AirBnB is a relatively young company started in the US by a couple of young enterprising lads who wanted to travel and keep the costs down. They did this by staying with locals who opened their homes to them.
According to an article I read recently by Jessica Salter, “Anyone, anywhere in the world, can list spare space (from a room to a treehouse, castle, or even a Fijian island) on the website and rent it out to travellers, or log on and book a night in someone’s house. AirBnB offers a professional photographer, deals with the money and provides a 24/7 customer support service (including $1 million insurance for the host). To date the company has had more than 10 million nights booked in more than 19,000 cities in 192 countries, mostly in Europe. It is now so popular that every two seconds someone books an AirBnB room”. Jess’ article is well worth reading @JesSalter.
Converted attic room
I first came across AirBnB when my friend in Bristol decided that now her child had left home for uni, she had more room than she needed and not enough income, so she opened an en-suite double bedroom. Three or so years on she earns a three figure sum every month and has a stream of regulars.
We decided to get in on the act and on Valentine’s Day this year we opened our west wing for business. Prior to the 14th February we had always called the space “the garage room” because it was a badly converted garage with an attic room above that we were warned not to use when we moved in because the floor wasn’t safe!
Twin bed room
With an aged mother a couple of hours away by car we were wondering if a time would come when we needed to offer her more support and with the family expanding and the first grandchild born we knew we should do something about the space to make it more user friendly.
So, after several thousands invested in not only bricks and mortar but beds and bedding, curtains and other accoutrements our listing went live. Creating our listing on AirBnB was easy and it is really simple to tweak it too which keeps it fresh and up to date.
We’ve had a variety of people staying from the family from Hong Kong who came for their daughter’s graduation in Norwich; the family from Singapore who were touring and did Stonehenge and Cardiff whilst they were staying here; a couple from New Zealand who were visiting granddad’s grave in a local churchyard; a couple who had just had a baby and wanted a break (the baby was cute); and a family from Spain who stayed for 5 days
View of garden
Most people though just come for one or two nights at the weekend because they have a family get together, a birthday party, christening or more usually a wedding. We’ve had lots of wedding guests staying. We are lucky because within a very short distance from here are several popular wedding venues - Broadfield Court, Hampton Court Castle, Brinsop Court and others a little further afield in Hereford.
As I write we have two couples staying who cycled here yesterday from Abergavenny. Today they are continuing on to Ironbridge. They arrived cold and wet (it had been raining) but after a hot shower they sat outside and had a BBQ - sort of posh camping!!
Seven months on we are delighted we opened our home to strangers. Seven years ago when I was looking for something do in retirement I dismissed opening a bed and breakfast thinking it wouldn’t be my thing! We’ve now had nearly thirty bookings - 82 bodies over 49 nights! And I love it. I love the anticipation of preparing for the guests. I enjoy meeting them and hearing their stories and I am happy to wave them goodbye and get on with preparing for the next set of guests. We are constantly surprised that it has proved to be popular and the reviews we get are mostly rave ones! AirBnB guests and hosts are encouraged to review each other and you don’t see what each other has said until you’ve both said it.
My latest review was from Laura who said “A lovely clean, cosy place to stay in a beautiful countryside setting. The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place. Amanda made us feel very welcome - thank you!”
We have gained ‘SuperHost’ status which appeals to my competitive nature and we are looking forward to the next six months of hosting. If you are at all inspired and are thinking of opening your home, do get in touch before you do and we can both earn out of it! If I recruit new hosts I get £65 per host when they host their first trip. Plus I’d love to mentor you through your early days.