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Hello everyone,

 

The strength of the Community Centre lies in the hosts sharing their knowledge, advice, and experiences in a spirit of caring and caring. Together we are stronger! And we feel less alone.

 

Although many tips and tutorials are already present on this forum, I really like to discover new ones during a more fun general discussion.

 

What better advice could you give to your fellow hosts in our community? And why? Do not deprive yourself of making us laugh by sharing your experiences!

 

My advice: communicate!

On every occasion: request for information, booking, before arrival, at the reception, etc. show the traveller interest. I’m almost able to tell you about every group that came home.

 

My funny experience: a massage!  😂

the organiser of a group that came home for a Zen weekend, offered me a massage on a chair to thank me for the good time spent at home. I came to start laundry and I enjoyed 20 minutes of relaxation in the sun!

52 Replies

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Debra300 

 

I can't pretend to know for sure about someone's financial situation, but I am pretty confident when I say that Thomas was not trapped here due to his finances. If that was an issue, I very much doubt he would be living the lifestyle that he was.

 

However, yes it is definitely possible that he didn't have the confidence to voice his complaints to me directly as he seemed to have a great deal of difficulty communicating in general, to the point that it was awkward for other people to be in the same room with him. I don't think this awkwardness was simply due to him not being happy at the listing because he was like that from the moment he walked through the front door and it was also noted by other guests, one of which I don't think he grunted more than two words to in the whole month.

 

RE the smoking, the guests who smoked in the bedroom stayed here in January and other guests have stayed in between. Everything in the room had been freshly laundered including the duvet, mattress protectors, pillow protectors, everything, the rug cleaned, every surface sanitised, cleaning outside, inside, under and behind every piece of furniture, inside the wardrobes, skirting boards, lampshades, light switches, the lot (not because of smoke but because that's what I do in between every guest) so no, there was absolutely no trace of those guest's smoking when Thomas arrived.  I would have housed a new born baby in that room, it was that clean and fresh!

 

No, I do not mention the placement of the litter box because no one has ever complained about it before. I would certainly consider that if other guests mentioned it. I do not have a laundry room, garage nor covered patio and the bathrooms are all shared and smaller than the kitchen/diner, so it would be more intrusive there. I honestly don't know where else I could put it. There is a cat sitting service I have used while away, but I hardly travel anymore since the pandemic started. In fact, I have only been on a couple of very short trips since March 2020.

 

The thing is, if Thomas found these smells so offensive, I am not sure why he chose to spend so much time in the offending areas. He initially told me that he would probably work some days from the office, but only went there two afternoons in the whole month. He also asked before he arrived if there was a coffee shop nearby where he could work. I responded that yes, there was one a minute's walk away perfect for that purpose where many of my guests like to work from but, as far as I know, he never even checked it out.

 

That's not to say that I expect my guests to go elsewhere if they are not comfortable here. I am just saying that Thomas spent a lot of time hanging around in the house and particularly the kitchen/diner to the point that I skipped many meals because it was impossible to cook. He wouldn't eat at the dining table if anyone else was in the room because that might mean having to talk to them. Instead, he would just hover in front of the sink or cooker or fridge and it just got awkward to ask him every two minutes if he could please move out of the way. I would wait instead until he had left to start preparing my food, but often he just stood there for hours at a time, so I went to bed hungry.

 

Why was he always lingering in the areas where he found an objectionable smell? I have a pretty garden and also a nice roof terrace, but he didn't use either even once. In fact he seemed to think it odd that I had gardens at all and commented on that. I am not sure why. They are pictured on the listing. I'm not saying he wasn't bothered by smoking or by the cat litter, but I really don't think it could have been such a major issue because he spent so much time hanging out in the area closest to both. It doesn't make any sense to me.

 

His irritation about the 'smells' might possibly have been exacerbated because I had to message him telling him that his food had gone off in the fridge and had been smelling bad for days. I should have said something earlier, but I guess I hoped he would notice and I'd already had to remind him to stop blocking the kitchen sink, please leave the kitchen clean etc. etc. etc. and didn't want to nag all the time. So, by this point, the smell was truly terrible. Every time I opened the fridge, it would stink out the whole kitchen for a considerable time even though the French doors were always open. I often had to leave the room a few times because it made me gag. I honestly can't imagine this guy was that sensitive to smell if he didn't notice that stink. 

