Meet Kate Harrison. Three years ago, Kate was living in London, struggling to make ends meet as an artist.
So she upped stakes, moved to Margate (houses are unbelievably cheap there) and, rather than getting a part time job, decided to rent out her spare room on Airbnb.
‘We moved from a one-bed flat in London where you had to sleep on the sofa when friends came round and all of a sudden we had a spare room that we didn’t know what to do with!’ Kate says when we asked her why she got into Airbnb-ing. Since then, Kate's house has been in high demand, and she picked up a few tips along the way.
Here's what she told us.
Don’t go overboard on the chintz
'We tried to make it very tastefully done but without being geared to men or women. It’s very unisex with some really nice furniture. AirBnB pictures often look cute and very nice but are too focussed on female taste. So we were careful not to include too much chintz. We’ve got really nice neutral artwork and some books in the bedroom for adults and kids so we cater to all reading types. I’ve basically thought about what I would like from a hotel stay and tried to emulate that.'
Have recommendations ready
'Before people come, I offer them a list of the things that we recommend; places we really like around town to eat, drink and be merry. I’ll keep a list in the drawers in the room too. It’s really important to keep the reading material up to date. Like, I hate it if I go somewhere and there’s a leaflet about the Turner exhibiton from two years ago so I’m really conscious infomrnation is ‘of the moment.’
Don’t lie in your pictures
'When you’re taking pictures, just take a look at other places on the site. Take a look at which ones you like and then do your pictures in that style. Stay as true to as it really looks a possible. There’s no point taking a nice picture and then when people turn up it’s dark and dingy. Be honest about it. We always make sure there’s nice lighting by the bed too.'
Don’t lie in your description
'I try and write like the person I am. You want people to get an idea of who you are. I live in a colourful area and some people can be put off by that so I make sure I put a little description of all the regeneration that’s going on in the area. Again, be honest. You don’t want people to show up and be annoyed that the hosue is two roads away from the beach or suddenly realise it’s 20 minutes away from the shop.'
Be flexible with pricing
'I hate that 'two night minimum' stay stuff and hiking prices up in the summer. If there’s some date we don’t want people here like around Christmas or something we’ll just take those days of the calendar. To choose the price, just research what other properties in the area charge and then go close to the ones that best reflect your place but obviously charge a bit more if you offer more like, I offer breakfast, so can charge a bit more. Don’t just be like "I want to make £150 a night so that’s what I’m going to charge."'
If something feels weird, feel free to say
'One guy said he wanted to book the room for him and his daughter. I told him I’d set up the room next door for her at no extra cost but he wanted them to stay in the same room. He didn’t have a photograph on his profile or any reviews… I just didn’t feel comfortable with it so I told AirBnB and they said if you don’t feel comfortable then cancel. Another time I had AirBnb cancel a booking for me; they said something didn’t feel right and I didn’t have to deal with that but it was nice to know they were looking out for me; they may well have known more than me.'
If you don’t want to chat, keep your distance
'When people arrive we always have a conversation and say that there’s always one of us in the house overnight, text or call if you need anything – we leave the numbers in the room. People aren’t here to stay in bed all day and, if we feel like they’re going to be annoying we make ourselves scarce. Not in a way that they’d ever know though, we’re very polite!'
Check out Kate's place here.
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.