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Podcast - Into the Airbnb

Interview with an Airbnb Host from Lake Norman, North Carolina – S2 EP56

Welcome back to another episode of Into The Airbnb, where we chat with Airbnb hosts about their short-term rental experience.

Today’s guest is Jessica Lane Harris, an Airbnb host who owns and managers one listing in Lake Norman, North Carolina. She barely started on Airbnb a year ago renting her primary residence, but since the very first guest, everything went great for her. By allowing dogs, adding a boat for guests to rent and more amazing amenities she reached around $55K to $60K just in her first year with the rental. Come and join us, listen to the full episode today to hear more about Jessica’s journey, and also get a great insight about lakefront listings.

This episode is sponsored by Airbtics, short-term rental analytics for high return investments, comprehensive data for insights, ideas, and inspiration. Go to app.airbtics.com to find precise Airbnb data such as occupancy rate, revenue, average daily rate, and so on. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

Into The Airbnb Podcast S2 EP 56: Lakefront pet friendly Airbnb rental with a boat rental rocking $55-60K annual revenue in Lake Norman, NC
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Delia:

So can you please tell me how you got started on Airbnb and short-term rentals?

Jessica Lane Harris:

So we got started on Airbnb in May of last year 2021. And we only did it seasonally last year, May, June, July, August and then the week of Thanksgiving as we have a waterfront property on the lake.

Delia:

And now are you going for full short-term rentals all year?

Jessica Lane Harris:

We are.

Delia:

Okay, that’s great. And how did you decided to get started on Airbnb? Like, why did you decided to do it?

Jessica Lane Harris:

So like I said, we live on the lake, on a waterfront with a private dock and our neighbors rent their home out. And so when we finally met them and found out how much money they were making a night, it was very intriguing. Also, we like to camp a lot. We are currently living in our travel trailer camper right now, on some land that we bought because we made so much money on Airbnb last year. The price of camping fees was relatively high and we were able to purchase land and lieu staying at a campground. So when we found out how much they were making, realize how much we traveled and how much I was paying and pet sitting fees for somebody to just stay at our house on the lake and pay them to watch our dog and realize that we could take our dog with us and people could pay us to stay at our house. It just made sense, so we gave it a shot. Our very first guests, we did not go through Airbnb, we did not have an Airbnb setup at that point. We had a friend of a friend that wanted to see what it was like and we just said look, we’ll give you a steep discount on what we would typically charge if you could just give us feedback and it was very, very helpful. It was the best way to get started because there was a lot less stress on getting a bad review or the fear of a negative response or forgetting things which we did. We learned a lot we forgot to unlock the screen door to the front door keypad. So we had to let them in our garage on the very first day which was mortifying and had we not had the Wi-Fi access to the garage, I don’t know how they would have gotten, so less than learn very first right out the gate. It was embarrassing but humbling.

Delia:

But it was like a good experience to learn and to not like get these bad experience through Airbnb and also get like a very first other view and everything. So it’s a really good way to start. So when you started definitely on Airbnb, everything was already set up and how was your experience with those first Airbnb guests?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Okay, so our very first Airbnb guests were probably our worst ones we’ve ever had. We made it very clear that it was a dog only pet friendly, but dogs only no cats. My son and I are highly allergic to cats. And we also advertise that we have a ring camera on our front door and on our private dock in the backyard. And upon their entrance we saw one of the guests stand in front of the camera and got a quick peek of them carrying in a cat carrier for one cat and then another person sneak in another cat in their arms. So and then a litter box followed that but again, they were very sneaky on standing in front of the camera, they knew what they were doing. So we immediately caught Airbnb. We were ready to quit, we were ready to just cancel all the other reservations that we were just mortified that somebody would do this because remember this place is our private residence that we were renting out while we were camping. So we call it Airbnb and they were incredibly responsive and that’s really where they won our trust and I won’t ever use another platform because it was handled so quickly. They called right away, I went on to the platforms on Facebook gave my situation and everybody their response was overwhelming. “Get them out of there, get them out of there, call Airbnb have them vacate the premises”. And you know, round and round, they were supposed to stay there for 12 days. So it was a hearty amount of money that we would be losing. And they eventually called us and we had a conversation but not until she talked to Airbnb first. And then Airbnb called us back and said, “They’re willing to, you know, can you please give them 24 more hours? They’re gonna find somewhere to put the cat’s”, did we believe that? I don’t know. They rented our boat from us, which we ran out through another third party for insurance purposes. So it forced us to go to the house the next day to give them the keys to the boat and that was our opportunity to kind of browse through the house, they wanted to prove that the cats had, indeed vacated the premises and that they gave them to a friend that live locally. Did the cat stay there the whole time? We will never know I’m gonna go on good faith that they did. The house was not destroyed. But it was handled so quickly and so professionally and it kept us out of it. Airbnb managed it very, very well, I thought.

