So You Want To Be A Host!

Among the biggest changes in the hospitality industry is the interest of many people to become hosts.  Some want to operate their own bed and breakfast business, and others want to find small hotel or motel properties to manage.  And, increasingly, individuals and corporations are turning available private real estate into short-term vacation rentals for some quick cash.  Facilitating this are the websites that enable property owners to become hosts by renting out their spaces to strangers.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the convenience of hotels, fresh linens and towels, and all the other amenities these places can provide.  Major brand facility or small provider, a hotel can be a relaxing oasis where other people do the cooking and cleaning, and if you’re willing to pay extra for it, pamper you too.
But occasionally you want to feel “at home” when you’re away from home, and the “come stay at my place” revolution can be the solution. Travelers worldwide can frequently find places to stay in their desired locations, live among the locals, have access to kitchen facilities for preparing their own meals, and not have their mornings interrupted by the knock on the door from housekeeping.  There can also be a monetary savings in these arrangements, as they are sometimes less expensive than a moderately priced hotel room in the same location.
However the biggest drawbacks for the traveler to these arrangements come from a lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the hosts.  Whether they offer couches, single rooms, modest sized apartments, condos, or entire houses, renting from a private host leaves a lot more to chance.  Written claims and images from the owner as to amount of space, furnishings, location, amenities, conveniences, etc., are too frequently vague, or implied and open to interpretation, despite alleged vetted assurances from the listing website.  With a name-brand hotel, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting for your money before you set foot in the place, and if problems arise there is usually a full staff to make things right.  (Yes, even a chain hotel can be a dump and not live up to claims, but more often than not, you know what you’re getting before you get there.)
And, like everyone in business, the hosts are trying to save money.  But where the host chooses to cut corners is too often the difference between a guest’s comfort and frustration.
Here are some examples of common complaints experienced by guests, with my comments about the fixes.

  • No internet connection.

Seriously?  These days?  A true sign of a cheap host!

  • An exquisitely appointed space and furnishings with the dimmest lighting imaginable, making it nearly impossible to see or read … anything!

CFL’s and other environmentally friendly lighting options are available in brighter wattages now!

  • An expensive rain-forest shower head over a shower with filthy, moldy grout and an askew bathroom mirror revealing the interior of the wall.

Use an electric steam gun or hire someone to clean the grout and reset the mirror.  A sign the host doesn’t give a damn about the space.

  • A spotless bathroom with a toilet that isn’t tightly bolted to the floor with a loose toilet seat that moves off center when you shift your weight, sit down or get up.

Tighten the bolts!  If the problem is more serious, call a plumber.

  • Broken towel racks.

It’s useless and hazardous the way it is. Replace it!

  • Single ply bathroom tissue with the texture of crepe paper.

What may be soft on the wallet can be quite harsh on the butt.

  • A fancy audio system where nothing is interconnected, no instructions are provided, and local radio stations can’t be tuned in.

Hook it up and provide detailed instructions, or box it up!  Otherwise it’s useless clutter!

Travelers want comfort, convenience and reliability from private or name-brand host!  They want to spend their money wisely, and get what they presume they are paying for.  Like any traveler, those who stay with private hosts just want a place to relax and plan their next day’s adventures.
If you want to be a host, you must exhibit pride in your space, its appearance, its contents, its cleanliness, whether luxury home or small studio apartment.  If you’re serious about being a host, make sure your space is ready for guests.  Do it right not just because the same sites that rent these spaces provide a place for guests to post reviews.  You needn’t match a 4 star hotel to provide a clean, well-lit, safe, comfortable space, with basic conveniences along with the necessities.  Doing anything less is just plain inhospitable!  And not a good career move either!
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