Category Archives: BUSINESS

Advice Regarding Cancellations etc.

FYI, sorry to say, we just concluded our run as Airbnb hosts…

and I have these thoughts that you may benefit from as you might say we closed our listing with a 5.0 average rating for almost 100 guests. Not 4.9 or 4.98 or 4.99. We maintained a 5.0 average rating.

If you intend to stay hosting with Airbnb for the long haul, you need to be very aware of cancellations on your part as a host.

Over a two year period, we hosted over 100 groups of guests. That seems like a lot, it sure seemed like a lot to us.

We never cancelled a booked reservation until a few months ago (about 3 months ago as of this writing) when my wife and I struggled with a booking after I accepted it. Cancelling appears to have preceded what we consider a drop off of bookings.

Why did we cancel? There were a few characteristics of this booking that, while the reasons were not obvious to the casual observer, did not fit our ideal guest profile and when the guest exhibited a sense of anxiousness to book on the same day, instead of the next day, and it appeared to go from anxious to urgent – we got even more nervous.

My wife and I struggled with it, but decided that our peace of mind was more important than money and regretfully had to break our glorious streak of non-cancellations.

Rule One: Your peace of mind may not be more important than the income you are losing from big brother’s perspective. If you accept everyone, everyone must come through with that basic denominator – money.

You could say that our two paths (the guest and us) were not going to harmonize as, unlike most landlords, I actually have experienced a domestic violence case that ended up in a the death of the victim – by kitchen knife wound to an artery. Believe me, my wife and I were starting to get some PTSD vibes on this one.

Peace of mind, or no peace of mind, the bottom line is this. If you cancel over 1% of your booked reservations, you become warning sign to Airbnb. If you cancel 2% your pinky gets slapped with non-savory messages that as a 5.0 host, you never see.  If you exceed 3% you may get messages warning you mag be suspended (and goodby revenue stream) and I;m pretty sure it doesn’t matter if you have 6.0 star ratings, if that we even possible.

We had our first cancellation “waived” from the books, but I think it was a little like my first illegal U-Turn ticket when I was a teenager back in 1979, where the judge suspended my punishment. In other words, “we’ll let you go now, but if you do this again, it’ll be like having two strikes against you.”

We never wore the 5.0 rating on the shoulder of our listing’s title, we never changed titles to insert some grotesque word to grab attention (though that may actually work) and were quite proud of our simple, “Sweet, Bright Fresh – Palo Alto home” moniker, but even though we maintained the best reviews and ratings for almost 100 guest reviews (and that’s a lot IMHO) it does not matter as much to the boss. Guests are concerned about ratings, your boss is interested in if you are an open door to the masses because they have the same common denominator.

You can put your heart and soul into your effort to host, but it comes down to money, or the propensity to not host someone, anyone. It’s an easy metric to judge and be subject to consequences. In the end, we actually thought all of our guests no matter who or where they arrived from were pretty cool even the ones that tried to slide by with stretching the rules (just a little) with rare exception.

What we learned is that you have to develop a sense of who will be a high probability good guest of bad guest. The potential problem is this instinct may cause you to want to cancel.

Seems to me that 1% of bookings cancelled, for a privately owned property, even if it is to keep a super-host rating, is a bit harsh. Maybe that’s just me. One can cross the line from being a superhost to a super dud if you suddenly ring up cancellations.

In either case, I understand the value for a big company like Airbnb from a host’s perspective. They do all the leg work to publicize your listing and they handle all the money. It’s a great and convenient set up, and takes certain costs and concerns out of running your own bed and breakfast. However, you are a number and there’s a lot of other hosts and wanna-be hosts who would like to get a piece of the bookings in your area especially Palo Alto.

My simple advice for your long term health as an Airbnb host: Think very carefully before accepting a booking (unless you use Instant Booking then you need to take the risk of having to cancel within 24 hours ‘without penalty’), and if you have to cancel, consider the risk of taking a hit on your revenue stream. Just saying.

Honestly, we had an amazing two year run and have that to be thankful for. It wasn’t a gimme though.

We put in the work and the income really helped our financial above water. Although we were essentially like a freelancer looking at things a week at a time, the almost regular income made it worthwhile.