Delia:

Oh, but those people did evacuate your house, or did they just stay there and give the cat?

Jessica Lane Harris:

They stay there. They kind of you know, cried us, there was no hotels available. It was on a busy weekend, they had a lot of guests, they had a you know, their brother flying in from Puerto Rico or something. And you know, this was their last big family vacation before the son got deployed. I mean, it was this very long, drawn out things. So really, Airbnb said, it’s up to you, you know, you’ve not been transferred the money, so you will lose all of it. But the one night stay that they were there, or you can proceed and handle it on your own. So because we felt like we toured the house, there was no damages made, they promised that the cats were out. I think the worst part was in hindsight, was that we were so new that we didn’t know to leave a poor review.

Delia:

Oh, I get it. So you didn’t leave that bad review? So they wouldn’t give it to you back, right?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Right, because we didn’t know that they can’t see your review until, you know, they’re both private, right? Until both been published. So our fear was getting a bad review first out the gate. So it was a very short review and they were you know, they said a lot of nice things and that’s kind of all we asked them. We said, you know, we really will let you stay, but we really want you to honor what we are doing for you and reflect that in your review for us.

Delia:

And they did?

Jessica Lane Harris:

They did.

Delia:

Okay, okay, that’s good. So your very first guest was like the kind of a bad experience.

Jessica Lane Harris:

It was a nightmare and then after that, it was so easy. We’ve had such wonderful guests. So I’m glad that, I’m glad that we did and I’m glad that we learned right out the gate how to really revise our rules. I was really grateful that I had taken the time on the house rules to really detail that cats are not allowed and that not have that in there Airbnb would not have had a leg to stand on. And so they said “Look, it says in her house rules, dogs only, no cats allowed”. A lot of people wouldn’t think to do that, right? We collected a pet fee, not a dog fee. So it saved us.

Delia:

So now what type of prevention do you take, so other guests don’t do like the same thing, if this ever were to happen again, what would be the steps that you’d like to follow?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Since we stay locally now, we would probably ask to come over and to verify that there’s only dogs. I also request for an image of the dog, we are dog people, I don’t want puppies I don’t want older dogs, I want dogs that are crate trained because we request them not to have them sleep in the beds or go into the back bedrooms and to be mindful of how often they’re sitting on the couches and such, so just trained animals. So I asked for pictures now of the dogs so that and when they check in, it’s all on the ring, right? And a lot of people I don’t think really read through that there is a ring camera there. So watching that just first 30 seconds of them checking in and seeing the family at the door figuring out the keypad, that’s all we have to do and I’ve never seen any problems since then. Our neighbors are also very attentive so that if we do have more than two or three vehicles in the driveway again we have the ring to verify that or to peek in it on ourselves but we try to give them privacy and I don’t want, I’m not going to spend my whole day watching our guests but if there does look like there’s a party that our neighbors will usually contact us.

Delia:

And so aside of that one first guest, you didn’t have any other troubles with with other guests?

Jessica Lane Harris:

No. The only other problem, we did have a family, a probably a very wealthy family from New York that, I understand like their title thing is probably a little bit different than ours. They wanted a concierge service for their groceries. So we just did, you know, Instacart and had it delivered, but they wanted it put in the refrigerator. They gave us a very detailed order and then they complained, probably two days later, that the refrigerators smell. And so they wanted us to go over and check why the refrigerator smell and clearly it was the broccoli. And we tried our best to put an extra baking soda in there to absorb whatever smell, but we don’t leave groceries in the refrigerator and it had been there a few days before they even arrived per their request. So I think that would probably be the only other awkward thing. The only real damage that we had was a little break in the in the wall from a hanging thing in my son’s room that rips the drywall off, it was probably three or four inches. Again, not enough for us to file any claims with Airbnb, I feel like it’s kind of for the amount of money that we make and for the little damages that we incur, that wasn’t something that we felt was worthwhile to request any kind of refund or leave a bad review, I wish that they would have told us but they’re actually one of our returning guests too and they stay for a long time. And they’ll be coming again this August and you know, we kind of just cross our fingers and hope that there isn’t any damage is done. And now that we have some good reviews and 14, no 5-star ratings, I’m not afraid to say something this time in a review.

