Can an introvert with anxiety - and one who gets annoyed by people pretty easily - really be successful in the hospitality business? I set out in May of 2018 to find the answer.
My long-term roommate had just moved out and I didn’t want another one. My former roommate was a dream and I knew it was unlikely I’d get that lucky again. At this point I didn’t need extra money to pay my bills, but it sure was nice to have a cushion for expenses. Airbnb seemed like the perfect solution. I only had to “put up” with guests for a few days at a time and no commitment! If I didn’t like it, I’d just de-list my space.
I was a nervous wreck awaiting the arrival of my first guests. Is my house going to be good enough? Will they like me? Are they going to steal my stuff? Should I lock my door at night? Did I clean well enough? Are they going to break things or stain my sheets? Is it going to be weird bumping into each other in the living room? Did I set my price too high or too low? All these thoughts are running through my head simultaneously and my anxiety is kicking into overdrive.
And then they arrived.
A 50-something couple in town for a wedding. All my preconceived notions went out the window and at once I was strangely relaxed. And strangely enjoying every second of playing “host” to these guests. Then the bookings started pouring in and I started to learn from each guest.
I learned…it’s okay when things don’t go according to plan. If a towel gets stained, it’s an accident and not a personal vendetta against you or a complete lack of respect for your things. It’s not weird bumping into guests in the living room. People don’t care that my home is a humble 1400 square feet and that most of my furnishings are second-hand and imperfect. It’s okay to set boundaries. Sometimes you need to say no.
I learned it fills my heart with joy to know people are enjoying my home. And, I’ve learned that no matter what negativity comes my way, I am GOOD at something. I say this not to brag or boast. I say this because sometimes we all need a little reminder that we are good at something and that we are making people happy.
Anytime I’ve had a rough day, or that anxiety kicks in making me wonder if I’m doing this right, all it takes is a flip through my Guest Book to turn things around. It’s a little time capsule of the ghosts of Airbnb past. It always lifts my spirits and serves as a reminder that people love my hospitality and they love my home.
“Suzanne was without a doubt the best Airbnb host I’ve ever stayed with.”
“She was so welcoming. We loved being around her, Pecos, & August.”
“Suzanne, your home is beautiful and inviting and your hospitality is second to none!”
“Suzanne’s attention to detail and sincere kindness make this such a wonderful place to stay.”
“Suzanne provided everything and anything we could have possibly needed.”
“This was our first Airbnb stay and Suzanne helped create a great, positive first experience!”
“You are acing this whole Airbnb thing!”
“You can tell that Suzanne has such a big heart that wants you to feel like the whole family is included.”
At the end of the day, that’s my goal. If I can make just one person happy, I’ve made the world a little better, a little kinder, and hopefully that person will turn around and do the same for another.
Here’s what I’d love to see in your comments…
Post the review (or reviews) that made you smile the most. What are your reminders that YOU are GOOD at this?
SIDE NOTE: The pic is of my sweet pups August and Pecos who began this journey with me and were loved by guests and frequently mentioned in the Guest Book. Pecos passed away unexpectedly in September of 2018, and I lost my August to bone cancer in March of this year. I have a new pup, Griffin, who has eagerly stepped up to become my new co-host!
See, all you need to do is believe in yourself Suzanne! Although gone, the look on August and Pecos faces tells me more about you than any of your reviews, you are unconditionally loved! The past is a memory, possum, the future is a guess, just keep on making the most of who you are, and what you do.
I salute you!
Thank you @Suzanne302 for your lovely post..... and your dogs are gorgeous. I also enjoyed your turn of phrase and words, with this holiday season.
Although I agree with @Robin4 ‘s philosophy, even though we get tired and enjoy hosting, it’s still nice to also gain some kudos for our efforts. Just remember that just because you may feel anxious at times, or are an introvert, it never makes you less capable or less likeable. In fact, it can make you more empathetic in many ways, which is a wonderful quality to have, especially as a host....
Note: this isn’t a review, but fingers crossed they do review within the fourteen days. A family who relocated to my city this week, wrote this today after checkout. This lovely lady really opened her heart and showed her vulnerability through these words:
“Hi Cathie , thank you very much for letting us staying at your place and all the help, tips and information; it makes our life easier in Darwin.
We feel very fortunate to find you on Airbnb.
I’ve visited Darwin before for 5 days, it wasn’t the best experience for me, people are really nice here but we stayed in a hotel in the city, the whole time I was here I just felt hot, humid and stressed. I felt very unsure if we’ve made the right decision moving to Darwin.
However, I have a really different feeling and experience about Darwin this time, so much more relaxing and the weather is not so unbearable anymore and kids settling well, I really think it’s you and your place helped us settle, we all LOVE your place! Thank you so much.
I have to go to office and start to work tomorrow so we are trying to get everything sorted today, Otherwise we would love to stay for another day, thank you for your offer and being so thoughtful!”
I was actually at work when this side of the message came through to me... and I felt quite overwhelmed. I took the time to savour her lovely words, and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back, for lightening this lovely ladies load. So yes, we can make a difference to our guests in so many different ways. Just sometimes, we are lucky enough to be told........ 🌹
LOVE that! If she took the time to write that lovely note, I'm sure she'll take time to write you a review!
We really do need to take the time to tell someone when we appreciate them. You never know how much they might need to hear it.
I echo all your thoughts @Suzanne302 , I could have written something very similar (except my beloved 11 year old border collie co-host is still very much alive, dreading the day of his passing.) - From a quiet, shy, withdrawn & socially isolated extrovert with anxiety. :)
What a beautiful post @Suzanne302 !!
Clearly you have found what you're good at and enjoy from the comments and reviews, so good to read :)
I love all my reviews, the things I treasure are the little cards or postcards, or notes- some written on the back of used travel documents or slips of paper that say a really personal 'thanks'
@Suzanne302- I have greatly suffered from introverted tendencies all my life, but from working in a professional environment for years, I found out I was good at customer service. It allowed me to hide behind the cloak of professionalism. I had never hosted before until last November and like you, I was very nervous about it. Since that time, I have relaxed into my role and it comes pretty easy for me. So very glad you found your calling as well. I loved reading your story and am so very sorry that you lost your beloved dogs. Hopefully, your new pup will continue their legacy. Thank you for sharing - it was a beautiful read!
@Suzanne302- I found out I was good at customer service. It allowed me to hide behind the cloak of professionalism.
Hosting can be this, or you can imagine that you are playing a part. The part of helpful host which allows you to keep some parts of your life and personality to yourself.
@Suzanne302 Thank you so much for sharing. I would not have "pegged" you as an introvert based on your posts here. Clearly you are expanding your natural self with this hosting thing. [And, I am so onboard with not having a full time roommate!]
Thank you for sharing your post :) I love the picture of your two fur babies. I am incredibly sorry they are no longer with you! A dogs love is definitely a blessing :-)
@Suzanne302 your post made me feel good as I still feel new to hosting after only a few years and surely love it. I had never thought about sharing my favorite review, but for some reason when you mentioned that I thought about a review from a family that visited.
My guests were a family that have 2 young children that were were so sweet and full of smiles when they arrived and asked about the stars. (we live in a very dark sky area) I being a amateur Astronomer thought about it and took some time to set up the Telescope and showed them some planets, distant stars and Nebula's and explained how far the stars were from us. They thanked me and I had a smile when I went to bed that night. The very next day after their checkout I got the notification that they had written their review already. This is their review. and even with the mid-paragraph name miss spell (haha) this review still has me proud.