But with the competition in places like Palo Alto, it helps if you can avoid having to cancel for virtually any reason unless the person is clearly breaking a stated rule, like they reveal they plan to sell tickets nationwide tractor pull at your place or have the biggest damned bachelor party with the most 5 dollar vodka, a vaping competition, and the best multiple cake dancers you’ve ever seen and you do not allow them to rent your home for those purposes.

Regarding our 5 star reviews, we teeter-tottered between 4.8 and 4.9 on Value and that was because eventually we get a guest who wants to show that they can be objective and give us 4 stars on Value. We always take a moment to sigh with those 4 star ratings. Now I know what my last car salesman was pleading with us not to give him anything but 5 stars.

Regarding value in tax-arcana , I’ll say it again, property tax in Palo Alto is a rip-off, but we need to pay a property tax that is larger than most people’s mortgages, hence the higher than average prices which affect the perception of value. I always thought we stayed competitive, not charging more and often charging less than comparable listings of relatively equal quality.

The unsaid negative for long term hosting , for us especially, since we kept very tight control over the condition and cleanliness of our property, is we could never plan to be away for very long, unless it coincided with a long guest stay. If you can get a trusted person to handle the responsibilities of being a co-host, that would also be important to your long term hosting health.

Another unsaid negative is you are at the mercy of the corporate computer that cranks on some algorithm that puts your listing on top or not.

Another unsaid negative is most banks do not consider your BNB income as stable enough to bank their a loan on. Now we know why.

I think if you do this business long enough and if you care a little too much about the safety your own place, it will only take 1 out of 100 to potentially get on a the bad side of the Airbnb programmable intelligence and hurt your superhost rating.

Because our projected revenue stream looked bleak, which helped steer us away from the business, we had to do the unfortunate job of cancelling a couple of future reservations, but because they were still four months out, we hope the guests will find decent stay somewhere else. We made a point of reaching out to them before cancelling. Actually had a nice conversation with one man over the phone.

But having to cancel a total of 3 times….This is how I know about what happens when you have to cancel more than once, but we’re going deep and clearing datum so we don’t expect our rear-ends to be anywhere close to the punitive hand. It no longer matters.

Now pandemics… that’s another topic.

 

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CKY

 

Copyright © 2018-2020 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

 

 

Is your BNB like another child?

Writer’s note: I wrote this article several weeks ago but it seems like a good time to post it. I may not post another article for a while as events can blur life at times. We thank our guests for bringing their bright light to shine.

Talk to anyone who is starting their own business and they will likely, albeit sometimes grudgingly, admit their business is like adopting another baby because its survival depends on you. Now you realize you have something you need to protect that no one else cares about, except for your booked guests who are counting on you to guarantee their plans for accommodations. Oh, and your mother most likely, because mothers almost always like to se their child be successful at something.

There is certainly a wide gamut of attitudes towards people who are running an BNB, everything from being non-aware, don’t give a hoot, to those neighbors who are afraid of their street becoming the next “DELTA HOUSE” (e.g. the fraternity in the movie comedy classic Animal House).

BNB? What are you talking about? Aren’t you just renting out some rooms, and money just starts falling off the trees … It seems so easy, right?

Every neighbors worst nightmare, a BNB taking the form of Animal House with toga parties every night. (Image credit: Coral Gables Art Cinema).Image may be subject to copyright.

No, my friends, unlike our corporate jobs, if you don’t do anything and you decide to not attend to run things, your little baby will die. That’s the responsibility a host takes when they set out on the adventure of renting out their place to guests.

AirBNB, like other companies like LYFT and many other service oriented companies that help serve as the interface between consumers and proprietors, greatly eases the difficulties related to money handling and advertising while making it easier to take the first steps of running your own business, including paying taxes.

Unlike LYFT, however, taking reservations, if you’re doing it right, is a 24/7 deal. I remember running my parent’s family business of parts sales and repair of electric cars and you, yep, you can get customer calls on Sunday complaining about their broken down electric truck, especially from one of our many family-owned flower nurseries back in the day when Silicon Valley was more agricultural than technical, but you usually do not get messages and inquiries at 4 am (Pacific Standard Time), like you might get from a guest sending an inquiry from Germany or Israel like you would running a BNB.

