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The Art of Hospitality: Surprises from a Superhost

Updated: Feb 17


A crystal and golden kingdom above a vibrant happy garden.
Lighter Footprint from the Crystal Kingdoms Series

As an artist and writer working out of my home studio in Santa Cruz, Airbnb has been the perfect opportunity to socialize my art to people from all over the world. In the busy season, it also covers a healthy portion of my living expenses in this little seaside village recently named the most expensive rental market in the nation.

 

In addition to an added income stream, there are plenty of benefits to hosting on Airbnb especially for an artist, writer, or anyone who wishes to spread a message far and wide.


The Power of Weak Ties

First researched by Mark Granvoetter, now a Stanford sociologist, Mark found that weak ties have a profound impact in the spread of new ideas through diverse social networks.


I get a lot of travelers at my place, and I sometimes sense in my guests the unease associated with world events and an uncertainty for the future. I can relate. I had tremendous uncertainty and worry for the world and the future in my early years.

 

My favorite stays are when my guests and I have a soulful conversation, and it feels right to share a key message I’ve learned as a student of The Guides. They teach about not making choices out of fear and how the work of the day is re-seeing…re-knowing, re-visioning all those systems built in fear into systems built in love. I feel this has an important ripple effect and I get a tingle of good energy inside when the information is received.

 

In addition to contributing to global good vibes, and meeting new friends and art collectors, the house is always clean!


Guest Favs and Superhosts

In 2023, Airbnb introduced Guest Favorites based on overall star ratings, guest reviews, and reliability. The Guest Favorite badge is a measure of a home and listing, while the Superhost badge is a measure of a host. Superhost perks include increased search rank, an annual travel credit, and attentive host support. Mostly, the Superhost badge is a nod for a job well done, and way for guests to discern among the many Airbnb listings.


The Art of Hospitality

Below are some hospitality tips for creating a warm, welcoming stay for your world travelers whether they are Airbnb guests or your family paying a holiday visit.


Manage Expectations

Managing expectations means exceeding expectations. My house is humble on the outside and it’s tucked behind an even more humble apartment complex. I’m careful to let prospective guests know this in the listing so there are no surprises. On the upside, I did plant a beautiful bougainvillea vine by the door. I also have a red porch light so nighttime travelers aren’t blasted in the face with a jarring and unflattering light. Which brings me to tip number two.


Appeal to All the Senses

As soon as guests enter through the front door, they’re met by a hallway filled with a vibrant display of art, and a spa scent courtesy of an essential oil diffuser. I like to use a combination of lavender and eucalyptus oils which together create a calm and wonderfully refreshing fragrance. I also burn a lovely Japanese sandalwood incense in the downstairs bath where the kitty litter box is located.


My home is shoe free and meat free (except for cat food). I’m careful to explain this in the Airbnb listing. Guests remove their shoes and together we take the staircase which is lit with a restful red light. The stairway walls are filled with more original art, and I always have a candle burning in a holder placed in the intermediate landing for a serene ambiance. There is another floor lamp in the hall which is also lit with a dim red bulb. Red bulbs don’t interrupt melatonin production and help with a restful night’s sleep.


The guest bedroom is at the top of the stairs where the fairy lights are on as a welcome. I’ve decorated this room with art from my Crystal Kingdom series which is made with gold foil and natural and cut crystal. With the fairy lights, the art creates a pretty sparkle throughout the room.


Other than the art (and the host :) guest reviews mention the luxurious bed most often which is an extra thick hypoallergenic memory foam mattress. Many have said, their stay was the best sleep of their life. Of course, the ocean air also has a lot to do with a sound sleep and depending on the tide, you can hear the ocean waves which is magical at night with the art and the fairy lights. A floating canopy, silk pillowcases and high thread count white cotton sheets provide a touch of luxury and romance.



Canopy bed with fairy lights
Enchanted Room in Wonderland

Inside the closet, I’ve stocked a glass jug of mineralized water spiked with magnesium which also helps with sleep. Our bodies have over 3,700 magnesium receptor sites so we know it must be important.  Studies estimate that half to as many as 75 percent of the us in the US are magnesium deficient!


The closet is also stocked with a stack of white (bleach friendly) towels, a beach blanket, and an extra cozy blanket for the bed if needed. There’s also the basics like an iron and board, a lint roller, a fan, and space heater which are rarely used.


The Dopamine Factor and the Dollar Store

People love gold ribbons and treats, both of which can be conveniently found at the dollar store! I used to provide serotonergic bars of 90 percent pure chocolate wrapped in a gold ribbon. Most often, I’d find the unsweetened chocolate nibbled on and left behind. As it turns out I can get many more treats at the dollar store for the same cost, so I’ve swapped serotonin for dopamine while still trying to keep it as healthy as possible.


Anticipate Needs

A benefit of writing fiction is that it refines our ability to imagine what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes. This comes in handy as an Airbnb host, and in life.


I have a pretty case in the closest filled with more dollar store stash like extra toothbrushes, razors, scrunchies and toiletries. Fuzzy slipper socks are also a good dollar store find. Local magazines in the closet highlight area attractions and restaurants.  


The guest bath is stocked with a hair dryer and a luxurious array of hair care products, lavender scented liquid soaps, and other grooming items. I have more art in the bathroom, and a set of embroidered towels for décor. I also have a tray table full of an eclectic range of books for beach reading.


The living room is filled with more art and lots and lots of lush plants which are not only beautiful, they clean and oxygenate the air. In the summer, I get large flowering garden plants to add a vibrant energy to the space. After the blossoms fade, I transplant them outside in the backyard wildflower garden. I enjoy sharing the wildflower garden because I hope it becomes a trend. It’s not only serene and beautiful, it takes no sprays, fertilizers, very little water and very little effort after the first year. Best of all it’s a haven for birds and pollinators.


A cat rests in a lush wildflower garden
Wonderland Wildflower Sanctuary

Autoresponders Are Your Friend

The Airbnb app makes it easy to set up autoresponders to ensure guests feel a sense of clear communication. It’s also easy to block or unblock the calendar. I’ve set a price ceiling and a price trough on the app, but other than that, I let the Airbnb algorithm determine pricing which makes it easy.  


The Power of a Name

I’ve branded my home studio Wonderland. I guess I can’t help branding things after all those years in marketing communications, plus I live on Alice Street. Overall, the impression of Wonderland is creative, unique, and special, but not so special that people feel like they can’t make themselves at home and relax.


If You Want to Host on Airbnb - Here's a Credit

If you’re not yet a host and want to give it a try, you can sign up with this link on Airbnb and get a $40 dollar credit!


All in all, hosting on Airbnb is a wonderful experience especially if you’re someone who enjoys the art of hospitality. The words hospitality, hospital, hostel and hospice are all related etymologically to the Latin word hospes which is simply about sheltering and caring for people, which is time spent well.


Feel free to check out my space or to book a stay!




 


 

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