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.
Rebecca, you are a stellar person and Airbnb host. I am so glad Lizzie invited you to share a bit more of your life with the rest of the community.
Although you are only a 'newcomer' you have grown so much in knowledge in such a short time and the community is so much the better for you being here.
The Airbnb ocean can be something of a choppy sea, but you are a lighthouse that shows those who come here where that safe hosting harbour is.
Good on you mate!
@Robin - Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this Spotlight, and for your kind and encouraging words. I also find you to be a beacon of sincerity, wisdom, and *genuine* clarity. here on the community forums. You are admired by many in the community here, and for good reason: Much of what I know now I learned from you, and other wonderful hosts (Matthew, Branka & Silva, Sarah, Fred - the list goes on and on). My best to you, Robin!
@Mike- Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my non-spotlighted 'Spotlight'. I had to practically be a detective to find my own Spotlight (finally found it after during a dedicated search). A mod here told me today that Spotlights are not displayed unless they receive three thumbs up. (?) Supposedly mine is now being displayed in the usual place on the CC home page but I still see the Japanese Couple where the Community Spotlight historically has always been. Airbnb is always full of suprises and often moves in mysterious ways, that's for sure! Being flexible like a bamboo reed in a strong current is what allows me to survive and thrive amidst all of the sturm und drang going on these days around here. But I digress...
That is an old, antique bike - If anyone sat on it, it would likely crumble, but it is quite charming to look at (and not touch!) from afar. You are always welcome to visit - We even have many sunny, warm days here, something I did not at all expect when moving to the Oregon Coast. So, use one of those AIrbnb travel coupons and come on over - The fire-pit and some good stories, songs await (and 'spirits', of course)!
@Rebecca Superhost in 30 days that’s impressive! (An ABB record perhaps?) you have a wonderful property and your success is an inspiration. I have appreciated your guidance, kindness and sense of humour:) best wishes for continued success Steve
@Rebecca What a lovely story! I cried when you first talked about why you got into Airbnb from the foundering Blue. It seemed that it would have an unhappy end, but no!I am so very relieved!
Your place is abosultely lovely and I can understand why you are booked 100% of the time. Your place looks like how it would feel to step into an enchanted story book. Your guests must surely feel transported to another place and time and leave feeling rested and energized for whatever is to come.
Thank you for sharing and also for sharing so much on the Community Forums. Your insight and advice are inspiring and educational.
And thank you, @Lizzie for featuring @Rebecca !
@Rebecca Indeed, I still wake up most mornings wondering how Blue is, but for a couple of months now he has been consistently up, active, sound, and happy. It will take me awhile to trust he is really and truly out of the woods. I am so glad I ran into you here on these forums. I am always appreciative of your posts and comments, and I do hope that we might perhaps meet one day. I really cannot travel, but would love to have you visit me here on the beautiful, wild, and rugged Oregon Coast. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment - Much appreciated!
Well @Rebecca, do not feel despondent, for may I say when I opened up CC in Darwin NT Australia this sunny morning, your spotlight as featured host, has been spotlighted.... and was front and centre. Although not an image of your Airbnb space, I couldn’t resist and checked it out. As a superhost myself, I know I’ve learnt many tips from other hosts across a number of forums. Your gut feeling for a lifestyle change, what I might call a “sea change” really sounds literal in your case. :)
I totally agree with your idea of a formal grievance platform. Any corporation or business/volunteer structure worth it’s salt, allows this process in their operational procedures. It’s a fair, transparent and more extensive method of dealing with issues, that are obviously not being adequately covered under the present system.
Sure it will cost more to implement it for Airbnb, but marketing is not just about the $, but about the Human Resources and assets within it. Not just about the lovely staff who work for them, but their “on site” contractors, such as the hosts. The guests I would see as the next layer, of this symbiotic structure. They also need a process if dealing with a less then caring host. So the initial money cost for staff and time to implement and maintain a grievance platform, would seriously be outweighed by good will, loyalty and an improvement in Airbnb’s reputation.
The example used by Rebecca is an accurate one, as is the non reviewing guests who might leave a gift because they were so happy...... but no review!
Disgruntled and unmotivated superhosts or those striving for best customer/guest service are more likely to stay on board the Airbnb platform, and continue to offer individualised care and service.
From experiences, this is something that can be lacking in the newer layer of “managed-rental” properties from professional estate agents. It’s a business only, with no cultural exchange. My service is very different, and really, it is what Airbnb was built on and what made it the success it is.
Eroding the personal approach and caring formula, will erode and change the corporation’s mission forever. It will remove the extra care factor from the hosts over time, as they are not heard or status penalised by the generic system.
Thanks Rebecca; I think you’ve won the lottery with your lifestyle.. and so pleased Blue is improving....
Thank you so much, @Catherine - I am glad you see the possible benefits of some sort of *true* resolution process being implemented, which might include a Grievance process. I am glad the Spotlight shows in Australia; based on feedback I have received, it is not showing in the United States or Germany and many other locations for some reason - the Japanese Couple post is where the Spotlight usually is, even now as I write this. Strange, as I myself have always been able to see the Spotlight in it's usual place here in the U.S., and quite enjoyed learning more about my fellow hosts. In the end, it is inconsequential, beyond my confusion regarding why it still does not show for many of us, and why it was posted in such a manner originally that no one could find it unless they did a search on 'Community Spotlight' or via a link I provided. Oh well, just another mystery that needn't be solved. Perhaps Lizzie will clarify things once she is back from vacation. Although it will be June by then, and time for the next Spotlight!
@Rebecca A Superb spotlight from a Superhost is always a pleasure to read! It is so nice to hear how hosting on Airbnb is helping you to cover the medical expenses of Blue. I wish him good health.Happy hosting!!!
Hello @J Renato Thank you so much for taking a moment to comment on my story. Mark Twain once said, "The greatest person I ever knew was a dog." I am so fortunate to have horses and dogs and now....an 8 week old barn kitten!