Despite the high tech assistance, however, it does not relieve the providers of the need to perform with as much excellence as possible, no matter which business model you choose, whether it’s accommodations, driving, or any other service and this new wave of internet-based businesses seem to be highly linked to customer reviews. Every job is subject to scrutiny and a broadcast to the public.

When was the last time your corporate job was reviewed and posted on the internet for everyone to see?

So if you have critics in your life, let them critics criticize, that’s what they do, it’s in their DNA.

Whether you are running a hot dog stand or a hard driving CEO of a tech start up, just do what you are willing to put forth the energy and resources to do and stick to it if that’s what you are willing to put up with to achieve your goals. No one is going to take responsibility for your child other than you.

Please like, share, comment, follow my blog or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

January 2019 Review

For those who may be considering hosting a BNB, just starting, or thinking about being a guest, here are some insights that you may find helpful. 

A recap of my January 2019 blog posts for PaloAltoBNB. Click on the links to open the article.

Palo Alto: Things to do – Take a Hike

Starting a BNB? 8 Reasons you didn’t think about

How is Instant Booking better?

Sometimes like Grand Central Station

What about shoes and wood floors?

“CORPORATE” COORDINATORS BOOKING FOR OTHERS

Guest Tips: Initial Communication

When can we take a vacation?

Learn by jumping into chaos or “How I got involved in property management”

BNB Value vs Property Tax

Staying Connected with Guests

When Cancellations occur

 

Please like, share, comment, follow my blog or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

BNB Value vs Property Tax

Here’s a Palo Alto near-specific problem. 

Please see the appropriate professionally certified advisor before making decisions based on what you find in the article’s content.

AND See legal Disclaimer at bottom.

Ok, let’s get on with the article…

Everyone complains about the prices in Silicon Valley, but Palo Alto takes the cake.

In a recent news article, the Palo Alto Zip Code 94301 is the record holder for highest average priced real estate in the nation, which generally translates to, expensive to own real estate, not just expensive to buy.

PROPERTY TAXES

California’s property tax  which amount to about 1.1% of your market value. That is, unless you fall under Prop 13/58 protections. There are usually other additional costs attached to your property tax, like county services or other smaller taxes, but 1.1% is the California State chunk the would be often  more than most people’s salaries. Let’s call the full market value times 1.1% “RULE #1”.

So you City Planners, before  you let a company like Google or Facebook start a big office in your little town, make sure your residents will likely be hammered with ever increasing home property values and therefore RULE #1. (unless you are in a State that does not tax property).

It may be  possible you might qualify to be waived from the market rate-based property taxes on inherited property. That’s assuming the aggregate base factor for your parents property tax is under 1M.

 

SOME RELIEF IF YOU

QUALIFY AND APPLY

BASE FACTOR IS, for those of you who do not know, the value the property tax is based on when your parent died, NOT the market value. Please consult with a Tax Advisor, but you need to APPLY for the Prop 58 Exemption (for investment properties). IF YOU DO  NOT APPLY you will suffer the consequences and your children will hate you for life for being such a ignorant poofball. Be alert, this application is time dependent after the death of your parent.

There’s good news: if the house was your parent’s primary residence, you have a 100% exemption to reassessment to market, unless you have to buy portions of it from your siblings then RULE #1 applies. Once again, please consult with a Tax Advisor who is educated in estate law and property tax laws if there is a chance you can avoid RULE #1.

And as you know, finding a single property under $1M in this area is virtually impossible in Palo Alto (unless you’re talking about EAST Palo Alto). However, if your aggregate investment properties’ BASE FACTOR all amount to less than $1M, you will have a complete Prop 58 exemption (please see disclaimer at bottom of article). If the aggregate Base Value exceeds $1M, then you will need to select which $1M of value will receive the exemption. The others will be reassessed at current market value.

The other good news is, if you have to speak to the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor’s Office, you will find some professional and helpful clerks to make sure you are pointed to the right info related to some tax exemption possibilities. Please seek their guidance and CHECK IF THESE RULES APPLY TO YOU.

