One of the top reasons people book Airbnbs is for leisure. In this type of situation, the town they book their Airbnb in, or near, has a vibrant local culture that lured them there in the first place. Put plainly: they are tourists!
Quite often, guests will book Airbnbs in reasonable proximity to their true tourist destination. For example, if someone books a room in Brookline, Massachusetts, they probably want to explore Boston. They’re there for the Boston Pops, TD Garden, the downtown historic district, Faneuil Hall, etc. If you book an Airbnb in Akron, Ohio, chances are that they’ll scoot up to Cleveland, Ohio, for the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
But don’t feel bad that your Airbnb’s town comes second to your guest’s intended area of exploration. There are great advantages to hosting a spot “right outside” of these major areas. You can offer competitive rates and a quiet place to crash after a busy day. But we get it; sometimes you want your guest to be genuinely interested in where they are staying, not just where they are traveling to. This is particularly true of Airbnbs located in non-mainstream tourist areas. You as the host may understand the culture of your town and see the value of staying local to enjoy all it has to offer, but guests won’t know about it the way they would Seattle, Washington, or any other major city.
Depending on how you see things, this could be your opportunity to turn your Airbnb into a sweet little local culture nook, complete with everything your guest may need to know about your town or city.
Here are some tips on adding quaint community touches to your Airbnb.
It may seem old school but having maps of the area available to your guests is a simple way of saying, “Hey, this is how you get around my community.” If you know that your town has a healthy hiking culture, have trail maps handy. Some towns and cities even have pre-made handouts and brochures mapping and listing restaurants, museums, and shopping centers in the area. Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitor’s Center for these items. They usually have stacks of them they are happy to give away for hosts in their area.
If you live in a smaller town, chances are that visitor center-esque handouts aren’t readily accessible. When this is the case, make them yourself. You don’t have to print anything fancy, but clearly list any important resources available to your guests in your town. Consider including public transportation stops, directions to major hubs like grocery stores, and personal recommendations. If you need help creating a brochure, Canva offers many templates to get you started, some of which are free.
You may have seen bigger establishments like banks and grocery stores hang historic photographs of the town or city in which they operate. Take a page out of their book and hang some of those historical photographs in your Airbnb.
Contact your historical society and ask them to send you pictures of buildings or street shots of main roads that are still in use. This may give your guests a reason to explore the city and compare the differences between what was and what is. With proper permissions, these photos may be printed on canvas to share the local flavor of your community.
A tchotchke, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a decorative trinket; it serves no real practical purpose — except in this case.
Think about the positive or interesting things your community is known for and find a small figurine that reminds you of one of those things.
For example, if your area is known for black bear sightings, find a few black bear figurines. Put one on a window sill above the kitchen sink, one on a bookcase shelf, or one on a bed stand.
Have fun with it!
But don’t clutter. A few smartly placed tchotchkes can create an atmosphere that reflects the community and gives your Airbnb a special charm.
If you can afford to do so, leave your guests a gift card or discount card to a local coffee shop or restaurant. It’ll encourage them to enjoy a local favorite and see the community for themselves. It’s also a nice welcome gift that could score you extra rating points.
If you need to decorate your Airbnb, you’ve probably read that adding some green to the room is a good way to add a colorful accent. Before you start placing succulents and long-lasting house plants, go to a local florist and get yourself a centerpiece arrangement. Leave a place card in front of the bouquet welcoming your guests and explaining what shop the flowers come from.
If your community has a baseball or softball team, or is known for its high school sports teams, frame and hang a local jersey or get yourself a refrigerator magnet of the mascot.
That’s right—community touches don’t have to be big and bold. They can be as simple as a magnet. Even better, if you know that season games are happening, post a game schedule on the fridge held by that magnet!
One of the great things about living in a more rural area is that you have access to plenty of locally grown and raised products. Stock the pantry with local jams, honey, and other food products for your guests to try. Maybe your guests will go to the farmstead themselves and buy some to bring home.
Show your guests what your community can make! Similar to stocking the pantry, there are other amenities and fixtures you can provide for your guests that are locally crafted. This could be anything from candles, soap, lotion, decorative pottery, and even furniture.
For larger scale items, you may find a table or chairs, or commission a special centerpiece from a local artist, and explain who made it. Consider providing business cards and contact information for guests, in the event they want to check out the artist’s other work.
No matter how you want to tie your community into your Airbnb, no matter how big or small the touch, stay true to who and what your community is. Find something to be proud of and represent it in your décor, hospitality, and amenities.
Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.
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