02-01-2017 07:36 AM - edited 02-01-2017 07:44 AM
Today, I am pleased to be introducing a new series here in the Community Center called Community Spotlight. We have asked a community member a few questions to help everyone to get to know them a little bit more. Feel free to ask any follow up questions of your own or leave any nice comments you might have afterwards. :)
Our first host, who is well know here in forum...
*Click on the spoiler tabs to read more!
How long have you been hosting for and why did you first start?
In March this spring it will be three years hosting for me. Even before that my home had been a welcome haven for friends or acquaintances part of my large network of artist-designer friend colleagues coming to visit Amsterdam from abroad. I've always loved being hostess, even though I am more of an introvert than extravert personality.
Even with having a part-time job it's not easy making a living as designer/artist and several years ago I found myself wondering how to find something to augment my income without taking too much more time away from my creative work. This was before Airbnb regularly made any headlines here, so I had never heard of it. In fact it was an article in a home-owners magazine that piqued my curiosity towards Airbnb to their site and find out more.
All my private visitors had loved my little tent room on my upstairs studio floor with it's own guest bathroom, and thus the idea of renting against payment wasn't that far-fetched at all. I loved the idea of being able to offer even non-conventional guest spaces in a private home on such a large international platform. Hotel rooms are expensive in Amsterdam, and my budget wouldn't be able to cover them that easily here. At the time there were also hardly any affordable B&B options either, and going to a hostel is something that wouldn't appeal to me anymore, and I imagined that private room rentals would be a great option for travelers here.
What mostly convinced me about renting through Airbnb was being able to have an initial conversation with a prospective guest to see if they would be a good fit regarding the whole home situation and what a host offers. Which is why no instant-book accommodation platform would have worked in my personal situation.
Tell us a little about your listing
My listing is a tent-style room on the upper floor of my loft-style apartment. My living quarters are downstairs, and the upstairs area is where my studio work space is located with the guest room sectioned off for itself with a thick curtain. This area is a wonderfully cosy and relaxing space (so many of my reviews even mention how well they have slept!). Right beside it is the guest bathroom. With most Amsterdam apartments even today not having more than a single bathroom, it's the ultimate luxury to not have to share one with anybody! (and I certainly do love my privacy and would never ever have hosted if I'd had to share a bathroom)
My listing is the bed-no-breakfast type. Besides the offer of numerous lovely cafes in my neighborhood, I'd go quite bonkers if I had to share my own kitchen in the middle of my private quarters with anybody else. For that very reason I wanted to offer guests the extra luxury of being able to make their own coffee/tea in their room and the use of a small refrigerator. Generally too, my own experiences in traveling and lodging very much oriented the way I set up the guest space to offer a maximum of amenities and comfort. My great reviews show this to have really paid off!
After listing in the middle of winter, my first guest only arrived a couple of months later around mid March, but in the meantime I heard that the organization I was part-timing for had to let me go in the spring due to downsizing. So out of a job and just starting to host, I went through a couple of nervous months. But Fortune smiled and it turned out that my Airbnb activities brought in more income than double the salary I'd earned before! Yes, I am one of those hosts who hosting has helped out of a tight financial situation.
With my non-conventional type of guest room I obviously need guests whose needs intersect with my own needs to work from home in my studio. This means it's only really suited to those who want to be out and about discovering my wonderful city or are here for work-related purposes and not planning to hang around and laze in the room during most of the day. I myself have also adapted my working hours to only start working upstairs in the studio very late in the morning to not inconvenience my guests.
I've been extremely lucky and have overall only had nice guests, quite a few really lovely guests, and some absolutely wonderful ones I would even contact to go have a drink or meal if I ever travelled to their neighborhood.
I very much love the psychological aspect of hosting. With this I mean trying out how different ways of doing things or saying things can affect how a guest can perceive the experience or how a house rule can be enforced in a nice way. If guests keep scraping their luggage against white walls, how can you make them aware of the walls, so they automatically take care? You can write till you're blue in the face.... Psychological trick: make them aware-mirrors did the trick!
Last year I came across an old vintage wooden clothes hanger in my closet branded with 'Hotel Garni Bad Krozingen" from my past which made me realize I'd completely forgotten how my parents themselves had been in the hosting industry and run a larger B&B for two years while I was still an infant. Hadn't thought of it before that hosting runs in my family! and I've even broken their record by a year now!
How long have you been part of the Community Center and why did you join?
