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.
Ha! This is a good question as we are trying to figure out this delicate balance now. We have a detached guesthouse, so not much of a problem until it comes to our pool area. Our house is essentially a wall of glass overlooking the pool. So have had guests come out to enjoy it, while we are literally in a fishbowl. So, currently getting bids on the cost of plantation shutters or blinds for our rooms that overlook pool.... so we can strike a better balance :)
When I decided to take part in this adventure the rules I set out were few and very clear. Only some rooms and two bathrooms were available to the guests. Nothing more. That means that all the other areas of my house were off limits.
I did a lot of work on my ad, I wanted it to be “neutral”, but not cold. The rules of my house must be clear. I was not a hotel. I was not a “B & B”. I couldn’t fix breakfast for the guests. I was only a private person who rented some rooms of his house.
I tried to recreate a sense of home. My home is your home somewhere else. I want you to just make yourself right at home.
I had a tough time for those first few months. It was strange and nice to have someone around my house pay me attention, askìng me stuff, I must say. When the guests got home, my dad and I were in the living room with the closed door, we looked at each other and whispered: "They came home, did you heard that?", like old gossipy couples who organise their lives around other’s people lives.
No matter what we were doing, we knew that someone could knock at our door and ask us “What places could one see here?” or “Is there a place where you can taste the typical Milanese cuisine?”, while there was a detailed “House manual” that contained tourist information about Milan, public transport in Milan, nice to know in the district (restaurants, bars, EatItaly, Italian buffet, brunch etc.).
Would I be able to live like this? And for how long? Noboby thought I could pull this off when I started.
Many guests, however, could be so sweet, but there were some guests who were not discreet at all, they were rude and very good liars, but I was okay with that.
Of course, I got a whack of things about those guests that bugged me, bad manners, insensitivity, but I justified them either because they left my father five-star reviews (soon 5 stars became a drug) or because, after all, I was paid to host guests and the money at the end of each month cleared the all time game memory.
Then slowly I gained familiarity and I learned that being prepared for the unexpected also means doing everything we can avoid it. Now I knew how to anticipate the needs of the guests, their questions, their doubts. I learned to be comfortable even though the guests had a copy of my house keys.
Your perfect home, you know, is like your life, and you don’t want your life ruined. But above all you are getting good at this and you’re worried that negative reviews can influence the amount of bookings.
Being a host is an important "job". It takes commitment, time, but above all a lot of patience. I had a bunch of crazy experiences where I suspended my disbelief like I was in front of a film by Buñuel or Fellini and everything became plausible.
My house was swarming with people with phosphorescent suitcases, white jackets and purple loafers and no socks, elderly Brits in the morning asked me if they could play golf indoors, wealthy Japs, with parasols, in various states of delirium, asked me where were the waiters, Indian women came in the shower, forgetting the bathrobe in their room, then came out of the bathroom completely naked and ran off to their rooms with the hands on their private parts, shouting weird words in Hindi, postal retirees asked me, with lazy candor, if by chance there were gays in my house because they absolutely hated them, overweight Eastern European ladies in pink Lycra sweatpans that I really wanted to take them aside and tell them very gently not to wear something like that again, asked me if they could have sausages and Swiss cheese for breakfast I pretty much screwed them all up together with those hysterical ladies who scolded me because they did not find flowers and choccolate in their bedrooms as did the previous host in Florence (bloody host in Florence).
Is that enough? In those moments it’s never enough, because sometimes, I do not know why, some details played on my sympathies, other times I felt like if I was in a recreation room of a mental health center.
Suddenly I found myself thinking about ethnic groups and first I was shocked and then a little horrified, because I've never been that kind of person, I was starting to think like a racist and I started feeling repulsed with myself and I really started to think how dangerous it all was.
I’ve tried to do well in all situations, regardless of who’s in front of me. With some guest there was an emotional exchange, with other guests radio silence. I kept in touch with some guests afterwards, with one of them I became more than a friend (social connections sometimes turn into a stronger connection), with four guests I traveled many miles, we spent some time together to tell us who we were and what we wanted out of life.
Sharing a house with a dozen of perfect strangers for many days a year may sometimes cause discomfort, but hosting has repaid me of the small inconveniences. I think I was lucky ten years ago to meet AIRBNB. I was lucky for one of those fortunate cases in life and it was the experience that showed me that the choice was good. A choice that has also given me some pride, because in these years almost five hundred people made it to my house finding a comfortable bed and, if not a friend, at least a smiling face and a cup of tea. No place can be said confortable without a good teapot.
