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!

I don’t see myself using this clean-as-you-go method with my guests, but I admire that the host is bold enough to make it work. Once I felt confident the Airbnb model could be sustained in my absence, I spent many months having casual conversations with friends and property managers to see if I could trust one or two of them to act as  my proxy when I traveled. Thankfully, I connected with another freelancer and friend who was happy to help oversee things.

If you’re considering future travel, start having conversations with potential managers/cleaners now! 

My first guests check in tomorrow and though I feel like a mother hen, worried that everything will go smoothly and my guests will have a nice stay, the experience has been a good exercise in letting go and trusting the person I have hired to cover for me.

If you’re a host, here’s some things to think about when you leave:

1) Convey to guests that you’ll be gone and make clear to them whether they should contact you for any needs that may arise. If they’re not contacting you directly, share the name, phone number, and email of the person who is covering for you.

2) Have pre-written docs (or links) ready to send to guests that will help them navigate their way around the city without your in-person assitance. I keep a “Seattle Tips” page on this site that I have started sharing with my guests. They love it!

3) Have back-up keys to your house hidden somewhere in case your manager can’t be reached and you need to reach another friend. (In my case, I use a key-coded entry, and the person who is covering me practiced changing the codes several times to make sure she had the process down.)

4) If possible, check in via email or phone with your guests after they arrive to make sure they settled in okay. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way in ensuring they felt cared for in your absence. The Airbnb model is all about personability and community. A few minutes of your time is worth the great review that they are sure to leave.

5) Follow up on any issues that arise while you’re gone. I know, I know, you’re on vacation–but being an Airbnb host is a business that allows you to live a better lifestyle (hopefully). Clearing up any miscommunications or issues that arise while you travel will ensure your guest leaves a postive review during the 14-day review window after their stay.

That’s it! If I’ve missed anything or if you have an advice or tips about what works for you when you leave your home in the hands of others, I’d be happy to hear about it and share your tips on a future post.