I've been active on the CC ever since the first hour, since I'd already been on a couple of the old forums before they were replaced by CC. There are so many aspects around hosting that having a community to turn to is so very important. Apart from getting help figuring out and wading through intricacies regarding local regulations, it is mainly the safe and smart way of becoming a better and savvy host. There are innumerable facets of being a host that go from not letting guests turn you into a doormat to properly handling a damage dispute that I'd never even thought of prior to reading all the posts. Although my own experiences were absolutely vanilla compared to some issues posted on CC, I learned from most of them and am mentally ready to handle situations, prevent them, or ready to deflect them sweetly before they happen.
At first I simply read and learned. At some point I started jumping in helping others where I myself was able to, and after a bit I did it more and more.
Favourite thing about the CC / what do you like best?
While many hosts pop into CC with a one-time question and leave never to return, there's a substantial number of regulars who, like me, stay. After a while you can see who has good and well-founded advice and input, and seeing these posts is like seeing the people in one's own real-life community. With a few hosts there's now a more comradely contact which is very nice.
I always feel stumped when asked about hobbies or interests. Seems like everything creative I love doing has naturally morphed into my professional interests and creativity as an artist. Most of my former hobby interests were around drawing or making 3D objects, playing around with new materials, using graphics, photography were my way of discovering, researching, and expressing my world. When I seriously began training and establishing my creative path all these interests were instantaneously part of the structure inseparable from my artistic practice and not outside interests anymore.
I'm a kind of information nerd and love reading about different themes at different times. A book I might have loved five or ten years ago may suddenly have become redundant after a while with my ongoing own personal development. At the moment I'm reading a Dutch book-title translated is Golden Years-about how our daily life has been transformed in the span of 50 years.
Otherwise, I watch/listen to a lot of things online through all walks of life, themes, and subjects, down the rabbit hole and out again as it were!
Where would you love to travel to, if you could go anywhere?
I've done a lot of traveling in my time, though that's pretty much stopped since I started hosting. My life runs in wave motions -different times, different priorities, and one day things will change yet again.
Gosh where to begin...! when asked directly, there's two destinations on my travel wish list: I want to go to Australia, and I would love to be able to have the deeply soul-affecting experience of seeing Antarctica! Years ago I even seriously looked into the possibility and conditions of becoming artist in residence on one Antarctica cruise ship for a month and devoured literature and travel stories about that icy continent. But it turned out that the offer was far too commercial and unrealistic with a lot of additional time and expenses beyond my means which made me decide to shelve the idea. Also in that time period I found, bought, and re-constructed the dream apartment I am living in. So, for now for me, Antarctica is on ice as it were.
This is amazing, thanks so much for your time Andrea! :)
Looking to contact the Support Team, for details...take a look at the Community Help Guides.
02-01-2017 09:02 AM
02-01-2017 09:10 AM - edited 02-01-2017 09:11 AM
This is awesome! So nice to learn more about you Andrea! (it wouldn't let me put the little @ in front of that) - you have helped me so much as a new host, your posts are always right on, and I am so glad to have "met" you here. - Karen
02-01-2017 11:03 AM
Thanks so much for this introduction!
I'm looking forward to reading more about other regulars here too, since following advice and comments by them leaves the feeling that I know them like people I run into every now and then. No, actually not true, because those encounters usually stay on the 'cows and calves" (Dutch for small talk!) level, and what's going on in CC shows you much more of a person. So I am excitedly awaiting more!
@Lawrene @Karen & Brian Thanks so much you guys, for the kudos! Answering on CC sometimes feels like an echo chamber (or at least I feel like one LOL), that hearing comments like yours' validate my time spent doing so!
02-01-2017 11:16 AM
02-01-2017 11:30 AM
A bit tired and frustrated with the private messaging CC box (message wasn't too longe, but got eaten by the system - and three further tries didn't work either - I must be black-marked!).
Anyway thanks so much for the great spotlight, love the spoiler option, and really looking forward to the sequels!!
Have a lovely evening,
02-01-2017 02:00 PM
02-01-2017 03:47 PM
Hi Gerry&Rashid, thanks. Yes, it's definitely important to take regular breaks, even if they're small. During my main season -March through Oct, I have one or more days between bookings. My setting is standard on a day between bookings, but there are often two or three nights in-between. And although I'd rather be making money, they do give me breathing space and help me be thankful for the next guests. This winter has been the slowest in my almost 3 yrs of hosting. Scary actually, probably due to IB default on most browsers. Plus also losing SH status in the fall due to a combination of a 'revenge' review and a number of newbies not leaving a review. So it was a kind of forced break. Nice to have the time, but nervous about no hosting income.
02-01-2017 06:20 PM
Wow @Lizzie thanks for this opportunity to go deeper into a high contributing host's experience! Andrea provides very clear, non-judgemental support to those hosts seeking help. I always read her postings because I learn a great deal. I am committed to participating in this Community Center as both one who receives much and one who shares what she can. Thank you.