 

My little RULE #1 RANT

The sad fact is, in order for a lot of residents of this area to survive, they need to rent out a room or a “granny unit” to someone to have the extra income to pay for the drudgery of RULE #1. Keep in mind what I said, many rent out just to pay the property tax, not to have extra money to send the kids to college or pay for a vacation – just to pay the damned tax.

SO the injustice is, the only people who can afford to pay the higher taxes are even more wealthy people while the less wealthy people get screwed because all of a sudden their taxes are unreal.  SO…., just some dynamics to think about in regards to taxing people to kingdom come linked to their private property or even their primary residence values… values that they have little or no control over. Sounds like slick way to rip off private property.

So which State doesn’t charge property tax?

So what does this have to do with a BNB?

Some link VALUE to NIGHTLY RATES

While it is true that there is supply and demand for accommodation services, and that raises the average price of lodging in Palo Alto and the surrounding areas, the tax responsibility is probably not on the radar of the average guest who decides to report to the world that, “there wasn’t enough value for the price at your place” (when in actuality it’s the whole expensive area, not just your place). Well…. one 4 out of 5 rating isn’t bad, but maybe we’re getting too technical.

I remember the first time we received a “4” for “Value” instead of a “5” from one of our great guests (I’m not being sarcastic, he was an excellent guest), and I actually messaged him privately wondering what his rational was. He was nice enough to give us his point of view citing the area is expensive.  Yeh, so even though we should not take it personally, it shows up on the review of our place, not Palo Alto, the City with the most expensive real estate and therefore some of the highest taxes in the United States.

OK, i’m cool now. I promise not to explode.

BTW, I don’t ask guests ever again since the first guy, why they decide on “4” instead of a “5” (LOL).

In actuality, I take a survey of area listings and have to determine what I believe is a “fair” price for what we have to offer. We’re doing alright so far.

Please like, share, comment, follow my blog or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

Legal Disclaimer: please note, I am not a tax advisor, or claim to have an certification to offer legal advice in the matters mentioned in this article or any post in my blogs, websites or other social media. You MUST consult with the appropriate certified legal representative to determine the facts of any matter related to or mentioned in this article or any article under my domains that may have any legal consequences before making any decisions.

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

Learn by jumping into chaos

OR “How I got involved in property management”

My current work involves Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to being an out to pasture IC Layout Design Engineer, and I definitely did not become a property manager by seeking it out – it unceremoniously yanked me in.

I was  drawn into property management to save my mom from trouble and by extension, our whole family from trouble back in 2007. Sound melodramatic? It may have been dramatic, but definitely not mellow.

When I graduated from the Masters Program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the Spring of 2007 from Five Branches Institute (Santa Cruz, CA)  the last thing that was on my mind was becoming a property manager or dealing with problem tenants.

Part of my Chinese and Western Medicine library

The biggest thing on the mind of a TCM graduate is studying to successfully pass the California Licensing exam for Acupuncturist.  I had self-sponsored my way through this multi year process and just had about two months to prepare and with hopes of being able to focus on my studying to take that exam in Sacramento. I was ready to embark in my dream of a new life’s work.

I had left my Silicon Valley engineering career on the last day of 2002 and I had completed my Master’s! It was… awesome! It was a mountaintop experience, just having spent 4 years with some of the most kind and amazing people who were the students and teachers. I thought I could just begin a life of a health hermit helping people with their health problems and put the stress of Silicon Valley life behind me.

But NO, fate had another deal waiting for me.

Little did I know that in the previous couple months before my graduation, my mother who managed her own investment properties, was having problems obtaining back rent payments and then received a letter from the tenant complaining about the condition of the property.

Mom, who was about 83 years old at the time, was a kind landlord, though a bit too trusting in her tenants to help take care of her properties, and things were looking a little too legalistic in this one tenant’s written complaint that was carefully worded with some nefarious implications. In other words, it wasn’t just a simple, “Hey, our hot water’s out , could you send a plumber?”

The week after I graduated from Five Branches, I was set to study for my Licensing exam, so I did not go with my mom to visit the property and the tenant. She asked me if I wanted to go, but I wanted to begin studying. I wanted focus, be at one with my studies 😉

To cut to the point, when I heard how the visit went I was bothered. I knew just enough about how things should go to agitate my concern.

