My Adventures and Misadventures in the Lone Star State

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Today’s episode is all about Transparency, an important word…especially in our line of work. We, in the Airbnb, vacation rental market, provide an important service, and being clear about that service is crucial to getting positive reviews and generating repeat guests and revenue. It’s about managing expectations and eliminating unwanted surprises. Today’s episode is all about the importance of Transparency.

So this discussion will NOT revolve around what you’re expecting from your guests. Oh no, dear hosts.

Today we’re talking about are you clear with your guests. In your photos, captions, and description.

As a Host be a Guest:

As you have heard me say time and again, the best learning lesson as a host is to be a guest. To book a listing and just be a true blue guest.

Case in point. May had me pretty busy, traveling for some speaking engagements and conferences. Needless to say, I’ve been using Airbnb Airbnb, so I’ve been a guest a few times this month… Coincidentally (So happens), all in Texas.

My bookings were at very different places and different price points, but they were all learning experiences. And if I’m learning something new, you know I’ll be sharing it with you, my dear hosts.

Believe me, every time the experience is not GREAT, I’m like, “OMG, this is going to be an amazing episode!” Actually, to be fair, I do the same when they’re great experiences, as well.

I do think the hosting community is going to appreciate this episode. I have spoken a little bit about both listings and even shared some photos on my Instagram feed. But it’s time to share it all and come clean in this episode… Yes, I’m spilling the beans on Texas!

On this episode My adventures and Misadventures in the Lone Star State

Dallas, Texas Airbnb:

So let’s start with Dallas… Texas, I was, going there, on a very short trip and not wanting to spend a boatload of money. I had a credit from Airbnb for being a Superhost, and being that it was about to expire, I was like, “Ok, let’s use it up”… and use it up, I did.

I did have specific criteria. The listing had to be:

  • Inexpensive
  • Near my meeting
  • Have good reviews

That’s it… Simple.

So, I found a place that I thought fit the bill for this trip. I didn’t care that it was a private bedroom with a shared living space. Like I stated before, I was looking to save some cash. Plus, like you guys know, I like to experiment and see how different hosts do different things. It’s a great way to learn as a host. And then, I like to share my experiences with you. Win-win.

Let’s Start with the Pros:

The price was ideal and inexpensive… Less than $60 a night! I had a private bedroom with my own private bathroom. In the United States, it’s what we call an en-suite bathroom. It even came with a jet spa. I didn’t use it, but it was definitely a PRO. I personally want to clean a bathtub if I’m going to take a bath, but that’s just me.

I will say, the best part was the bathroom being in the bedroom. This eliminated me having to go out into the hallway to use the bathroom. Who wants to be roaming around a strange house in the dark, looking for the bathroom in a shared home? Not me!

By the way, if you offer a private bedroom with its own private bathroom, I highly recommend that you use that in your listing name, as this feature pretty much TOPS everything else. Yes, dear hosts, it tops everything else.

This particular host used this name for their listing.
MASTER Bedroom/PRIVATE bath/oasis bathtub jet spa

I wonder how many people care about having a jet spa? Like I said, I didn’t use it, and it sure wasn’t a consideration when booking. They did provide free parking. I wonder if that might be a more valuable feature as a booking point?

I didn’t have a car, as I was using car sharing during my stay, but if you’re renting a car that would be a selling feature for sure. All I suggest is to think about what’s important to your guest when naming your listing. It can make a booking difference. Do your guests inquire about parking, and you provide free parking? Then use free parking in your title. Is free parking more important than a jet spa? That’s all I’m saying.

So the price was a plus… another plus was how clean the space was. It was spotless, And I truly appreciated it. Definitely, no complaints about cleanliness. I love clean!

Another plus was that they’re a Superhost. As a fellow Superhost, I know what it means and what it takes. Kudos! I also read the reviews for the listing, and they were glowing.

They also had clear House Rules. Tons of them!

They were very detailed and concise, including that they had cameras in the hallway, living room, and front door. Why cameras in the hallway and living room I wonder?  Hosts, please know if you have any recording devices on your premises you need to divulge it to your guests. It’s the law and a big Airbnb rule. Yes, if you have a ring video camera on your door you need to include this in your listing.