Delia:

Okay, that’s great. So it’s great that you have really, really good guests. And now that we know that you accept dogs, how has been your experience with that so far?

Jessica Lane Harris:

It’s a really good. I would say though, the one thing that if again, we’re still kind of new, I wish that we didn’t accept certain breeds just because the dog hair is so long, and it flies in the air, so you find it on light fixtures, you find it on top of the stove, you find it and in areas that, we have very short haired dogs, that we weren’t prepared for that. So the extra cleaning, it’s a lot, but we’ve never had any pet smells, any kind of damages, any messes. People are usually pretty good about picking up after themselves. We leave a whole trash can with bags and a little scooper for them. And it’s in our house manual that is requested as part of their checkout procedures to clean up after their dogs. It is nice that Airbnb allows the guests to pay for the pets through the booking process now, but I have found that it’s 50/50. Most people don’t know how to do that, so I have to walk them through how to go back on to collect that extra fee and I feel like it’s kind of a pain and confusing for the guests. So if they don’t get it, then we collected on our end on Venmo. And I wish everything was streamlined. So I think I liked the concept, but guests are not prepared to do that right now.

Delia:

Yeah, I get it and how do they interact with that? Do they usually accept the fact that they have to pay an extra fee for the dogs and proceed okay with that?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yeah, they do, there’s never a problem. Oftentimes, we’ve had people add a dog very late in the game, maybe like a couple of days before they’re going to stay, so I can’t imagine why you would do that. Again, we have dogs, so I would imagine that you have boarding setup for the animal or you would have requested the dog to stay upon booking because that is one of our perks is that we, you know, a lot of lakefront homes do not allow pets and we have a fully fenced in yard too. So that’s another benefit that people are looking for that you don’t find often out here.

Delia:

Okay, so it’s pretty unique. And what about, do you offer any particular amenities for the dogs?

Jessica Lane Harris:

We do. We do. So I always leave a little gift for the dog as well, a little of you know, dog treats. I also remember the dog’s names, right? Like I ask what’s the dog’s name is so that I put a little note for the dog on the bag. I know it sounds stupid, but if your pet people, especially if these people don’t have children, that is their kid and it is nice that people can remember the pet’s name it’s in the messaging, it’s not that hard to look through and so I put a sticky note on the doggie bag. We do have two crates two custom made for large dog crates that again are for our own dogs and we also leave them fresh water and the food bowl when they arrive as well. We also leave the extra water bowls on the porches and that kind of stuff.

Delia:

Okay, yeah, that’s amazing! And would you recommend for other people, you know, with the kind of listing that you have like lakefront, would you encourage them to accept pets or do you think it’s a work that not everyone is up to do with short-term rentals?

Jessica Lane Harris:

I would recommend it only if you are charging a certain amount per night. I have a girl friend that owns two Airbnbs and manages three others and a lot of hers are charging, you know, they’re the $150 and under a night so she gets a lot of one night stays and just a hodgepodge of people and they are pet friendly but they’re not as exclusive and I feel like when you get guests that are spending, our average night rate is $526, when you’re getting guests that are spending that kind of money and a $200 pet fee, we also require a four night minimum, I think you just get a different type of clientele and they don’t want bad reviews. And again, we really stress that this is our home, that we are so excited and blessed to open up to them, but please treat it as though it was their own. And you don’t get a lot of that when you stay at other Airbnbs. We’ve stayed in all kinds of yurts and domes and different types of glamping styles and real eclectic visits. And if there’s no house manual half the time and there’s definitely not a drive to keep the place clean and to treat it with respect and we really drive that home.