Having spent several years working with my parents, helping them with their businesses, full time in the late 1980’s and on my free time in the 1990’s. Spiritually and emotionally, I hardly had time to breath the fresh air,  it felt like I was being recalled to military service.  (C.K. YEE, we need your ass back out in the front lines, forget your Zen Meditation crap. You better get your seabag loaded on the boat, we’re getting underway) ;(

Considering I was not into property management before this event (though in 1989, I almost went for my real estate license), I am not sure why I was so willing (albeit a bit grudgingly) to take up the burden of dealing with this tenant for my mom but I immediately made clear that I would deal directly with the tenant. I wanted to make sure that my mom (and our family) would take this situation more carefully and so I took the matter into my own hands.

Looking back, I cannot tell you what I saw in myself, to think I was any better qualified to deal with this except, maybe, I would be willing to sit an listen to the tenant like I had practiced so many times with patients…. It’s not that simple though.

Over the next 5 months, I worked with the tenant.  Ultimately, they understood they had to move out because we planned to work on the house, which was in need of repairs and that for their safety, they needed to vacate the property.

In the process, I developed a close relationship with a local realtor, who is the most savvy realtor related to East Palo Alto that I’ve ever known, as well as an eviction attorney’s office whose paralegals were God’s gift to mankind, all of who I received valuable advice on landlord-tenant rights and property management.

It was not an easy process. Somehow, I figured out how to navigate the problem which included a few face to-face meetings, many attempts to communicate and even an offer for them to purchase the house, which they chose bail out of the opportunity.

The repair process took over 6 months to finish.

In June 2007, when I graduated from Five Branches, I weighed 150# and by August 2007 , when I took my Acupuncture licensing exam, I weighted 135#. I lost 15 pounds from anxiety and depression at the same time I was studying and managed to pass my Licensing exam. When I learned I passed the exam, it should have been a big-time celebration for me, but it was overshadowed by the ongoing tenant situation.

I received my Acupuncture License in October 2017 and soon began working out of a clinic in nearby Los Altos.

As I recall, there was talk by the Acupuncture Board that we might have to retake the exam due to some alleged cheating by some fringe group, but fortunately, I was saved  from that insanity.

Not quite the way I would have planned it but I did it. I DID IT.

Ever since that time, I have been involved in property management. However, due to the hard times of 2008 had to (and was able to) reenter the market as a engineer for several years more (while pursuing Chinese medicine part-time), but that’s how I get started as a property manager.

Please like, share, comment, follow my blog or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

When can we take a vacation?

Hard to imagine that my wife and I have joined the ranks of becoming a mom and pop operation. Wasn’t that a thing of the past? Ma and Pa Kettle (for those of you who remember) LOL

In either case, one of a few of the ongoing concerns my wife and I have with running and hosting a BNB is:

When can we take a vacation?

One of the classic tourist spots. Venice 1989 (photo by Challen)

 

I know there’s several hosts or property managers who run several listings as their business model. We can only imagine running one.  I know hosts are encouraged to find partners to co-host, but we haven’t gotten there yet, though we have friends who host their own listings.

While it’s nice to have some of the unique advantages of running BNB that I’ve written about before (8 Reasons), it could get overwhelming multiplying that by 2x or more. Moreover, the inherent uncertainty of keeping the vacancies low can be a burden if you really need the income to pay all the bills. If you do happen to have more than one rental, having one on a lease would certainly help reduce the uncertainty in the traditional way.

Aside from the fact that our listing is bringing in needed income in a place like Silicon Valley, one of the most expensively taxed places in the world, especially in Palo Alto (many people need the extra income just to pay their property taxes, much less the mortgage) the thought actually occurs to us that it is hard to let others run your business for you.

First of all, we’re not aware of too many people who would like to jump in an help us run our business and if they did, we’re wouldn’t be so confident they would take the same level of care an responsibility of the business, for each guest and for the care of the house. We’d have to hand pick some people who are willing to jump in an help on occasion.

I realize there’s a certain amount of ego involved, and I haven’t reached the obligatory point of dire necessity yet, but it’s also really is a nice thing to receive a positive feedback from others on a regular basis and that helps make our listing attractive when new guests can be encouraged by good reviews on our listing.