 

After I messaged him asking him to please dispose of the food, he said he would, but I saw him eat it instead. That also made me gag! It was also strange that in the entire month he didn't change or wash his linens or towels. I gave him a generous supply of extras but he used the same ones for the whole month, leaving stains on the sheets that would not wash out.

 

Sorry, I'm not trying to be defensive or just make excuses, but you have no idea how odd this guy was and hygiene and cleanliness were not his strong points. My house was definitely smellier while he was here!

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
Level 10

@Huma0,

 

Yeah, you are zeroing in on Thomas, and his peculiarities, but my comments are more guest generic.  I shared by experience about the placement of litter boxes, because many people may not think to ask where a host places theirs, because the places I mentioned are definitely more common locations than the kitchen/dining area.  My observations are not solely in North America, because, many of my cat owning friends live in London and the metro area.  I cannot visualize your house arrangement in regards to the litter box, but I would find it off-putting if there was an animal waste location close to where food is prepared and consumed, and I am very used to seeing people in small or older spaces where they have to figure out ways to accommodate modern living.

 

When you mentioned the smoking house rules breakers I inferred it was during Thomas' stay.  There wouldn't be any need to mention it to him since it happened months ago.  I know that you currently don't travel as much as you used to, and was just curious how the cats' needs were taken care when you were away.

 

I don't disagree that his review was passive-aggressive, and I know that it hurts your professional pride, but if I didn't know you I'd see it as helpful review for not only your place, but all future searches for stays. Since you've given more context to your interactions with Thomas and his behavior, I wonder if he was another guest who may Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I have read a few posts during the past few months where hosts have described guest behavior which has been somewhat outside of the societal norm, and later found out that the guest had ASD.

 

 I was recently visiting with a smoker, and most of the time the doors and windows were open so it really wasn't an issue for me.  I could smell the smoke while in the common areas, but I knew that I could go to my room if it were to become too unpleasant for me, which really didn't happen.  

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Debra300 

 

Yes, you are right. I am zeroing in on Thomas I guess because his complaints were not ones I usually get from guests and he was quite strange. But, that doesn't mean I shouldn't consider them as non issues for other guests. All feedback can be useful. I guess what I was trying to say was that his apparent sensitivities to smells confused me as he complained about stuff that other guests didn't, yet stinked out my whole kitchen! No matter...

 

The litter tray. As I have said, I really cannot think of a better place to put it. I wish I could, but I can't. I don't have another place where it would be better situated. The kitchen/diner is large and the litter tray is neither alongside the kitchen counters nor the dining table. It is situated next to the bins. And, during this stay, yes the doors and windows were open so I hope that would help to keep the house fresh and airy. It was not cold. That was not something he complained about.

 

I totally agree with you that it doesn't hurt to discourage guests who are not a good fit/my listing is not a good fit for them, to not book, and I sincerely hope that his review will help to do that. I actually did think about that when I first read it. However, I reiterate this stuff to my guests over and over again, and a few still choose to ignore it, so I am not sure that the review will serve that purpose. Let's see!

 

I really don't know what was going on with Thomas. He seemed kind of normal in his correspondence so I totally believed his lack of response was due to his notifications not being turned on (happens often). It was only after he arrived that I realised he had difficulty interacting with others. My brother is a psychologist, and my neighbour works for a mental health charity, so I could ask them what they think, but personally I do not pretend to have any expertise on that as I am not trained to diagnose people. Certainly from what I know about autism, it's quite possible, but I really can't be sure.

 

There was another guest of the same nationality staying who was a lot more outgoing. They also did very similar jobs in the same industry. I noticed that he opened up a bit to her after a while, but she made an enormous and consistent effort to bring him out of his shell. I remember being in the garden and seeing him smile for the first time and being astonished.  I really did not enjoy hosting him at all and he broke rules, less things a mess etc. etc. but I didn't say anything bad in the review because I kind of felt that this guy was struggling with something and I didn't want to be mean.

 

Anyway, none of that is relevant if the fact that the 'smells' are an issue for guests in general. I am not saying it doesn't bother anyone else. I just think that if it was such a problem, I would have had several other guests mention it by now, no?

