate and asked where they are going. This could be a little intimidating to a guest, so in the emailed guide I explained what to expect and advised how to respond to the guard. Easy-peasy!

    Then print the document in color and slip the pages into clear plastic sheets in a binder. The pages will wear well with use if they are protected with pastic, otherwise you will quickly find your guide looking wrinkled and grubby-- especially the wifi page!

    I use Pages to write my guidebooks. I'm a huge fan of the program! It has easy to use templates that create a great looking document. You are then able to easily share the document as a PDF. You could also use Word or Google Docs, whichever is most enjoyable to you!

    Be prepared to modify your beautiful guide to make it more beautiful and helpful! If guests keep asking for specific advise, add this information to the guide. It may feel like a hassle to update the document, but it will save you so much more time and stress in the future if you are forthcoming with the answers. "There's more information in the guide!"

    You could also include a local map that your guests can take with them while exploring the area. It's great to have already marked where you are located on the map. The map could be a high quality copy or a full color fold-out deal. I have been in some cities where I was able to take a handful from the local tourist information offic. Think about including menus from your favorite restaurants and flyers for fun tours.

    So far, so good! I've found guests to be really proactive, by looking in the guide first and then emailing me as a last resort. It's important to make it very clear that you are available if they have any questions or concerns. Although I've found, in general, if you are not there in person (renting out your whole place), they will only contact you if there's an emergency. That being said, some guests may feel if they can't find the hairdryer they are experiencing an emergency. ;-)

    Having a clear and well detailed guidebook is an invaluable tool that is often not used to its full potential. Don't make that mistake! Keep your sanity!

    What programs do you use?

    What fun local attractions do you suggest to your guests?

    Ashley Parent is an AirBnB host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com

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    Rosatti likes this.