Why It’s Critical to Make Clear Agreements With Your Turnover Assistant (Here Are The Exact Phrases I Use)

Psst: Have you picked up my book on this important subject yet, Cleaning Up? It’s super affordable and, if I do say so myself, invaluable when it comes to enhancing your income and freedom! Okay, onward to this post, which is partially an excerpt from the book:

If you’ve been doing Airbnb for some time or have more than one rental, you likely have figured out that hiring a turnover assistant (cleaner who also knows your space intimately and can stage it for you with the knowledge you’ve provided) is essential to freeing you up to make more money doing what you love (which is probably not just hosting Airbnb guests).

However, like in any relationship, it’s easy for things to go wrong if you’re not making clear agreements.

Whatever agreements you make while hiring your assistant, make sure they are specific and documented. If you feel the urge, have both of you sign them as well.

Here are some 5-star agreements you can make with your assistant.

On your assistant’s end:

    • I will respond to your messages for turnover requests within 12 hours.
    • I will follow the full checklist every time.
    • If there are any problems, delays or unexpected occurrences, I will communicate with you immediately.

On your (the host’s) end:

    • I will communicate with you openly about my desires and requests.
    • I will provide you with all necessary brooms, mops and vacuums.
    • I will respect your need for space and not text you between the hours of 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. even if I get a request.

And, here’s a good one for both of your ends:

“I will treat our relationship with respect, transparency and care, and make space to hear your feedback and requests.”

If this kinds of agreement feels uncomfortable to you—it means this is a great place to start!

Having an authentic relationship with anyone requires you to be vulnerable and honest.

Here are some finer details you might want to add into your agreement:

  • Make sure the two of you have agreed on whatever products and supplies they will provide vs. what they’ll use of yours. They might prefer to use their own or yours—in my experience, it’s customary to provide the cleaning solutions (all natural/organic, please!), mops and brooms so that your assistant can come over without lugging the extra materials. As a host, you should provide this option.
  • Agree on the addition (or not) of additional tasks, such as replacing things for guests (light bulbs) if something’s been forgotten or a light goes out; getting your mail while you’re gone, checking on your locked-up bicycles, checking on your car, etc.

From my experience working one-on-one with Airbnb hosts and helping them get their own dream assistants, I know this is a ripe topic. Have anymore questions about this? Ask away in the comments!

And grab my “Cleaning Up” eBook if you’re hungry for more right now (it will be emailed to you immediately upon purchase!) on how to work with a turnover assistant to uplevel your profit, freedom and success hosting on Airbnb.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

The Airbnb Guests That Nearly Shut Down My Listing (And What I Learned About Myself From It)

This experience feels tender still, and as much as this puts me in a vulnerable position to share this, I figured it would be important to do so—to let you know that I’m not perfect, that these things happen, that it may happen to you, and even if it does—you’ll be okay.

Recently, there was a huge athletic event in my home city, and so I had been able to rent my one-bedroom out for double the usual cost.

I headed out to go camping in the mountains for the weekend with a friend, trusting as usual that these would be the kinds of guests I’ve always attracted—respectful, clean, communicative and generally good people.

I was wrong.

(more…)


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

The One-Million Dollar Guarantee Is NOT What You Think—Here’s How to Protect Your Airbnb

Like a lot of Airbnb hosts (including myself at one point), you might remember having read about a “one million dollar guarantee.”

Yes, you think, Airbnb will insure me against one million dollars worth of damages, no matter what!

Or, maybe this “guarantee” is something your fellow host friends told you about to assuage your fears of renting out your place to strangers. You looked it up briefly and then carried forth, buoyed by the confidence of your host friends (and let’s be honest, by the cold hard cash they were making while on vacation in the Mediterranean).

And now… you’ve probably forgotten about it. Nothing’s gone wrong, or only minor things have, and you think you’re immune from suffering damages from guests.

Now, while I am a proponent of positive thinking and manifesting your reality… I’m here to give you a positive reality check today.

The “one-million dollar guarantee” is actually not an insurance policy. It does not mean you will receive up to a million dollars from Airbnb. And, you are actually protected way less than you think.

Okay, breathe. Now, I’ve found a solution for you.

The solution is called Slice.

Slice provides on-demand insurance for the on-demand economy; as of now, they’re available in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, with their homeshare product specifically for those who rent their places on Airbnb (that’s us!), and are adding more states soon.

What I love about Slice is that they provide insurance for the specific time that people rent their home—from a single night to a months-long stay. And it’s all done through the Slice app or Slice’s website.

They’re also really out there in the community talking to hosts and getting feedback for their coverages that are tailor made for homesharing, including infestation, loss of income, excess use of utilities (such as internet downloads), vandalism and theft.

The Abundant Host interviewed Slice’s Chief Underwriting Officer Michael Fitzgibbon and Managing Director of Marketing Emily Kosick to find out more about Slice. I also interviewed an early Slice customer named David G. Elliott independently, to get the customer perspective. 

Above from left: Slice CEO Tim Attia, Director of Operations Dawid Glawdzin, and Chief Underwriter Michael Fitzgibbon.