Delia:

So would you say that the main thing that drives good guests to your listing is, you know, pricing, location and all of the amenities you offer?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yes. And we offer I mean, we open up our whole house except for our garage. So and we leave dishwashing tabs, extra paper towels, toilet paper. We even leave because it is our primary residence, we leave all of our spices, our cooking oils, you know, Ziploc bags, foil, you name it, we have it. We even have, you know, a whole hospitality kit in the linen closet, a extra toothbrushes or toothpaste or aspirin or band aids. We make it there’s nothing that you could miss coming to the house. It’s all right there.

Delia:

Yeah, and also aside of that I took a look to your listing and you also for many interesting things like a game shed, and a firepit and also boat rentals, right? Can you tell us a little bit more about like the real important amenities you offer?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yeah, because we offer the game shed, I think it really encourages more families and a lot of the families with little kids love it. It was just utility shed that had a little window unit that we put in, put a big flat screen in there and since our kids are camping there, they’re not needing their games. So we leave like our Nintendo Wii and a PlayStation and they also have a little mini fridge in there with all sorts of board games. My kids are 14 and 11, so I have years of books saved up, we leave all but the kids books so they can read, there’s hammocks outside the game shed for them to hang out on. The boat rental, we learned through some of the neighbors and we didn’t really know how to do the boat rental because we didn’t want to do it through Airbnb, but we also didn’t want to use our own insurance as that’s a huge liability. So our insurance company, I think it’s Boat US, required us to use a third party vendor, so we use boat setter and it’s also been a great company to work with. So we send the guests the link, and it’s got the whole manual on how to register and how to apply for the boat and we charge $350 a day, we probably make $290 out of that every day. So they take a good chunk, but they have their own third party insurance policy for the dates and times that they rent the boat out. We do an inspection a walkthrough when we drop the boat off, count the mileage, the gas, we do, you know, show them where the life jackets are and then we also inspect it at the end. So we did have, one of our first guests again that rented the boat, shipped to the motor, they had gone over a shoal and part of the propeller chipped. They were very upfront about it and very apologetic, said that they would pay whatever, which of course they would have to, so we reported it to boat center and within 24 hours, we got a refund of probably $300. We took it to a boat maintenance plays down the lake and it was handled very quickly. So that was also a good experience. Only problem we’ve ever had on the boat, again, knock on wood, I feel like I shouldn’t be saying these things because we still have a busy season ahead, but the game shed is a real attractive thing and the parents love it because it is within the fenced in backyard, the kids can kind of get out of their hair. We have a walkie talkie that we keep inside and a walkie talkie in the game shed so that the parents can communicate to the kids. We did that for our own children and parents really liked that too.

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Delia:

And everything is really, like really thoughtful when it comes to the guests, what are they going to need, everything that they need is there. So I bet you had really great reviews then.

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yes, it’s been great. And I think one of the things that’s different for us that sets us apart is that most of the guests do rent the boat and because of that we have to do the walkthrough before and after. So it’s an awesome opportunity to walk through the backyard, get to meet the family, show them how the boat works. They’re always really curious, so “Where are you livind? And how does this work? And where’s your stuff?”. So they get to find out a little bit about your journey and why you’re doing this and it gives us an opportunity to explain to them how grateful we are that people trust our home and trust us to provide them with a memorable vacation. So that personal experience that we get, I believe really drives our review home even stronger than most, and people leave lengthier comments and reviews because there is that personal relationship that we’re able to make with our guests that most people never would.

Delia:

Yeah, that’s right. I was about to ask you about the rate of guests that you have to also rent the boat, so you just answer that. And yeah, I think it’s good that you have this experience, to get to experience it with the guests, to get to be closer to them. And when they don’t rent the boat, there is no like opportunity you get to, for example, meet them or anything?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Right. Right. And that’s been kind of weird. I feel like with the economy right now, we have had less people rent the boat this season, which has made it feel a little cold. Again, they leave really nice review, but we really enjoy getting to meet our guests and hearing the positive things that they have to say or responding to any questions or issues they have. A lot of them want to know where to go eat on the lake, and where’s the best spots to dock the boat at and you can share some of your experiences, which gets you excited and gets them excited to get out there and we’ve not had the opportunity as much this this time around, which has been a little bit unusual. So there has been a loss in income with people not renting the boats, or they’re bringing their own boats, which is a little unusual to whether they have a friend that has a boat, they’ll find a boat launch and keep it at our dock. We’ve never had any of that last year. So we’re, again we’re still learning and we’re making relationships with some of our neighbors to be able to park our boat at their dock when we have guests because there’s nowhere to park either their jet skis or their boats when they stay and don’t use ours.

