More and more residents are trying their hand at the art of hosting in their independent properties, aka, their home. As a hospitality professional for over a decade, I take the craft of hosting very seriously. While I welcome the newcomers, I ask them not to insult the honorable profession that is hospitality. If you are going to rent a room or your house on an internet channel, please consider these pro tips to welcome travelers. The skill of hospitality will help you make decisions, get you through stressful guest situations and, in the end, give you respect for the skill and rewards of properly serving people.
- Everything is disposable and the welfare of the guests is most important.
I highly recommend that you do not put anything of true monetary or sentimental value in a guest room or property. Renters will not have the same attachment to your items and might break or “accidentally” take them. If something does break, the first question you should ask is, “are you alright”? Always be concerned that the person was not injured in your house. The guest will be embarrassed that they broke something but will feel better knowing that they are more important than the broken object. Control the situation and clean up quickly. Everything can be replaced.
- Build trust by presenting a clean and safe environment.
Trust is fundamental in the sharing economy. Building trust is a basic skill in the profession of hospitality. Acting in a professional way and presenting a clean and safe place to sleep, sets the stage for trust in a rental relationship. If you are offering a place to sleep, the bedroom is very important. Think of all the things a guest will need in that space. In the professional lodging business, there are organizations like AAA that come into the property to rate the quality of the room. Two chairs, a light on either side of the bed, ideally the floor should be wood, a clean and functioning bathroom, fresh paint and lovely decor complete an acceptable room. Extras like wifi, cable tv, a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board, a mini fridge and a safe are all nice touches. Being able to control the temperature in the space is an additional plus. There should be access to a thermostat, air conditioner, and a fan. In keeping with the theme – welfare of the guest is most important, a carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, and a lockable door ensure the safety of your guest. Since Airbnb properties are not held to the same scrutiny of a third party, these simple details might be missed. This is unfortunate because, in the end, hospitality creates trust. These details contribute to the peace of mind an innkeeper and a renter need at the end of the day. When a guest can trust the host and the environment, they can sleep better. When you as the host know the guest is safe you will sleep better also.
- Guest friendship.
There should always be a professional distance between the host and the guest. Seeking appropriate interaction with your guest is suggested but know where to draw a line. Share all your local knowledge but refrain from sharing details of your personal life. Your guest might want to share their stories and sometimes their medical histories, be polite and considerate of any personal details they tell you. Be patient, look people in the eye and always use appropriate body language.
- Hospitality is being flexible.
Being flexible with a rental property is hard, but if there is wiggle room, make it happen. Late check-ins are annoying but sometimes unavoidable for travelers who are at the mercy of airlines and city traffic. If there is no way to allow a late check in, help the guest find new accommodations for the night. It will be important for you as the host to set the expectations in the beginning so guests do not start asking for things that are not there. If everyone goes into the rental agreement understanding the conditions, the guest will appreciate your gesture to be flexible on some items.
- Create memorable moments.
Hospitality, in the end, is leaving a guest happy they booked with you. They will look back on their time with you and appreciate your kindness and happy environment. The memorable moment component of hospitality is the icing on the cake for a guest. Little details like making the towels into a bunny shape or putting some wrapped chocolates on their bed are kind gestures that make a nice impression. It is important to keep the gestures appropriate. If you do not have proper licensing for food and liquor, do not serve any food or dispense any alcohol. Food and drinks are appropriate in your own home, but when dealing with strangers, there is too much liability. Keep the gestures simple and sweet. Here is a link to hotels that have thought of the small details. http://thechive.com/2017/07/26/clever-hotels-that-deserve-all-of-our-business-30-photos/?utm_source=facebook_chive&utm_medium=post
Just as hotels have learned to innovate because of the sharing economy, the sharing economy should learn the age old tradition of hospitality that hotels have mastered. You will see applying the above principles of hospitality in your business will create trust and respect. Your business will grow and your sense of service to the public will be rewarding. Since there is always room for professional growth in hospitality, consider attending the first Maine Innkeepers and Maine Restaurant Association Annual Maine Hospitality Summit, October 23, 24, 2017.