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Our Airbnb Experience

 

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I’m veering away from house updates for a minute here to share a fairly new adventure in the Leake home. Some of you may know we listed our Guest Room on Airbnb last July and have been hosting guests here ever since. To date, we have had about 30 guests or pairs of guests stay with us.

If you are unfamiliar with the company Airbnb, it is a website that provides travelers with affordable accommodations from local residents in cities all over the world. Individuals locate our room listing within the airbnb site, communicate with us about their travel plans and request to stay. We can either approve or decline their request and our address is given to them AFTER being accepted by us. All payment is also handled through the site for everyone’s safety, though we get to select the price/night we want to charge.

Here is a link to our Airbnb listing if you are interested in seeing what the site looks like and how people book through us:

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A few of our most asked questions:

Q. So since you’re acting as an “online bed and breakfast” (air bnb), you serve breakfast for your guests?

A. Nope. The website is really flexible, so we could offer to serve guests a breakfast, coffee in the AM, a private room and private bath, a TV in the room, WiFi, or whatever we think will make them feel more at home. Since we set the price of the room, we can offer what we want to and charge accordingly. At this time, we do not offer breakfast, but guests do have the use of our kitchen and Keurig for coffee whenever they like.

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Q. Isn’t it weird having strangers in your house all the time?

A. Sure it is. Daniel are I are fairly private people. We enjoy our home and therefore spend a lot of time in it. There are certainly times where it has been awkward sharing our space with strangers, but our house is really perfect for this setup since our Master Bedroom is separated from the other rooms by the living, dining, and kitchen spaces. Unless our guests are using the kitchen to prepare a meal, we rarely ever hear them and the awkward times are outweighed by the wonderful people we have met and the income we have gained.

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Q. How do you trust strangers in your home when you leave to go to work or elsewhere?

A. We were hesitant, at first, to welcome strangers in and then walk away with them alone in our house. I guess the trust just came with time. After 30+ individual guest stays, we have never, ever had an issue with a violation of our privacy or destruction of property. I believe setting a slightly higher price has brought a certain caliber of guests who are far more interested in exploring Chattanooga than interfering with us or our home. Airbnb does require quite a bit of personal information to verify the identity of anyone looking to use their site, and the majority of the guests we have hosted have stayed with (and been reviewed by) others on Airbnb. That gives us a great deal of peace-of-mind.

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Q. What kind of people choose to stay with you?

A. The majority of people who stay are 20-30 yr. old couples  traveling to see the city. They spend all day exploring Chattanooga and we hardly ever see them! We have also had a number of people who are in the midst of a moving or traveling across the country and stop in the area just to sleep before heading on their way.

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Q. Do you get sick of cleaning the Guest Room all the time?

A. No, not really. We purchased a second full set of sheets for that bed so we would always have a clean pair on hand. We mostly book guests on the weekend and only have back-to-back reservations once or twice a month, if at all, so there is generally plenty of time to get it ready for the next guest. Airbnb is very flexible and we always have the option to decline a reservation when they request if we feel it’s not a good time for us to host. We have declined several times when a guest booked at the last minute and we didn’t feel the stress to get things ready was worth the payout.

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Q. What are you doing to set yourself apart from the other listings in order to book more frequently

A. Ok, so no one has asked this question of us, but it is something I think about on occasion. There are dozens of listings in Chattanooga on airbnb, and I’m not entirely sure what makes an individual decide to book with us over the others. I did ask a friend to take photos of the whole house for our listing to really show off our home in the best way possible. We also have dozens of reviews from past guests that speak to the cleanliness and pleasant decor in our home. I have started making an effort to leave fresh flowers in the room when I know guests are coming. It is an easy thing for me to do, with a background in florals, but it’s not something everyone else is necessarily doing. I was also exploring the idea of having an infographic flyer made with all of our favorite Chattanooga spots including restaurants and activities as a fun way to help guests who are looking for things to do in the city. I still need to get it designed though (anyone out there know a graphic designer?)

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We don’t see Airbnb as a forever thing for us. We realize that when we have small children it will be far less practical. I don’t know that we would feel comfortable with strangers in the room beside our small children! But for now, we have no kids and plenty of space to share with new people and make a little extra money. Really, the money has been a huge blessing as I have transitioned to a part-time position at my job. If you had told me a few years ago that Daniel and I would be renting a room in our house out to strangers, I would have thought you were crazy!! It’s just not an “us” thing.  It has really surprised both of us how well it’s working out. If you know Daniel at all, you know he is ALWAYS looking for a new business venture to try. Between his desire to use the home as a kind of business and my affinity for making things look pretty (and show it off to people of course) it is, for now, the perfect arrangement for us!

I would encourage you to check out some airbnb listings the next time you’re traveling to a new city. You may be surprised how affordable it is compared to more traditional accommodations in that city and how nice it is to hear from locals about the best restaurants and sights to explore. (The above referral link gives you $25 if you decide to travel!)

Thanks again to Callie Williams of Jolly Muse Photography for the lovely house photos!

 

 

2 Responses to “Our Airbnb Experience”

  1. […] commit to that. We actually had this room listed on airbnb (curious about what that is? check out this post) but it was a bit too much. We can only handle so many strangers in the house at a time… We […]

  2. […] this space is in the guest room that we are currently renting out through airbnb. That means I don’t have regular access to this desk. It’s not such a problem for […]

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