Here are my CONS:

I didn’t find out I was sharing a house with other guests until I read the host’s reviews. Yes, I dug because I know where to look. Someone else might have expected a warm greeting from a host only to find an inquisitive look from another guest.

Luckily, I went to the host profile and saw that they have other rooms in the same house. Actually, it was the only way to found out that they were not living on the property and that other guests were sharing the house with you.

Nowhere in the description, photos, or house rules did the host disclose that you could be sharing the space with other guests. Kind of strange, don’t you think?

This was one of the main reasons why I wanted to do this episode. Transparency, hosts, transparency.

I did an episode about the lessons I learned as a guest when I stayed in San Diego. This was Episode 26: What I Learned as an Airbnb Guest

Because of the lack of clarity on this host’s description I wanted to do this episode.

Look, there are tons of ways to host. From private apartments to share a bedroom, a couch, or house with different guests.

It's about transparency. Being clear with your guests is paramount.

As a host, you owe it to your guests to be clear on what you do and do not offer. An unwanted surprise can make the difference between 1 star and 5 stars… Plus, a possible negative review. You can’t show photos of a kitchen, and then somewhere down in the description say, “Oh yeah, you can’t use it”. If you’re showing a kitchen, pool, or a backyard, you better be offering it.

In this case, you can’t advertise a private bedroom and not let the guest know that they’re sharing that listing with other people. Not with you, the host. The oddest part of all this was that NOT ONCE during my stay did I see or hear from this host. NOT ONCE!

Nonetheless, I did book the space. Yes, I knew what I was doing. Again, I like to experiment, and I wanted to see how they would communicate with me with this type of arrangement.

Well, not once did they ever mention they were not on the property or that I’d be with other guests. Once I booked, their email was. “Welcome to our home.”

And I was like, “Ok. Thanks.” No disclosure. No transparency.

I received an email from Airbnb, letting me know that I was going to get “check-in” information 3 days before arrival. It was a self-check-in house with a keyless door.

Well, it was the day before I was about to leave and I still hadn’t received any instructions, so I emailed the host. I then received an email saying that they usually share it the same day. Same day?

I told them that wasn't what I had received from Airbnb. Thankfully, I had made a screenshot of it, and I shared it. They reluctantly provided the code.

I wondered why the hesitancy? A bit bizarre, I confess.

Providing your listing information the day your guests are due to arrive is risky… It can also wind up being even more work for you.

You don’t know your guest itinerary, they might not have wifi… yes, it happens, the horror. or they’re busy with packing, flights, last minute items, and a million other things.

Most of us want the information where we’re staying at least a few days before we depart. I know I do. I want all of that taken care of beforehand.

Finally, I arrived at my Airbnb in Dallas at around 9 pm. I was greeted by a dark house. Dark. No lights. Pitch black.

Here is a tip for you, my dear hosts. Make sure the front of your house is lit. Motion sensor lights are a good thing. It’s common sense and provides a sense of security. Remember, guest sometimes arrive at night and a dark entrance isn’t a greeting that says, WELCOME! Plus, trying to figure out codes while handling bags, is a pain.

When I finally figured out how to input the code in the dark entrance and opened the front door, there in the living room was one of the other guests… A stranger, really. He didn’t say much, as I fumbled with my bag and purse. Once I was inside, he answered my question and told me where my room was, and off I went. I locked my bedroom door behind me, and that was it. And no I didn’t place a chair against the door. But I was happy my bedroom door had a lock.

I believe there were 5 other people in the house, but I’m not sure. I didn’t see them, but I did see 5 bedrooms with 5 signs. I didn’t even hear voices. I know, strange.

As I mentioned before, my bedroom was clean. I really loved that. They provided towels, hand soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. I had forgotten my soap and amenities. I wanted to go buy some, but I didn’t have anyone to ask where I could go. Like I said before, there wasn’t a house manual with any information to provide me with the closest convenience store.

I’m telling you, a House Manual in times like this are 5-star lifesavers! Yes, I might stop mentioning it…maybe. And then again, maybe not.

I could have emailed the hosts, but I didn’t get any emails from them before so I figured it would be a waste of time. By the way, not receiving even one email from the host was not the best feeling.

