Category Archives: MIDTOWN

Hosting Fears: Screening your Guests

With the world of travelers one step to booking your home, how will you determine who is safe? How do you deal with the mystery of who is coming to stay?

As a corporate sponsor, how is your approach to working with a family-owned BNB?

From a host’s standpoint, It’s good to have an expectation that any prospective guests offer you a reason why they are coming to your area and if they’ve had the experience of staying at someone’s home before (this is where previous guest reviews become important).

It helps if your listing has “house rules” so people aren’t as apt to treat your home too impersonally. When they can see your rules upfront they have a better idea what you expect. Sometimes, you need to politely ask them if they’ve reviewed the rules if you suspect they have not – it could’ve been something they inadvertently overlooked. For example, the may only cite one of your rules, like “yes, none of us smoke” because that rule happened to show up without having them to pulldown the entire list. Then you might reply, “There are 26 rules, I’d be happy to answer any questions or concerns once you’ve reviewed them.”

After a while, there is something relevant to “The Truth has a Ring to it.”

When people offer their clear reasons, it is a positive. Not only do you need to commit to them, but they need to make a commitment to you. They may know a little or a lot about your depending on your website profile, but you know nothing about them so you can take the opportunity ask some simple questions if they do not take the initiative to provide you an adequate introduction.

So far, after a year of serving the community, cancellations are pretty rare and they are accompanied with good reasons, such as, “the conference was moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco” or “Our child’s surgery needed to be rescheduled” or “we now have a funding problem.”

So when these things happen, you just have to move on. Be understanding, you are in the hospitality business, not military recruiting. There is some variations how hosts handle their cancellation policy, some can be very strict while others can be very flexible.

Corporate coordinators are worth their weight in gold when they can help put you at ease when they are making arrangement for a team of executives or engineers. These are usually some of the most seamless transactions. As we have discovered, corporate guests tend to be without any issue and they have (so far) never attempted to barter my prices down (which so far only happens rarely).

There is more uncertainty within the typical 24-hour period before the actual reservation booking is made, as you can imagine, a potential guest is searching for the ideal accommodation of which your listing may only be one of a handful they are looking at, or if the potential guest does not have any significant guest history, you may be seeing to find out more about the guest(s) who will be staying at your home. There will be moments when you are living in a grey area of uncertainty. In either case, I like to get prompt and candid answers from guests and that can influence whether you extend an offer to book your house or not.

I had one guest who needed to communicate through their minor child, and I was really stretching my tolerance level when they couldn’t nail down how many people were staying or respond to my questions promptly. The reservation was being made a couple months out, so I could be flexible, but as a guest, you don’t want to give your host the inadvertent impression that you’re planning to hide anything, particularly if you have made any suggestion that the guest count was over your limit (ours is 6 normally).

As a host, I like to respond to inquiries within an hour or as soon as possible. I like to communicate with the guest, in a way that I would like to be responded to, as someone needing to resolve their accommodation problem ASAP, even when ½ the world away, they send an inquiry in the middle of the night.

A tip to guests, you should know that from a host’s perspective, we would really like to feel comfortable with everyone from the first inquiry. If there is anything unusual about the condition or circumstances of your inquiry or reasons for you needing to stay, please understand  the need for host to make inquiries to you.

And please, no marketing or spam-based inquiries on a reservation/booking messaging service. Those are a drag.

Yes, your phone should stay on all the time since you are in the 24/7 business of hospitality.



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Copyright © 2018 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

Hosting Fears: Do guests trash the house?

This is quite a fear at first.. You spend all the time, money and energy to setup your place and you wonder how will your guests treat it.

In my experience, the answer is no, our guests do not trash the house. In fact, they are generally remarkably clean.

They do not leave our place like most people would leave a hotel room.

Here are some reasons that, in my opinion, help support this phenomena.

We’ve stayed at some decent hotels in our life, but we keep our place cleaner than any hotel we’ve ever stayed. When you have a high standard, people will notice and it affects how they treat your place.

Another reason is, our guests are very nice about the requirement that they offer the purpose of their stay and who will be staying as guests. This allows you to screen your guests, but in reality they are prescreening themselves. As a host, you get to know them as real people, whether professionals or otherwise, and you get an opportunity to develop that connection.

Moreover, unlike a hotel, a BNB can set several “ground rules” that you would never see at a hotel. Hotels do have smoking and non-smoking rooms, so we choose to have a no-smoking rule as part of our list among others.

