I decided around the same time I was going to host Woofers that I would set up as an AirBnB as well. I have two spare rooms, one ensuite and figured since I’m nearly always around it would be a nice little earner. From the off virtually everything that could go wrong, did. But the biggest nightmare was shortage of water due to the drought.
You can’t accept paying guests and expect them to do a rain dance every time they wanted a shower. I had to turn down a good number of bookings. AirBnB frown on this and make your property virtually invisible. It’s hard enough to get queries anyway when you’re starting out but this made it impossible. I couldn’t figure out why no matter what area I put in to search properties around about, one place kept showing at the top of the list. And it isn’t anything special, believe me. Plus it wasn’t anywhere near the places it said it was. Frustrating to say the least. It also depends on reviews and it’s so disheartening when you bust a gut for very little money and you get none.
However, I decided I was in it for the long haul and slowly I would build up a reputation. Their website is really really badly set up. It’s beyond confusing and making a change to a price invariably causes confusion and mistakes. I’m not the only one who says this. I’ve heard it from other hosts and guests. I had decided to give a second guest sharing one room a small discount but when bookings were made they applied it regardless. This meant I hosted three Germans in the summer in two rooms for a pittance. My most recent guests the same. So I removed the discount and inadvertently made every guest after the first free…….
I then got a query from a couple and their brother staying one night in two rooms with breakfast for €31.66. She had even messaged me to say how much she was looking forward to breakfast. When I replied it was a mistake on my part. She replied “ I thought it was too good to be true”.
During the summer some of my Woofers went off at the weekend and booked hostels. They told me the prices ranged from €25-50 in a dorm with up to twelve and no breakfast. In an air bnb around here you don’t pay much more. Compare that to a regular B&B where you’d pay at least double or a three star hotel where it would probably be double again. And I can guarantee that the cooked breakfast will be the cheapest quality pork on the market.
I had decided I was going to feed guests the way I eat. There was no way I was going to buy intensively produced breakfast meats, or sliced pans or instant coffee. Guests here get homemade granola, organic yoghurt, my own sourdough, free range eggs from the hens outside the window, a selection of my jams and marmalades, real tea (not bags) and freshly ground and brewed organic coffee. I also put that I had my own bacon, sausage when available. When available and also not when AirBnB has applied a discount across the board.
So imagine how I felt to get complaints about the breakfast. The complainants also had asked if I had Earl Grey tea (which I had). They had had all of the above minus the bacon and sausage because I had made a decision I wasn’t going to give away my hard work for nothing.
This hard work was from April to September. Feeding pigs twice a day, not using commercial meal with pesticide laden GM soy. This meant that if I’m not around I have to pay someone to come in twice a day. This meant that I haul heavy bags of feed around myself. This meant that during the drought I lugged water out to them that my neighbour kindly provided when mine ran out. I also drive to the beach and collect seaweed and haul it back. I’m not writing this looking for sympathy. It is my decision to do it but it would be nice if your guests recognised this and the fact they are getting a breakfast better than any I’ve ever had in a 5 star hotel.
I also provide an evening meal if they request one. The quality of the food again is what I buy and cook for myself. For €25 a head they get two courses and a glass of wine. There are very nice places to eat locally and some are quite reasonable but guests have said I’m one of the few AirBnBs that offer this and they really appreciated it.
So I’m now at the point of should I just do away with the B supplying only the bed (and the air.) Or should I persevere and hope that I get a reputation as a quality AirBnB. Not supplying breakfast means a lot less work. You don’t have to get up an hour earlier than they say they’d like breakfast because you’ve still got to get all the animals fed first.
I think I will make a decision next summer when business (hopefully) picks up again.
But a small request? When you do stay in an AirBnB, particularly one starting out, please leave a review. And please appreciate the little extras provided (the fresh towels, the slippers, the carafe of lovely well water, the hot water bottle service, the toiletries in case you’ve forgotten your own). Most of these you do not get as standard in a 4 star hotel. How often I’ve had to beg a grumpy bartender for water for my room.