Delia:

I totally get it. And now I would like to switch the thing to your market. So can you tell me a little bit about it? Is it like popular when it comes to Airbnb, short-term rentals?

Jessica Lane Harris:

So we are on Lake Norman in North Carolina , we’re right off of the main channel, which is pretty imperative. We’ve looked at purchasing other Lake houses as investment properties, but a lot of them that we can afford are off of the main channel and not easy to access. So you can’t get to restaurants, you can’t find the good islands and and really enjoy the wide open Lake scene that we’re able to give our guests. So I feel like being off the main channel, the location is pretty ideal. We’re also on the more quiet side of the lake, the houses are more modest. So our house doesn’t have the “wow factor” when you pull up, most of the people just comment on the design inside. So when they open the door, you hear that “Oh my gosh”, but not necessarily when they pull up. It’s just a modest community, which makes us feel a little bit more comfortable to rent out an older style home that doesn’t have that “wow factor” on the outside, it’s just a more quiet humble or older part of the lake. I feel like it’s safer as well. So we’re at the end of a cove, I think attracts a lot of families as well as safer that you don’t have as much through traffic. I also think that we price it pretty well, we do use the smart tip most of the time. But like I said our neighbors, their house sleeps 12 to 14. So they’re able to charge a lot more, but they also have a lot more problems. They really attract a lot of bachelor parties and things like that while we attract more families and being in the cove and offering just a modest pontoon boat seems to be what attracts families. Again, the pet friendly thing too, that’s your family, it’s like that’s kind of a key to bringing a family together, versus just having a party of, you know, six women or six guys going together to party it up. So I think our market is unique. We’re also about 40 minutes from the Charlotte airport. So we do have a lot of people that will fly in and it’s not an exorbitant amount for them to get an Uber from the airport or to rent a car, it’s very accessible. And we’re very close to grocery, again, kind of small town restaurants, not a lot of, you know, chains or franchises in our area and I think people really like that we have horses and donkeys across the street that we really try to market that to show them how it is a very peaceful, quiet country part of the lake. Whereas a lot of the other part of Lake is a little pretentious, newer money, bigger homes and a lot more restrictions. So I feel like because of that we’re not in an HOA and there’s comparable houses very close to us. I feel like we price it really well and we offer a lot more.

Delia:

So according to all of what you told me, there must be competition, but there’s no much competition that can compare to your listing, right?

Jessica Lane Harris:

I think that there’s relative competition, I think especially because we don’t sleep more than six. I think that that really limits us. I will say that we have gotten probably out of the 14 guests that we’ve had so far, I would say at least four of them said that what drew them to our property was the boat rental and the heat of the season, you cannot find a boat to rent, they’re all booked out. And so the simple act of having a boat to rent drew them to our house, which we found really interesting that was not something we used as a marketing tool, it was just a way to make more money for us, and to set us apart and to use the boat while we couldn’t, so that is unique. And again, another thing is the pet friendly. There’s very few from what I’ve researched on the lake, very few pet friendly waterfront homes.

Delia:

I get it now then! And can you tell me a little bit more about demographic of guests you usually get? You told me a little bit about families, is that the only kind you go so far? Or are there any other type of guests you’re getting on your rental?

Jessica Lane Harris:

That’s a tough one, I really do feel like it is mostly family. Sometimes it’s a young couple that brings friends in. I had, again, we had a family that own a private plane and we have a private airstrip, about 15 minutes north of us that they were able to fly into, leave their plane at the little airstrip and get an Uber to the house and they had some of their other wealthy friends also fly in and meet them, no kids. I noticed that she was a very high rated host too, so we were really nervous about that one. So the clientele and the demographics is, I would say it’s a hit or miss, but mostly it is families. Rarely do we get a couple without a child. And if we get a couple without children, they always have an animal with them. We’ve never had an individual stay, it’s always usually been two or more. Sometimes we’ve had a group of guys come in that are doing work locally that need a place to stay and want to mix business with pleasure, right? So they’re able to enjoy while they’re in this area. That happened one or two times, but typically it is, I would say a nuclear family of usually five to six people.