How Slice Is Changing The Insurance Game

Slice bills themselves as a startup insurtech company providing pay-per-use insurance for the on-demand economy that is smart, simple, cost-effective, and can be purchased with a tap. Slice was founded to re-imagine the process from the customer’s perspective.

“Our inspiration came from decades of working in the traditional insurance business,” said Michael. “It takes a long time to buy an insurance policy, and we wanted to see if we could make it frictionless.”

They decided to lean toward the sharing economy because they found a true need for it. With Airbnbs of their own—Tim Attia, Slice’s CEO, has a country home that he rents—as well as daily users of Airbnb and/or Uber, they have a lot of exposure to the sharing economy.

Slice makes it easy to get insurance for the exact time that the host needs it.

Michael explains: “The host who’s renting would simply download our smartphone app. There is no painful application form; we ask only for your name and address. We underwrite it and give you a quote in seconds. Then, you buy insurance only as you need it, which is billed automatically at the time of rental.”

All right, you’re probably thinking, this sounds great but—how much does it cost?

Here, my lovely readers, is where you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

It costs about $5-7/night—which I think is amazingly inexpensive and reasonable.

Again, you might be wondering about Airbnb’s “one-million dollar” guarantee.

Why do we need Slice when we have the Airbnb’s Host Guarantee and/or Host Protection Insurance?

“There are two sides to Airbnb’s protection: liability and property damage,” Michael told us. “The property damage side is the Host Guarantee—this is actually not an insurance policy, even though most people think it is. Here, Airbnb only covers damage caused by the guest, subject to a number of terms and conditions.”

Michael tells us that a host first has to present that claim to their homeowner’s insurance and file a police report. Plus, the guarantee doesn’t cover certain valuables, jewelry and fine arts.

“It’s very limited and hard to quantify for,” he said.

Airbnb itself says that the guarantee is not a replacement for the host buying their own insurance from an appropriate provider.

I asked Michael if he knew of any real-life examples.

He told us that the Slice crew had met a host whose guest accidentally started a fire in the kitchen; they had and used a fire extinguisher, but of course it did a lot of damage—$12,000 in damage to be exact.

“An insurance policy is obligated to assess that fairly, and make payment,” Michael told us. “It’s contractual to indemnify the insured. However, Airbnb’s terms don’t promise indemnification. They will negotiate the claim for as little as possible.” In this case, they offered the host $2,000.

All right, but what about that million dollars of liability insurance Airbnb provides?

Michael tells us that the million-dollar limit applies only if no other insurance is available. The policy is subject to an unknown “aggregate limit,” which is the total amount of all claims it will pay in a year. With over 640,000 hosts sharing that coverage, it’s quite possible the limit will be used up by the time you make a claim.  Finally, the host is not the “Named Insured” on that policy— you have no policy rights or direct relationship with the insurance company.

Airbnb has over 300,000 properties rented per night, which is over 100 million per year. “Enough instances can  happen over that time to use up all the insurance,” said Michael.

Phew.

Meanwhile, Slice has been spreading the word about their new service all over the country.

They’ve been attending host meetups in various cities and went to the most recent Airbnb Open in Los Angeles.

Above: Michael speaking about Slice at a packed Airbnb hosts meetup.

When I talked separately to David G. Elliott, one of Slice’s earliest users, he remembers meeting the folks from Slice this way.

“When they were first getting started, they did a test market in Iowa first, to work out the bugs (no pun intended),” David said. “I was able to see what their site looked like and how easy it was to sign up. At $4.75 per night to have the insurance, and you only pay for the nights you have guests? This is a no-brainer.”

Slice has 18 different unique homeshare coverages, and every time Slice talks to people about them, there’s always someone who latches onto one of those.

“One coverage that people really seem to like is rental interruption coverage,” Emily told me. “We talked to people who have had to stop renting for one reason or another (infestation, for example, which we cover). With our rental interruption coverage we’ll cover you for the loss of income during the period the place can’t be rented out.”

David, who’s been a host for three years, was surprised by the fact that if you have an incident and you don’t have insurance, you have to go to the guest first to recoup your losses.

“My only bad incident (I have over 100 reviews) was a guy visiting for three days who left bed bugs,” David said. “I had a bed bug infestation show up 10 days after he left. I tried to talk to Airbnb about it and they told me: I’m sorry, we can’t help you with that. Unofficially, they did give me some money to make up for the loss, but technically they said they didn’t have to do that. Had I had my Slice policy back then, two of the things that would have been covered under Slice are infestation and days lost that I couldn’t rent out my place.”

Why Slice Isn’t Just Another Tech Startup

To get Slice started, they created the design, pricing and underwriting guidelines themselves, then presented it to Munich Reinsurance Company.Munich Re thought the concept proved to be viable, and the partnership was founded.

It was innovative, it was on the cutting edge technology-wise, and it could make money,” Michael told me.

Michael has been in the insurance business for 30 years as a broker, owning his own agency, and as an underwriter for a multinational insurance company. Michael also spent over a decade with the world’s largest risk and insurance management firm, Marsh & McLennan Companies.  

And this is what makes Slice stand out from a typical startup—everyone has a background in both insurance and technology. They’re not just tech people with a great idea; they have decades of experience in the field they’re trying to innovate.

