As hosts, we’ve all experienced our first guests. For me, it was about 4 years ago when I'd first left my corporate marketing job and needed some extra money to travel. I started by just renting my own space while I was out of town. Those first few reservations were stressful – let me tell you!
I was worried about so many things: Would guests trash my condo? Would they root through my stuff? What if they rated me poorly? Would anyone even pay me this much to stay at my house? (The last one turned out to be “no” – see below – LOL)
I was VERY selective of guests at the beginning. I had a million questions for them. I'm surprised that my first guests put up with all the back and forth. This part was necessary for me since I was going at it alone and I needed to be sure I could trust my first guests. Asking lots of questions put me at ease, and my first guests were all great (well except for one, but that's a topic for another post).
Since I was renting my entire space, I was worried about some of my most precious possessions getting damaged. I also didn't want guests going through my personal files and potentially stealing my identity. Sadly, I didn't have a room I could lock everything away in. Solving this problem would require some investment. I bought an inexpensive, tall storage cabinet and placed a heavy lock on the front. I also upgraded my filing cabinet to include one with a lock. I pilled all my personal items into the cabinet and locked my files. In hindsight, this was probably a bit of overkill, since my first few guests were terrific. I'd know who they were anyway since I only accepted guests with a fully verified profile.
What wasn't overkill was removing items in my condo that were sentimental. Never leave an irreplaceable item out when hosting. Accidents happen and for certain items, no amount of money will bring them back.
I had no idea how much to price my place. At first, I looked up the cost of local hotels. My home was quite nicely decorated, and it was most certainly bigger than the average hotel room. It had a kitchen, a full sized sofa, and even a balcony; so why wouldn’t guests pay me at least the going rate of a hotel room – or even more! It turns out that while Airbnbs and hotels are competitors, they do NOT compete at the same price point. So you guessed it! My place was priced so high above the other Airbnbs in my area that no one booked me at first (not to mention that since my Airbnb was new, it didn’t have any reviews). With some adjustment, I started to get inquiries and then bookings.
Luckily, I’d been turned onto Airbnb by a friend. He was renting his space while he was away. He was making some good money. The only big problem was that my friend and I are very different when it comes to accepting risk and the value we place on our possessions. My friend is much easier going than me and not exactly the worrying type. I tend to worry about everything and I’m very particular about my stuff. Nonetheless, the advice my friend gave me about which guests to pick and what essential items I need were helpful. The only problem was that I wasn’t always happy with his answers and he was somewhat new to hosting too.
I muddled my way through my first few guests. Once I started to get my hosting system up and running, I discovered that I genuinely love hosting. Over my entire career, hosting provides me with the greatest feeling of accomplishment, the most amount of freedom and has ultimately made me a better person. When starting something new, we all go through a wide range of emotions. Fear, worry and excitement seem to be the most common. Please don’t go at hosting alone – find a friend, the Airbnb help community or even someone like me to guide you through the process. After a few guests, you too will see it's well worth it.