Welcome Sheet: When I began hosting, I wrote up a simple Welcome Sheet. A home one-sheet and framed it to place on the dining room table. Although most of these directions are included somewhere in my listing, it’s helpful to have them in physical form for the guest to see. I include the wifi password and a phone number to use if they can not reach me. I like to think, what if this guest is traveling from abroad and does not have their phone set-up yet or the app is malfunctioning. My goal is to create a welcoming, calm place to stay while also making it easy for the guest to enjoy themselves. If you provide information in multiple locations, a guest is less likely to contact you with small questions.

Many people dream of becoming an Airbnb host but don’t know where to start. In this series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Highly Successful Airbnb Host” we are interviewing successful Airbnb hosts who share lessons from their experience about how to run a very successful Airbnb property. As part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindey Bathke.

Having toured working in the Music Industry as Professional Touring Crew for the past 18 years, Lindsey has taken the forced pause that 2020 brought to reevaluate how she wants her life to feel. With her partner, Nik, they have started the travel and joys-of-life blog WanderlustMoonDuo and took to the road during the summer of 2020 in their 1999 VW Eurovan, Serge, to explore the small roads and talk with the common people of the United States. Since 2010, Lindsey has used the Airbnb platform to rent out her homes while roaming, maintaining SuperHost status for the duration. During these winter months, she is finding deep joy in learning to teach English as a foreign language, tutoring refugees, and dreaming of where life could take The Duo in the future!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?

I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, loving nature and developing a deep love for travel. It was a priority for my parents to take a family trip once a year, oftentimes to the shores of a foreign beach. I learned the value of exploring other cultures and how that made my soul smile.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles to navigate my way into the music industry. My first touring position was working with an underground hip-hop group, and from there, I began to weave my way through several genres as a touring crew member. Over the past 18 years I have seen the world, holding various positions including Merchandise Representative, Tour Manager, Production Coordinator, Tour Assistant, and Dressing Room Operative. I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, then to Nashville, TN during the fall of 2013. In the summer of 2019, while on tour working for The Rolling Stones, I met my partner Nik. Since then, he and I have started a blog,WanderlustMoonDuo , with a mission to spread love and humanity through the sharing of life and stories. Recently, I enrolled in a TEFL course, learning to teach English as a foreign language. This process has filled me with joy and I am eager to see where it takes us; hopefully around the world, enabling others with the super power of a foreign language!

What led you to first start becoming an Airbnb host?

I was living in Denver, touring, and wanted to make use of my space while I was on the road. I not only wanted to make extra money but also simply wanted my space to be used, a tool to help people explore. This was in 2011. I had used Airbnb for personal travel and really enjoyed it! I wanted to share that feeling with hosting people in my own home. For both my Denver condo and Nashville house, I had them set up to be rented as the full house. I lock my bedroom, leave, and allow guests access to the rest of the house. I wanted someone to feel that, while traveling, they were home.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this?

Oh well there are some interesting ones for sure! I have had a few negative experiences, but most have been really lovely!

Interestingly sad was finding a bottle of whiskey and a packet of fentanyl under my sofa in the den. It made me sad for my guest to wonder what their life was like! I was very grateful that something more serious did not happen to them while they were staying at my house.

Interestingly wonderful is to think of all the beautiful traveling souls I have been connected with over the years! It always makes me delightfully giddy when I return home to see a guest has left me a gift; a nod to a time well enjoyed. While still in Denver, I had one guest leave me a Hawaii music record and in Nashville I received a jar of honey from a guest’s hive from his home in Ohio!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when first starting was taking it so personally when someone would leave my place a mess. This was more of a self-realization funniness. I rent my home; my sanctuary. I write that in my description of my home. I chat with guests before they book to try and make sure that our ethos align with what we think the purpose of Airbnb is. As time has gone on, with more users present on the platform, some people look at Airbnb more as a hotel, expecting a level of service that simply can not be accommodated. Over the years, I have realized that some people just don’t respect themselves enough to respect someone else’s space. I can be sad how they leave my space, but I no longer will let myself become so sad or take it personally.

