10 Essential prepping tips for remote hosting success
I've just come back from a month-long travel adventure - a mixture of international business meetings peppered with some much-needed down-time in some destinations that were new to me. It was a full-on 4 weeks!
To make life really interesting, I had 3 separate Airbnb bookings in my home while I was gone so I had to put a lot of thought into my preparations to ensure all went well in my absence and my guests had a great experience enjoying my home. It's not the first time I have done this so I will share my prepping tips with you here.
1. Put away your valuables
Apply some common sense and remove any truly valuable or precious items that you would not want guests to use. Apart from the obvious jewelry & valuables, I put away my Japanese Shun kitchen knife because I don’t want anyone carelessly damaging the hand-crafted blade.
Install a safe for small valuables, in some inconspicuous place or somewhere that the guests do not have ready access to (a locked cupboard?)
2. Get yourself covered
Make sure hosting insurance is up to date – yes, I practice what I preach. Make sure that your insurance will cover short stay hosting (most house & contents policies do not).
You can read more about hosting insurance here
3. Let your guests know
Normally I am home when hosting, so I need to let guests know that I won't be around while they are here. If I have been planning this trip for a while, I always mention this before they confirm the booking. Occasionally my travel commitments only materialise after I have taken the booking, so I let the guests know ASAP that they will be home alone, and reassure them that there will be a local contact they can call if there are any issues. I have never had a guest object or complain about this - on the contrary, they seem to make extra effort because they know I am taking a leap of faith on how they will treat my home in my absence. So far, I have never been disappointed.
4. Get your team in order
The key to prepping for seamless remote hosting is to have a bullet-proof routine and schedule your service providers. This includes cleaners, meet & greeters if necessary, and definitely a trusted back-up for emergencies. So for me, this means:
Advising my cleaner of check-in dates & times of booked guests
Advising a back-up (my lovely neighbours) of my hosting schedule so that they can assist if something goes wrong on arrival or the guest needs assistance during the stay
Organising someone to manage the household routines of taking bins out for garbage collection, emptying mail-box, watering plants in my absence. I don't want to burden my guests with those things, especially the responsibility of looking after my bonsai garden!
Replace smoke alarm batteries – an easy way to avoid a small but annoying potential guest problem
5. Make sure your House Manual is up to date!
A good clear House Manual is a comfort for guests who need to orient themselves in your home and the locality, and it's comforting for you as a host to know that guests have all important information at their finger-tips. See my previous post about how to create an awesome House Manual!
6. Making space
Some simple preparations will help your guests feel at home, and make you relax about what guests have access to, and the observation of your boundaries. What's an easy way to pack away your belongings without moving out? Here's what I do:
Guests will need somewhere to keep their clothes, so make some space for them. Provide hanging space, and some drawer space if possible.
7. Concealing your clobber – how do you keep your own stuff out of sight?
Pack away your smalls in a box or container that you can store out of sight
Install a small safe in an unobtrusive place, and use it to store any jewelry, cash or small valuables. Safes can be purchased at large hardware stores, are surprisingly inexpensive and should be installed onto a fixed surface so they can’t be carried away.
When it comes to hanging space, I have 2 magic words for you: Shower Curtains. Move all of your hanging clothes into as compact a space as possible, then cover by clipping shower curtains to the rails at either end. Ok, I know it is not going to stop guests from getting at your clothes if they really want to, but do you really think they have a burning desire to parade around the place in your paisley caftan & espadrilles? I think not…
Drawers – it’s nice to empty a couple for guest use. If guests are self-checking in, leave drawers & cupboards for guest use open so that they can see which spaces are theirs.
For drawers & cupboards that you don’t want guests to access, make this crystal clear by securing with cable-ties. Now I know what you are going to say: anyone could easily snip these and that’s true but again, is it likely? I believe that my guests are probably just like me and would respect this very obvious no-go indicator.
Declutter! Make sure your kitchen benches and other surfaces are clear and usable
Clear out you fridge, especially the perishables! It's ok to leave mustard, sauces & other long-life condiments
Pantry - make it clear what guests are welcome to use by leaving a note. I'm happy for them to use any pantry items, and I find I always finish up with extra! I don't sweat the small stuff.
I don’t conceal all the other evidence of family life such as family pics and small décor items, as I believe that guests are signing up to stay at your home, not a sterile hotel environment.
Powerpoints: Make sure your guests have easy access to points for charging devices etc. It's a great idea to plug a power-board for guest use
Bathroom - I put away personal medications & beauty bits, but leave access to the cupboard that has first aid supplies and a powerpoint for hairdryers or shavers. Having some clear space on the vanity is also good if possible
8. Load the lock box:
I offer a self-check in process, so guests pick up the house keys from a lock box attached to my front door. They are sent codes & instructions a day or two before arrival. I have a second lock-box at the rear of the house for back-up, and spare keys with the neighbours if all else fails.
9. Keep a communication schedule:
I keep a spreadsheet of guest arrival/departure info in case I am unable to access the Airbnb phone app for any reason. I schedule the usual messages in the spreadsheet so I don’t forget to send them: I routinely send:
Check-in details such as directions at time of booking (this happens automatically if you set it up in the Location section of your listing details
a pre-arrival message the day before, including lock-box code
a “welcome” message on the day once they have checked in, and
a check-out reminder the day before so that they remember what time to check out, where to leave keys etc, and a reminder about how to leave a review.
Make sure your cleaners and any other support providers are fully briefed and empowered to make decisions on your behalf if need be. Give them a schedule of guest arrival/departure dates & times, and keep it updated in the event of new bookings coming in. I have often left home on a trip with no secure bookings, only to have back to back bookings roll in soon after my departure. With quick communication, there’s no reason not to take those same-day changeovers.
If you need longer to prep for bookings, make sure you adjust your Airbnb calendar to allow a day or two for prepping, so you don't get any booking enquiries before you are able to accept them.
A well-prepared place can allow you to live the dream and fund your travels, so get your place organised before your next trip!
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