Continuing their series on what makes an Airbnb stay amazing for guests, Debbie and Michael Campbell share their thoughts on House Manuals and what a difference they can make. The Senior Nomads retired four years ago to travel full-time, living their daily lives in Airbnbs around the world. They’ve visited 58 countries,180 cities and have called over 135 Airbnbs home. Here’s what they’d like you to know:
Consider your house manual as a guide to peace of mind. A place where your guests can find the answers to life’s questions, at least while they’re living in your Airbnb—and, because of their enlightenment, leave you in peace.
During our adventures living full-time in Airbnbs, about half of our hosts have provided written information to help us get oriented. And we’re always grateful when they do. Whether it’s one laminated sheet or a bulging binder, a quick flip through your notes keeps us from calling when the WiFi doesn’t work, or the door won’t open. And more importantly, it gives us insight into living locally—whether that means how to call for help in an emergency, what shops are nearby, or where to get a perfect cup of cold brew.
Meeting your guests in person and carefully walking them through your home is great, but that doesn’t replace a manual. Unfortunately, we may be distracted and might not hear every word. By the time you say goodbye and “Call me if you need anything,” you can be certain we have missed or forgotten some of what you shared with us; and no doubt, we will be calling. And if no one is able to meet us in person, a written guide becomes even more crucial. Our advice? If it’s worth explaining in person, it’s worth writing down. Here is the information we are grateful to find on arrival.
Fire! Fire! Just like in a hotel room, you need to provide basic emergency information for guests. That should include the complete physical address of your listing and a way to reach you besides through the Airbnb platform. Your guest needs to be able to provide the address to an emergency service without searching for it on a phone or online. List phone numbers for fire, police, medical, and dental help, and the address and phone number of the closest pharmacy, as well as one that is open 24 hours. Also include the number of a trusted taxi service.
The Basics. Beyond life-saving information, add information that saves time and confusion. This includes the WiFi username and password and the location of the wireless router. Always helpful are instructions on how to use the television, the sound system, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the air conditioning and heating systems, and kitchen appliances. If you have the actual manuals from the manufacturers, make them available because they offer instructions in multiple languages.This basic information helps us settle in and hopefully prevents your equipment and appliances from accidentally being misused. Include details like where to find extra bedding and cleaning supplies. And, to keep things tidy and pleasant, include where and when to take out the garbage and how to recycle.
Get Comfortable. Share little things that smooth the way to living in your listing (and that you know intuitively because you’re used to the quirks). Does the front door key need a jiggle, or does it take a few minutes for the water in the shower to get hot? Does the wall switch need to be on for the oven to work, or does the neighbor’s cat pop by for unexpected visits if you leave the window open? Let your guests know! This adds a little extra work, but just like a difficult yoga position, you’ll feel so good when you’re finished.
Belong Anywhere.There’s something centering about poring over an actual map and seeing “You are here” labeled clearly. It helps your guests locate what’s nearby and can help get them home again, even if their phone battery dies. Stop by your local tourist office and collect a dozen local maps, or find a good one online and print several to have on hand. While you’re at the tourist office, grab a handful of the latest publications that provide a calendar of events for the month—just be sure and keep them current.
Namaste! For us, nothing is more appreciated than your personal recommendation on places to eat, drink, and shop as well as on what to see and do during our stay. Include your favorite grocery store and specialty markets, where to get a haircut, who makes the best pizza, and any hidden gems you don’t want us to miss. And if possible give instructions on how to use public transportation and what that might cost.
We see a trend to have your manual on your listing page or accessible through a phone app. That’s a good resource, but if we don’t have a local SIM card or internet access it’s not much help. Having important details on paper is very comforting and extremely helpful. Why not do both? To be honest, neither of us Senior Nomads bend very well anymore, but we are flexible. And the more information you share with us, the more blissful we become. Peace.
To learn more about the Senior Nomads visit their website at www.seniornomads.com