An Expert Talks About The Challenges & Rewards Of Hosting Traveling Guests
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
I have a friend who was an Airbnb host for a year and a half who tells PubClub.com of the challenges and rewards of being a host.
I am not including the person’s name and location because the city shut down room-share services and he no longer rents out the space, and in fact no longer lives in that city. Here is his story, no doubt a familiar one among renters.
“We had a three-bedroom house in a very desirable location in a popular California beach town. The house was old but a suddenly surging real estate prices got the attention of our landlord and one month we were hit with a $1,000-per-mont rent increase. So my two roommates and I turned to Airbnb to try and offset those costs.
“I will say it worked. We were able to easily cover the cost of the rent increase. We rented out my bedroom and I slept on the couch in the living room. For this, I kept half the money and spit the rest with the two roommates.
“Being an Airbnb host – if you do it the right way – is like being a hotel manager. Actually it’s more than that; I was left in charge of things, which meant I took on the role of reservation agent, desk clerk (day and night), concierge, marketing director, maid and, on a couple of occasions, the security guard.
“Overall, the experience was great – 99% of the people were fantastic and we made some life-long friends from it. I loved meeting the people, showing them the room and telling them about the neighborhood. On several occasions, at the guest’s invitation, I would join them for dinner and/or drinks.
“We met some interesting people, too. Our first guest was biking all the way down the California coast. He worked on a luxury yacht in Europe and had three months off, so he traveled.
“Another was an airline pilot who never failed to tell funny stories about his occupation.
“I know everyone wants to hear the ‘bad’ stories and I have a few. One involved a lady who showed up with a baby despite our description clearly stating we did not accept people with kids. For one thing, our house is not child-proofed. She showed up late the first of her two nights and I let her stay that evening but not the second. I did not refund her second night, either. The next morning, she complained that I did not have chocolate milk for her child that was not supposed to be there in the first place.
“Then were were the beatnicks from Berkeley, who immediately made themselves at home, including sitting on the deck singing and playing a guitar, stomping their feet loud enough to get passes-by attention. They were not very good musicians, by the way. We did not get along. The guy wanted to use our laundry machines (not in the deal) and he and his girlfriend wen through our cabinets gabbing plates and glasses as if they owned the place. I’m pretty sure they also took one of my favorite travel books with them when they departed. It was the only thing ever missing after an Airbnb visit, by the way.
“But the most colorful story of all came from a girl. She invited all her friends over that night for a late-night and loud house party. Unaware I was on the couch, they were quite startled when I raised up and told them all to get the hell out of the place! the girl had booked another night but I told her she could not stay. As I did with the baby lady, I did not refund her second night.
“We had more than 50 guests during our Airbnb hosting time and we only had about five bad experiences. The biggest challenge of being an Airbnb host is knowing it can happen and being prepared to deal with it when it does happen.
Other challenges are answering silly questions people ask you on the website before they book, like do you provide towels, have a coffee maker (I had to look!) and things like that, plus “flipping” the room between guests.
“By the way, and th si is a very important note, I and/or a roommate was always in the house when we had guests. I would have it no other way.
“Overall, I would highly recommend being a host. But you have to have the. right personality for it, such as liking to interact with strangers, being comfortable in letting outsiders into your home or apartment and having the patience and temperament to deal with people and sometimes challenging situations.
“Oh, and by the way, we got 5-star ratings from nearly every guest.”