My next issue? They used a very strong detergent on the sheets. Like I always mention to your hosts, it’s better to use non-scented stuff. Believe me, I was like, “Wow”! But I was there for only two nights, so I held on like a good little trooper. I’m scent sensitive. Other people might not care.

Another interesting thing was that I had nightmares. Nothing horrible, but nothing pleasant. I just didn’t feel at peace. Maybe because I didn’t know who else was in the house. You know, who’s there? Are they outside my door? Silly stuff, but maybe not.

So, there you have it! That was my inexpensive Dallas House adventure. And the big question is, would I stay there again? Would I recommend it? I don’t know. The price was really good, but I just don’t know… Maybe. Perhaps. I just don’t know, which is not a great endorsement.

Austin, Texas

Now, let’s talk about my stay in Austin, Texas and the sweet, honey baby gorgeous house that my dear friend and “Hot Mic” co-host, Ms. Tammy Sims, gifted me for my birthday.

As you may know, I was in San Antonio, Texas, speaking at the Vacation Rental Success Summit this past May, as was Ms. Sims. Well, we decided to escape for 24 hours and go to Austin. A very short trip, but I’ll take any time I can get with my dear, ever-traveling friend.

We were looking at different places, and she found this wow house in Austin. Tammi overdid it. But hey, that’s how she rolls.

The house was private with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Just lovely!

We walked in, and the scent was…well, welcoming. And as I mentioned earlier I’m scent sensitive but this was perfect, not overwhelming at all. Just a light touch.

The temperature was ideal, and they had just a few snacks, with a couple of bottles of water, fancy snacks, ahhh. They had the most luxurious towels and sheets. They were white, plush, and unscented. Just yummy.

We had a backyard and were able to hang out for a couple of hours. We loved this house. I felt pampered.

And like I said before it was almost my birthday. Thank you, Tammi.

Nonetheless, for all its fanciness, they also didn’t have a house manual. Come on Texas! We were surprised. I mean, it’s those little touches…

Anyway, they provided shampoos, soaps, and body lotion. All in small bottles, which I always feel is a waste and not great for the environment. But that’s me.

There were also a couple of closets where they had their supplies…so I was kind of like, “Hmm, those should be locked.” I can see guests going in and taking all of the fancy water, etc.

Overall, an amazing house. Almost perfect. I know, I know. Look am I that hard to please? ‘Come on I was taking notes and photos for you. This is all for you dear hosts.

But again, a very different price point. Now the question is, would I stay in this house again? Hello? I would DEFINITELY stay there again. I was sorry we didn’t stay longer. I did say, just lovely, right? And not a nightmare in sight. I actually didn’t want to leave the bed or the house.

Now in all fairness, I didn’t select this house, so I didn’t see the listing profile, etc., but those were my thoughts from experiencing this house. I don’t know what the titles read for this listing, but I hope it mentions everything I just did…

Back in Eveland

In the meantime back in Eveland and in NY…

Of course, during my trip to San Antonio my own home in New York had a leak in the roof, and yes, I had guests. Of course, I did. You listen to my podcast. And every time I leave NY, my house likes to play this silly game of breaking something.

I’m working in the Dominican Republic. A Tornado hits NY. I’m in Guatemala. The radiator leaks everywhere. I’m in Los Angeles. The heater stops working, and it’s freezing cold.

So a leaky roof, I was all, oh please, you’re nothing new. I’m expecting an invasion by Martians next time.

Since I was traveling and not present, I let my upcoming guests know about the leak in the roof and gave them the option to cancel. I shared the information of my person in NY. I did this because I believe it is important to be transparent with the situation going on in my home. Again, it’s all about taking care of your guest.

My guests decided to stay and gave me a glowing review. Even though I wasn’t there, they knew I was still taking care of them. Like I mention, on episode 33: How to Build and Keep a Team for your Airbnb you need to build a team to make sure your home is taken care of in any kind of emergency, especially if you’re not there when catastrophe strikes.

Remember, your guests deserve clarity, honesty, and transparency during their own journey. They will thank you, and the rewards will surprise you.

Your Host,

Evelyn

Links:

Some of the links mentioned are affiliate links. if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Commissions come at no additional cost to you.

PS: Want more…

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