Delia:

And from what I was able to see from your rental, I think families are the typical demographic that will look at it and say that it’s like a good location for, you know, with the game shed, and I think you have bunk beds for kids? Yeah, all of that, so it’s really nice. And I think that’s the reason why you get most families out of everything. So yeah, that must be it. And another question that I would like to ask you, if you don’t mind sharing is about your revenue, how much revenue are you actually perceiving? You’re already like one year into the business, right?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yeah, we made about $38K last year, and we are set to make probably a little bit more than that. Now, that’s without the boat rentals. So I believe that last year with the boat rental, and pet fees, we probably made closer to $60K, probably 55 to 60 with the boat rental, and pet fees because that wasn’t included last time. So and we’re also hiring a cleaning company sometimes where there’s quick turns, we can’t manage that on our own and last year, we collected all the cleaning fees. And we intentionally left a day or two in between rentals so that we have the time as a family, we cleaned it all ourselves, my boys and my husband and I, so that that was pure income and we’re not doing that. So we’re losing a little bit more this year and again, the boats not being rented out. But I would project for us to make about $40K again this season, that’s just between June and August.

Delia:

June and August, is that the high season there?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yeah, July is fully booked out. June, we probably had three or four vacant days. July I think we have two. And then August, we still have a few weeks out. But as I looked on the statistics, we usually have about a 30-day booking lead before people book. So I’m still anticipating August to fill up.

Delia:

Okay. And about your market, do you know if there’s any particular like low season you’re getting prepared for?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yes, I feel like by the time October hits, you’re done. But one thing we did learn is that Thanksgiving week is big and so it was Christmas, which I wouldn’t have thought about staying on the lake, but people are looking for destinations to bring all their families together. We do have a lot of people that don’t travel together, we have people that will fly in and the people that will drive in to meet one another. Also, we’ve had twice now where other people will rent other homes on the lake and have a family reunion and so that has been something that’s been interesting too, and they’ll usually meet at the larger house to celebrate Thanksgiving or celebrate a birthday party or anniversary or whatnot. So I think that’s been, we’re prepared. But again, the money that we make in just a short amount of time, makes it worth it. Now we also did not rent it out past August because we wanted to, we were homeschooling our kids at the time and needed the home to live in. This year, we will be renting it out and then just reducing the price. So I’m curious to see if it will continue to stay rent it out. And then we have to make the decision at what point is it worth it to rent out the house and what kind of market are we looking for because if we price it too low, we’re worried that we will get people who won’t treat it as kindly as the previous guests have.

Delia:

Yeah, yeah, I understand completely. And by any chance, is there any particular pricing strategy, or maybe planning to switching to a little bit more longer term stays during the slower season?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yeah, that’s a great point. So last year, we did a 4-night min, and a 7-night max and we did that because I have probably 60 to 70 houseplants that I was nervous would die if we didn’t have the time to go home and water them and my girlfriend that does all the Airbnb houses thinks that’s just silly. So I probably will open it up more, move out some of the plants or ask them to water them and just know that we might have some plant casualties. It just it really helps with the feel of the house, makes it feel very warm and comfy and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed having to keep the air fresh in the house and make it feel nice and vibrant. So during our summer seasons, we will have to be more flexible on at least on the maximum nights of stay. We do notice that our neighbor has a lot of like solo people that will come in. We have Duke Energy that is right down the road and they do a lot of big projects around here at the nuclear plant and a lot of times they will bring you know engineers in or just guys that come in just for a job for a month. And they have a guy that’s spending over $500 a night to sleep in a house that sleeps 12, but his companies paying for it, so why not stay on the lake? So I’m anticipating some of that in our slower seasons, we just have to be more flexible with the length of time that will allow people to stay.

Delia:

I understand, yeah. So that’s something you have to see this year and see if it works for you, right?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Right.

Delia:

So can you tell me a little bit about the challenges that you have encountered so far as an Airbnb host? Could be with your rental, with Airbnb platform, with guests, any particular types that you found challenging within this experience so far.

