It’s natural that, because we live in such a stunning place, friends from far and wide would want to visit. But you are past the days of clearing a spot on the floor for the futon or blowing up an inflatable bed for your guests. They are tired, weary of the city, the desert, the suburbs, the hubbub of their daily lives. Help them. They need an infusion of Pacific Northwest green, need to fill their lungs with some of the cleanest air around, and cast their gaze on our mountains and water. Then they need to go home.
We asked Vicki Klees, Bellingham Airbnb expert hostess, on what she likes to do to make her guests feel at home. Even if your guests are close friends, giving them space and a welcoming environment is key. Thoughtful, little (but not expensive) details can make a big difference.
1. Greet guest — at the door or at bus/train/ferry if possible and if pre-arranged.
2. If you’re greeting at the door, ask two questions: Would you rather eat or freshen up? Then go from there.
3. Give guests a tour. Point out kitchen basics (where, how to make tea or coffee, snacks pantry, food in fridge), laundry room, family gathering space. It’s cliché, but say it anyway: Make yourself at home.
4. Tell guest about any quirks. Maybe there is a trick to the bathroom faucets, or the lights are flaky. This helps guests avoid feeling bad about having to pester you for assistance.
5. Early on, meet at the kitchen table or some other gathering place for a debriefing – preferably with some wine and cheese. What do your guests want to do on their visit? What would they particularly like to see? Let them know what your schedule is too. And, importantly, how long do guests plan to stay?
6. Ask in advance about any allergies (food, pets, etc.), or sensitivities.
7. Create an atmosphere of being approachable during the guest’s stay, but also allow for the guest’s privacy.
8. Who doesn’t like fluffy towels on their bed? Provide an adequate number for length of stay. Point out laundry location if it’s an extended stay — to launder towels and personal items.
9. Try to create as private and quiet of a space for guest as possible.
10. Supply extra toiletries (for example toothbrush, toothpaste, band aids, make-up remover cloths) in case something is forgotten. Depending on setup, provide a way to either carry toiletries to and from bathroom, or to contain them in the bathroom. This avoids awkwardness of personal toiletries scattered all over a shared bathroom. A small inexpensive plastic tote works well to carry toiletries, or a small basket placed in bathroom works well to hold personal items in one place.
11. Provide a comfortable guest space: A well-lit room. A bedside table. A reading light (especially one that turns off at the bedside). A small dish/plate on bedside table for rings, watches, earrings is appreciated. Kleenex and wastepaper basket. A comfortable room temperature. An extra blanket.
12. Be sure there are electrical outlets available for various electronics. Remind guest to collect and pack various chargers and electronics when they leave. Easily forgotten!
13. Create a neutral guest space. Try to clear it of personal clutter; this way the guest doesn’t feel like an intruder in your space/home. Shelves should be relatively clear of host’s personal knick-knacks. Closets and drawers should be mostly free of host’s “stuff.” Color and decor should be gender neutral.
14. Provide drawer and/or closet space for guests to unpack their stuff. It’s not easy to live out of a suitcase. If not possible, at least have a tabletop handy so guests can place their suitcase on it for easy access. If closet space is not available, but room space allows it, an inexpensive garment rack can be helpful. Another option is a coat rack — they don’t take up much room. Wall hooks also make a big difference.
15. Provide pamphlets and fliers about local sights. Provide a map of the area. Be up on your own local knowledge so you can give suggestions and recommendations.
16. Be sure to provide smooth and easy access to your home during their stay. Make keys available, or any lock codes.
17. A small welcome note in the guest room, with your address/phone number/Wi-Fi address and password is a nice touch.
18. Don’t overschedule your guests. Allow for down time. Enjoy each other!