You can probably guess what Slice’s #1 tip for hosts is. But, they did give me a wonderful analogy to help me understand their perspective.

“Truly, there are a few hosts who take the ‘ignorance is bliss’ attitude by not looking into their coverages,” Emily said. “And that’s a big mistake because they’re putting themselves at a lot of risk.”

Michael explained to me the following example:

Which situation would you get insurance for: A single cello player coming to stay with you, or a family with a dog?

Most people say “the family.” The folks at Slice talked to a host who was in this exact situation. He knew the cello player very well, she had stayed with him before—yet this family was new, and he figured they could cause some damage.

However, you have to take into account the liability side of it—if the cellist slipped and fell down the stairs, she might never be able to play again, which could affect her job—and that claim could cost over a million dollars. Whereas a dog bumping over a vase is quite little in comparison.

“People often think they ‘know someone,’ and they wouldn’t sue them—but in this case, the cellist would have to replace the income she’d lose,” reasoned Michael. “One of the things we’ve noticed is that people hosting for business really need to think a lot deeper than hosting. Of course, we’d recommend buying coverage for both the cellist and the family.”

David genuinely agrees. He says he constantly meets people who say they had an experience where they wished they’d had the kind of coverage Slice provides.

“You can’t depend on your own homeowners insurance, because your Airbnb is commercial usage; and you can’t depend on Airbnb’s “guarantee” either,” he said.

As hosts, we are opening ourselves up to a huge financial loss.

“What would happen if a guest left the oven on by accident? There’s so much that can go wrong, even not on purpose,” said David. “Your name isn’t on the policy with Airbnb, so you’re at their mercy.”

Truth. Thanks so much to everyone at Slice and to David for doing this interview! If you’d like to find out more about Slice, head to their website.

This is a sponsored post. If you’re a like-minded and aligned company, product or service and would like to sponsor The Abundant Host through a multitude of avenues including sidebar advertising, posts and more, head here!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

How to Transform a Boring Balcony Into a Lush, Inviting Outdoor Living Room

This guest post for The Abundant Host is courtesy of Veronica over at Host Hacks Australia, a fellow lady in the business of Airbnb (and an amazing interior designer).

I asked Veronica: What does being an “Abundant Host” mean to you?

She told us: Abundance is the cornerstone of hospitality, and we have the opportunity to articulate that very effectively as Hosts, no matter what our means. It’s not about luxury or wealth—and even those on the most modest incomes can afford it. Generosity of spirit costs nothing. I believe that generosity and the joy of sharing is at the heart of hosting philosophy—and also just a nice way to live a good life! It’s all about reciprocity for me, and if you share your abundance, you will reap the rewards.

Do you see why I love her? :)

My hope is that this piece inspires you to renovate parts of your Airbnb listing using inexpensive, DIY tactics—and have a genuinely good time doing it.

Enjoy!

—Amy, The Abundant Host

When I have more than two days off, I start to look around for things to renovate or spray-paint. This time, the balcony was in my line of sight and I decided I was sick of it after 4 years, so a design make-over was called for.

I invited my Airbnb hosting buddies to watch my progress on my Facebook posts as I went on my journey of discovery; now that I’ve finished, here is the Big Reveal with a buying guide to boot!

Here we go…

What’s wrong with your poor inoffensive balcony, I hear you say? Well, all first-world problems really. As the only “outdoor” area in my Williamstown town-house, I want to be able to relax out there, and of course it had to double as an awesome party space.

Here are the things that bothered me about my balcony:
  1. It faces north, so gets blazingly hot on sunny Australian days. In high summer, it is unbearable out there. Although the area is partly roofed, the sun still manages to belt in between the rafters of the pergola
  2. The tiled floor gets too hot for bare feet. The tiles always look dirty
  3. Hot northerly winds ensure that most hapless plant-life is doomed to fry in record time
  4. Although the space is a good size at 4 x 4.5m, it is dominated by a huge outdoor dining setting. It’s a great big cube, cleverly designed so that the seats recess underneath. It seats 8 and that has been great, but there’s not much room for anything else. We certainly do spend lots of time eating out there in summer so I need some dining setting solution. The space is also home to a monster BBQ which is plumbed into the gas, so moving it is not an option.
  5. The covers that I had so lovingly made for the furniture have now faded in the sun and are looking very unattractive.
  6. The balcony needs to be neglect-proofed in case I am travelling… Any live plants out there will fry in the hot sun, especially if they don’t get water for a couple of days. I often have Airbnb guests in the house while I’m away but I don’t want to put that responsibility on them. They should be able to enjoy the space without working to maintain it, and so should I!
  7. There’s nowhere to lounge… If you want to sit outside you have to sit bolt upright in one of the setting’s chairs. Now I don’t know about you, but my idea of relaxing is to be in a sarong, reading a book in a reclining position, preferably with a glass of something crisp & white accompanying. Ultimately, a Nubian slave feeding me grapes, but I’ve heard that slavery is frowned upon these days… :)

In summary, I wanted to transform my balcony into an outdoor extension to my living area: somewhere that is spacious enough for entertaining and lounging, yet still has some kind of dining possibilities. Naturally, it has to look stunning! It also needs to be low-maintenance and drought-proof to survive.

