Home Hosting: The Best Kind of DIY Inns
by Julie Robinson
My heart sunk. Peering out over a sea of well-dressed patrons, all I could see were the tops of people’s heads. Instead of chatting with a person sitting beside them, everyone had their noses buried in a phone or laptop. So much for people watching. . . .
“I wish there was a way to help people connect with each other. . . .” My voice trails off. I don’t have the energy to launch into my now familiar refrain about this ongoing societal disconnect: how new technologies change the dynamic of public places and how much I hate it.
“You’re already doing it,” Jeff says. Infinitely supportive and equally cryptic, I love him even more as I give him my most skeptical look. He explains: “You have guests from all over the world feel at home under your roof.” He pulls me in for the hug I need so badly, and I start to connect the dots.
I run what I like to call a DIY Inn. Using the same technological breakthroughs that sometimes seem to divide us, hundreds of thousands of us all over the world create our own personal oases for paying guests. Online interfaces like AirBNB, VRBO, Homeaway, and Bookings dot com allow today’s enterprising home based innkeepers to reinvent the age old tradition of creating a personal brand of hospitality.
Believe in Daydreams
Seven years ago I had a spare room above my furniture boutique that felt like wasted space. I didn’t realize it at first, but I had the perfect opportunity to embark on a dream I’d had since I was a little girl: To run a B&B where everything in it was for sale. My second floor “showroom” doubled as an inn and–voila!–my childhood dream was realized. Across the globe other “hosts” are living their daydreams of home hosting in much the same way. I have a friend who funds her globe trotting by renting out her condo while she travels. Snowbirds open up their houses to paying guests in the off season. Garages get converted into studios. Backyard sheds become sleeping cottages. Anyone who can find a little space, and has a passion for people, can create a micro-business running a DIY Inn.
It’s Not That Complicated
When I get asked about home hosting or the DIY Inn industry, I’m often met with a whole slew of knee-jerk reactions:
- What if guests trash your home?
- What do you do with guests you don’t like?
- What about angry neighbors?
- Don’t big, corporate hotels want to shut this all down?
These are valid questions, and I’m happy to say that all of them are reasonable AND manageable. The reason this Mom & Pop style of hospitality works well is because the people who are considering opening their own DIY Inn are the same people renting from other hosts. Hosts and guests draw from the same population. All of us are looking for affordable, personally tailored accommodations in interesting places.
Big corporate hotels provide a completely different product. Their guests are looking for anonymity and services (i.e. room service and concierge). On the other hand, DIY Inns may have a dog there to greet you at the door, a host who joins you for your first cup of coffee in the morning, or a walking neighborhood with streets lined with shade trees and rose gardens.
When done well, these kinds of personal touches attract the kind of guest who values exactly what you offer. There are a lot of options out there, so guests will choose your DIY Inn, that means your guest space seems like the best fit for who they are. Offer amenities and style that suits you and chances are you’ll attract people who you’ll like.
Heart Based Hospitality
As I travel across the southwest offering workshops for people interested in becoming DIY Inn hosts, I often wonder how I’m perceived. I’m pretty sure I sound a little crazy. Follow your daydreams! Turn extra space into profits! What makes this idea make me sound a tad bit wacky? It’s not because I’m talking about radical ideas–lots of people lead lives woven together with dreams–it’s because I believe they can do it too. YOU can do it too.
My heart sings as I share the joys DIY Inn hosting has brought me as I assist others interested in starting their own ventures. More of us have profitable, creative heart based pursuits. We’re connecting.
Julie Robinson, owner of BOHO HOSPITALITY has a knack for words, repurposed furniture, and extreme bargain hunting. After successfully turning spare rooms into profitable, whimsical hideaways for 500+ guests, Julie’s newest venture takes her expertise and tailors it into a heart-based business where connecting to other people is the number one priority. On October 6 at Colorado Free University in Denver she offers two workshops on home hosting:
DIY Inns: Is Vacation Rental Hosting Right for You? Get the overview of what hosting entails and determine what would be a good fit for you.
Everything You Need to Know about Vacation Home Rental Hosting Get the inside scoop to make your rentals a success.
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