 

By the way, I suppose no one really wants to talk about cat poo, but here goes. This is what I do with the cat litter tray and maybe other cat owners can tell me if that is sufficient/what they do:

 

I empty it completely. I then spray it all over with a special disinfectant designed for 'pet smells'. I then rinse it out with boiling water. I dry it off with paper towels which are disposed of. I then wipe the entire thing inside and out with anti-bacterial wipes. I then line it, refill the litter and add barcarb of soda, which is supposed to help with smells. The lid, as it is a covered tray, then goes back on. I am not sure what else I am supposed to do other than get rid of my kitties.

 

I would rather get rid of my guests than my cats. Sorry!

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

Level 2

God's grace be with you!

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Achères-la-Forêt, France
Host Advisory Board Member

Hello @Huma0 ,

 

Thank you for your explanation on how to enforce your Easter egg question , I will think about it. So far, I just ask to confirm the house rules acceptance.

 

I have the same opinion on "trust your gut feeling ".

 

Each time I had mixed feeling, it was not the best match with my guests, even 5 stars rated.

 

One women in particular had multiple 5 stars and came for "a friendly girls only reunion", so she wrote...and celebrated her 50th birthday with 11 other women! (no parties allowed )

The house was really dirty, towels were used as carpets in the garden and one of the ladies had the nerve to tell me she found a cockroach in the house and that I should do something about it !

Since the beginning the communication wasn’t easy. And she didn’t listen anything when I gave her the tour of the house. She was laughing and talking with her 2 friends and ignoring me.

I was devastated after this experience few month after I started. The guest didn’t leave a review. I did on the 14th days!  She is now 4,5 stars.

 

I have currently one booking in the same case you mentioned : no answers to my pre booking questions - I refuse - he wrote back about notifications off - re ask booking - I accepted .

I hope it won’t be a mistake ...I pray in fact! We’ll see ...

 

About guest reviews,  I always tell other hosts that the guest won’t be able to read our review unless he/she writes one so tell the truth and only the truth. Be objective and concise "X didn’t respect the house rules, left the house dirty" is enough. Some don’t know that.

 

The only thing is to do it at the last moment (Day 14) to avoid retaliation answer on your review, that’s all.

Delphine

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
México D.F., Mexico
Host Advisory Board Member

Dear @Delphine348 what a lovely post, here are my two cents:

 

My advice: Keep reinventing your hosting style and spaces 👍🏼

 

Traveling has dramatically changed due to the global pandemic; nowadays, it's key for every host choose the traveler avatar they want to host and most important how, as well as understand and take on their advantage the current travel trends i.e. optimize your listings, amenities, photos, titles and spaces accordingly, get ready for medium/long stays, remote workers, digital nomads, improve your internet service, consider being pet friendly etc..

 

My funny experience: An earthquake anecdote 

 

I hosted a couple of guests from Argentina (two moths long stay), they usually have dinner with red wine so when a moderate earthquake started in Mexico City they immediately looked at each other and said "this wine hit us really hard" so they never realized the building was shaking and instead put the blame on the wine quality up until late that same night when I was able to get a hold of them by phone. 😂 

 
Happy Hosting Beautiful Community!

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Achères-la-Forêt, France
Host Advisory Board Member

Hello @Omar202 ,

 

This is a very useful advice as well! I am always thinking about the thing I could add or change in my listing to better accommodate my guests. It is compulsory for me.

The only thing difficult to change is accessibility  as the house is old and some parts are too narrow for a wheelchair, or have stairs. 

I plan to ask a friend who is running a business to restructure home for accessibility purpose. 

 

I love your funny experience! Thanks for sharing!

Delphine

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Placencia, Belize
Level 10

Best advice I would give a new host-to-be is to do their best to end up with guests that fits them best and keeps hosting stay fun (and profitable).

 

1. Price point . Choose one that brings you a level of clientele that best fits you. I realize that is a mouthful.

2. Vet to the point that you feel comfortable applicant broadly fits your offering. This has its limits.

3. Stick to at least the spirit of your boundaries (house rules); the minute you start accommodating too many far-flung deviations, anxieties and troubles will arise. 

4. Do not ham for reviews; do your absolute best and do not ride that roller-coaster ride. Too exhausting, takes the fun out of hosting. 