Let’s take a look at the “Before”:

transform your balcony airbnb

Note specifically:
  • Large scale balcony dining furniture dominates the space
  • Tiles are scorching-hot underfoot and always look dirty
  • Red & white soft furnishings have faded in the sun
  • Area gets blazingly hot in the summer sun
  • Not enough greenery
Let’s get to fixing it up!

First up, sell that out-sized dining setting. I put it up on my local Buy Swap Sell Facebook page, and sold it within 24 hours for $200! Quicker and easier than selling it on Craigslist or Ebay. Tip: Check Facebook to see if there is a Buy Swap Sell group in your neighborhood.

Wow, there’s room for a pony now that the old setting is gone!

I’m floored…

I’ve decided that a nice bit of astro-turf is the way to go. I’ve used this before on balconies in my Airbnb properties. You can just drop it down with no installation required. It has drainage holes so any moisture can still run through to the drainage pits on the balcony floor. It is soft and cool underfoot, and if you close your eyes you can imagine that it is the real thing. It is one of the cheapest flooring solutions you can go for—and it looks great.

There are lots of different options available—some look super realistic and some are very obviously not, which can also be ok in the right situation (for a fun retro look, you could team some of the obviously fake stuff with some Acapulco chairs and ornamental flamingoes!).

The depth of the pile varies from about 12mm to a lush 40mm. For a balcony, around 25mm is fine, which is what I opted for. The fibers themselves also come in a variety of shades: The most realistic turf has the green grass filaments combined with curly brown undergrowth, which is what real lawn usually looks like. There is also green curly undergrowth which looks super luxurious but not quite so true to life (looks nothing like any lawn I’ve ever been in charge of!)

Then there’s the matter of width: this stuff comes in a roll like carpet. I needed to cover 4 meters x 4.5 meters.

I found this glorious 25mm turf at a bargain price for $17 per m2 on GumTree (note: the Australian version of Craigslist in the U.S.). To make matters even better, it came in a 4 meter width so I didn’t have to have a join down the middle! Sold!

I rushed down to a warehouse only 15 minutes from my place. I wanted to have a look and run my fingers through it—it’s not one of those products you can confidently buy online sight unseen to my mind. Half an hour later, they had it delivered to my door and even humped it up the stairs for me. All I had to do was roll it out and run barefoot through its lushness. The turf cost me $200, so I basically swapped it for the old outdoor furniture I had sold.

I was mightily pleased.

Sitting Pretty

Along with my Prettie Turf, I needed something pretty to sit on. The Boxing Day sales were still raging in Melbourne so I researched outdoor furniture showrooms and found Outdoor Living Direct in Hoppers Crossing. My challenge was to find a suite that did not have too big a footprint and would fit into the alcove of the balcony. There’s a lot around, and much of it is very bulky—not balcony-scale at all.

I finally found The One which fit like a glove into that space. It came with 2 ottomans which can be positioned with the sofa to make a chaise, comfy, light and easy to shift around. The price had been slashed so I got a real bargain, and it was delivered 3 days later.

Only one problem… boring color.

But, I had a cunning plan!

Unleashing My Creativity

As you will have gathered by now, I am a bit partial to gilding the lily. I like nothing better than settling in for a big crafternoon with my weapons of choice at the ready:

  • My trusty sewing-machine
  • 4 thread overlocker
  • Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on the Sonos
  • Optional equipment: a cheeky Pinot Gris for creative inspiration

(Warning: Avoid operating machinery when drinking for inspiration but if you must, make sure it is a white wine because red wine can ruin your craft masterpiece!)

First stop was to pay homage at the altar of Spotlight, the Mecca of crafters all over Australia. I was looking for some nice bright canvas, and from the huge choice of canvases available was delighted to find the Karim range which is both UV tolerant and weatherproof. However it was pretty expensive at nearly $30/m. On the up-side, it was extra wide at 150cm.

I didn’t buy immediately because I needed to do some measuring up and grapple with the vexed question of which color/design to choose: I liked the green options because they looked fresh, clean and resort-ish, but what about the pattern? Plain green, the cute floral, or the timeless honeycomb pattern? I was trapped in the hell of indecision…

In the end I applied the same classic decision-avoidance technique that I use when buying shoes…

When in doubt, buy all of the colors!

When I went back to purchase I found that the canvas had been drastically reduced in price and was now only $17.99/m! It was as if the haberdashery gods had rewarded me for my monumental feat of indecision. This was surely a sign that I was on the right track.

I bought a couple of meters of all 3 options and decided I would ponder the ensuing design challenges over a G&T and a good lie down.

Having gone completely over the top with two different patterns and a plain fabric, I then had to decide how and where to apply them. I like to mix and match, and as I was only dealing with 2 colors, how hard could it be?

It actually turned out to be a piece of cake—you can see how I used the colors in the pics below.

I applied contrasting side panels to all the flat surfaces (floral on the plain bench cushion, plain on the honeycomb ottoman cushions, plain to the sides of the floral backrest cushions). Looks great and avoids the need to match patterns on seams which is just about impossible in this case. I purchased heavy duty white zippers for all covers—you can buy these by the meter, which is really handy because the lengths required are well beyond your standard dress zipper.