The Airbnb system that allows for publicly presented positive feedback. It’s one of the attractions I also discovered from my two-month experience being a LYFT driver – if you are good, people let you know, you can feed on that and new customers can make more of an informed choice.

I apologize to all the truly great property managers out there, but when you’ve created a baby, it’s hard to let others take control.

We’ll see, we haven’t figured out how we’re going to afford and take off to see rabbits in Japan, take the kids to D.C., or even visit friends near Seattle or Denver, Italy, or wherever?

When you’re a host, your cell phone is never off. Can you imagine flying across the ocean without being able to field your messages from guests? Yeh, gotta fix this problem….

The first thing to do is start compiling  a list of people you know who may want to learn and who you think would be good at being a co-host.

I’ll let you know how things go…

 

 

Please like, share, comment, follow my blog or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

Guest Tips: Initial Communication

When you try booking a BNB, especially for the first time when you have no review history, It’s important to keep an eye on your messenger to make sure the host does not have a question for you.

 

THE REQUEST

I had a recent request from a businessman out of the Midwest (exact city to keep it confidential) for a one-night stay, and in his brief introduction he asked to stay two hours after the standard checkout time.

Well, that was worth a quick response from yours truly as I have to prepare for the worst case.

Now, I don’t have problems with people needing to check out later, though not too late, because we do have a tight cleaning schedule and we take that very seriously.

Especially since we allow same day reservations, I don’t want to push cleaning out too late and then interfere with an oncoming guest. Plus our cleaning crew, we don’t want to have to play with their time either as we all have children to pickup from school, so on and so forth.

Armed with all these concerns, I send a reply to see how we can work out the issue. I send it within 10 minutes and get no response.

I send a follow up message 3 minutes later, no response.

Well, well, well…. That puts the host into a bind.

The request automatically blocks my schedule with a guest who I do not know if they are responsive or flexible enough to coordinate cleaning with his need to stay two extra hours.

If I accept, I may not have enough time to not interfere with the next guest or have enough time or people to hang out at the place to clean it.

If I decline, I could lose out in income and kill someone’s accommodation plans.

I compromised in the end, I waited 18 hours for a response, and on a Sunday morning, I declined it and offered a detailed explanation and an invitation to rebook if they wanted but to acknowledge we need to work out an issue first..

The rational was the guest was not responsive and I’d rather let someone else book who was a more reliable even though the booking was within a week’s time. It was one of those “peace of mind” versus money decisions I wrote about in a previous blog post. I could easily lose a day’s income.

Fortunately, this particular person, given half a chance, jumped gracefully through the hoop. He finally read my messages after the Decline and was apologetic, flexible and understanding, plus good for a few back-and-forth iterations to get a handle on our respective needs.

While it was not my ideal track to a smooth booking, it turns out this person proved himself to be a really good person to work things out with.

 

 

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CKY

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

 

“CORPORATE” COORDINATORS BOOKING FOR OTHERS

I was a bit surprised when I read the House Rules of another host who wrote that she never accepts reservations unless the person booking also is staying as a guest.

That surprised me because up to this point, I had accepted so many successful “corporate” bookings, usually for three employees, that I guess, I had been either lucky or well placed in terms of price and location to avoid any serious bookings by bad 3rd party apples so far.

I don’t doubt that there are some shenanigans being played by people covering for the actual bad assets staying at ones home, so I absolutely am not judging any host who wants to play it safe to protect their home or other place they are using for a BNB.

REAL-TIME BOOKING

One of these reservations for my consideration came across as I was walking out the door to drop by the house to move garbage bins in the middle of a heavy rain.  It was a 3rdparty booking, but it came late (around 8:00pm) for a SAME-DAY overnight stay, reportedly, for a group of three colleagues or “friends” coming from a local Google site.

When we started the BNB, we imagined this would be a great opportunity to help some last minute travelers and this seems to fit the bill catering to our open 24 hour policy. Rarely this occurs though.

However, historically, if you can say over a year is a decent history, looking at our own worst cleanups (which in general haven’t been toobad except for one unfortunate drunken party of a young adult crowd looking “to crash someplace” after an “event”), there is a tendency for last minute bookings for short stays to yield the most sloppy guests, even ifthe reservations were made by one of the guests themselves.