Great story. I am still fairly new as a host, going about 3 months now and only the last one and a half have been full bore with lots of bookings. Still figuring out the balance and wondering if it will be wearying after a year of this and maybe I will go back to a sublet. Your lengthy post provides a lot of good perspective. I have also had some warm connections with some guests and some have even given me gifts when they leave. From a few gourmet cookies, to a silk decorative fan, to a brand new hot air popcorn popper. Wow.
LOL - lordy - sounds eventful - full time JOb (somebody better be paying me)! Is all this worth it in the end? Why not just rent the space out to tenants?
Seeking TIPS on things to expect and what not to do! Or great things to do to make things go smoother (Thanks in advance)
Hi - I am Lorna,and I am New to AirBnB. Here checking out some interesting shares - I'm new and reading a few experienced host problems and solutions -you see, you seem to to have it under control. Thanks for tall the tips. If you know anyone travelling abroad to Disney Orlando please refer my spot - - - - - I would truly appreciate referrals... do they have referal fees or ways I can pay you withing AirBnb to refer disney area guest etc to a particular host? Thanks for the tips
Seeking TIPS on things to expect and what not to do! Or great things to do to make things go smoother (Thanks in advance) Orlando is a Great vacation spot #Orlando #Disney - when you visit - come stay here! Would love to host you! (happy bookings) ...
@Lizzie " I was giving my guests to much privacy"
My airbnb cottage listing is next to our home, so when we first started to receive guests I felt that I had to be here and (keep the place quiet) during their stay in case they had additional questions or something went wrong in the cottage. However soon thereafter I realized that very few guests needed additional contact with me and that I was wasting my time hanging around my home during their visit.
Thereafter I just decided to go with my daily routine, I instructed the guests when they arrived that if they need to contact me during their stay to message me through airbnb.
So now if I have to split firewood, cut the grass, plow the snow from the driveway I just go ahead and do it, several guests have taken pictures of me and themselves splitting wood and plowing snow, they later stated that they found it to be an unexpected authentic Vermont experience.
So to answer your question "How do you keep a balance between being a host and keeping your privacy?" for me was to to happily welcome the guests and thereafter go on with my daily routine as if they were not there, by doing so it took unnecessary stress and anxiety from me, and suprisingly I feel that it also made the guests feel more relaxed. ( Looking back I was being to private with my traveling friends)
I received an inquiry from a registered Airbnb BUT it's for his Father and Brother to stay...? I'm new at this...the reviews are great...Can anyone give me advise ?
@Tyra9 inquiry is mean a question. You can simple reply back like “Hi”. After that you can try talk to the guest asking a question you may concern or tell them to help Father or Brother creat a new account and book your place.
If they do instant booked and you found it was 3rd party booked you can contact help for cancel it.
@Lizzie My house is 3 bedrooms so it was possible to meet 2 groups of guest per time. I clearly make a private zone and share zone. Private zone for guest will be there bedroom and a rice barn that we converted to be guest’s living room. They entrance also private so this make it more clearly what is a starting point of privacy area.
Kitchen is shared and they can meet me there and also some amenity like refrigerator we got 2 so guests use your own. But sometimes... some guest open another refrigerator to grab something so I have to come, fixed the situation and explain. It will be a little busy if 2 group try to cook on the same time but it rarely happen.
I also got my working room for my self. So I got my privacy in that room. Overall for 2 years of hosting still acceptable and didn’t feel bad.
@LizzieGreat topic and so important for people who are hosting in their own homes or, like me, where every space outside of the bedroom is shared.
I am still learning to strike a balance. One night bookings went out of the window very early on as I realised it was way to stressful and not worth it. I do still do back to back bookings though, but two nights minimum, and with the one day's notice, at least I have a heads up.
I mostly find that things pan out in terms of privacy. Some of my guests are sociable with me and other guests (especially solo travellers), but others just want to do their own thing (especially couples, or those travelling for work). You kind of have to play it by ear.
This week I had a very sweet young lady stay, but I found her trying. She seemed so comfortable here that she didn't want to leave the house and see anything that London had to offer. That would be fine, but I work from home (in the kitchen diner) and was having a very busy work week. She would come to use the kitchen at least eight times a day and interrupt me, expecting comapany and conversation. Still, I can't rate her down for this. I welcomed her into my home and my house rules do not say "Do not enter the kitchen and do not speak to me between X and Y hours of the day."