Never in all my life would I have imagined how an online accommodation platform started by two young American guys renting out blow up mattresses to strangers would change my life.
Five years ago, a guest to my home asked me why I didn’t rent out my empty garden cottage (a rather long, romantic story for another time) on Airbnb. Being atrociously bad at keeping up with the latest hospitality trends, the Airbnb concept had not reached my ears, so I did some research. I had a big fat, hairy “Not a chance!” response. What! Strangers walking in and out of my home space at all times of the day or night! No ways. Not even for the money (a very typical response of mine, by the way).
Time passed and I kind of got used to the idea. Then some guy friends of mine asked if they could stay in the cottage every week for a few days due to ongoing business in Cape Town. They became my guinea pigs for the first year (I do owe some serious apologies to both of them forever for all the times the TV did’t work when there was a rugby game on). Eventually, trepidatiously I stepped into the world of Airbnb.
Selecting decor, placing furniture and choosing soft furnishings fed my inner interior decorator and ‘she’ was in her element. Within a few months of strategic buying of cutlery, crockery, kitchen utensils, linen, furniture, scatter cushions etc and the never-ending moral support of my sister (whose eyes to the future never cease to amaze me), my little cottage in the garden was looking gorgeous.
Airbnb’s online hosting system was user-friendly then, and is completely incredible now. They have thought of everything to support a creative with a full-blown loathing of administration.
When it comes to the guests that come to stay, well, I’m consistently blown away by the magnificence of the human beings that arrive to nestle in for their stay. Since my listing went live in March 2015, I have met the most incredible people. Singles, couples, mom’s and daughters, fathers and sons, parents and babies, parents and teens, academics, politicians, writers, astro-physicists, doctors in the British army, sports enthusiasts, holistic healers, creative directors, botanists, exectutives, explorers, lawyers, pilots and even a real live firefighter from the USA. An endless list of diverse, interesting, foreign and local, downright fabulous people.
In all these years of being a host, I have only had 4 rather stressful experiences. All manageable and probably not that bad, but due to the naive, trusting, faithful side of my personality, I found them challenging. But the fact that in all this time I can count negative experiences on one hand is brilliant. Most importantly, I have survived, am stronger for it and far more discerning.
So, moral of the story: I’m more confident, am more aware of if people want to connect and chat over a sunset G+T, or if they just want the keys. AND… the best part is that I now have a plethora of fascinating, fabulous friends all around the world that I will visit when I’m in their hood. What a gift!
Airbnb, you rock! Love you long time xxx