This time of the month, is one of my favourites here in the Community Center as we get to have a Q&A with one of our community members and learn a little more about them. This month, we are hearing from a person who contributes a lot here in the CC and is known for starting great discussion points:
How long have you been hosting for and why did you first start?
This invitation to be featured in the Community Spotlight is timely, as it coincides nearly to the day with the one year anniversary of my receiving my first Airbnb guest. I'll never forget first posting my listing in April, 2017, and hearing the little 'ding' on my phone just a few hours later saying that I had an Instant Booking. Suddenly it hit me that I had absolutely NO Idea what I was doing! To be honest, I had no intention of becoming an Airbnb host - It was the furthest thing from my mind. I had never even been an Airbnb guest! The reasons that I first started to host could easily fill a small book, but in short, after moving to the South-Central Oregon Coast from California, one of my horses (Blue) foundered; he is the equine love of my life, but he happens to have a very serious metabolic disorder and his health is very tenuous and he requires special care at all times. I was living in temporary housing 45 minutes from the stable where he is boarded, and I decided to buy a home in Florence so that I could care for Blue and my other horse (Winchester) more easily. I soon fell in love with a 1/3rd-acre property on Heceta Beach. Because the recently renovated home on it used to be two houses, I decided to list the 2nd home on Airbnb in hopes of making a bit of money to help cover some of Blue's medical costs, as well as some of the mortgage payment, property taxes, etc.
Tell us a little about your listing
I realize the word 'enchanting' is somewhat overused in listing descriptions, but this Cottage property I am fortunate enough to be able to own and also share with others truly is just that. It is an 'H' shaped home built on a 1/3rd-acre' after-dune' 300 feet from a spectacular stretch of Heceta Beach in Florence, Oregon. The house is not ocean-front; it is set back a bit, and also sits up above street level, which makes it very quiet and private. It's a cedar-shingle Cottage-style home surrounded by dense foliage, flowering plants, berry bushes, and shore pines, which protects it from the heavier winds that rip through the Oregon Coast. We live in the South side of the house and the guests rent the North side. The guest space is over 1500 square feet and includes a 3rd-floor ocean view loft that allows for storm and whale watching, and our side is about 800 square feet, but the additional space provided by two decks (one covered) makes it feel nice and roomy. Guests have complete and total privacy (they have their own entrances, etc), but we are there for them as needed. We therefore consider ourselves to be traditional Airbnb hosts, in that we live on the property being rented, and we are sharing our personal home. We are one of only a few traditional-style Airbnb hosts left in our beach vacation rental area; most of the Airbnb listings in my neighborhood are now managed by local and regional property management firms and there is no actual host on site; however, fortunately for us, it seems that many Airbnb travelers - longtime users especially - enjoy having a caring, responsible host on the premises; this has likely contributed to our Cottage being 100% occupied since opening (except for days I have chosen to take off), mostly by Airbnb guests.
How long have you been part of the Community Center and why did you join?
I joined the Airbnb community in February 2017, I believe. I had started house-hunting in Florence and was considering this idea of doing an Airbnb to help with expenses. I decided to do some research online about the pros and cons of hosting and came across the Airbnb Community Center forums. I had many concerns about hosting, and wrote my own post asking for feedback from experienced hosts about the realities of hosting; specifically, was it as risky as some of the posts on the CC suggested. I received so many kind, supportive, and informative replies from very experienced hosts that encouraged me to go for it. I will always be grateful to the community for this, because our Airbnb has thus far been successful beyond my wildest dreams, which in turn allowed me to do what I needed to do to save my horse Blue this past 1 1/2 years (his founder was severe, as he foundered on all four feet, and he had other complications beyond that related to his worsening metabolism). Happily, as of two months ago, it appears that Blue may make a full recovery and I may even one day be able to ride him again!
What is your favourite thing about the CC and if you could make it better what one thing would you improve?
My favorite thing about the community is that I can go there night or day to receive information, suggestions, guidance, and support from highly experienced hosts. This was the main reason I was able to build a successful Airbnb very quickly. I made Super Host 30 days after opening, and this added to my confidence. Having a community to turn to in times of need is a wonderful thing, and I consider Airbnb Customer Support to be part of the Airbnb community, so I acknowledge them also for my success as well (I did have a few issues come up early on that required me to contact Customer Support, with good results). If I could improve one thing about the CC I would create and institute a formal Grievance process. I myself have set up and managed such processes when working as a Social Services Director in hospital settings and it is very effective. If a host or guest feels that they have not been treated 'fairly' by Airbnb corporate, they could not only share about this here in the community (as they do now); they could also fill out a Grievance form that would go to a Grievance department at Airbnb Corporate and the matter could be reviewed and looked into further, and an appropriate resolution could be made (e.g., a Grievance form might be filed when a 5 star Super Host receives a 1 star review that is obviously malicious and retaliatory in nature, damaging their overall rating and possibly their Super Host status, yet they are unable to get this review removed by Customer Support or Case Management).
Are you more of a book or film kind of person? (Perhaps both)
Growing up I was a book person - I always had my nose in a book. After Graduate school I could barely bring myself to open up a phone book, that's how burned out I was on processing written information. The past 15 years I have been on a Documentary kick, so that's my preferred film genre today.
Are you an animal person? Do you have any?
Obviously, I am an animal person, given it was my horse that inspired me to open an Airbnb. I would say that my day-to-day life is built around caring for my Airbnb guests; my animals; and my coaching and therapy clients (in person and nationally via Skype). And, I also coach and counsel (human) clients with the assistance of my horses, so I have been able to integrate these fundamental aspects of my life. I have two large dogs and two horses, and I also care for the wildlife that lives on my property (bunnies, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc). My Airbnb guests sometimes ask to meet my dogs and/or horses, and often tell me later that meeting the horses was the highlight of their entire vacation!