Our guests know that they are staying in somebody’s home, in our case, they know that we didn’t just buy our place only to rent it as a BNB, and they are paying for that privilege (though it’s less expensive than a comparable hotel room in the area). Even though we accommodate both domestic and an international guests, we find them to be rather amazingly courteous and clean. We’ve had to do some mild educating of some young single male engineers (LOL), but they took it with good grace and were fine guests.

We, my wife and I, are quite pleased, even surprised, that even families with young children have been remarkably responsible with the general tidying of the house.

Sometimes a few dirty dishes are either left our or left in the running dishwasher, but we take this into account with our cleanup.

In our experience, guests who tend to leave without paying as close attention to cleaning are the ones who book at the spur of the moment, meaning the same day. As extraordinarily rare as this may be, you may need to be wary of guests who want to book for a place to crash for one night after a party… it’s likely they will be having that party at your place.

Although it is comforting to see a guest making a reservation having already earned several previous good reviews (airbnb), in general, the new guests are pretty attentive to being good guests.

I cannot speak for other hosts, but I write a lot of information for prospective guests to read about our place in our listing. I write about what we hope and expect. You’d think it might scare some people away (maybe it does), but, assuming they actually read how we care about the house and have a bunch of rules, our guests seem more than willing to do a decent job of being careful and considerate. Judging by our reviews, works out well so far!



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If you’d like for me to speak with your group in regards to hosting or property management, send me an inquiry


Copyright © 2018 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.

Begin with a vision

Back in 2016, our family was about ready to sell this property thinking we had held it long enough. Long story short, we reconsidered the opportunity to renovate it to rent it out to the open market.
We did a lot of work ourselves, my hands, back and knees still feel the wear and tear. There were plenty of long days and weary nights over a year’s time when a second or third wind had to kick in knowing darn well that we had to get to the magical survival point where we could pay the mortgage instead of further depleting our savings.
Working on this project and bringing the level of this home to a new plateau was nothing less of a start-up company-like effort where hitting goals was simply a relentless hacking away of front-end to back-end tasks day after day without any option to surrender. Quitting was not an option.

Never worked so hard and so long with my brother Jon.

A “before” shot of the backyard.

My wife is simply amazing. She painstakingly set each one of these squares stones, over 300.
Despite depleting funds my wife and I had to fix our own house, we couldn’t leave this family investment undone. Thinking bed and breakfast was a possibility, at least for the short term until we knew what we needed to do for sure with the house, we knew we needed to design the house and landscape in such a way that it would please people, though without the money and time to work with a professional. So we mustered our collective experience and hacked mercilessly to completion.
For a bed and breakfast in Palo Alto, there has to be something nice about it, at least that’s the way I figure. The house is neither extravagant nor overtly trendy or fashion setting, but simplicity holds a value all its own. I grew up in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area since the 1960’s so the reminiscent value of a house that is not a modern era Mac-Mansion is pleasing to me. The house was built in 1955 and still retains its simple proportions.
Think about the “great idea”, it happens when your mind is clear, and we hope that the uncluttered nature of the home will inspire a sense of vision of your own as our guest. The detached garage could have been a humble inventor’s oasis, or the lab of budding scientists which Palo Alto is known for.
The nice thing about a bed and breakfast not just that we get regular opportunities to keep the house clean! The nicest thing about hosting is providing a place for so many amazing and satisfied guests: tech executives, scientists, engineers, families on vacation, or those staying with us while they are recovering from procedures performed at nearby Stanford Hospital. They come from around the United States and from around the world and they appreciate what we have to offer. We’re proud to take a small part in representing city, much like an unofficial ambassador for the great City of Palo Alto.
In Closing
I write this on my mother’s birthday, December 16th. She passed away in October 2017 but she was able to see us complete this house in time and enjoy our little gathering of family for a modest “Grand Opening” dinner party just prior to receiving our first BNB guests.
Thanks to mom, if it wasn’t for her vision, we wouldn’t have ended up with this property. She had a vision of the value of real estate long before it was synonymous with insanity.

My brothers share a quiet moment with mom during our little “Grand Opening” in September 2017.

Feel Free to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE this article.

If you’d like for me to speak with your group in regards to hosting or property management, send me an inquiry.

Copyright © 2018 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.