Given that BookingSync is a distributed company, we have the freedom to travel and live in new places. I’ve hopped around New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Berkeley (USA); Bogota and Medellin (Colombia); Montevideo (Uruguay); Mexico City (Mexico); Oslo (Norway); Stockholm (Sweden). Much of this time has been spent living in vacation rentals. In all, I’ve had one poor experience. The rest have been positive, a few of which have even spawned friendships I maintain to this day. A constant across these positive visits were:
- Clear and open communication ahead of arrival (communication)
- Good rapport between me and the host (rapport)
- Clean, quiet, and safe living quarters (environment)
In addition to high quality communication, rapport, and environment, there are small deeds that can turn an already positive stay into a remarkable one. These are little, menschy things the host does that hold great value. They are by no means necessary, but can leave a lasting impact. In my travels, a few to highlight include:
A meal upon arrival
A bike and helmet
A meal upon arrival
After a several hour flight, I land and am hungry. I prefer not to settle for airport food. So I proceed to where I’ll be staying. Usually, there is no food upon arrival. This is fine. I don’t expect there to be. I expect to drop off my luggage, and hit the new streets for a hearty, local meal.
At the same time, it puts a smile on my face when a meal is available upon arrival. It’s a show of empathy. It’s show of understanding that the traveler just traveled, and might come with an appetite. I also find it a tactful way to connect with the host, as the meal establishes a comfortable context for easy conversation.
A bike and helmet
I greatly value a bike for two reasons: (1) it’s a fantastic way to explore a city and (2) it’s an efficient, practical means of transportation. My first bike experience with a vacation rental was in Berkeley, California. My Airbnb host lent me a bike and helmet. I was required to sign a waiver releasing the host from liability should I become injured, which was no problem. The bike allowed me to see parts of Berkeley, Oakland, and other areas of the East Bay I probably would not have seen otherwise.
Particularly for extended stays, laundry service is a big benefit. While I understand the value of the sometimes random, spontaneous interactions that come with going to the laundromat, on balance, I rather have a washing machine close by. It’s a convenience and frees up time for other things.
To note, when I say “laundry,” I don’t necessarily mean that the host or perhaps a housekeeper does my laundry. I’m plenty happy with easy access to a washing machine and doing laundry myself.
The last one I mention here is “a ride.” This could mean the host picks the guest up upon arrival at the airport, brings the guest to the airport for departure, or simply gives a ride somewhere.
For instance, when I was in Bogota, Colombia, I had just got settled in and dropped off my things. I was hungry and wanted to go out for food. However, it was pretty late and we weren’t that close to a supermarket or restaurant. My host understood this and offered to drive me to the supermarket so I could pick up groceries. In a second case, a host drove me to a BART station (the San Francisco Bay Area metro) so I could make my way to the airport. I was very grateful. Both were positive stays.
To reiterate, these small deeds are not necessary and are not expected. But when they’re scrambled into the guest experience, they’re highly valued. As a vacation rental owner or manager, if you have your own small deed stories, please share with us. We’d love to learn about them.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker (original size modified)