I've said it before, I'll say it again.
One of the best things about being involved in the short term rental space is meeting a community of other amazing hosts. Today I'm sharing a Q&A with some talented hosts from California, Hanan and Joe, who clearly must not sleep what with their full time jobs, multiple short term rental properties, AND 3 gorgeous children to raise.
Let's dive in and learn what they have to teach us about hosting the right way.
Tell us about yourselves!
We are Hanan and Joe, a husband & wife team with a passion for interior design, renovation, entrepreneurship, traveling and family. We own and run short term rentals in both the Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe while also raising 3 lovely children (Jacob, Aminah & Jordan) and working full time jobs. Joe works as a registered nurse and Hanan works as a Realtor in the Napa/Sonoma region.
How did your Short Term Rental journey begin?
In 2015, we moved to Napa and purchased a California bungalow style home built in 1948. It had a very unique floor plan with a master suite that was completely separated from the rest of the home. We renovated and converted it into a guest unit with a private entrance.
At the time, I was in the process of transitioning into real estate from my global management consulting position and I was looking for a side hustle to help smooth out the transition. After staying at Airbnbs all around the world, we thought it would be fun to put the guest suite on Airbnb and rent it out to Napa Valley visitors and hopefully earn a decent side income for our family.
The experience was wildly successful, and we quickly realized how much we loved hosting and never looked back!
Tell us about your design process. Did you do all of the interior design yourselves, and what inspired you?
When we purchased our California bungalow, we got our hands dirty with lots of small home improvement projects, and through that process realized our love for homes and design. Moving from Arizona, where most of the homes are turn key tract homes, this was an opportunity to make our home our own. I really enjoyed that. Since we finished that home, we’ve designed & renovated about half a dozen properties.
I love design and handle the interior design myself. I use a combination of Pinterest, Instagram, Design Blogs and our personal travel experiences for inspiration. Once I have inspiration for the space, I often use Canva to create a mood board to see how the pieces all fit together.
Were there any fun purchases or decorating stories along the way?
My favorite piece in the cabin is a vintage Persian runner in the kitchen that I purchased from a small business vintage rug curator, @kyrosedesigns, on Instagram years ago. I had been waiting for the perfect space for it and as soon as the kitchen started coming together, I knew I had found it. I love the patina of the rug and the way the subtle pop of color warms up our moody kitchen while also elevating the space and adding that extra sophistication.
What is some advice you may have for new hosts that you learned the hard way?
Oh, boy! I probably have more advice than anyone cares to hear but I am happy to share my top 3 tips for new hosts.
A lot of hosting fatigue stems from hosts feeling overwhelmed. Some hosts might be taking on a little too much work, especially if they have full time jobs and hosting is their side hustle (like us). When I started hosting, I did all my own cleaning mainly because I didn’t trust anyone else to leave the home as clean as I would. That quickly led to me feeling burned out – especially because I have three little ones at home. I felt like all I ever did was clean!
My best advice is to outsource some aspects of hosting. If you love cleaning, there are many other tasks to consider outsourcing.
If you hate fixing things, find a reliable handy man. If interior design is not your thing, let the pros handle it.
Figure out the parts of hosting you love and outsource the rest. You will find joy in what you do that way, and it will show in your listing and reviews.
We love leaving guests local goodies when we can but it’s not always possible, especially as new remote hosts. We have shifted to stocking high quality organic local coffee that our cleaning service is able to replenish regularly. You really don't have to offer your guests elaborate gifts or have a super fancy home to be successful. A thoughtful, clean, organized, cozy space that's free of clutter will make your guests feel the most welcome and ensure a great experience.
I can’t tell you how nice it’s been joining the Instagram Airbnb community. It’s so refreshing to collaborate with other hosts, share stories, thoughts, frustrations, and experiences. That feeling of community reminds us that we are not alone in this. It also helps to keep us inspired to continuously improve and provide that elevated experience our guests are seeking.
What keeps you motivated to keep renting out your spaces to strangers?
We have had many really great experiences with guests. We have met so many interesting, kind, friendly and respectful people over the years that have grown to become not only repeat guests but friends. Some of our guests have even brought us gifts from their country or send us annual holiday cards. That’s pretty special.
Hygge Barn, our Lake Tahoe cabin, has only been on the Airbnb platform for one month but we have already received the most heart warming messages from guests who have found a treasured mountain retreat to enjoy with their families. A place for conversation, laughter, hot cocoa and board games. The idea of families enjoying our cabin as much as we do really brings me so much joy and keeps me motivated.
What tools, tricks or apps could you not survive hosting without??
We absolutely love Airbnb’s new scheduled messaging system. The system allows you to schedule messages to automatically send out such as booking confirmations, welcome messages, check in / check out instructions and first day of stay check in with guests. We love that we can customize and use their short codes to fill in details such as the guest’s name, check in date etc. This tool has been a game changer for us and has really streamlined guest communication for us allowing us to never miss a beat.
Where can we find you?
Thanks Hanan for giving us a peak into your hosting lives and for your fabulous tips!
Be sure to join my mailing list below to stay in the loop with exclusive tips and tricks from me to you about all things Short Term Rental decor related.
P.S. If you'd like to get un-stuck in your Short Term Rental design process, click this link to book a free 30 minute call with me. I will help you gain clarity with those paint colors you've been agonizing over, the tricky tiles you aren't sure about, or how to style a shelf in your rental. I can't wait to meet you! 🤗 -Val
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