There are two things that were a little unfortunate to mar an otherwise smooth transaction (so far), was this particular young lady, who, by the way, has years of stellar reviews as a host and as a guest, made the Instant Booking reservation implying that she was one of the 3 guests.

Since the booking was already done, I had access to her phone number. I called her due to the fast moving situation.

I found out pretty quickly, she was making a reservation for her co-workers or friends coming from a nearby Google. It all seems plausible but in my case, she absolutely did not need to feign being one of the guests rather than introducing herself as the coordinator. She did not, however, at glance, appear to use Airbnb as a coordinator before, so maybe she was little gun-shy doing it of the first time under somewhat exigent conditions.

Her inexperience as a corporate coordinator showed up when I asked for the names of the guests and she only offered the first names. I let this slide, but when you ask for names, I recommend (reminder to self) ASK FOR FIRST AND LAST NAMES, NOT JUST “NAMES” so it is clear what your intent is.

So far, I have had great experiences with people coordinating for others, corporate or otherwise, let’s hope that continues.

Certainly, she’s putting her reputation on the line for her friends (or at least her security deposit).

So, we’ll see how this works out. I’ll find out here in about 12 hours when we clean up.

Please like, share and comment or contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

 

How is Instant Booking better?

There are several options for hosts to choose in effort to attract guests to their Airbnb listing. One that is either loved or hated is called “Instant Booking”

Instant Booking (IB) allows a guest to book your listing without having to submit a request. It’s assumed that all the relevant info for a guest to make the commitment to make a reservation is available to be seen in the listing so that the prospective guest can make an educated and confident decision.

HOST ADVANTAGES OF IB?

The advantages of IB allows a host to be able to accept reservations without having to immediately respond to critical questions a guest may have that would delay their decision.

It is assumed that, without having to interact with the host, the guest can review any necessary information, including what the host specifically and generally expects from their guests behavior, known as “House Rules”, while residing in the BNB. For example, not all listings allow the guests to use the property to hold events (attracting large amounts of un-vetted people, particularly for a wild animal house party), smoking or the housing of pets. Hosts often like to know who to expect, so offering the names of your colleagues or family members may be a requirement.

House Rules make things interesting. Some hosts have very few rules (like we did when we started) and some can look like a full legal adoption contract. In general, hosts don’t want any illegal activities, don’t want anyone trashing their house, or any unapproved staying after their reservation time has ended.

The clear advantage for a host to use IB is Airbnb puts the your listing in the face of more potential guests compared to those who do not elect to use IB. In other words, if you adopt the use of IB as an Airbnb host, your listing will show up in both cases, if a guest chooses to see only IB listing or not.

 

GUEST USER CONSIDERATIONS FOR USING IB?

You might desire to seek an IB listing if you are in a hurry to make a booking and don’t want to bother waiting for a host to respond to any inquiry. However, it is customary for a responsive host to reply immediately or within an hour.

You may feel uncomfortable going into a brief “interview” session with the property manager and, instead, seek a similar experience to booking a hotel room. A BNB is not a hotel and usually does not offer the same kind of anonymity of booking a room in a hundred unit Marriot, although IB can make the feel similar to a hotel.

Even if you desire to stay at an IB listing, you can still ask questions of the host without making your booking. You may need to be accommodated for a special situation that is not covered in the listing or you may actually like to know if you can communicate with the host just in case you run into problems with the property.

It’s not impossible that there are both guests from hell and hosts from the same neighborhood. It’s a big world out there and the entire spectrum is in play, but establishing a line of positive reviews is a pretty decent indicator what typ of experience you can expect from either person.

 

WHY DON’T ALL HOSTS USE IB?

There are times when I do not use IB, it is when I need to keep a certain block of time open for a guest I am trying to give to make a decision. One perfect example was when I wanted to work with a family who was waiting to hear from Stanford Hospital when their child’s surgery could be scheduled for.

Aside from that, the general feeling among hosts who do not use IB, is they do not want to take a chance having to accommodate someone they would not feel comfortable with. In general, for a host to have to cancel a reservation is often a negative mark against the host’s rating, although, in the case of IB, if the cancellation is executed within a day of the booking, Airbnb allows for a host to break any booking he or she feels “uncomfortable” with.