What are some of the common mistakes you have seen people make when they first start hosting with Airbnb?

Some of the common mistakes I see or hear of people making when hosting on Airbnb is treating it way more as a business than an opportunity to connect with travelers. What first drew me to enjoy using Airbnb was that I felt like I was connecting with locals. Seeing my new location through their eyes. And sharing in their space.

Offer something special to your guest, however small, to add a personal touch to your space. If you are renting out a space that you have purchased solely as an Airbnb, not a residence for yourself, add warming touches or local flare. Leaving a note with a bottle of wine or chocolate can go a long way. Think about what makes you smile when arriving at an accommodation after a long travel day.

Another common mistake is to hire someone to manage and clean your property that has several other properties they are managing. I experienced it myself, along with several friends, who have hired property managers that were too busy with all their properties. Oftentimes my property was cleaned to sub-standard levels or was forgotten about completely before a new guest checked in. I would have to make it up to the guest, while I was out of town, all while paying someone to perform that service they forgot to complete.

What are some of the things that can be done to avoid these errors?

If hosting on Airbnb for the first time, try managing the property yourself. If you hire a cleaning person, make sure to check the place before a new guest arrives. The presentation of the property is a reflection on you.

Leave a note. Always keep in mind how you would want to feel arriving at your destination after a potentially long travel day!

Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the Airbnb experience? In your opinion, what makes you different from the rest?

I like to think I set myself apart from the rest simply by the care I show for my guests. I do rent my primary residence, which is becoming more rare. I cherish my home, filled with travel treasures and comfort! From the moment a guest inquires about a reservation, I treat them as a travel companion. I could be helping to make their trip that much more special. Maybe they are celebrating a major life event or it could be their one vacation for the year. I try to make sure the guest feels prepared for their arrival. I like to keep open communication, yet let the guest lead any communications while they are visiting. I know their reason for traveling is not to constantly talk with me!

I always leave a personalized welcome note, along with a bottle of wine or chocolate. I make sure there is enough coffee and tea for their stay. I want the guest to be able to get up in the morning and at least enjoy a hot beverage before setting out for adventure.

Wonderful. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share “5 Things You Need To Become A Highly Successful Airbnb Host”? Please share a story or example for each.

Welcome Sheet: When I began hosting, I wrote up a simple Welcome Sheet. A home one-sheet and framed it to place on the dining room table. Although most of these directions are included somewhere in my listing, it’s helpful to have them in physical form for the guest to see. I include the wifi password and a phone number to use if they can not reach me. I like to think, what if this guest is traveling from abroad and does not have their phone set-up yet or the app is malfunctioning. My goal is to create a welcoming, calm place to stay while also making it easy for the guest to enjoy themselves. If you provide information in multiple locations, a guest is less likely to contact you with small questions.

Gift/note: I like to add a little special touch to the space before the guest arrives, making them feel like the place is more personal to them. I always leave a short note simply saying “Welcome Home! Please enjoy yourself and contact me with any questions!” I use the guest’s names, including a well wish if I know they are celebrating something special. I typically leave a bottle of wine alongside the note. Some guests do not drink but have mentioned it made them feel special and welcome when they saw it. Along with this, I leave enough coffee and tea for the guest to enjoy during their entire stay. I hope they can wake-up, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea before heading to explore or to get groceries. I want guests to be able to relax as soon as they enter my home.

Cleanliness: Clean and pay attention. Clean like you are going to stay at the home or what you would want to arrive to when traveling! It seems obvious, but make sure the sheets are clean, even the bedspread or comforter! Make sure towels are clean and placed where guests can find them. I place towels in a small basket just inside the door of the guest room. I include a large bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth, and floor mat. Make sure you have enough towels, at least one per guest. I once stayed at an Airbnb that only left one set of towels for the two of us. I had to reach out to the host to provide more, which could have been avoided. Empty the trash. I do not want to arrive to stay with a previous guest’s trash still in the bin. This happened at an Airbnb in Portland and it made the whole place feel dirty. Double check the place after you clean and before you leave!

