Only a few months ago I wrote an article about Airbnb hosting. It’s something that I love doing and I’ve been in the hospitality industry for many years.
But in recent months, I’ve noticed that many new hosts are simply unprepared for the realities of something that sounds so simple. After all, various pundits are all over the internet proclaiming that you can easily make money (‘fortunes’, some say) simply by renting out your spare room to travellers on a short term basis.
It sounds fabulous – and I promise you that it’s a splendid thing to do. But more and more new hosts are discovering what we ‘old-timers’ have known for many years – that when you’re dealing with human beings, you’ll encounter many different situations.
I believe that the Airbnb system is a truly wonderful thing and the last thing I want to do is discourage new hosts. However, we do need a strong dose of reality here.
New hosts often expect far too much from their guests. It’s almost as though ‘Airbnb’ is a new magic word that transforms we mere mortals into some new type of super-guest – guests who never break anything, arrive precisely at check in time, are grateful for everything. are supremely clean, are total neat freaks … everything that we know that the average human being is not.
After all most of us have had jobs in the past that have involved dealing with the general public. Whether that has been in a simple shoe shop or a stunningly stylish spa, we know that people will be, well, people. And people are wonderful, funny, interesting, exciting … but also can be infuriating.
We all know this. But many new Airbnb hosts seem to imagine that they’ll be hosting some new breed of traveller that has never existed before. Guests who are more like robots, devoid of any human frailty. In recent months I have heard new hosts complain about the most bizarre ‘crimes’ that their guests have committed such as:
- Leaving lights switched on
- Breaking a wineglass
- Leaving the cooker dirty
- Arriving fifteen minutes after the agreed check in time
- Not cleaning the coffee machine
I could go on and I think that you’ve got the message. If minor, human behaviour is going to irritate and annoy you, do not even think about being an Airbnb host.
Thinking back over the years, I honestly can’t think of one single group of guests who have been horrible or malicious people. 99% have been wonderful. But they’ve all been human.
- Most hosts encourage guests to feel at home. If they leave the lights on a home, they’ll do it at your place too
- Everyone accidentally breaks something from time to time. I do
- A common complaint from new hosts is that guests don’t clean the cooker. I don’t know about you but I don’t go on vacation in order to clean cookers
- Travel delays happen that are no fault of the guests. Some may be delayed for hours – it’s not their fault
- When did you last check out of a hotel room and clean the coffee maker?
Yet these are crazy examples of ‘misdemeanors’ that guests have committed. But hosting on Airbnb is just the same as any private short-term rental. Yes, you need your own insurance. Yes you need to accept that wear-and-tear happens and that you’ll have to replace items in your room or apartment. Yes, things will get broken and will have to be replaced. Yes, guests will leave lights on, leave the AC on when the windows are open or leave the heaters on when they are out.
What’s more, you’ll probably host couples who make love (noisily) in your property. You’ll have plenty of bodily fluids to deal with. You’ll be amazed at some of the things your guests get up to.
But it is still a wonderful thing to do – as long as you are realistic and not living in cloud cuckoo land.
You’ll meet great people from all over the world – who often arrive bearing gifts. Some will become lasting friends. You’ll learn about other cultures and nationalities. Above all, you’ll have the satisfaction of making yourself some extra money while at the same time, you’ll have the pleasure of ensuring that your guests have a simply wonderful time.
Just be realistic and don’t let advertising colour your expectations.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.