You’ve got your listing, photos, sheets, towels, and everything all ready to go. Now, you are thinking, “What should I and can I offer to my guests?”
When I started hosting, I did not even own a coffee pot. In my defense, I didn’t drink coffee, so it had not quite occurred to me that my guests might. My first lovely guest, Ed, told me to get one, and I did. We learn by doing sometimes, no?
There is a difference between offering a private apartment and a shared listing. In a shared listing you, the host, are living with the guests. I offer both styles of hosting. Throughout the years, I have changed what I offer to my guests, but I have been very consistent on what I DO NOT offer.
WHAT I DO PROVIDE:
Usually some very simple breakfast items: coffee, tea, cereal (two kinds), milk, eggs, bread, jam, butter, sugar, honey, etc. I also have some cooking staples: olive oil, vinegar, spices.
I used to provide fruit and orange juice. However, I found that the fruit went bad and the orange juice was expensive and never used up. Currently, I’m mulling over eliminating the eggs and bread as not everyone eats them. When perishable items are left behind, I take them for my own use, but I can only eat so much french toast.
I spend less than $10 per stay rather than per day. People don’t use all the coffee, tea, or condiments. This is a starter breakfast, and I don’t replenish it. This works fine with my listing that is private, but I did have to make adjustments for the guests who share the space with me.
By Emiliano De Laurentiis via flicker photo cc licensed
WHAT MY GUESTS SAY:
Many guests have talked about what I provide on my reviews. They’re pleasantly surprised and appreciative when I open the refrigerator, and they see what I provide inside.
In the shared apartment listing, my guests use my kitchen. For a period of time, I bought and replenished what I provided. I purchased organic milk, bread, and eggs for myself and shared these items with my guests. This worked well until one family of four (two adults and two kids) went through three ½ gallons of organic milk in a week. They were going to the supermarket, but never bought anything that I provided. I remember feeling quite upset about it, like I had been taken advantage of. I have come to realize that it was not the fault of my guests.
In hosting, there can be some elements of grey. I set the rules. Guests follow them. If I find that I am not happy with those rules, I make changes.
Currently, I give my guests a shelf in the refrigerator for their provisions and I tell them the items on the shelf are theirs. The caveat is that it is on them to replenish food stuffs as needed. This revised rule has worked well ever since.
WHAT I DON’T PROVIDE:
I do not provided wine, beer, or any type of alcohol. I know some hospitality gurus, including Airbnb, suggest that you include wine or beer in your welcome package. This can be risky. You never know what guests may be grappling with or what values they may bring with them.
People may have dietary requirements and their own preferences with regard to alcoholic beverages. Unless you know for sure that your guests really will be okay with booze in the space, think about what you will offer.
AS A GUEST:
I stayed at an Airbnb in Colombia, and there was nothing in the refrigerator. We arrived at the apartment at ten o’clock at night and had to go and find a supermarket so we could wake up with some coffee. Not a great first impression. The host did not provide any kind of guide book, either, but I will get to that that later. What the experience provided was a little confirmation that I am doing something right for my own guests. Yeah me!
DISH ON WHAT YOU SHARE:
So what about you? do you provide anything? or is the refrigerator empty? Do you even offer your guests use of your kitchen? What about alcohol?
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You can always buy that bottle of good wine for yourself. Remember, a happy host makes for happy guests.