Airbnb Lessons

I’ve been renting out my bedroom on Airbnb for a while now. It’s been interesting and profitable. On the whole, not an unhappy endeavor, but it’s not making me rich by any means. Based on the money I’ve put into it and the money I’ve made and the extra bills I’ve had to pay and the time I’ve spent on it, I’ve come out barely ahead. Still it’s worth it to not be a slave to an hourly job for next-to-nothing. Once classes start again, this will be even more helpful for my life.

There are some things I learned “the hard way” though and there are some things I wish travelers would understanding about staying in “an Airbnb” (Yay for new nouns!) These apply mostly for those of us who also live in the space you are renting.  I can’t speak for commercial hosts.

  1. Stop asking for discounts before booking.  Running an Airbnb is not free nor is it cheap. Hosts pay for many things – some of which you see (like toilet paper) and some of which you don’t (like electricity) so don’t think we don’t  notice when you decide to treat us like a laundromat.  More importantly, we pay mortgage/rent to actually have this space to rent to you, so asking for a discount is entitled. Our bank doesn’t give US a discount. Your being in our space literally costs us money. Airbnb also does everything to make your stay cheaper – the push hosts HARD to give discounts (weekly, first-timers, off-season, et cet) and they push HARD for us to have low prices (smart pricing fluctuates with use). Asking for a discount is annoying. Airbnb doesn’t offer US a discount – we pay them! One time I had a family of 6 staying with me for $17/day. I lost money on that booking but I did learn about proper pricing. Now, once you’ve stayed with us we might be amenable to giving you an extra-special deal, but that runs into the next problem…
  2. Don’t wait to book more time.  Airbnb does everything they can to keep our space booked at all possible times. When in doubt, overbook your rental. If you think there’s a possibility of needing an extra day, BOOK IT. Not because it makes us more money but because you asking us if you can stay an extra day or two the day before you’re scheduled to check-out puts us in an uncomfortable position of having to say “no” to a guest. We’d actually rather have you stay an extra day than have to switch guests more. We’d love to have you stay extra time but it can’t happen when you wait too long to book – we’ve usually already got someone else coming. If you get to the space and it seems decent then as soon as you know you’ll need extra time ASK. I’ve had almost every guest ask if they can stay extra time and every one of them I’ve had to turn down because they waited until the day before check-out to ask.  When someone’s already booked the space, I can’t let you stay extra no matter how much I like you. If you book an extra day and then don’t end up needing it, tell the host and ask them if you can get part of your money back. Some hosts have buffer days between guests and might not have a problem. Even if they say no, you’ve only paid one day. It’s not that bad. Most of all, if you realize you need extra time, do not wait to ask for it. If you do get to do an new booking, you might ask the host to waive the cleaning fee since you’re not leaving in between because…
  3. This is not a hotel. When your garbage is full, please bring us the bag. If you’re really lazy, ask for the trash to be taken out but do NOT let it overflow. Right now, if I had a dollar for every empty water bottle I had to retrieve from behind the bed I’d be able to take my kid to Disneyland. If you share a kitchen, wash your dishes before you leave. If you’re eating/drinking in your room, ask for the protocol. I put coasters in the bedroom and I have yet to see anyone use them (yes,  I can tell). If I supply you towels, please wash them yourself rather than dumping them in my hamper and asking me for another towel. Basically act like an adult. You are renting a space MUCH cheaper than a hotel so appreciate that fact and pick up after yourself. If you are more aware of your surroundings, perhaps you’ll be better at keeping track of your own stuff which leads us to ask…
  4. Please check your stuff before you leave. I’ve “lost” things like towels and cleaning supplies to guests. I am sure they didn’t mean to take those things but it can easily happen if you’re packing to leave and you don’t double-check your stuff. At the same time, I’ve found things guests left behind. So please, check your stuff before you you leave. It may not seem like  a big deal but having to replace stuff other guests will need while having a pile of stuff nobody needs is a mild pain, and it can get expensive. Towels are a minimum of $7 at Target. if you take two that’s $15. If you take a couple of washcloths as well? I’ve basically lost a day’s worth of earnings. How would you like to have a day of work cut out of your check because your boss just couldn’t be bothered to give it to you? That’s kind of how I felt about it. Having stuff disappear is especially aggravating because…
  5. I live here too.  Please never forget that I (and my family) live here too. There is a “house rules” section on the listing but there are some “rules” we don’t don’t think to put on there, so when in doubt, ASK. I allow pets in my space and I’ve already had a guest who thought it was perfectly okay to let their dogs go in my backyard to do their business. This was not okay with me. I had assumed they would take their dogs for a walk to do their business. Having three dogs poop every day for a week meant my son could not mow the lawn. Which meant the grass grew. Which meant I couldn’t spray the yard for mosquitoes. Which meant we were all getting bitten like crazy every time we went outside. My “house rules” section is already long. Now I’ve got to put another rule about where your dogs can poop? I’ve had guests move the furniture, leave doors open, wake me up at ungodly hours, block my car et cet. I can’t possibly write a rule for everything we do here in the house. But I should not have to write rules like “please don’t slam the door at OhGawd o’clock” or “please don’t leave toenail clippings all over the bathroom”  – some things should be common courtesy. That said..
  6. I like having you.  I do Airbnb because I need the money. I also really enjoy the company. I have baked treats for my guests, spent an evening watching TV with my guests, explained how my video game works, offered them alcohol, told them where to get dinner and how to shop for groceries. I like having people over. I hope this enjoyment is not ruined by some bad experiences in the future. When you stay with a host, do not be afraid to be friendly. We mostly like having people over and welcome a chance to get to know you. If you want to be totally private, that’s fine too, but there’s no reason you can’t smile occasionally and say hello as you pass by us.
  7. Please leave a personal message. So much of our success as a host depends on the star review. But the star review doesn’t tell us anything. You have the chance to give us a personal note as well so consider doing that instead of leaving a low star review on any of the categories. I’ve learned a LOT from the personal notes and it’s helped me improve my host game, but people who leave a 4 star didn’t help me at all. I need to know WHY you weren’t completely satisfied. Finding out that someone thought I needed to change out the trash can to one that has a lid? Totally helpful. 4 stars for “cleanliness”? Not helpful.

