Do you feel shackled to your Airbnb and guests? Has your home started to feel like a hosting prison? Well, perhaps it is time to take a vacation. Yes, you heard me. A real vacation! Here are 7 tips for a stress free vacation while airbnbing your space.
What do a tornado, a blizzard, and a broken radiator valve have in common? They all happened at my house while I was out of the country.
Taking a vacation while being an Airbnb host turned out to be challenging but possible.
I was producing a television campaign for Goya in the Dominican Republic when someone mentioned a tornado had hit New York. This was my first trip while hosting and I had my friend Deborah taking care of my home. Deborah lives in Manhattan, about an hour away from my home. Unemployed at that time, she had the time to help me, and I trusted her with my home. She knew about the tornado and was already on her way to my home to see if there was any damage from the storm. I emailed my French guests; they were upstate shopping at the Woodbury Commons and didn’t even know about the tornado. Thankfully, the damage was limited to only a couple of broken pots as a tabletop umbrella had flown around the yard with the table in tow. Seemed reasonable damage for a tornado to cause.
ORGANIZATION IS ESSENTIAL
I have a google doc that has all my guests' information. Their name, listing, dates, arrival information, etc. I share this document with all the back-ups. Because it’s a google doc, I can make changes and updates, and my helpers will always have access to the latest version. I love google docs!
I let all my guests know that I will be out of town. I exchange my first back-up information with my guests and copy my first backup on the email exchange. Everyone is connected.
YOUR TRUSTED PEEPS (aka Community is key)
I’m a hands on host. I do 95% of my cleanings and deal with all my guests. But I have an amazing group of people that can take care of my home at a moment’s notice. They know my system: how I clean, what I provide, and my hosting style.
Create a tribe of friends that can help you with your space. And make sure you pay them!
You can also hire a company to manage your listing.
No one will clean like I do. I know a few people who clean better, but they are few and far between. I have a cleaning document, with photos (yes, I know it sounds like a bit much) and a checklist of each room.
While you’re still in town, have your backup or cleaning company do at least one cleaning. Even with the handy cleaning checklist, they will likely have questions. Remember, they don’t know your home like you do.
I have a lockbox that has allowed me to have a life while hosting. I could write a poem about it. I give the code to my guests and all the back-ups. Via this lockbox is how I also get keys to any handy person dealing with any issues (i.e. the radiator valve). No one has to be waiting for a person to show up.
I know there are some keyless locks, and I’m staying at a place in San Francisco right now with one. I’m loving it. I have to decide if the cost is worth it.
If you can’t get a lockbox or keyless lock because it’s a building, etc. talk to a trusted business, preferably one that is open 24 hours since guests arrive at any time. Yes, you’re going to pay for this. You can also have a friend handle the keys, but make sure you compensate them for their time.
I had to travel to Puerto Rico, my homeland, for my grandmother’s funeral. Since it was the holiday season and the house was full of guests, I left Deborah in charge for a second time. While I was in Puerto Rico, New York had a record-breaking blizzard; yes, one of those. It paralyzed the city. Deborah couldn’t make it into Brooklyn, and I needed to make sure things were safe. It cost me over $150 to have the front of my home shoveled by a neighbor. Everyone came in and out of the house without any trouble. Sometimes, you just have to throw money at the problem and hope it gets fixed.
Your vacation will cost you beyond the flight, your Airbnb, and souvenirs. I pay everyone who cleans and manages my home. If they clean while I’m in town, it’s a bit less than if they’re managing it. In exchange for the added cost, they give me peace of mind, which is priceless.
INQUIRIES AND RESERVATIONS
The inquiries, reservation requests, and emails don’t stop while I’m away. It’s a blessing and a curse. I know I’ll be getting some future bookings, but I have to be “on.” Because I only have two listings, it’s manageable. I wake up in the morning and answer any overnight emails. When I return at night, I respond to another round of emails, etc. I know some hosts who turn off their listings while away so they don’t have to even answer emails. I don’t do that.
After over 3 years of hosting I was finally taking a vacation with my family. We went to Colombia for the holidays. This time, I had my cousin Maddy (she lives in Brooklyn and has a car) my friend Angela, and my good friend and co-host Marie, as back-ups. Everyone had keys, each other information and the guests’ schedule. Christmas night, I received an email from Maddy that a radiator valve broke and there was water all over my new wood floors. The guests cleaned up the water and contacted Maddy; she contacted me; I contacted the handy man. He went the next day and fixed it. A close call and crisis narrowly averted!
SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG
My garbage wasn’t taken out while I was away. snow fell, valves broke. Be prepared and don’t despair. It will all work out.
Right now I’m at the Airbnb Open in San Francisco. I had guests arriving last night who complained that one of the radiators was not giving heat. This morning at 6am, I was giving the set of keys to my handy man to go and check it out. He asked me if the valve was opened. I emailed the guests; yep that was it. The previous guests had closed the valve, so there was no heat. Hopefully, that’s all that happens and we don’t get another historic snowstorm.
The moral of the story is, other than my leaving the country seems to cause weather emergencies, stuff happens. You have to be prepared.
Are you envious of the great vacation you’re providing your guests? Are you dreaming of a week without laundry, questions and emails? What are you doing to travel without worry? Or you haven't left your home since you started hosting? Please share your stories below.
Remember, we all need a vacation, even if our job is working from home. Know that vacationing while hosting is possible and can be a good experience. Just don’t schedule it while I’m away. We might get a tsunami in New York.
Like always, Happy Hosting!