With the scraps, I made a cute little cushion with a strip of velvet bobbles around the edge. Kitch but sweet, because I hate wasting fabric. Consequently I have a cushion to match every dress in my wardrobe. When I lie on my bed, I almost disappear.

Blinded By Options

Now comes the most challenging part of my mission, dear reader.

Although I now had a cute-as-a-button couch setting and tootsie-friendly lawn, the sun was still blazing down on all below and made it impossible to enjoy the space between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A solution must be found!

The limitations were:

  • The Pergola covering the balcony was structurally complex, so fixing any kind of blind would be a problem
  • I didn’t want to ruin the architectural integrity of the structure visually
  • The alcove housing the couch projected further out than the pergola, covering it so any kind of vertical blind was not going to suit
  • The area is a second-floor balcony visible from the street. This would also make installation problematic and cherry-pickers of the expensive mechanical type may be required

After considering countless permutations and contraptions, I realized that the only design that would give me the functionality I needed was a retractable awning—the ones that can extend out horizontally with mechanical elbows underneath.

Decision made, I set about getting quotes. I called one company that had a nice website and gave them the dimensions. I was shocked when the estimate came in at an eye-watering $3,400 + an extra $500 if I wanted it motorized.

So, I called a business that is a household name in this industry. They told me that their awnings were top quality German engineered, which pleased me until they hit me between the eyes with the monumental quote of $9,000 + $700 for motorized! After I regained consciousness, I informed them that (a) I would not require gold plating, and (b) I also would not require the German engineer to fly out to Melbourne business class to install it! I was more than a little kresta-fallen until I once again comforted myself with the Oracle of the Apple Isle’s prophecy:

“The answers you seek are on the GumTree of Life.”

Sure enough, when I turned to the Website of Wonder (Craigslist, to you non-Aussies), there it was. The clouds parted and the angels sang as I beheld Factory Fast’s wondrous range of motorized awnings. And verily, it was good.

These splendiferous marvels came in a range of spans from 3 – 5 meters, and promised the same features as their German engineered cousins (including motorization) at a fraction of the price. The shortest at 3 meters was just over $400 and delivery was promised at 3 – 5 days.

I nearly swooned.

Now I know what you are going to say: “It’s not the same quality.”

While I am well aware that a product from Factory Fast is not going to have the same quality credentials as our German masterpiece of engineering, honestly, it has a one-year warranty and at that price I could replace it every year for the rest of my life expectancy and still be ahead. So, I bit the bullet and ordered the 4-metre jobby in a flush of optimism.

The awning was delivered right on cue, and the instructions promised that even a dim-witted child could install it in under 30 minutes. In the end it took Michael and I two aborted attempts and a modicum of cursing to get the thing up. This was by no means due to any shortcomings in the product or instructions provided, or the skills of the long-suffering brother. It was entirely due to the complexity of the pergola design and the limitations it placed on where we could fix the blind. Once we had it figured out, the brackets went up and the awning slid into them like a dream.

It was a magic moment when I pressed the Button of Glory on the remote control and saw those elbows flex, extending the blind smoothly and silently into the night. I felt vindicated by this paragon of Chinese manufacturing!

(On a technical note, the only thing missing on this product is a wind sensor so I do need to be careful not to leave it extended on windy days lest I wish to see the awning sail over Port Phillip Bay with the pergola fascia attached, reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ raft in Castaway).

The Finishing Touches

There was an ugly rainhead to disguise in the corner, the wall above the BBQ was a bit barren, and the space needed some low-maintenance shrubbery for that lush jungle feel. I have a collection of bonsai that I wanted to display on the parapet wall, but had always held off because the thought of one of them being dislodged by a careless elbow and braining some hapless pedestrian beneath sent a chill down my spine. So I needed a solution for that too.

I had a very nice piece of wrought-iron wall art that had been waiting for a wall to call home, so that was installed over the BBQ and proved to be just the ticket. It is very eye-catching and can be seen from the street.

The rain-head in the corner has been adorned with a spray of artificial mystery plant.

A couple of faux bamboo trees filled the empty corners nicely. Although I prefer the real thing, some well-chosen artificial plants can be a better solution in circumstances limited by harsh conditions and/or lack of time. With my travel schedule, at least I won’t have to worry about watering. I also need to confess that I am a certified Brown Thumb, and responsible for more domestic deforestation than Agent Orange.

The yukka was looking like it sounds, full of cobwebs and in need of some TLC. I gave its trunk a trim, evicted the arachnids and added a pretty skirt of sprayed gold rocks to the pot. It now looks a million bucks.

I had already decided I would not be cluttering the space up with a coffee table. The frame of the couch is broad enough to hold a glass and I have a little occasional table in the adjoining lounge which I can bring out if needed. I found this nifty bathroom caddy that has a nice small footprint and can hold drinks, snacks and other lounging paraphernalia.

When it comes to dining outdoors which we often do, a simple folding trestle table will be brought into service. It fits neatly into the gap between the BBQ and the balustrade, with seating provided by the couch, the ottomans and some folding chairs if need be. The rest of the time, it will make itself scarce so I can enjoy my spacious balcony.

