Hosting an Airbnb right now is harder than you might think

Before the pandemic, Ms. Zima primarily targeted business travelers. But with business travel on the decline, anything goes. In a shared seven-bedroom house she manages, a guest, a middle-aged man, decided to parade in a Speedo, then tried to get into the hostel after his stay was over. “Seriously, almost anything can happen,” she said.

Ms. Zima added that many guests expect white glove service. If someone finds stray hair in a bathroom, be prepared. “People can’t bear to find a hair,” she said. “You would think hair is super toxic or contagious. Hair is a problem that no one really thinks about.

Customers also arrive looking for an experience. Think of tree houses, yurts, barges. New hosts should be ready to take it to the next level. “You have Instagram. You have HGTV shows. People want this dream, ”said Evelyn Badia, who has been an Airbnb host since 2010, and now also runs The Hosting Journey, a website, YouTube channel and podcast to educate hosts. “They don’t have it in their homes, do they?” But they want to come into a house and be impressed.

Of course, some newcomers have a natural talent for the hospitality industry. In June 2020, Jeff Dickerson and his wife, Tracie Howard Dickerson, listed the two-bedroom treehouse that Mr. Dickerson himself built outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The cabin, which sits behind their house and next to a 2,500-acre nature reserve, has been booked almost constantly since.

“Initially we thought that maybe on the weekends we would have people who would like to go out and hike and explore,” said Ms. Dickerson, a novelist. “This month and next month, every available date is reserved.”

The couple hired a property manager to handle the listings, but Ms Dickerson is all about the frills, leaving bottles of wine and personal notes for guests. Last winter she wanted to make the space more comfortable, so she bought some fluffy socks, rolled them up and displayed them in a basket in the living room.

“I thought it was crazy,” said Mr. Dickerson, communications consultant. “A basket of fluffy socks?” Is that so? Should we buy a basket of fluffy socks now? And then the reviews came.

The socks were a hit. After that, he knew not to doubt his wife’s instincts.

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