Abundant Hosts, Serendipitous Connections

 

Green Smootie

Most folks who think of hosting on Airbnb love being in and of the world and thrive on interactions with others. It will not surprise me if researchers one day find a common thread among us all—the hospitality and generosity gene. We live for connection. It’s intangible, unexpected, and each time I connect with a guest in a genuine way, I feel like I’ve been given a gift.

I liken these serendipitous encounters to finding a fun prize at the bottom of my Cracker Jack box or reading the just-right message in a fortune cookie. Connection isn’t contrived, and in this zany world of virtual and in-person connects, you never know when it will find you.

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Airbnb 101 and In-Person Consulting

I am fortunate to live in a 4-story Seattle townhouse that is entirely supported (and then some) by my Airbnb rental income. Sometimes I look around my house and at the guests in front of me, and I ask myself How did I get so lucky?

Not only do I have the flexibility of a lifestyle on my terms, I am also:

  • Supporting myself as a freelancer during hours that work for me. Some days I am busier than a one-legged woman in a kicking contest, but I enjoy being active.
  • Saving time at the gym, burning calories by cleaning rooms and laundering linens.
  • Meeting and connecting with people from all over the world, from all walks of life.
  • Consulting for landlords and potential new Airbnb hosts.

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Leaving the Roost

Hello from San Diego! I am here for two weeks, working on some essays submissions to editors as well as exploring topics for my second book. And did I mention the 80-degree weather?

When I am not writing, I’m visiting places like Balboa Park:

FullSizeRender (3)The hardest thing for me as an Airbnb host was deciding how to navigate leaving my home to strangers. Should I shut things down while I’m gone? Or, should I hire a property manager/cleaning person to oversee things in my absence? Can I trust someone to do a job that will satisfy my guests at the same level of service they expect from reading my reviews?

When you discover a system that allows you to earn income while you travel, it will often cover or defray the cost of that excursion. 

One host I listened to on an Airbnb podcast offers a 50% discount to guests who are willing to check themselves in and wash their own sheets for the next guests, and clean up after themselves when they leave. Budget travelers feel fortunate to lodge at the lower rate and the host is happy their home doesn’t have to sit idle while they’re gone. Everyone wins! Continue reading

Using Airbnb for Rental Income & Investment

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I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dan Lane, host of Rental Income Podcast. Dan is a new host on the podcast scene, but he’s already garnering a legion of followers curious to learn more about rental invesments. When Dan asked me to come on episode 15 and talk about my experience as a host on Airbnb, I was a little hesitant about what I could offer. I wasn’t sure how my short-term rental position as a host could tie into a person’s long-term rental investment interests.

Dan was a kind and patient host and it was really easy to explore how listing one’s own home on Airbnb can be a great way to boost (in my case, double) someone’s rental income for a property. As I mention on the show, it’s ideal that if you don’t want to live on site at your rental, you hire a trusted property manager or on-site host to live at the property and correspond with guests, clean rooms, and be available to guests’ needs and wishes.

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Letting People In, aka The Reader

Nokia Lumia 1020 & ProShot - Sleeping Lisa & Dolf (or 'A witch and her familiar') - 2

One of the biggest regrets I had after I wrote my book was that I arrived at the end and realized I didn’t exactly show readers my full hand. I felt like a hypocrite. Here I’d nabbed the coveted URL and book title, but did I succeed in letting in my readers? No. Admittedly, I wasn’t ready to, but I’m working on that.

Professional book marketing folks who read my book and were paid for their honest opinion told me they loved the stories about my guests but that they wanted to know more about me. Apparently I, too, was a character in my own book, even though I wanted to deny that was the case.

I think somewhere deep down, writers like writing about other people while they struggle to learn more about themselves in the process. It’s a humble and sometimes humiliting process to write about oneself.  Writers are typically a shy, introverted lot hungry to observe other people in culture and our immediate surroundings, but reticent to actually throw ourselves into the fray. I’m the nerd in the corner, the wallflower. INFJ on the Myers-Briggs personality test, in case you’re wondering. Continue reading

You Wanna Be a Superhost? :: Advice for Airbnb Hosts

Showdancing

I was recently asked by my online friend and fellow Airbnb author, Jasper Ribbers, to share a few thoughts on how to achieve Airbnb “Superhost” status.

Full disclosure: I am a little leery of the Superhost status. Airbnb claims that having the status will bump your listing in the search rankings and that guests will be more inclined to stay with you. But frankly, I think most guests have no idea what the status is, and I question the efficacy of the search claims. But I digress. Continue reading

The Airbnb Open, Part 3 :: Hospitality Beyond a Hotel

On the final day of the Airbnb Open, hundreds of hosts donned their grubbies and volunteered their morning hours at Bay Area charities. As thanks for hosts’ efforts and to offer a goodbye, Airbnb invited volunteers back to headquarters in the afternoon to enjoy a free lunch and tour their offices. Walking up to the headquarters on Brannan Street, I was impressed by the food trucks lining the building’s front and catering to diverse palates. In the expansive lobby, hundreds of hosts lounged on low-set divans and pillows while a DJ spun electronic dance jams in front of HQ’s iconic plant wall. (Yes, the plants are live.)

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The Airbnb Open, Part 2 :: Connecting

When I published my post from yesterday, I was unprepared for the private messages of horror I received from many of you, and I was entertained by your comments on Facebook. As was the case with me and Jeanne, my surprise housemate for the weekend, it was nice to have someone to bounce impressions off of and assure ourselves we were not crazy for thinking we were staying in quite the “unique” listing…to put it mildly.

You see, the reason we know it was a unique listing of the bad variety was because Jeanne was attending the Airbnb Open to claim her Airbnb Host Award for a truly Unique Listing in the positive sense. Jeanne lives on a beautiful piece of land next to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. From the windows of her round, custom-built house and the hammocks that grace her porch, you gaze out and see three volcanoes that bookend the picturesque waters in front of her home.

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Constantly Assessing

Flirting

Photo by Peter Morgan

Last week I hit my 100th review. It felt like a personal tipping point; a chance for me to finally exhale and assure myself, in the famous words of Stuart Smally, “Gosh darnit, people like me.” If not specifically me, at least the 100+ reviewers liked my house (though most of the reviews do mention me).

To some extent, most of us want to be liked, and I would be lying if I said that my reviews have not been a boost and salve to my ego. Continue reading