Now for those killer bonsai… a couple of well-placed brackets under the parapet provide an anchor point to secure them, ensuring that they will fall onto the balcony (not over the wall) in the event of a mishap or strong winds. Humpty Dumpty, look & learn!

Finally, the piece de resistance… my signature Great Balls of Ivy. These little beauties are so easy to make and look fantastic. Being artificial ivy they are perfect for those like me who have a plant-watering disability. To see them swinging in the breeze fills me with delight, and they are a great indicator of adverse wind conditions, early warning of gusts that might imperil my Awning of Joy.

The finished product… voila!

Now, dear reader, my work is done. I am putting my feet up for at least the next week, or until boredom once again moves me into DIY distraction.

Happy Hosting!

Buying Guide (Amazon):

Retractable awnings
Artificial turf
Outdoor furniture
Canvas fabric
Artificial bamboo plants
Hanging baskets


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Co-Hosts & Cleaners: How to Communicate With Your Airbnb Helpers To Reach Your Goals

Whether you’re hiring a turnover assistant or you’re working with a co-host who is helping you with your properties, you’ll need to learn how to communicate your desired results with love and intention.

But when the situation might be emotionally charged, or there’s some confusion with initial communication, what can you do?

When in doubt or when you’re feeling strongly about something, you can use the following method, which I credit to the wonderful book, Nonviolent Communication.

Nonviolent Communication looks like this:

When (thing that actually happened; an unarguable thing; a fact) , I feel (a feeling you have; it cannot start with “like” or “that,” but should be a single word or set of words about what you’re feeling) because I value (a quality or activity you value) . Would you be willing to (your request)?

Miscommunications can avoid becoming problems by using this method.

Here’s an example:

When you said you might not be able to respond to my texts in 12 hours, I felt nervous and scared because I value my Superhost status and being able to respond to my guests in a timely manner. Could you tell me more about that?

Then, they might say something like:

Oh! I didn’t mean for you to worry—I just meant that I’m really not a good texter, but I’m happy to call you back and tell you the answer!

On the appreciative side of things, you can say something like:

When you said you loved to create a magical feeling when people walk in the door, I felt so happy and excited because I value the way my guests feel when they first enter my space. Thank you for that; it means a lot to me, and I feel safer knowing that.

There’s always a way to use this system in any dialogue, especially when we want to communicate the microscopic truth about something—which is so important in close relationships.

And yes, you’re building a close relationship.

If you think your relationship with your turnover assistant or cleaner isn’t close—think again. There’s no one else who cleans up your nail clippings from the ground (yup, went there), who tells you gently that a guest spilled wine on the mattress pad and it needs to be replaced, who takes care of your plants so they don’t die while you’re gone.

Treat this person kindly, like they’re taking care of your life—because they are.

You can find so much more on this topic in my book, “Cleaning Up: How to Work With a Turnover Assistant to Uplevel Your Profit, Freedom and Success Hosting on Airbnb.”

Thanks for reading!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Declining An Inquiry? Don’t Forget to Do This One Thing First

declining airbnb inquiry

I must confess—I’m not someone who turns on Instant Book.

I believe that Airbnb hosts should be declining some inquiries, and should have the option to, every time.

Your reasons for declining could include:

Intuition (that the guest isn’t right for your place, that you won’t feel safe, etc.). This is a 100% valid reason for declining anyone, and I feel strongly about this (especially as a woman).

Overwhelm (you’ve just hosted a chain of constant guests and you need some breathing space for yourself).

Special events/holidays (maybe you’re hosting a birthday dinner party that you’d prefer to keep private and you aren’t sure your guests would vibe it).

And many more.

However.

There is a message you can be writing back when you decline that could earn you future bookings, should you desire them!

Here’s an example of something I wrote when my reason was that I desired space/time to myself, but the guest could be a returner to my city:

Hi! Thank you for your inquiry! Unfortunately, my place is unavailable that night, as I’m coming home late that evening from a trip. I’ve now blocked it on my calendar. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy your trip to [my city]! It must be lovely to visit your son while he’s in school here. Please keep me in mind for the next time you visit—I’d love to meet you!

You could even reference saving your listing to their Wish List.

Voila! It might not result in everyone returning to request again in a few months, but I believe in serendipity, and if a guest is meant to stay with you, they probably will.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

A Big Airbnb Transition And a Fresh Focus for The Abundant Host

You may have noticed you haven’t read a personal post from me (my favorite kind!) in a bit. I’ve taken some time off this summer and then began to work through a huge personal Airbnb transition—and I wanted to make sure I was fully ready to share it with you!

As you know, I am of the belief that there are really three specific kinds of Airbnb hosts—and depending on which kind you are, you need different resources, tools and advice to make the most of your hosting experience.

And right now…

I am shifting from being one kind of host to an entirely different kind!

I’m moving from primarily a Feels-Like-Home Host to the Bed-and-Breakfast Host, after having moved on Aug. 1 into a gorgeous, modern, spacious two-bedroom with my love.

What does this shift mean for The Abundant Host?