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

Level 10

If you have carefully prepared, set up, and photographed your home, it won't take long for someone to contact you. Be ready and prepared. Guests don't choose you and your home, you choose them.

 

Avoid instant booking. Maintain control. If a tourist doesn't like you, because you perceived an arrogant or surly attitude or whatever, decline the reservation: select your guests carefully and thoughtfully.

 

You will have to be as cunning as a fox, but as honest as a butterfly. Without much fuss, you will host individuals of the human race. Beautiful, ugly, lame, honest, ignorant, educated, bully, filthy. Each of them will sediment something within you.

 

Your best friend will say, "You didn't know what was going to happen when you conjugated the verb "rent," did you?"

 

You will have to deal with setbacks, contrarieties and mishaps. You will have to understand, to dialogue, to offer the word to the other person's silence.

 

A lot of things will happen, there will be a lot of discoveries, a lot of achievements, a few holes in the water and many experiments in happiness.

 

Airbnb, tearing you away from your carefully cultivated sapient independence, will nag you, will seduce every day to make indecent downward proposals. Don't give in to his flattery. Tell him things are not that simple, tell him you will lower your price the day he lowers his transaction fees..

 

Your best friend will say, "You are the one renting out your apartment, not the manager of a booking website, okay!"

 

If you entrust Mr. Airbnb with your home, he will mingle with your life, tracking you, turning you into data managed by an algorithm that will soon become your new employer: you will be "profiled," judged in the present for any mistakes made in the past.

 

Your home will be reviewed, catalogued, arranged among many others who have surrendered the secret of their uniqueness to others, because the tourist you host will become a reviewer, an influencer, a podcaster, a member of a community like you.

 

You will then experience performance phobia. Your score will go up and down. You will have to battle with other cyberenters, evolved, sophisticated, fierce like you. Don't rely on buena suerte. Revenue strategies will show you the course to face all winds and tides, and how to fish methodically on a sea full of fish.

 

With every booking you'll get excited, with every cancellation you'll get depressed, in short, you'll become cyclothymic.

 

Your best friend will say, "What did you think would be easy?"

 

You'll be wrong, you'll be upset, but after having gagged your best friend you'll start over again, you'll try better not to stay on the surface of things, but to go deeper and deeper and get better and better at making your offer, because you have to make people fall in love with you and prefer your home among so many others.

 

This will be the secret pact with hosting that you will honestly honor.

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Manly, Australia
Host Advisory Board Member

What a great topic @Delphine348 

 

My top tip is to treat guests how you would like to be treated and to set your home up as how you would like it to be if you were going on Holiday to your listing.   What little things did you appreciate when you last stayed some where and what little things made all the difference to your stay! Chances are your guests will also appreciate these little touches.. 

 

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Huskisson, Australia
Level 10

@Delphine348 my advice to another host is communication, good photos of accommodation, be truethful in descriptions and location, cleanliness, and as @Felicity11 mentioned treat your guest as you would like to be treated. 

 

 

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Delphine348 having just closed an Airbnb and on the cusp of a purchase of a new investment property where I am considering long vs short term my advice is simply one word: Detach.

 

This means:

1. do not get overly emotionally attached to your space. 

2. do not read every review as soon as its posted/dig into category scores

3. do not start habits like leaving special treats for guests and asking their preferences.

4. do not take anything personally.

 

We had a very successful space with excellent reviews maintained over hundreds of guests but it was a source of incredible stress. Part of the problem was me. I loved that house and hoped to have it as a partial year residence for myself one day. I got very frustrated when guests did not take basic care of the space, and emotionally quite confused between "is this my getaway or an income producing space?"

 

I am a bit of an overachiever by nature and put out special gift baskets tailored to the guests, fresh flowers, bath goodies with each stay etc. We provided fire logs in winter for the fireplace. I definitely went above and beyond. But I learned that no matter how much I did, it generally went unappreciated, unnoticed and was only occasionally mentioned. Guests would complain that we didn't give them an unending supply of firewood instead of appreciating that we did leave a safer (and not inexpensive) firelog for indoor burns. If I asked about allergies for the food treats in the gift basket, I sometimes got an earful with a long list of things I needed to go out of my way to shop for, and still found the items uneaten because they were not brand correct. We always left fresh flowers and one guest even went so far as to say they didn't like the type that was present during their stay. Over time this was a personal pain point leading to burn out.

