Monday, September 23, 2013

Our experience with Airbnb

So as you may remember from this post, while the Professor and I were in Miami this summer, we rented our apartment out on Airbnb to a lovely French couple who was visiting Barcelona with their toddler son. It was the first time we had ever used Airbnb either as a host or as a guest, so we were pretty nervous about how it would go. Total strangers staying in our place. Sleeping in our beds. Cooking with our pots and pans. There were so many opportunities to freak out about it especially for a control freak like me.
But fortunately, our experience was terrific. We returned to a clean apartment where nothing was stolen, broken or out of place. In fact we even gained some things. The French couple left behind a few small toys they had bought for their son (which Roman was very excited about) as well as a potty (which Roman was less enthused about). Furthermore, they kindly replaced anything they had used up or eaten and washed the towels and sheets before they left which was amazingly considerate.

I think part of the reason we had such a great experience renting out our place was because we lucked out finding this wonderful family. But I also think everything went well because we took certain steps (and followed the advice of you great readers!) to make sure that both parties would be happy. In case any of you are thinking of hosting your place on Airbnb, I've put together what I hope will be some helpful tips based on what worked for us. Here they are:

1. Before you invite someone to stay, screen the possible guests. This may sound a little prejudiced or unfair but remember that it is your home and you want someone who seems trustworthy and decent staying there. When the Professor and I listed our place, we immediately received around 7 inquiries. But I was most attracted to families with young children or babies as I figured they'd get the most use out of our place. When I read the French couples's email, I answered back saying that I'd like to Skype with them before confirming. We set a Skype date and all went well. I assumed that they would be great guests and in fact they were.

2.  Create a house rule book or guide. This was a suggestion from you readers actually. Before the couple arrived, the Professor and I wrote out a detailed guide to our neighborhood saying which restaurants we liked, which parks are nearby, how to get to the beach, where to take the recycling, etc. We created some house rules like no smoking, don't invite over strangers, etc. and we also provided detailed instructions for how to use the stove, the laundry machine and the TV and Playstation.

3.  Keep the lines of communication open before and during your guest's stay. Before the couple arrived, we exchanged a few emails mostly so that the couple would know what to bring with them (for instance, they wanted to know if they should bring toiletries or linens or if they could use ours). Also when we were in Miami, I made sure to email them when they arrived to welcome them and to tell them to email me or call me if there were any problems or questions. During their stay, they had an issue with the fact that the sunlight was too bright in the second bedroom where their son was sleeping and wanted to know whether we had a solution for this. I wrote back immediately saying that we didn't have a curtain or anything but they could drape a sheet over the window which is what they ended up doing. It made me feel reassured to know that we were always in touch. Sometimes, the mother would even write me just to tell me what they were up to and how much they were enjoying their vacation.

So that's that. I hope these tips are useful for you Airbnb newbies. Are there any points you would add? I'm looking forward to using the site again but this time as a guest. Now all I have to do is pick a destination!

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