1) My focus is more on providing a quality in-person hosting experience.

Just last night, an older mother came to stay with us who had just dropped off her freshman daughter at college. Needless to say, she was asunder! It felt so good to nurture her with hot chamomile tea and conversation over some smooth jazz music. I can’t wait to have more connected experiences with my guests, now that I’ll be in the same space with them.

2) I’ll be exploring in-depth how to build up a brand new listing.

I’m thrown back into beginner’s mind with my new listing, so I will be focusing even more on how to build it up (even though I have almost 100 reviews for my old property—but how much does that matter anymore?) and sharing the results with you!

3) I’ll be focusing more on home design.

Since I’ve got a brand new, much bigger space, I need help with this and would love your tips, suggestions and will be sharing my process as I go along!

For a trip down memory lane, here’s a flashback from when I started hosting.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any thoughts/advice!

I had emailed this news out to my newsletter first about a week ago, and some feedback I got was:

“I love this idea that you’re transitioning from a kind of ‘expert’ role back into a beginner, and coming along the journey all over again with us.”

While I don’t regard myself as an “expert” but as someone who’s always learning and evolving… I definitely love having a beginner’s mindset again.

Onward!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Are You Ignoring A Third of Your Guest’s Experience? Read This!

This sponsored post is in collaboration with Casper: “dedicated to bringing great sleep experiences to everyone with the perfect mattress, pillow and sheets.” If you’re a like-minded company, product or service and would like to sponsor The Abundant Host through a multitude of avenues including branded content, sidebar advertising, posts and more, head here!

Casper-Shot-2

We spend a third of our life in bed, and people often forget (or choose to ignore) how important a restful night’s sleep is. The truth is:

A quality mattress can really make a difference—especially when it comes to your listing’s reviews on Airbnb.

A good night’s sleep results are immediate: more energy, better mood, clearer thinking. And there’s nothing worse than a terrible night’s sleep when you’re on vacation or traveling for business.

As a host, you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t ignoring this part of your guest’s experience—which is likely the experience they’ll remember and comment on if it’s terrible.

So, how do you ensure you make those eight hours the best possible? Invest in a quality mattress and calming sleep environment.

Mattresses have a lifespan of 7-10 years, or about 30,000 hours—and that’s when you’re using it for its intended purposes (ahem, sleeping). But mattresses end up being used a lot more than that (think breakfast in bed, movie marathons, putting shoes on in the morning…) which means that over time, the mattress isn’t as supportive as it once was and can result in your guests waking up achy.

What should you look for in a mattress?

Casper-Shot-11

A quality mattress should provide two things: comfort and support. Casper, a sleep company, spent many waking hours developing the one perfect mattress; so perfect in fact, it’s award-winning, having won TIME’s 25 Best Inventions of 2015, Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award 2015 and the Big Innovation Award 2016.

They were the first to combine springy hypoallergenic latex, high-density memory, and supportive polyurethane foams that come together to create a surface that contours to the body, keeps you cool, balanced, and most importantly, supported through the night.

When your guest hits the mattress to catch some zzzz’s, they shouldn’t feel lumps, pressure points, or worry about what position doesn’t cause pain; instead it should feel like a gentle giant is cradling them in his arms as the drift off into a sweet dreamland.

How to create a nurturing sleep environment:

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A great mattress is just the beginning. As a host, you can help your guest get the best sleep ever by making sure their bedroom is the ultimate sleep sanctuary.

  • Nice clean bedding. Breathable sheets, perfect pillows and a clean duvet help a lot. Welcome your guests to something that’s modern, yet classic.
  • Keep the TV out of the bedroom! The light from our favorite screens hinders melatonin, a hormone we need to get us ready for sleep. Some people like to fall asleep to the sound of the TV; instead, keep a fan or white noise machine in the bedroom.
  • Enable your guest’s wind-down routine. Set out some chamomile or other caffeine free tea, keep books near the nightstand to encourage an alternative activity to looking at a phone or laptop, and leave a natural lavender spritz by the bed to calm. In the bathroom, provide some essential oils and a bubble bath for a de-stressing experience before bed.
  • Block out as much light as possible in their bedroom. As mentioned, light disrupts the production of melatonin, which plays a significant role in the circadian rhythm (an internal rhythm that helps to regulate our sleep, wake cycle and other functions in the body). Even small amounts of light exposure that filter in through curtains can hit the skin and interrupt the hormone production.

How to earn five-star reviews from the great sleeping experience you provide

If you want to empower your guests to have a wonderful night’s sleep, this is something that can be unique to your listing. Your amenities revolve around relaxing and destressing. If you’ve gone above and beyond, spell out information about your mattress, the quality of your bedding, how dark the bedroom gets, how you personally value sleep, and that you’ve gone the distance to make that apparent in your listing.

Your guests will pick up on these details and mention them in their reviews and stories when they return home. Their positive experiences will turn into a positive review, resulting in more bookings, and ultimately more money for you.

To get you on your way to providing top-notch sleep to your guests, Casper, who truly believes that the best way to a better life begins with better sleep, wants to help you update the bedroom without emptying your wallet.

