Hosting others can be an unfortunate adventure.
If you’ve been a short-term rental host long enough, you know this. It is not for the faint of heart.
In 2014, a very naive and excited girl (hi) decided – with the permission of her roommate – to list her spare bedroom on Airbnb. She was so excited – she couldn’t wait to showcase her southern hospitality and make a gaggle of new friends!
The first guest she hosted came and went with no issues, then the second guests arrived. They were a young, funky couple from New York eager to hit the streets and play their musical instruments for the innocent victims of downtown Nashville.
Once they were settled in, they informed the girl that they were so comfortable in their cozy bedroom that they decided to stay in. The young host was delighted to hear this – she created a space so warm and inviting that they didn’t even want to leave!
A little while later, the guy stepped into the hallway – he needed some help lighting the wick of a lantern in their room (rule #1: never keep flammable objects in your STR).
The eager-to-please host sprang into action and quickly stepped into their room, only to discover the female guest was topless in the bed and was quickly pulling the covers up over her chest (with the brand-new comforter, mind you).
This didn’t deter the slightly rattled host; she lit the lantern and briskly exited the bedroom, perhaps narrowly avoiding a request for a different call to action.
A few hours later, the guy decides it’s a good idea to start playing his musical instrument…in his bedroom…at 10:30pm…on a weeknight. Did I mention this room was sandwiched between the other two bedrooms? Oh, yes.
The young host had an important realization that night: she didn’t really know what she was getting herself into.
In case you’re wondering how that story ended, I did politely ask the guy to quit playing his dumb instrument that night; he did so and apologized for keeping us up. They had only booked one night and left the next day without further incident (besides leaving me an unwelcome surprise in the toilet). Memorable guests, those two.
Hosting others can be physically and mentally draining.
Hosting is a grind. It’s been eight years since that unforgettable evening and in the years between, I’ve learned that people (and the economy) are full of surprises and there is rarely a dull moment as a host. In truth, the types of guests mentioned above are the exceptions – hosting others is typically a lot of fun, but it would only be half the truth if I didn’t add that it could also be physically and mentally draining at times.
When you’re first starting out, managing an STR is usually a side hustle; this was no exception for my husband and me. We had one 3 bed/2 bath rental in East Nashville. He was in a full-time doctoral program working a part-time job, and I had a full-time job while doing interior decorating side gigs here and there with Natalie. Did I mention we did all of our own cleaning? That’s what lunch breaks are for, right. The stress was real.
As Annette and Sarah from the @ThanksForVisiting podcast say,
“[Being an STR host] is part-time, all the time.” (1)
Nailed it. Booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo essentially become the background noise to your life. As we all know, people and algorithms don’t care when you’re eating dinner or out with friends. But if you are passionate about the hospitality industry and your investments, you love every second of it. Hyperbole.
Hosting others can be financially precarious, unless…
If your rentals survived a worldwide pandemic that shut down international travel to or from the US for 19 months (2), you would be forgiven for thinking the worst was behind you.
Indeed, those of us in the hospitality industry have suffered quite the whiplash. But times like these highlight why it’s critical to never stop improving both your hosting and rental strategies. Be proactive and get upstream of worst-case-scenarios. Like, for example, an overly saturated STR market on the brink of a potential recession. Get fresh eyes to review your listings and ensure they’re up to date with beautiful designs, amenities, eye-catching photos (for photo tips, click here), and information. And make sure you’re responding to guest inquiries or booking requests as quickly as possible, but at least within 24 hours. Help the Blessed Algorithm help you.
Hosting others takes humility.
Complacent STR hosts don’t stay STR hosts in 2022. If your rentals are struggling to produce the ROI you need, swallow your pride and ask yourself if you’re really doing everything you can to stand out from the crowd.
- Do you respond to your guests promptly with warmth and enthusiasm and check on them during their stay?
- Do you provide a welcome guide for your guests and the amenities they love to see?
- Does your rental have bland furnishings, look like every other rental, and need an interior styling overhaul, or does it stand out from the crowd with its fresh and inviting design and gorgeous photos?
- Are you being competitive with your nightly rates – even in peak seasons – or are you still trying to use pricing methods better suited for 2021? Pricing tools are great, but they don’t get it right every time, especially when STR inventory is making record-breaking strides. (3) Set yourself an attainable monthly goal and adjust your rates and nightly stay minimums to hit it.
If you’ve already made the investment, don’t lose it when the going gets tough. Implement the steps you know you need to take and gain back control of your STR. It’s part-time, all the time, remember?
Hosting others is worth it.
At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves the why behind the what. From the weirdo guests to the sleepless nights, why is a short-term rental investment the path you chose? If it was the get-rich-quick scheme, that bubble was likely burst a long time ago. STRs can have excellent ROI, but there’s no “small investment” about it.
If you chose this path because you’re passionate about hosting others and hope to provide financial stability for yourself and your loved ones, it is worth it, and you can get through this. (4)
Whether your goal is to open a brand-new savings account or build generational wealth, remind yourself of your why and use that motivation to take the steps you need to wade through these waters.
“Invest for the long haul. Don’t get too greedy and don’t get too scared.” — Shelby M.C. Davis.
If you need help implementing any of the steps or amenities we’ve discussed in this post, we’re here to support and guide you however we can. You can schedule a free call with us here to see how we can be of service to you.
And now for our Q&A of the Day
“Charli, if you could go back in time and whisper any words of wisdom to a much younger you at the start of your hosting journey, what would you say?”
“Natalie, I would say: ‘You’ve got a long journey ahead, but you’re going to meet some absolutely wonderful people – one of whom even flew back to the states to sing in your wedding. Sure, there will be a few duds sprinkled here and there that will threaten your mental health and emotional integrity, but they’re the exception. Keep that chin up!’”