If you want to figure out what the right amount of guest interaction is, consider the perspective of your guests. Try to remember all those times where you were a guest.
(Fun fact: Before I founded GoNitely my wife and I went on a journey around the entire world. During our journey we had unforgettable experiences with hosts who couldn't even speak a word of English!)
Many frequent travelers have experienced this: You’ve been driving for what feels like an eternity. All you want to do is get to your Airbnb and relax. When you arrive it's as if you've reached the promised land.
But at the door you meet your host. He or she seems great. Especially at talking. After showing you around for who knows how long, your host sits down with you and keeps talking. And talking. You get the idea.
You shouldn't fault the host for acting this way though. Airbnb is built on the notion of hospitality – a type of hosting that goes beyond just offering a bed. Kind of like couchsurfing (remember that?), but with money involved. Guest interaction is a beautiful thing when it's done right.
My wife and I have had more than one experience where we felt a bit lost and lonely while traveling. We came to appreciate those awesome hosts who took us out and entertained us all night.
Which finally brings us to the big question...
How Do You Know the Right Amount of Guest Interaction?
You don't. That's impossible to know, at least for the most part.
Over the years I've been able to learn a few things you can do to manage the expectations your guests have and make the process less awkward when it comes to your presence. Here are four of them:
- Define your level of guest interaction: Most platforms offer some sort of option you can use to define how much you interact with your guests. Be clear so your guests know what to expect.
- Pick up on cues: Your guests will tell you little things like “Alright, we will see you tomorrow at 3 pm then.” Clearly this means they expect to meet you at 3 pm tomorrow. Go meet them if you can or, if not, let them know you won’t be there.
- Write a friendly welcome message or guide book: Some guests will want to meet you because you’re the host. Many will appreciate having all the info in an easy-to-understand manner. If you can provide everything they need up front they probably won't expect or want you to meet them.
- Provide a personal touch: You don't have to be physically present to make an impression on your guest. Leaving little things like fresh flowers or a personal card goes a long way. It’ll make your guests feel welcome without you actually having to be there.
There Are No "Rules" When It Comes To Guest Interaction
I know this might sound "incorrect" after reading all that. But while these tips do make knowing what your guests expect easier, there are still no rules. We’ve had guests who enjoyed having beer around the fire with us. And we’ve also had guests who looked upset because they had to say hello to us in person.
Our rule of thumb is simple: Make sure your guests would be okay with you never showing up – but do show up if you can. Even if it’s only to say hello and welcome them to the property!
At GoNitely we realize proximity is key. The closer you live to the property you rent out the more flexibility you have when it comes to guest interaction. We make sure our managers live within a 10-minute radius from the property they are in charge of.
This way nobody has to lose two hours of their time showing up to a property just to find that their guests are fine by themselves. And it also allows our host to arrive on-site quickly in case they're needed for something.
As any rental pro will tell you: No matter how experienced you are and no matter how good your welcome message is, there's going to be a scenario where your presence is required. Always has been, and always will be.