If you have talked to us in the last few months, you probably know that we’re running a little Airbnb out of our house and a few of you might wonder how that’s going.
The answer is: “it’s going amazingly!”
It’s always been a dream of mine to run a bed and breakfast. It stems from the warm fuzzy nostalgia I feel when thinking of the years I spent growing up in my parents’ B&B. It was a very cool life experience to meet people from around the world, talk to people who spoke other language and had been to places I wanted to go, or had never heard of. It was cool.
I’ve always thought I had kind of a knack for hospitality. I’m pretty sure I’m good at customer service. I think I have really good instincts about knowing what people want. (You may also sense that I am not lacking in self-confidence).
Plus, I’ve travelled a fair amount and I know what I like. So I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to run a quality establishment.
Unfortunately, for as long as I’ve been talking about running an Airbnb, Dan has been against it. He doesn’t like people in the house. What if they don’t show up? What if they trash the place? What if they’re really noisy or messy or smelly or use up all the hot water? What if they’re serial killers? What if don’t make money at it? Worse yet, what if we lose money on it?
But one day, all that changed. We stayed in a B&B in Waterton National Park with his mom. I won’t name the B&B because the park is really small and I wouldn’t want to be sued for libel or anything. But the room was tiny. Like tiny. And cold. We were so cold in the night we could hardly sleep. Breakfast, was literally DIY tea (hottish water and tea bags) and a blueberry muffin. How much you ask? $229. Per room. Per night. We had two rooms because Dan’s mom was with us. So $458 all in. For a too-cold bed and a blueberry muffin.
When we left that place, Dan was grinning ear to ear. He said he could hardly believe how much people can charge for so little. And just like that, he was on board with the plan.
So, cut to today.
We run a fairly successful new Airbnb. We have all positive reviews. People love us for the most part. What do we do?
We have two guest bedrooms with queen beds and the usual bedroom furniture. I’ve decorated the rooms in bright, beachy themes. Here are some photos.
I hope I remembered to go back and add photos. Anyway. Both the rooms are in our house so we share space with our guests. We only have one bathroom so when we have a full house (two guests in each room) we have to be pretty careful with short showers and toilet trips.
Here’s why I think we’re successful. We keep things clean. Because of my mother’s passion for cleanliness (she was representative for the Alberta B&B Association in our area for awhile and absolutely METICULOUS about cleanliness), I grew up very alive to the importance of cleanliness and its relative status vis a vis godliness. The rest of my family can back me up here, that when we used to go stay in a hotel, it was rare that we’d remain in the first room we were given. Once she found a hair on her pillow, once she saw a urine-esqe stain next to the toilet and I can’t tell you the number of times she brought a portable black light to check the bedding for stains.
Zero, the number is zero. But I am sure she thought about it.
So this to say, I am pretty mindful of keeping the place clean. Unfortunately, it is an older house, so there’s only so much I can do.
We also have tried to think of the little things that make it an easy stay for guests like:
- fans for hot nights and extra blankets for cold nights
- shampoo, conditioner and soap
- fresh towels, hand towels and face-clothes
- strong WiFi signal in the bedrooms with lots of data available
- hangers in the closets
- basic information about the area (I just popped into the info centre and grabbed flyers)
- cereal and milk available for brekkie if desired
Our most positive experience was an older British couple who stayed with us for two or three nights and were amazing! They joined us for tea on the patio and were present when we saw a magical flying wave of pelicans flying up the river. They saw me buzzing Dan’s hair with the electric razor in the backyard and asked in jest if I’d give a trim to Mr. Guest (which I did). They gave me solid advice and even a contact for an interview for a job which I subsequently got (and they asked me to follow up with them about the results of that interview, and were thrilled for me when I got the job)! And finally, they invited us to come stay with them in the UK if we’re ever over there. Amazing people.
Our most negative experience was a young woman who wasn’t great at planning ahead. She was delightful and friendly but maybe a bit ditzy. I was away in Sydney, so Dan was in charge of the Airbnb on his own. On the day she checked out, this girl’s was to catch a flight at 4:30AM but she got up at 2 and was thrashing around in the bathroom so that Dan couldn’t sleep from 2-3:30AM. (I’ll add that when I got home, it looked like SeaWorld in the bathroom). Finally he heard here leave the house to catch her Uber at around 4AM and went back to sleep with relief…
…Only to be woken up with her KNOCKING ON OUR BEDROOM DOOR and asking him for a ride to the Airport. Not cool. Anyway – he was so tired and just wanted her gone, so he gave her a ride (rather than telling her to catch a cab). That was the worst experience, and frankly it wasn’t so bad. Well, it REALLY wasn’t bad for me, since I had a wonderful sleep in a Sydney hotel.
On the whole, we’re still pretty new at this, but we really like it and it is helping us pay our rent. (The place we’re renting is a little more than we’d intended to pay, but hey – a river)! Our landlords are on board and have even asked if we might be interested in running an Airbnb at their other house a few doors down.
So I guess the world is our oyster!