As rewarding as hosting an experience can be, sometimes the logistics can be challenging! As the host you are expected to juggle many things at once: managing time, navigating group dynamics, catering to individual guest needs, handling unforeseen developments, expertly executing the activity itself, and all with a smile. It’s part of what makes hosting both very challenging and incredibly rewarding.
In this article, we’ll share some tips on timing and schedule based on what we’ve heard from successful hosts and feedback from guests.
Planning the order of events
Guests tell us they appreciate when experiences are thoughtfully planned out. Consider creating a narrative flow (beginning, middle, and end). When things progress in a logical order, it creates a better overall experience for guests because it can make the host look more organized and professional, helps guests remember what happened on the experience, and also helps the host execute the experience with repeatable precision.
Plan the right flow by considering the order of events and how you’ll transition between different parts. For example, how many locations do you visit and does the order in which you visit them make sense? How will you keep the guests engaged and interested while in transit between the locations?
Many hosts have found it helpful to think through the order of events of their experience by mapping it to a structure with 5 distinct stages:
1) Before: what you send to guests ahead of them arriving to the experience
2) Introduction: creating a great first impression for guests upon arrival
3) Activity: delivering the activity of the experience in a way that surpasses expectations
4) Wrap-up: bringing the experience to a thoughtful conclusion
5) After: following-up with guests afterward to say thanks, share your own favorite moments, and nudge them to leave a review
You can download a worksheet to think through these 5 stages further here.
Managing the timing of the experience can be a tricky art to master. It involves being conscious of the time while simultaneously remaining present in the moment and flexible when necessary.
It can be tricky to keep things running on time when there are lots of factors at play – such as guests arriving late, transportation delays, or having a curious group asking more questions than usual.
Here are some tips that can help you keep an eye on the time without feeling completely controlled by the clock:
- Do a dry run with friends or family to give you a benchmark of how long each activity or section may take.
- As you take your guests on the experience let everyone know how long you’ll be spending on each activity (“We’ll be here for 20 minutes then move on to the next stop”), then give warnings as the activity time nears completion (“5 more minutes, everyone!”) so no one is caught by surprise.
- Plan to be flexible by baking in some “cushion time” in case something goes long. If you find yourself with extra time, consider having talking-points or mini-activities ready to add in.
After running my experience a few times, I ended up adding an extra half-hour on my experience page because although I knew we could finish the tour in 2.5 hours, advertising it as 3 hours gave me a little more breathing room without going over-time. Sometimes people liked asking extra questions or going a little more slowly and I wanted to give them that space without worrying about ending on time. – Jonny, bar crawl host in San Francisco
We started the tour as usual, but when we arrived at the Eiffel tower it started to pour. It was such a storm that we had to wait under a bridge in front of the tower to avoid the downpour… It was really challenging because I had to keep entertaining my four guests… I grew from that experience, because I knew that I could handle a stressful moment, being blocked at one place and telling new stories that are not on my list. Since that day I’m always trying to learn more things for my tour, especially when things go wrong. – Emmanuel, walking tour host in Paris
Handling location and transportation issues
We’ve heard from both hosts and guests that a big pain-point is finding everyone at the meeting point in order to start the experience on time. There are many ways to potentially address this issue.
You may want to ask yourself: Is my current meeting point easy for an out-of-town guest to get to and spot?
Once you have the right spot, consider describing a specific landmark to look for, choosing a place away from large crowds, and wearing or carrying something distinctive so they can identify you. Be specific and clear in your directions. Some hosts even send a photo of the meeting point through the Airbnb message thread.
After learning from a few logistics mistakes, I now have a paragraph of text I use for all participants joining us. As my little beach town is super tiny, we’ve had some mistakes along the way from people catching the wrong train, to missing our stop… I’ve learned a lot along the way, and now things are going smooth! – Alesha, yoga host in Barcelona
Next, consider the time of the day that the experience is taking place. Will that impact guests’ ability to arrive on time? Think about any traffic or public transportation schedules they may need to account for. Remember that it may be their first time in your city so they may not have all the context on how things work or where things are located in relation to each other.
People had the tendency to show up late, but I noticed that during the week I was hosting the experience during rush hour, so once I prepared them in a message to plan accordingly, the tardiness went down by 70%. – Dominique, food and drink host in San Diego
To read more tips on how to handle guests arriving late, check out this article.
We hope the tips included here have helped you think through some strategies and approaches to try. Remember that everyone has their own unique hosting style, so it’s important to find what works best for you while also ensuring a high-quality, positive experience for your guests.
For more tips related to juggling logistics, in particular related to managing group dynamics and unexpected situations, check out this article.