Casper mattresses are priced at $850 for a queen, but you can register for their Host Program and get some sweet deals only available to hosts.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Ready to Start Hosting? Here’s How to Get a $50 Bonus from Airbnb!

(If you’re reading this post… this offer is still available!)

Hi guys!

First of all, I want to thank you for giving me such great feedback and suggestions—whether it’s one-on-one, via email or on social media.

The Abundant Host is an incredibly unique place on the web.

It is one of the only sites created and maintained entirely by a female (me, Amy!) in the Airbnb hosting space. And I’m very proud of that.

It’s also one of the only sites approaches Airbnb hosting from a perspective of abundance, of giving to receive, and of bounty (not lack). This comes from my own background and influences, and my belief that the world is a magical place, and we can create whatever life we choose when we’re aligned with our truth.

So, thank you all for your support—and I hope I can continue to support you on your journey as an Airbnb host.

With that in mind, I have an offer you!

If you start hosting on Airbnb through this link exclusive to The Abundant Host community, you’ll get $50 dollars from them after you host your first guest.

For referring you, I get $100.

Ready? Let’s start hosting! Here’s how to get started (and get between $50-200—sometimes this offer actually increases without them telling me about it, see photo below!):

get 200 to start airbnb hosting

Click on this link, which will guarantee you $50 (or more) after you host your first guest.

You’ll see this page:

start hosting on airbnb get 50

(Let’s say you want to rent an apartment that fits four in New York. You’d make the selections above, and hit Continue.)

Make whatever selections apply to you, and click Continue.

After that, Airbnb will give you a handful of other steps to complete to start listing your space. Don’t fret about filling these all out perfectly (especially the photos part, as we’ll get you some free professional photography later!).

Remember: you must publish your listing and host someone first, before Airbnb will give you the $50.

The Fine Print

Here is Airbnb’s page on the fine print for this $50 offer, but here are the most important takeaways to make sure you get your $50 from them!

  • To qualify for your $50 payout, your first booking must have a value of at least $100 USD, excluding fees such as cleaning fees and taxes. (This is really easy!)
  • You have 150 days from the date you are invited to complete your first booking in order to earn the $50 payment.
  • You must accept a reservation from someone else other than family or friends.
  • If you are based outside the U.S., you will receive the equivalent of $50 in your local currency (i.e., the currency of the payment method that you have selected for payouts).

That’s all!

To review, you’ve got only three steps:

  1. Start hosting by clicking on this link.
  2. Publish your listing (don’t worry about filling everything out perfectly).
  3. Host someone… and then receive a bonus $50 from Airbnb!

Sound good? If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. :) Thank you!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

What’s Your Unfair Advantage as an Airbnb Host?

unfair advantage airbnb hosting

I was working with a client recently who was frustrated that people were copying her listing.

She felt like she had put a lot of time and effort into her description and details (not to mention in the physical listing itself!) and people were pulling a copy-and-paste number on her.

My advice was simple:

Write copy that they can’t copy.

I try to make it so it would be almost impossible to copy my listing. Almost (I’m sure now someone is going to try). ;)

I have sentences like:

“In summer, relax on my [specific thing] overlooking [specific street], [specific landmark] and [specific natural element]. A wonderful [specific type of wood] table and chairs await you! In winter, relax by the fireplace with a glass of wine after a day of [3 specific things to do in my city, all within walking distance].”

I can hardly copy myself. :)

And this isn’t difficult. I’m not writing poetry here. I’m just being super specific.

An example of what you might not want to write that could easily be copied:

“You’ll find a relaxing, inviting space that is well stocked with amenities.”

You could write this exact sentence in 99% of Airbnb listings.

What is your “copy-able” score? Read your listing and give yourself a point for every sentence that could be copy-and-pasted somewhere else. If your total is more than 3 points, see if you can amp up your specificity in those sentences.

What this boils down to is: You must tap into your unfair advantage.

In this post by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income (who I love), he says:

I was first introduced to the term “unfair advantage,” in the context of online business and blogging, by Lain Ehmann who was the featured guest on [the SPI Podcast]. To date, her episode is one of the most popular success stories on the podcast because Lain shares exactly how she’s now earning 6-figures a year in the scrapbooking niche.

She described an unfair advantage as a skill or asset that you have that no one else has, or very few others might have in a specific niche. It’s your competitive edge, and whatever that edge may be, it’s your job to use it to your advantage as much as possible as you shape and create your business.

For Airbnb hosts, your unfair advantage could be:

Your personal story (or listing story).

For example, maybe you found your home in a serendipitous way, and that story will emotionally resonate with your guests.

The people you know in your city.

Are you offering your guests a discount at the best coffee shop near your location, where you know the owner? Are you telling them to try a yoga class with your teacher/mentor? Are you offering to introduce them to people who are in their field for a chat? This is a highly overlooked advantage over other listings.

Your host hustle.

Are you just leaving your listing up and never changing the calendar, and not updating the prices based on demand? Are you signing in often and always responding to inquiries within a few hours? Are you marketing in other ways like on Instagram or with your own website?

Your listing’s specialty.

Is your place geared toward attracting the guests you want by representing your personality?

What’s your unfair advantage? I’d love to hear in the comments below, or on Twitter!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!