Another reason a host may not use IB is they want more control how their schedule fills up. For an extreme example, it may be rather disruptive if a guest decides to book one Tuesday every week for the next 6 months. Something like that could wipe out any chance of a long term booking from 2 days to weeks.

 

In CLOSING

In general, I’ve found that using Instant Booking if a favorable experience, for the additional reason that I can let the guest (assuming they read my listing) self-exclude themselves. If they do not like our house rules or anything else we state as requirements, they are free to look at another listing, no harm done.

The guests that we’ve had are, in general, extraordinary and competent travelers who we’ve had the great privilege of hosting. People from all over the world and all over the United States who we’ve had the honor of showing them some hospitality in our small corner of Silicon Valley.

 

 

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CKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting a BNB? 8 Reasons you didn’t think about

So you are thinking about starting a BNB, eh?

A floppy bunny sleeping on the wall, A fine oil painting from a Renaissant or Medieval BNB, 😉  from Stanford Cantor Arts Center – photo by Challen

Here are 8 reasons you may not have thought about yet. Well, maybe you thought of them but you could still use some moral reinforcement.

 

  1. You do not want a long-term lease.  Not only do you not want one, it may become an obstacle. The future of your property is in question and you as a property owner do not want to get caught in a long term lease during a time where you may want or need to sell the property or you may need to move into the home yourself.
  2. You want to maintain the property in excellent condition.  You may be a complete anal-retentive owner and want maximum control over the condition of the house by avoiding long term leases. As responsible as a long term tenant may be, they are unlikely to keep the house in as good  a condition or correct problems in the same manner as you would.
  3. Your house is better designed for short-term occupants or guests. Most people staying long term have long term storage needs, including for the natural accumulation of stuff. If your place does not have much storage without significant remodeling or improvements, the lack of storage becomes an obvious disadvantage to get the highest lease rates but as a BNB with guests staying less than a month or a day or two, it is not an issue.
  4. You love hospitality. Your long term tenant may think you are a nice responsible property manager, but you are not expected to be responsible in anyway to provide multiple “tenants” with their situational accommodating, being involved with opening the door, responding nicely to people at all times of the day or week,  be concerned what impression they get when they see your prepared beds, picking out a guest menu – like what kind of coffee you have ready for their quick breakfast, or if the TV can get a particular movie channel. But you thrive on this kind of work and enjoy helping responsible people make sure they have a nice experience.
  5. You can accept inconsistencies. Not every guest that signs up, stays signed up. You will get cancellations on occasion. Not everyone responds to you the same way. You will get some people who will bend the rules or are not quite as clean as you would hope. On the other hand, you will find where your own routine needs to be more efficient, whether it is how you followup with guest inquiries or how you go through your place to prepare it. After several guests, you will get intended and unintended feedback. No plan starts out perfect nor does it remain perfect. It takes some faith that things work out despite the inconsistencies.
  6. You are a bored panda. It could be in your particular phase of life, you need the daily responsibility of managing a property, maintaining your listing site, website or the marketing strategies you are going to employ.
  7. You have teflon skin. In other words, maybe not what you thought … You can tolerate some jealously, even hatred, from others. Anytime you try to do something that most other people do not, you may incur some adverse reactions for doing something that has the appearance of being successful even though it takes real work to get things going and keeping it going.
  8. You value setting your own destiny. By being in the driver’s seat to make decisions, you control your own destiny and that brings you more peace. This one takes some experience, for example, balancing making money from accepting a variety of guests versus being willing to politely screen out those who don’t meet your standards. If you accept a person  who may have triggered your scrub alarm instead of leaping effortlessly over your Shaolin-monk-worthy guest criteria (even if they needed some gentle persuasion), you could likely subject yourself to the hell of wondering what’s going to go wrong until they arrive and leave (assuming they don’t cancel at the last minute). Hence, you may be able to hit the abort switch to be at peace rather than make a few more bucks.

 

So why does running a BNB appeal to you?

 

Please like, share and comment.  Contact me if you have any questions

CKY

 

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