Carrot Sticks – a side view

https://thethinkingorc.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/carrot-sticks/

 

 

 

This, and the resulting very civil comments, is absolutely worth reading. is not that long. he’s talking about the mindset of the angry, rights-busting conservatives from an anthropological prism and I think he’s totally right.

I would add that for some of these people, the consternation is twisted higher from the source: some people are upset at the government’s complicity in over-throwing the moral feudalism they grew up with and it makes them believe in conspiracy theories. but some are aghast that their own children have rebelled against the very system which afforded them the “rightful” privileges the parents expected gratitude for bestowing.

I watched this shift as an outsider my whole life. I like the fact that the newest generation takes most of our “non-conformity” as their baseline; their “normal”

I remember reading a book from the 50s, in it, one of the characters remarks in how it’s too bad the children have to shun a particular little child because their parents got divorced. I had to ask my parents what the hell this meant: why would kids shun another kid whose parents were divorced? they struggled to give me an answer that made sense but I could see the situation did not surprise them.

I also would expound upon this aspect:
“It used to be about not doing anything weird, and looking down on anybody who did.
Now it’s about not doing anything cruel, and looking down on anyone who does.
There used to be people it was not only OK to be cruel about, but REWARDED to be cruel about.”
The first shift happened (I think) when people were forced to share space with others who had genetic differences – skin color, hair structure, body ability – and realized that they could detect a similar humanity with those “other” and therefore changed the rules to “we extend non-cruelty to those who may APPEAR different but are actually accepted as fellow humans” and the definition changed to “if they can’t help it, you can pity them instead of being cruel” Which essentially was the moral model of disability (and here “disability” includes anyone who cannot conform due to genetic differences)to the pity model. People used to think it was morally superior to feel sorry for POC. That was considered “enlightened”

this is why it became important to change the rallying cry of human rights past “we can’t help it so stop being mean to us” because it exonerates the perpetrator from continuing to exclude “the other” so long as they are no longer actively harming them. Passive harm through inaction, refusal to help and systemic harm was acceptable because of the pity model “too bad, that’s just how things are. Just adjust” (and be happy we aren’t outright killing you anymore”)

At this point, we are still stuck in different zones between “it doesn’t matter whether I choose to identify as this person type, I have the right to exist and move through society just like anyone else” and “look, just stop killing us” when it comes to oppression in our developed country of America. We recognize that “choice” and “genetic difference” make no difference in how cruelty is applied – it’s against our beliefs of opportunity and freedom to continue to allow society to structure itself around the notion of “those of us who are good” versus “those of us who are abnormal”

One of the things those people cannot see is that (at least from a purely pragmatic POV) eliminating “good versus different” model actually results in a larger, stronger social fabric. They cannot see this because they were indoctrinated with the notion that the strength of our society relies upon purity.