Jessica Lane Harris:

I would say the most challenging would be the lack of communication or responsiveness that always is a little stressful and frustrating. I don’t know why, if they’re on vacation, I don’t expect responses back every day. But if we do have to remind them, “Hey, it’s Tuesday, our yard service guy will be there between two and four, please make sure your pets are put away and that you’re prepared. We apologize for the inconvenience. How’s your stay going?” nothing. Same thing on garbage night, right? Like, “Hey, the garbage comes early, just want to check in. We’re happy to put the garbage by the driveway, you know, at the end of the driveway for you if you’re not around. We don’t want this to be an inconvenience your stay but it does help keep the smell on the flies and the, you know, the sanitation of the property”. So we always again, follow that up with “I hope everything is going great. Please let us know if we can do anything else” and usually there’s no response which always has me worried which I don’t take personally but the lack of responsiveness or communication or the delay and leaving a review, I think that always has me a little nervous too because we do try to be really prompt with our reviews. And you know, I assume no news is good news, but for the majority of the time, we do get pretty responsive people that are quick to respond and their reviews and that’s a little stressful and frustrating and it also is awkward having to remind them about the pet fee. I don’t like having to ask people for more money when I would say the average income that we make on a guest is usually around $3K, so to ask them again for another $200 days before their stay gets a little awkward and then I have to go through the fee to see did they actually pay, did I send them the Venmo, did I show them the instructions to try to do it through the platform. That’s probably I would say my biggest struggle that we’ve had so far but that is minimal considering what a lot of other people struggle with. I do notice a little bit more wear and tear on the house on the furniture, we don’t buy anything new, so we don’t take anything personal if things start to wear down but we’re noticing some of the decks, right? That the paint is wearing off the deck much faster than it was when we were living there. Some of the boards on the decks are getting looser and wearing out faster. So we’re just now we have to look at the income we’re making and realize that we’re going to have to start putting some of that back into the house. And last year we really didn’t think much about that.

Delia:

Yeah, but I understand also about your concerns. They’re completely valid as well, despite them not being like “wow, that much”. I completely understand. So do you have any tips that you’d like to share for other Airbnb hosts?

Jessica Lane Harris:

Yes, I would say find a good backup house cleaner, maybe even two because that you might run into a pinch and not be there or your company might not be able to be there. That’s a big one. Either find a good laundry mat or a good commercial washer and dryer, a lot, a lot, a lot of laundry. Have a third set of everything for linens and towels, especially extra washcloth. We provide makeup remover, some people use it, some people don’t. We do requested in the house manual that they try to keep the towels as makeup free as possible because we do use white. I would say not allowing people to use your garage. I think it’s a great place to store stuff and I think that unless it’s empty, it can be an area that could cause problems with missing items or people snooping through stuff that they shouldn’t. I would say the yard service has been one of our favorite expenses that we incur. We spend $250 a month on that, they mow every Tuesday, they’re on time, they’re timely, they blow off all the patios so that is money well spent, that we’re not having to worry about the yard service anymore. I would also say personalized reminders and responses. I know a lot of people just have those automated responses. But I can personally tell as a guest myself using Airbnb, that I know when I’m not being really paid attention to they don’t know my name. It’s a very, very clearly an automated response and if I don’t like it, I’m not going to do that to my guests. So I tried to add a little bit different every time. And I would say the one big thing would be the ring cameras that has saved us a multitude of times, especially being waterfront, I always worry about the liability of somebody getting hurt on the dock or god even drowning or even damage to the boat or the dock. So that we have one on the front door and one on the dock that we’re very public with. We don’t try to hide that and it’s definitely just for liability purposes. I would say that those are the tips that I would give.

Delia:

Amazing tips especially with the one about the ring door camera and about the garage thing. I think those are real important points to start. So that will be it for today. Thank you a lot for your time and for your tips and for all the experience that you’ve shared with us!

Jessica Lane Harris:

Thank you, thank you so much for thinking of me and for this opportunity to share our experiences. It is a big part of our life now and I would not have been able to do what I’ve been doing without the platforms through Facebook and different communities sharing their tips and pictures and ideas. It definitely it takes a village to get to be a great host!

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