Before Airbnb, I swore by Couchsurfing. As a student I used it to travel both the US and Europe and have experiences money couldn’t buy. At home I paid it forward by offering up my space, free of charge for travelers. The Couch Surfers I met reminded me of what’s important. That was 2007. My last stay organized through the website was 2014; the year I joined Airbnb.
My friend had an account and I didn’t have any reviews so we booked with hers for my first trip in Austin. The apartment we stayed in showed signs that it was clearly someone’s real home and the second room was rented to another Airbnb Guest, we were convinced the host was sleeping in his car to make a few extra bucks. You could now pay to get the authentic experience of staying in a local’s home. I was getting older and more and more of my trips were weekends away vs long-term travel so I began to feel less comfortable using Couch Surfer. My priorities shifted towards convenience and some of the Airbnbs I stayed in were run by companies, where I never even saw the host. I didn’t have a problem with this, but I began to miss the human interaction and spontaneousness of the Couchsurfing platform.
I’d never had a space I use to host on Airbnb, but everything changed late last year when my tenants moved out of my LA duplex. I listed my place on Airbnb and decided I didn’t want to just list a space for the money. I want to interact with my guests (without intruding) and turn their vacation into a memorable experience – just like the old days with Couchsurfing. I’m now 7 Guests in and I feel as though I’ve been able to accomplish this fairly well so far. My travels gave me the opportunity to stay in many Airbnbs around the world and take from them the best bits and incorporate those into mine. I look at this the same way I would a design project. It was tough getting started but now I’m in the optimization phase. I value guest feedback and constantly look to improve their experience. Running an Airbnb is bringing real-time insight into the value of focusing on the guest experience, honing my entrepreneurial skills and most importantly, it allows me to bring back what I remember to be the best parts of traveling.