Many of you welcome guests from all over the world. Every day you greet them in your home, spend time with them and even share helpful and good tips about your region or area. Several of you mentioned, in a recent discussion we had on hosting a private room, about keeping your privacy and so based on this, I thought it would be great to discuss this a little more.
How do you keep the balance between the host and your private life? Do you perhaps remove some of your personal belongings from certain areas or do you inform your guests when you have friends over? Or do you perhaps block certain days in your calendar to rest from hosting?
It would be great to hear what you do.
Great post idea!
Our listing is a private self contained space beneath our house, so we are in close proximity to guests coming and going. While this is great from a security perspective, it is a new experience in terms of privacy and my wife and I are still adjusting.
We exceeded 98% occupancy in January, our first month of hosting, which made us realise very quickly that we don’t want people staying back to back. We turned on the feature that gives 1 preparation day either side and that has introduced a welcome break between guests.
We plan to continue with these breaks for our sanity. Especially since we are adding a forest hot tub to the listing, and would like a few nights where we can use it ourselves!
Congrats on your occupancy rate for January @Ben551, it's nice to see your home is popular, but I agree it must be pretty tiring and it's important that you make time to have a breather.
As your guests are in a self contained space, do you feel that you retain a lot of your privacy? Are there things you have adjusted during your time as a host to make this work better for you?
Hi @Lizzie - thanks very much, yeah it's been more successful than we could have predicted. The last 2 days in January sold, so we hit 100% occupancy in the end. It has been tiring and we're now thankful for gaps between guests.
Yeah our guest cottage is self contained, which is a blessing. We can't see or hear them when they stay, unless they shout at the top of their lungs to penetrate the walls (so far no issue). I can't think of anything specifically we've changed... I try not to stomp around over the small section of our floor that overlaps with a small part of their roof... but that's about it.
Great to hear you have a successful listing @Ben551
i am sure you have thought of this already, but if you are achieving this so easily, it could indicate your pricing model is too low.
Have you looked at increasing your prices, far better to book for few days at a higher price than be booked most days for a lower price.
You’re spot on @Helen yes, our prices for our first 3 months were quite low.
My wife and I have since enlisted the help of a third party pricing tool (Wheelhouse) and it has really helped us see where we can start lifting our price. It’s been good to get lots of bookings and reviews quickly, but the pricing engine went “woah bargain!” when we loaded our info... quite clearly we didn’t know what we were doing lol.
We were celebrating last night because those remaining 2 days in January were finally booked at a great price of $191 - our first ever grown up rates! We laughed so hard at the AirBnb price tip of $102... not that we’d been following those, but our old prices for those 2 days were $146.
@Lizzie Our home is 3 storeys - it's actually just a typical London Edwardian house with a loft conversion. We rent out the loft conversion which gives the guests a good sized bedroom, a shower room and a small sitting room/study. I provide a continental style breakfast for the guests which I serve in our kitchen diner/ family room on the ground floor which leads out on to a decking area in the back garden. They can eat breakfast out there in the summer if they want but at the moment it has some snow on it so not such a good idea.
Like @Ben551 when I started out 4 years ago, I had a very high occupancy rate but realised that it was not what I wanted or needed. I stuck with it to get the reviews and become a SH (been one since July 2015) but once the first year was over, I stopped one night bookings, and started being much more careful to make my calendar work to suit me. I make sure that I never have same day change overs by blocking the days before and after a booking - I do that manually rather than trust the system. If I feel like blocking out a whole week I do just that and relax.
I have never really had serious issues about privacy - the guests know what is on offer (if they have read the description!) and I explain yet again when they arrive that they are welcome to pop into the kitchen to make themselves a tea or a coffee and get their cold snacks out of the fridge, but that cooking is not allowed at all. We often have friends over on a Saturday or Sunday evening for supper and to play cards but I let the guests know that that is happening and now and then we have welcomed them to join us for a beer and a few have played some cards as well. It's very much just an issue of common sense and sussing out what sort of person the guest is - some are great to socialise with and some prefer to keep themselves to themselves.
This is a good post Lizzie, I shall wait and see what other responses you get!
Thanks @Rachel, this is so interesting to hear. It's fantastic that you have worked out a good balance for yourself and basically prevented host burnout, which is super important.
It's nice to hear that you sometimes share your evenings with your guests. But, I agree with you communication is key and I think that generally this translate in many different things in life.
Do you find that people enjoy/take it in more, hearing your description when they arrive?
@Lizzie Yes, I always find that it is best to leave all the details about where things are and how things work until the guest is actually here, like @Robin4 does. I am fortunate that I am here to welcome them, give them a key and, thanks to the excellent advice I got from Jessica and Henry, remind guests from Korea and the Far East that the shower door has to be shut when they are in it and that wet towels do not live on the bed or the floor!
However, before they arrive I do give them detailed instructions to get to our home. I get a lot of people who have either just arrived at Heathrow or are leaving Britain after having been touring. Many of the new arrivals have never been to London before and need to be told about how and where to get an Oyster card, what it does, how much it costs etc, and have the travel zones and how to top up the card credit level explained. I always give them a pocket sized tube map as well and make sure I have a couple of spare Oyster cards for emergencies. Our public transport system is 2nd to none, but can appear rather mind blowing to someone who has no experience of it!
Yeah those pocket books are fantastic, I go for the next size up rather than the credit card size (still fits in your pocket) and have got them for almost all the cities we have been to Rachel. They are fantastic the amount of infomation that is crammed into them and an absolute must, even for seasoned travellers.....
I keep Opal cards here, which are our equivelant of your Oyster card and they are great for seniors because all public transport is free over 65 with an Australian seniors Opal card, and the student one is really cheap as well...good things to have on hand.
@Lizzie, it took me some time to learn how to strike this balance, but I think I've got it worked out now.
Initially, I allowed access to all spaces in the house, but soon realised that this left nowhere for me to hang out if I didn't feel like interacting with my guests (especially in summer when I have a nearly 100% booking rate). So I have now stated that the lounge is not accessible to guests 'unless specifically invited'. I like to have this area to myself as it's also where my home office is (I work from home). And as I've said before, there is nothing more awkward than watching TV with strangers!
I have also changed the rules around kitchen use - initially, guests were allowed to use the stove and oven but this meant that I attracted mostly guests from a nearby region who would spend hours cooking rather than going out to eat, meaning that I often couldn't get into my own kitchen to make dinner. This was a major cause of resentment and frustration for me. It also meant that they would spend the evening eating (often rather loudly) in my dining area which is open to the lounge, meaning that again I had little privacy. Since I have stopped the use of the stove and oven, I mainly get guests who will eat out and when they come home, they mostly go and hang out in their room rather than the common areas.
I ocassionally block off my calendar if I am going to have a few friends over or friends staying. However, I often have people for dinner or cards or just popping in, so I will try to let my guests know if this is going to happen if I know about it (which I don't always!). I had a lovely guest recently who said after the 3rd person dropped in, "I love how communal this house is"!
Finally, I have installed a lock on my bedroom door that can be locked from both the inside and outside so that I can lock up my room if I'm going to be away (just in case anyone decides they want to poke around in my underwear drawer!).
There are some great tips here @Kath9. :)
I wonder, when you shared all your space with your guests did you keep your home the same way as before you started hosting, ie. did you keep all your personal belongings there or did you move some of these?