I had never heard of Airbnb until I moved to Lucca, Italy. I met individuals through an Italian class that were all going through Airbnb for their accommodations in Lucca. I didn’t think much of it after that point until someone recommended that my husband and I rent out our extra bedrooms for the Lucca Comics and Games weekend. Comics and Games is very comparable to Comic-Con in the United States. It was estimated that this event would bring approximately 250,000 people to Lucca from October 31-November 3. With that many people coming to this small town, housing was definitely going to be in high demand.
My husband, being the always laid back human being that he is, was in favor of doing Airbnb. I, however, had my reservations. I knew that this could be a lot of work. Besides getting us set up on Airbnb, there would be all the preparations for having people come and stay in our place. I also never feel quite right about sharing my home with strangers.
In the end, we decided to do this. I invested lots of time learning about Airbnb and setting up our posting (viewable here). We were newcomers to Airbnb and didn’t quite know what to expect or really what we were doing, so our asking price was low compared to other accommodations in Lucca. Within two weeks, we were completely booked up for Comics and Games. The unfortunate thing, when you are renting out by the room, was that we had multiple reservations. Every day we were expecting new people, which meant a lot of cleaning and changing linen and towels. Maybe in the future, we will try to just rent out the whole place to one individual or group.
We were as prepared as I think we could have been. The house was clean, the beds had clean linen on it, towels were set out, a hair dryer and items for breakfast were purchased, extra keys were made, maps of Lucca for the guests were set out, and house instructions were printed out for each guest in both English and Italian. It was time to welcome our guests.
We had one couple who were friendly and definitely enjoyed their time at the Comics and Games. A single guy came for a night just to enjoy the atmosphere and expressed regret in not being able to chat with us more. Two girls came for a few nights who were our only guests to fully do Comics and Games with costumes and everything. We also had a woman who stayed for the entire event as she was running a booth at one of the tents. Overall, we survived without any large disasters, but there were a few instances that bugged me.
First, there was definitely an interesting night where the two girls spent about an hour in the bathroom just chatting with each other. One of the items on our instruction manual was to be respectful about bathroom usage and time as it is a shared bathroom. Clearly they didn’t read it. I cannot help but wonder exactly what they were doing in that tiny bathroom for an hour. Couldn’t they just have their girl talk in their private bedroom? It was strange. Second, the single lady requested that we allow her “brother” to sleep on the floor next to her bed one night. She seemed to be concerned that she could not manage her booth without extra help from him, and he would need a place to sleep. This is not typical, but we allowed it. Last of all, the only really big frustration I had, the process of arranging key pick up was challenging. The couple and the two girls were great at arranging times ahead of time to come and get the keys. I tried multiple times to contact the single guy to inform me when he would be by, and he never responded. The single lady responded but wanted to come and get the keys late at night when we wouldn’t be there, because that is dinner time. When I explained that it had to be before a certain hour, she still showed up on the late side. I think that is just disrespectful to assume that I will be around whenever you feel like stopping by to get the keys.
The single lady was the only one that has reviewed her Airbnb experience in our place so far. The public review was quite decent. However, she sent me a private email which rubbed me the wrong way. I am still working out how to respond to it, but meanwhile, I will rant about it here.
It would have been helpful if you would have showed me where the kitchen was. – I fully admit that our kitchen is hidden. I did actually give a little tour to other Airbnb guests. However, she told me that she was coming by in the afternoon to pick up the keys. I waited and waited. Afternoon came and went, and she didn’t show up until my husband and I were heading out to meet friends for dinner around 8pm. When you show up late, you shouldn’t expect the host to give you the full hospitable tour. However, our Airbnb advertisement includes pictures and a floor plan which should make it easy to locate every room in the place.
I felt a bit indiscreet. I am hoping that that is not the word that she really wanted to use in expressing her feelings toward her stay in our place. In first meeting, I told her in Italian that I could not speak or understand much Italian and hoped that we could communicate via English. She could understand and speak decent English and still often tried to talk to me in Italian even when I told her that I did not understand. What do you want from me? I just moved here. Also, you want to talk about indiscreet, let us address the guest (brother?) that we allowed stay in your room for free even though he was not part of the reservation. The only time I saw him at all was when he came out of the shared bathroom wearing only a towel and it wasn’t a very big towel. That would be a very good example of indiscreet.
Despite the fact that this feedback rubbed me the wrong way, I do think some feedback is better than no feedback, so in the end I will probably thank her for her suggestions and move on with my life. It could have been a lot worse. As we consider the possibility of being an Airbnb host in the future, any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.