If you were given $1000 to spend on your listing what would you do and why?
I'd either do one big project and install hardwood floors in the downstairs Master Suite (there is carpet in there right now, but the kitchenette and bathroom are hardwood); or, I would do several smaller projects such as put in garden beds on the guest side (they have exclusive use of the North half of the property); plant more edibles for the guests to be able to easily access; add more patio furniture, a picnic table; a hammock, etc - All things I hope to do one day to further increase our guests' enjoyment of the property as time and money allow.
What one thing could you not live without?
I would not want to live without my animals. If I go even one day without seeing my horses I just don't feel right. Their deep, profound calmness and centeredness and the stillness and peace they radiate restores and replenishes me, even after the most difficult day. My dogs are also a source of constant amusement, joy, and delight. I do not have human children so my animals mean the world to me.
What do you love to do when you are not hosting?
I am a musician (classically trained singer) and poet and have started a 'Music / Poetry' night at my house. We meet once a month, read our own works or the works of others, compose songs, jam, etc.. We always open up with a bit of Karaoke just to get the night started off right (the Disco Light feature is the BOMB!) And, of course, spending time with my horses, riding on the beach, and playing with my dogs. I also enjoy hanging out with my Airbnb guests around one of the fire-pits, sharing food, wine, and stories.
Tell us one or more things that makes you laugh/smile/happy.
Honestly, these days I smile just seeing my horse Blue standing in a manner that indicates he is not experiencing any pain in his feet. The fact that he can walk smoothly, soundly, and easily (with special shoes and pads) is cause for great joy and happiness. I guess I am a person who feels happy when other beings I care about are happy. This includes my Airbnb guests. Which is why I go the extra mile to ensure their vacation stay is all they hoped it would be.
A huge thank you to you Rebecca for taking the time to share a little more about yourself. It brought me a lot of joy to read your responses here.
I hope you find this an interesting read, please ask any questions or share any nice comments you have, I am sure Rebecca would love to hear from you.
Take a look and share your tips on listing photography here!
Looking to contact the Support Team, for details...take a look at the Community Help Guides.
@Lizzie Thank you again for the invitation to be featured in the Community Spotlight. Unfortunately, the wrong photo was used for my listing. That is not my listing shown, above. Here are some photos of my actual listing. Also, perhaps it is because someone is posting on your behalf while you are out, Lizzie, but this 'spotlight' is not to be found anywhere on the Community Center's home page, as other Spotlights have been featured (center / top) - I found it only by doing a search. So I doubt many will see this, but it was still nice to be asked!
@Rebecca I don't think @Lizzie has yet used an actual photo of the space (host) being featured. Maybe we have some sort of claim to our photos that means ABB can't lift them from the platform? HA! I doubt it!
But, really, your photos are lovely enough on their own, yours isn't a place that needs store bought images (but neither did anyone elses...)
Anyway, so glad you've found a location and a lifestyle that has added benefit to both you and your guests. Now, if we could just get ABB to onboard some of your very reasonable ideas and suggestions then we'd really be getting somewhere.
Best to you and Blue!
@Kelly That's a good point you bring up about the photos - Would have liked to have known this first - All this time I was assuming I was looking at Robin's place, Lawrene's place, etc, etc. But, 'tis a small matter in the end. Glad you were able to find the Spotlight and thanks so much for your lovely comments - I will pass on your best wishes to Blue!
I was not dissatisfied with @Lizzie's photo choice but as you girls say, each is not an actually depiction of our listings....in my case there was an element of similarity there!
This was lizzie's effort...
And this was as close as I could actually get to it.....
It's outdoors, the chairs are red, they both feature a tree and a few flagstones.....so Lizzie and this property were on the same wavelength!
Very nice, @Rebecca! I found this because of your other post with the link, so thanks for that. I expect you will be moved front and centre in a day or so.
My Spotlight photo also was of another listing (in Florence, Italy), but it is not a matter of too many Florences, since a reverse image search of yours shows Lambertville, NJ. The mysteries of the CC.
Your music/poetry nights sound fun! Also the campfires.
Airbnbing: All Because of a Horse.
@Lawrene Thank you, Lawrene, you are a class act - as we all know. You can imagine, having recently been featured in the Community Spotlight yourself , that it is a bit confusing to find it was not posted where all the other ones have been featured (top center of the CC home page). It would be nice if it were moved there, but if not, c'est la vie. My greatest regret on the entire matter is that I will miss an opportunity to connect with wonderful hosts like you who might have commented on this monthly feature. And, of course, I was hoping to publicly express my gratitude to Airbnb for the opportunity to host, which helped me save my beloved horse, but perhaps it was not meant to be. Perhaps Lizzie will feature it when she returns from vacation!
First of all, thank you for the contribution you have made to this Community. I have only really been involved myself for a month or two but have learnt so much in such a short period in time due mainly to the experience of great hosts like yourself, Robin and others who provide so many suggestions and good,logical and sensible advice.
It is ironic that a "Spotlight" feature does not get the Spotlight it deserves and then displays the wrong photos. Maybe I should create an algorithym suggesting that someone needs to improve their performance !!
Your listing really shows what great photos can do for a property especially when tweeked with a little creativity. That in itself says something about the host. The idea of taking a bike ride to that single white chair in the middle of all that nature, away from the stress and pressures of the modern techy world looks so appealing ...now ...that me check my holiday schedule !!