It’s a few days before Christmas, and we’re preparing to say goodbye to yet another guest. He’s been staying with us for two weeks while he works in our small town, and he’s returning to his home in Seattle just in time for the holidays to start. We shared a bit of an adventure when the boiler stopped working on the coldest evening of the Canadian winter so far, and we all spent a chilly night with extra duvets and space heaters. Luckily, he had a sense of humor about it, and we all survived. When I get home from work tonight, his truck will be gone, and just like that, he will have passed from our lives.
For me, saying goodbye is always difficult; I tend to avoid farewells. It’s probably not the greatest trait in an Airbnb host. Since starting my hosting career, we’ve had over 300 guests stay in our flat - some for a night or two, some for weeks - so the goodbyes are both frequent and inevitable. I still don’t like them, despite all the practice. It doesn’t necessarily take a long stay for a guest to make a significant impression: you can connect to people in such a short time. Guests come and go, but we remember them. I should focus on the hellos instead of the goodbyes, and the meaningful connections that are made, however brief and fleeting they may be. As hosts, we have the honor of participating in major events in people’s lives – family vacations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, to name a few – and we have power to make the events even more memorable, and hopefully even more special. A bottle of wine, a word of congratulations, some flowers, a kind gesture, make people realize that we do mark their passage through our lives – that their presence means something to us and that they matter to us. They’re not just a reservation code: they briefly become part of our lives. We make a connection.
Tonight when I get home, a different car will be in the guest parking spot, and there will be someone new to say hello to. Again, we have the opportunity to participate in a major event in our guests’ lives: our new arrivals just had a baby yesterday, and because their house is under renovation, they need a place to stay. A fresh human in our Airbnb: not many life events are more important than that, the very beginning of what I hope is a long and happy story. Soon, they’ll be gone too, taking a little bit of the flat with them back home and leaving a little bit of themselves with us. Maybe when they’re back in their own home, they’ll remember spending Christmas 2018 in our Airbnb, something that’s brought up during the holidays with a smile and a “Remember when…?”. I hope so. I hope that we make the same kind of impression on our guests that they do on us: not always perfect, but mostly positive, and always memorable.
Hello and goodbye to all of my Airbnb guests of 2018: I remember you all, and I’m glad you came.
I could'nt agree with you more! I am a host, but had my FIRST TIME AS A GUEST this November.
I was so glad to have picked that one! I cannot forget that ever. I enjoyed everything. I will be doing some more soon. I have travelled a lot before - Family and Hotels - This kind created new families.
Very sweet, @Alexandra and well stated. I had a lovely experience with my last guests, two women in their 60's, who participated in the Ironman half marathon in my area. Now, I am the opposite of these ladies in terms of physical activity but I enjoyed participating on the fringe of their experience by getting up a 4 AM to make sure they had hot oatmeal for breakfast the day of the event.
Good byes include my "co-host", Cami my greyhound. She gets extra petting from some guests (one lady was a veteranarian) and likes to lean on the guest when they are trying to leave :D
@Linda That's extremely dedicated! The only way I'd be up at 4 am is if my bed was on fire - or my greyhound was barking at me, which does happen occasionally when he decides he needs a midnight snack. They are undoubtedly great PR agents!
@Alexandra Yes, I can see why goodbyes could be hard. I think you need to shift your thinking just a wee bit. For me, I am usually off mentally with me guests as they travel on to their next destination. It is actually joyful for me, as I know that I provided a wonderful respite, possibly made a new friend and I know they are off to another fun adventure. Of course, I also hope that they will stop back in, write, or stay here when they come back to the area.
What a lovely post! I totally understand your feelings. Yesterday I had a lovely young lady who had stayed with me for nearly three months leave. It did indeed feel like a loss. I think it felt that way for her too because she was almost too emotional to deal with it and so it was left to her father and brother who had come to help her move her stuff back home to thank me for being such a nice host.
I dont' mind that though becaue everytime I tried to say goodbye, I could tell she was about to break down in tears. It's very touching to know I had some small part in this young person's life and hopefully made their journey an enjoyabe one.
I do feel a little bit of a void now she is gone. I looked forward to our little chats when she got back from college and the way my cats would always take advanage of her!
@Huma that's really sweet. Amazing how little time it takes to get comfortable and attached.
We had a family stay with us during the summer who stayed a few weeks. We talked to them a lot, and babysat their dog. We helped them out when they had an emergency. When they left, they left me a really nice letter. I really missed them once they were gone: we had developed routine and a little community. I would have been okay with them staying indefinitely, and they're coming back next year.
Thank you @Alexandra for your lovely post.
As an on site host, it is rare to not like a guest; but there are a couple that I was very happy and heartily willing to wave on... with relief or sadness at how they behaved.
But your thread reminds me of an old saying, friends use to write in our childhood autograph books. (Those from an older generation, will remember having autograph books for old school friends, relatives to write in.... long before celebrity signatures.)
”To meet to know, and then to part....
is the lot of every human heart!”
And how lovely @Alexandra that on an early evening in Canada (7.14pm on Wednesday19th), you can respond and communicate with me in northern Australia whilst I have a cuppa at 9.48am on Thursday morning 20th Dec).
My how communication has changed...... spontaneous and immediate. 🙌🏼☕️
Once it was limited to those in the same room, a letter, a suburb or village. Now it is the global village!
The human element is the most important in hosting. The thrill of shaking the hand of an incoming guest and that big hug you get to give them when they depart....and all the bulls*it yarns you get to spin them along the way! Just as with you Alex, goodbyes are hard, but every guest leaves something of themselves here, just as I hope they take a little piece of us with them.
Thanks for that lovely few minutes you just gave us with your Day 19, and have a marvelous Christmas......I would still love the experience of a 'white Christmas' but at 74 I have probably left my run a bit late!
All the best to you and David ........and hounds.
One of our guests from this past summer just sent me a picture of her adorable daughter and their new puppy. She said they were inspired to get a dog after staying with us! (We have six.)