 

I have learned some hard lessons. The boundary between "income" and "fun" needs to be impermeable for me. If I do STR again, the space will only be "income" and focused on the bottom line. I will provide my guests with what they need, but not as I would treat friends staying. I will cut waaaayyy down on extras and price correctly from the beginning. I will decorate the space and make it lovely, I just won't FALL in love. 

 

Appropriate detachment, fellow hosts. That is the way.

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Achères-la-Forêt, France
Host Advisory Board Member

Hello @Laura2592 ,

 

I understand your experience because I was also too emotional at the beginning and I am still unable to delegate the check in...I want to meet every guest in person.

Sorry to read it caused you a burn out!

Thank you for sharing your good advice! And good luck in your new investment !

 

Delphine

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Delphine348 

 

There are a few pieces of advice I have received over the years that have helped me make a success of hosting.

 

1/.....A wise person said to me when I started to STR...."Don't put anything in there you are not prepared to loose" !  Hosts have to understand a guest is 'paying' you to enjoy what you offer, not get sentimental about it and care for it. Don't use Natuzzi when you can use Ikea.....be practical with what you offer.

 

2/.....Always send a nice personal welcome/introduction message to the guest before the stay. Hostings always work well when they get off to a good start. Guests like to feel they have made a good decision with their booking, don't let them down, just a simple verbal handshake in a message can make a guest feel like they arrive as a friend.....and it's a fact of life, we don't like fighting with friends! 

 

3/......Give the guest something they are not expecting.....a discount voucher at a local eatery, a block of chocolate on the bedside table, a cheese plate in the fridge. I have what is called 'Robs box' in the storeroom at our local supermarket. When cheeses get close to their use by date or get a bit 'doggy eared' in the display cabinet they either go out in the dumpster or they go into Robs box and I get them for 30c-60c per cheese. I turn on a $30 cheese plate for every guest, even overnighters....and it costs me less than $1. Same with bacon and other perishables, there is always plenty in Robs box to choose from and it costs me cents rather than dollars!

 

4/......Take control of your business! Do a proper profit and loss statement to establish what you need to charge to make a profit. Do not be tempted to use discount offers, 'smart pricing' pricing enticers to get guests to book. Guests who chase discounts very rarely turn out to be good guests, they want and expect something at someone elses expense! Don't go broke trying to make someone else happy!

 

5/.......Do not expect Airbnb or anyone else to be your fairy godmother. If things go wrong and something gets damaged allow for its repair or replacement without expecting Airbnb to do it. Hosting is a business and you have to run it as a business and allow to cover the risks in the listing price you charge. Airbnb offers of assistance can turn out to be little more than mirages in the desert sand, don't depend on them, adequately cover yourself and you will never be let down.

 

Of course this is not all there is to hosting but if you follow these tips above you will certainly bring the odds of a successful hosting career back in your favour! 

 

Cheers........Rob

Re: What is the best piece of advice to give to your fellow hosts?

in
Huskisson, Australia
Level 10

@Robin4 love all your advice above. I have read your previous sound knowledge and advice on the community forum. 

For no 1; we have used some new furniture from Freedom furniture, some of our furniture that we had an  excess after a move, some from FB marketplace in our local area and some from neighbours and relatives throw always, Charity shops. We have cleaned, sanded and painted them to fit into our décor.

no2; we send a welcoming note is sent with a thank you for booking our cottage.

no3; we give something extra, scones jam and cream if they arrive in the afternoon, if after 5pm we give them a cheese platter. Along with a breakfast hamper to get them started.

no4; we don't use smart pricing, I do my prices as per; what the local market can bare and it is altered for seasons, long weekends and school holidays. Yes we have do a business spread sheet, what comes in and what goes out and is tallied at the end of month with profit and loss after money is set aside for maintenance, rates and insurance.

no5; we do not rely on Airbnb as a back up support "Yet!" for insurance, we also have private insurance, husband is a handy man and i am the cleaner. We think we have all our bases covered and if necessary we will try the "fairy godmother" Airbnb.

Thanks again for your contributions, I enjoy reading. we get to Mt Barker again we called in on our trip around Australia in our home adapted camper van and tent about 10 years ago.

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