Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10
3,551 Views

Hi new hosts (and seasoned hosts)! Just wanted to share some things I wished I had known before I first started my ABB adventure. Hopefully others will chime in as well!

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- Guests don't (always) love my cottage as much as I do. Sad but true. I am a little gaga over my space and about half of the guests really seem to get that same feeling of magic that I do. But some don't. A good proportion, actually. And as such they might complain about things I think are charming features, or treat it like a hotel with daily maid service (which it doesn't have.) I have learned not to take this personally but sometimes it still burns a bit. 

 

- There is no security deposit. We have one listed but its really up to the guest to agree to pay if and when you try to collect. Otherwise ABB will arbitrate and more often than not, hosts are left holding the bag.  I think its more a psychological deterrent than anything. Don't rely on it.

 

-You will really have to solve most issues yourself. Honestly. This is a great platform to get your listing noticed on, but the back up support is spotty at best. You will be much better served if you have a plan for solving any problems up front. Know what you will do if a guest shows up with extra people, if your neighbors report a party, if things go missing from your space, etc.  It might even help to outline some basic policies for yourself on how you will handle these situations. Stick to them. Don't be intimidated and don't wait for a return call from your "case manager."  Use the forums to get information and ideas.

 

-Pay attention to red flags. Most problems can be avoided before the space is booked or shortly thereafter. Guests who ask for a lot of exceptions or have not read the listing in any way will be an issue. Don't let them book in the first place. The person who wants something very different than you offer may not be a bad guest, just a bad fit for you. Same with bargain hunters. Don't try to be all things to all people. Offer what you can offer and don't stress when someone isn't a fit. You want people who have great experiences, not people who will make you bend over backwards and still give a so so review. 

 

- Price well and don't listen to ABB pricing suggestions. Don't price too low. This attracts people who will not be the best caliber of guest. If your space costs less than a Starbucks coffee and McDonald's meal per person, it does not cost enough. Don't expect that people will leave it clean or be respectful of rules. ABB suggests you price much lower than most markets. Ignore this. 

 

-"Clean" means different things to different people. Some people will freak if they see an insect, even in the summer in the woods when they leave the doors open. Some people will check for dust under beds and on the tops of picture frames, on ceiling fan blades, etc.  Some travel with a black light. Some won't care much at all. Clean for the pickiest person you can imagine because they are out there. 

 

-Your first few guests will likely be the most difficult. There are a few reasons for this. You don't have a base line to compare things to, and some guests target new hosts to pull nonsense. Be extra careful with stays over 30 days for the first several bookings. It may seem like a great pay out, but you might accidentally become a landlord with a squatter and no lease. And you might not get paid for the whole thing if the guest complains or leaves and ABB can't collect (though your calendar may still be blocked.) 

 

- Don't accept last minute or one night requests. There are exceptions to the one night thing-- if your space is close to an airport, train station etc. But in general, last minute or very short stay guests are the folks who don't plan well and cause issues. Parties, porn shoots and all kinds of craziness can be wrapped up in these sorts of stays. 

 

-Don't cancel guests if you can help it. Ask ABB to do it (you get one freebie a year) or the guest to withdraw. If you cancel you forfeit the possibility of being a Superhost.

 

-Guests hate cleaning fees, so roll your costs into your nightly stay but still charge a nominal fee. If you charge nothing, guests often treat the space more like a hotel despite any rules (towels on the floor,  mess everywhere.) Charging a bit ($20-$50) sends the message that someone is going to pick up after them that needs to be paid, but its not so much that the guest is railing over "hidden fees." Our cleaners cost much more than our fee, but guests feel like its fair enough. 

 

-Expect that this will be more work than you anticipate. Its NOT a get rich quick scheme! There is a lot of emotional. physical and financial labor that goes into hosting.  It can be rewarding, but its work. Do not underestimate just how much work 🙂

 

 

68 Replies

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
KCMO, MO
Level 10

Well said! This is an excellent list and one that should be sent to any new host thinking of jumping in!

Bravo!

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

Thanks @Christine615  please feel free to add as well! 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Athens, Greece
Level 9

@Laura2592  Such great tips. Totally agree. 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Mahone Bay, Canada
Level 2

I am charging a cleaning fee - that is designed to be the fee to clean up after they have left - is this a correct use of that. Most places I stayed at before I became a host - charged that fee - and I never saw them so assumed it was the fee to clean up when they leave. So far I have had no issues ... 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Tracy730 yes, a cleaning fee is for turning over the space between guests. Some hosts don't charge anything, others charge quite a bit. Guests typically complain about paying high cleaning fees as they "don't have to at hotels." 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Koekange, Netherlands
Level 4

@Laura2592 I ask a fee for cleaning, and if people complain about it because hotels don't I respond to them that they are totally free to book a hotel instead of my complete house with private garden and free parking space for the same money 😁

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Troy, MI
Level 2

I offer a 3 bedroom/3bath cabin and I ask for a cleaning fee. It takes a lot to clean a cabin that size and turn it over quickly. The way I look at it, for the nightly price of my cabin, it will still be a great deal for a party of 4 compared to booking two hotel rooms at higher price combined with no amenities (washer/dryer, beautiful view, hot tub, and many more). This becomes even a better deal for the guests if the number of guests is 6 or 8. Therefore, charging a relatively high cleaning fee (just to cover my expenses) should not be an issue and I have not seen it to be so far.

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Mahone Bay, Canada
Level 2

I also have no laundry facilities in the unit - and people are booking for 2 to 4 weeks at a time. Is this usual not to have that - and what I have done is provide recommendations for local cleaners - and we do clean the linens towels etc - they put in a laundry bag and leave at our door. Any other ways people handle this.

 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Tracy730 we have laundry in the unit, so I don't know. Maybe start a thread asking how hosts handle this? I think it could be interesting especially for those just starting out. 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Victoria, Australia
Level 6

@Helen744 

Hi Tracy , we usually charge a per stay cleaning fee. but a longterm stay you could do what we do and do a weekly clean with a price  and time worked out with the guest .This is a lot of work but does allow you to keep on top of both the cleaning and washing of linen etcetera. you are not their house maid so do not do any personal washing . Supply laundry baskets and the address of the nearest laundromat. 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Ammon, ID
Level 2

I have LONG TERM renters.   Six months to Years.  I do not offer laundry units.

 

EVERY TOWN in the USA has laundromats.  Don't bend over backwards.

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Balearic Islands, Spain
Level 10

Agreed. Well put, clear, easy to understand. 

 

Somebody should make this a sticky at the top of the "new to hosting" thread. New hosts need to read this. 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Elaine701 aw thanks! Feel free to add your insights too. 

Re: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started....

Online Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Online Community Manager

@Elaine701  I put it on the featured discussions on the right hand side of the board already ❤️

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