...Without important amenities, I should say, because we have the sheets and pillows, the towels, soap (three kinds!), and the toilet paper. The essentials are covered!
What we don’t have is a much longer list, and it begins with wifi. No wifi! For some, depending on their provider, no cell service and no data. Also no electricity, no plumbing, no vehicle access, no transit, no touristy things to do.
What we are is a treehouse on a river in the woods. Two hundred metres away there is an outhouse, where sawdust is as important an essential as toilet paper. Dreamy, huh?
Okay, maybe in the right light. :)
When we started hosting, I was as surprised as you that we got good reviews, that we got guests at all to give those reviews – but we got them in droves.
So it is my job, in this Festival of Hospitality, to tell you what hospitality looks like without amenities.
It starts with accuracy…
“Tiny, cozy, rustic treehouse at the end of a rugged one-kilometre footpath: sleeping platform and woodstove inside; porch and hammock outside. Campfire pit with tripod grill on the riverbank. Appeals to leave-no-trace hikers/canoeists who look for time off the grid, who understand how to function sustainably and respectfully there, and enjoy being self-sufficient.”
That’s the summary, and you’ve noticed that it includes as much about what we expect as about what we offer. That’s on purpose. I added that once we started to get mainstream attention and, with it, mainstream assumptions. I highly recommend something like this on every listing, though: a sort of “here is what we are, and here is what you might want to be”.
It is working pretty well.
“This place is getting a lot of attention” says the sidebar on our listing. “It’s been viewed 500+ times in the past week.”
Did we get 500 bookings in the past week? More like 3. This is partly because we book up a month or two in advance, and mostly because 497 savvy viewers decided to book a place with running water!
Accuracy is its own filter...
Guests know what they are getting: privacy, quiet, wildlife, a campfire, starry skies, fairytale woods.
That tends to get emphasised in the reviews. But it is what they are not getting that gets emphasised by me.
Specifically, I assume the worst with instant book guests, that they haven’t read everything, and so ask them (nicely: “when you get a chance”) to open the “Read more about the space” and “Read all rules” dropdowns, as well as “Read more about the neighbourhood”.
You have heard this before but, really, undersell, over-deliver...
I’m like most hosts here, underselling and over-delivering.
No worries. I’m not spoiling our guests so that they will demand over-the-top treats when they turn up at your place. Over-delivering here means (surprise!) there are two reusable water bottles filled on the shelf. And a topped-up pail of sawdust. But, shhh, don’t tell ’em...
Thanks, Lizzie, for the opportunity to contribute. Looking forward to the rest of this series!
I’m so excited to read your story.
In my listing garden, banana trees and some fruit trees growing , butterflies, bees, and doves always come to play.
I want you to come to my tiny house with fruits garden someday. I want to go to your tree house too.
Thank you for sharing!
Rie from Okinawa Japan
Thank you for the inspiration!
I just removed cooking oil, salt and pepper from my amenities list.
If I have by any chance some oil left that I am willing to share, they can use it.
Guests love the extras when not expected rather then taking everything for granted.
My place is very affordable so I want to eliminate some more amenities from my listing.
It is a strategy, @Kira32 . I got a note the other day from the system saying, "Does your place have dishes and silverware? Some of your guests have indicated that your place has this amenity. If it does, we’ll automatically add it to your listing's amenities. Yes or No."
I'm ignoring it. I do have plates, mugs and utensils, but nothing to write home (or a review) about. They are all hard camping plastic or tin as the better stuff got broken right off the bat or dropped into the fire or "accidentally packed". I do list the treehouse inventory, including the plates and utensils, in the photo captions, but I don't want to make "dishes and silverware" a ticked amenity. I really would rather campers bring their own. Wouldn't we all, I guess.
Good luck with the amenity elimination. You will probably get the same sort of note when your guests delightedly tick that they did get oil and salt, but I'm with you if you stand firm :)
@Lawrene0 I still have silverware in the amenities list but removed pots and pans as it comes with the oil, salt and pepper.
On my listing is mentioned that guests can prepare "light" meals (salad, sandwich etc..). Don't have a microwave and if they want tea they can use the little saucepan.
We live in a typical Canarian style apartment so the simple kitchen has its charm.
@Lawrene0 Amazing and unique experience! But I am curious about no basic amenities are provided.
According to Airbnb rules, basic amenities such as toilet papers, shampoo, and soap must be provided for any accommodations. Your tree house is more like an adventure experience than an accommodation.
Thanks, @Susan151 .
No worries, @Alice595 , I am working as hard as the rest of you laundering sheets and towels and topping up the three kinds of soap. Believe it or not, even the one-nighters get a new roll of toilet paper. We use the leftover rolls ourselves in the farmhouse.
It is wifi, electricity and plumbing my guests are not getting. Hooks but no hangers, campfire but no stove, that sort of thing. I would counter that we are an accommodation. Not everyone's cup of tea, but an accommodation nonetheless. :)
Such a lovely post @Lawrene0. It makes me want to visit even more...although I think you would find it hard getting me out of a kayak! :)
What I like about your topic here is that less is definitely more for your listing, it takes you back to the peace and quiet of your surrounding and though your detailed listing description you attract guests who absolutely love this (like me! hehe).
Thank you so much again for taking the time to write this topic.
@Lawrene0 Thank you for highlighting such important aspects of successful hosting:
1- Writing the listing to attract guests that are a good fit
2- Delivering what you promise.
My place is in a popular seaside area where there are a lot of other choices. I chose my primary demographic and give them exactly what they want (with some simple unmentioned surprises), and it works. I’m not looking for guests seeking a cheap place to flop for the night or a beach house to party for a week. I’m offering an experience and that’s what my guests love.
Bravo to you for doing that so honestly and creatively with such integrity 💖
This is perfect in the world of 'less is more'...Most of my guests do not hang out, they LOVE exploring our area and for this I am incredibly grateful because I know they will be supporting other local businesses, while likely promoting this area with LOTS of 'come and join us' to their friends and family for future visits. In my tiny, very rural are of northern Michigan THIS is what appeals to most of my guests...This AND VERY REASONABLE room rates! I want to attract folks who also come from 'living on the dime' lifestyles and their gratitude for other who live in kind, are quite life affirming! Thank you for writing of your own experiences...
Loved your post! Totally agree with accuracy! Thinking of offering my “bedroom in a garden” where guests would have to walk back to the main house to use the bathroom, about 15 meters. What is your nightly fee?