Check-in Message: The day before the guest is set to arrive, I send a message reiterating check-in instructions along with a phone number to call if they can not reach me. More often than not, the guest says they no longer have the Airbnb email or can not find the door key instructions. This message helps to ensure they will not contact me in a panic when they arrive! In the message, I also tell them about the three feral cats living in the backyard that I inherited from my neighbor when he passed away and ask them to not let them in the house, no matter how longingly they stare at you through the backdoor. By sending this message, it ensures the guests that I have remembered their stay and everything will be set for their arrival.

An Honest Listing: Do not post something in your listing that is a fabrication of the truth or an outright lie. Make sure your photos are current, well lit, and clear your space of clutter! Pay attention to the quality of your photos. Brightly lit and clear! If something major changes in the space, like an A/C unit not working when A/C is listed as an amenity, mention it to guests. It is a lot better to have someone not book because of something you told them about than to have them arrive and be upset during their entire stay.

I recently had friends arrive at their Airbnb in Nashville, in December, that had a malfunctioning furnace. The temperature inside the house would not rise above 53 degrees Fahrenheit. When they told the host, he became irritated and said they were expecting him to make an expensive fix. What would have been less expensive and less headache for all would have been for the host to fix the issue before allowing new guests to move in.

You know you want to rent your space to make money, but don’t surprise a guest with something that they were not expecting. It will be much less hassle to tell them upfront if something changes before they arrive. And remember, if it does not really exist at a usable level, don’t list it as an amenity.

Patience: I always have to remind myself that this may be my guest’s only vacation for the year and I want to help make it special and filled with ease. If a guest contacts me multiple times or makes extreme requests, I breathe and remind them that Airbnb is not a full service resort. Most people do not think it is, but there is the occasion where expectations can be beyond what you offer. A few times, I have had to contact Airbnb to assist with guest relations. During a massive storm and power outage in Nashville, I had a guest contact me asking where she could charge her phone. It was unacceptable to her that the power was out. I calmly told her that 11k homes had lost power and that if she could charge her phone in the car for a little while, power would be restored as soon as possible. She left early that next morning, stating that I had ruined her vacation and wanted a refund. Power was restored mid-morning. I contacted Airbnb to help in relations with her. They offered her a refund for the night that they covered, since it was out of my control. I tried to attack the situation with patients and grace, understanding that I was dealing with someone who was going to be unhappy because her vacation time was being affected.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

Oh how I have been dreaming of travel lately!

My perfect travel experience would see me setting off on a plane with my partner, backpacks on our backs, to explore a country where we did not fully know the language, were excited to eat the food, while leaving most of the trip unplanned.

We did something similar to this last winter when we planned the first two weeks of a month-long vacation to Europe. We had all we needed in two backpacks. We went to Paris, a small village in Germany, then to the Arctic Circle, staying at Airbnbs. As we were leaving Norway, we sat in the airport and looked up where we wanted to go next, after our rescheduled flight to Finland. We chose a ferry to Estonia to then take buses through Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. We did not have any expectations because we really had not looked into where we were going next; the spontaneity of it all was magical!

Can you share with our readers how you’ve used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I feel very fortunate to be able to travel the world for work and for pleasure! I will not take my access to the world for granted, especially after this past year!

With that, I hope to bring a sense of goodness to the world through a simple understanding and kindness towards others. A smile. A greeting of hello in the country’s native tongue. A listening ear. Patience with others can help heal us all. With our travels, we hope to inspire a deeper love and humanity in the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement. A stomping out of a beat of inspiration on the road to kindness and love.

I would create a program that would encourage and pay for people who have never left their home country to travel to another country to experience the life of others. Travel can allow the opening of a soul and the broadening of a mind like nothing else can.

Plane tickets for those who have never traveled is how I would spend my lottery winnings!

Our mission would be to eradicate or eliminate the fear of others to a level of simple understanding that we are all humans with the same simple desires of wanting to feel love and be seen.

How can our readers further follow you on social media?

@WanderlustMoonDuo on Facebook and Instagram.

Blog: https://www.wanderlustmoonduo.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Lindsey Bathke of WanderlustMoonDuo: 5 Things You Need To Become A Highly Successful Airbnb Host was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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