Exposure and tolerance are self-perpetuating feed-cycle: the more time spent around “the other” without harm, the more tolerance builds. It is as simple as that. But growing up without the mindset of “you are a good citizen when you act like us” gives new generations a jump-start into that cycle. Even as far back as the 90s, children were being raised into and around families that fought hard for respect and recognition and saw the pointlessness of cruelty as a social fabric. So I do believe this is a construct that is crumbling.

 

It seems glacially slow, but it is happening with lightning speed to those of us who remember the earlier days.

Resistance is futile

I know it seems terrible that there’s this guy who is literally on top of you, hacking away at you with a machete, but I promise you, me and few other guys are holding him back. You can’t see us, because we’re behind him and we don’t want him to know we’re the ones holding him back, but yanno, calm down,. don’t start screaming or anything because we’re here, we promise. Just imagine how bad it would be if we weren’t here; he’d probably be hacking your head off instead of your legs. So don’t call for back-up. We’ll hold this guy back until he’s tired of hacking at you.
I mean, we knew he was unstable and talked a lot of shit about carving people up when we brought him along to your dinner party, but we didn’t know about the whole machete thing. We thought he was just carrying a baseball bat. No, we can’t pull him off you right now because if we did, you wouldn’t invite us to your next dinner party. Don’t worry, he’ll get tired after a while. In the meantime, you should thank us; he’s only hacked a few of your fingers off so far. We’ll make sure he doesn’t get near your neck. Don’t scream. Don’t call for help. I promise we’re here. Just try to smile and go along with whatever he says. Once he’s gone, we’ll finish up.

Emelia Holden video: No, it’s not a double standard

To the knuckleheads who say “but it’s not okay if a man does that to a woman?!” in reference to the Emelia Holden body slam video: No, it’s not okay. Because when a man is upset with a woman, all he needs to do is puff up and yell, and she will be intimidated because men are usually larger and scarier than women. When a woman wants to intimidate a man, she has to get super physical. If you doubt me, imagine if Emelia had just turned around and yelled at him,. He would have smirked and kept walking or said something infuriating like “hey, calm down honey” blah blah blah. She had body slam him to get his attention and make him realize she’s just as scary as him. THAT is why it’s okay for a woman to do it to a man and not the other way around. If a woman touches you when you don’t want to be touched, you can raise your voice and yell at her and she will likely be intimidated. If she’s not, feel free to get physical about it. But remember to pull your punch depending on how big she is. The object isn’t to hurt the offender, but to make them realize that you have power too.

Harlan Ellison

Ellison was the first writer I fangirled over. I proselytized about him everywhere. I gave away his books, I collected old copies from the used store, I bought in auctions et cet. But I knew nothing about the man as a person. Somewhere in my late 20s when I had gotten more “serious” about being a fan (joined forums, went to gatherings, started writing my own fiction, interviewed folk et cet) I heard stories about him as a person. It did not take long to develop a very negative viewpoint of him. So then he became my first writer to feel conflicted over. As a woman, I despised what I kept hearing about him over and over. But his words, his writing still stirred something deep in me and fueled me to keep writing.

Ultimately, I believed the only way to enjoy his work was to dissociate it from the man whenever possible. The more I learned about him as a person, the more flaws I could find in his work but it didn’t change the fact that the man was monumentally talented and a workhorse to boot. But he was also a bully. This is not my personal opinion, it is well known that Harlan Ellison loved to mock and humiliate others.

So, I don’t feel one way or the other about his death personally. I feel like another chapter of my maturation has ended but that’s what happens when you turn the corner on birthday and swing into your 50s.

Bon Mots to you Ellison, you old talented asshole.

Ursula K Leguin

Ursula K Leguin has died. She was the first sci-fi writer I read who was a woman. I was 13. I had read some fantasy stuff before but nothing could have prepared me for the brilliance that was The Dispossessed. She blew my mind. She made me hunger for more. Not just more sci-fi,. but more sci-fi like that. Playing with stereotypes, challenging tropes, and questioning our cultural mores. I honestly could not believe such writing existed before I stumbled upon her. She blazed a trail that was so necessary yet so welcome. Until I “found” her, I didn’t even know you could write things like that (and be popular!) She gave me hope and something to look up to. But it wasn’t just her books, it was her essays, her introductions for other authors and her missives she sent out for her fans. She was a bright spirit, despite what her writing was like,. with a quick wit, a sharp perspective and a very warm personality. I always wished I could meet her just to let her know how important her work was to me. But I take solace knowing that she knew, even if she didn’t know it was me personally, that her work was needed and loved by so many. The best part was knowing how happy she was to be doing what she wanted; sending messages to society, shouting into a void that whispered back in lines of gratitude and love. I am glad I was able to be a part of that. I will miss her. Even though I never knew her, she knew me.