Another lovely note from one of my recent guests :)
I think it reads:
Dear Brooke, Thanks again for your hospitality… I’ve felt really like home. I’ve made a long walk today and THANKS A LOT for your recommendation. Groove Cafe was NOM-tastic :) If you come a day to Austria (great), find me! Greetz, Ines
"With only two weeks leave, it’s hard to justify travelling a day each way,” she explained. I was aghast to learn that not only is it common practice for employers to grant just 10 days of annual leave to employees per year, but it’s not mandatory for employers to give their employees any annual leave at all.
To my shame, I once laughed when a friend told me that only 10% of Americans hold passports. (The number is actually more like 35%.) At the time, I admit I thought it was strange that Americans seemed to show so little interest in the world around them. Now I know better.
I always wondered why I rarely got requests from Americans and why some of the Americans I did host were the pickiest and had the highest standards of any guests I’d ever hosted. I (perhaps naively) put it down to my perception of Americans as being very patriotic and seemingly uninterested in, or unwilling to leave their country.
It seemed to me like Americans feel there is enough to explore in their own backyard, and people who had visited or lived in the US told me their TV, news and school curriculum had a disproportionate focus on the US compared to the rest of the world.
When I went to the US a few months ago and found everyone to be so friendly and interested in us as foreigners, I became even more confused as to why I hadn’t seen more American tourists back home.
Getting used to the American custom of tipping did shed some light on the high standards aspect though. I was often surprised at how eager hospitality workers were to keep patrons happy and had to keep reminding myself to tip them for it. Here in Australia, workers are much more likely to tell you where to go, or even call security if you make a scene!
After reading this article, the situation makes a lot more sense. As someone who aspires to live and work in New York City soon, this article is some very valuable insight indeed.
Just after I got home from work on Thursday, my Airbnb guest walked in the door with this guy - a live mudcrab. These are quite common and highly prized by fishermen where I live, and even though I was born and raised in the area, I had no idea what to do with the crab. They are also quite expensive in restaurants, fetching AU$70-100 for an entire crab.
So I turned to social media to ask how to (humanely) kill and eat the crab. Over 130 comments flooded in, mostly advising to stab the crab between the eyes, freeze it to ‘put it to sleep’ and/or boil it. Apparently the crab will ‘throw’ (i.e. drop) its claws if boiled alive, so I wasn’t too keen on that option. My guest and I decided to pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes before boiling it for 25 minutes, although I think next time I’ll try the stabbing technique.
Either way, the crab was delicious, if a little watery/salty!
Current guests gave me a free pair of knives. Woohoo, I love freebies! #free stuff #airbnb #begrateful
The Reserve Bank reckons it could work out cheaper to rent a house instead of buying one. Hack finds out what you should do. Hack - Shoving the J into journalism, Hack is triple j’s half hour program covering current affairs, music, politics and culture with youth in mind. triple j is the place for the best new music from around Australia & the world. Listen via radio or stream triple j online
There was a very interesting discussion on the radio yesterday about renting vs buying a principal place of residence. I have talked about the situation in Europe compared to Australia many times with my guests/Couchsurfers. Many of my guests are shocked when I tell them I became a homeowner at 19 years old - and it’s still a shock even to Australians, but when the difference between the rights of tenants and landlords overseas and their rights here in Australia are considered, and the fact that real estate costs in the Northern Territory are on par with Melbourne, home ownership really is a no-brainer.
I rented for 18 months before buying, and the level of control that my landlord wielded frustrated me to no end. I love photography, but I wasn’t allowed to hang my photos on the wall. I wasn’t even allowed to use Blu Tack as a non-permanent adhesive. I lived with the prospect of being turfed out at just a few weeks’ notice and I knew my landlord would need little or no reason at all to do so. I was once told in a threatening tone during a real estate agent’s inspection of the property to clean a thin layer of dust on ceiling fan blades because it might cause the fan to ‘blow up’. I had to hide my pet python during inspections for fear of being evicted for violating the strict, but all-too-common ‘no pets’ policy.
Six month and twelve month leases are quite common, meaning renters could be forced to move home twice a year or more, whether they’re a ‘bad’ tenant or not. Often landlords will choose not to renew their current tenant’s contract because they want to increase the rent without having to justify it too much.
It’s only in retrospect that I’ve realised how lucky I was to be able to buy my own home some five years ago. It was a combination of several factors that fell into place at just the right time which enabled me to purchase: government incentives, low-interest loans, grants for first home buyers, etc. My property value increased by 17% in the first four years, but in other parts of Australia, owners aren’t as fortunate and are left paying off mortgages that are greater than the value of the property.
Many a time my guests have expressed concern about my pet snakes, asking if they have ever escaped etc, and I’ve promptly reassured them by pointing out the latches on the enclosure and explaining that if there was a way out, they would have found it by now.
Well. This morning I woke up to this:
And I promptly had a mini heart attack - especially since one of my guests told me last night that she admired but “couldn’t bring herself to touch the snakes”. Luckily, Miles (who is 2.3m long, weighs 5kg and is as thick as my arm) was sleeping soundly in that hollow box inside his enclosure, as were my guests who remained oblivious to the situation. It appeared I hadn’t latched the door properly after feeding him.
Miles had clearly gone for a bit of a slither around the loungeroom before putting himself to sleep though, because the door was definitely not ajar when I retired last night. Needless to say, it was a bit of a close call because one of my guests wandered out of their room just as I was closing the enclosure door again :/
A previous guest of mine saw the photo on social media and commented:
If I was a guest again, I would not worry and take him for a walk/slide:)
I usually have nothing but good things to say about Airbnb, but today is different. The founders of Airbnb just released this 37 minute video about their rebranding. YAWN. Last week I got an ‘exclusive’ invitation to a live broadcast on ‘some brand new work’. Of course, the broadcast was at 3am my time so I wasn’t going to bother, but that didn’t stop Airbnb from hassling me with repeated invitations to see it.
Today they released this video of the broadcast, which shows no audience interaction and is clearly scripted, and was basically over half an hour of their CEOs talking up their logo change, new slogan and other branding related stuff, and how it’s going to change Airbnb forever. Big whoop as far as I’m concerned. If there’s one thing Americans are great at, it’s generating shitloads of hype over nothing at all.
As a host, I would much rather see Airbnb invest in say, better-than-average support for hosts and guests. I’ve personally contacted Airbnb support at least half a dozen times about various administrative issues, only to be fed copy pasta from their FAQ in the first instance. Every. Time. I mean, obviously I couldn’t find a solution in their FAQ, or I wouldn’t have gone through several steps and prompts to raise a support request with them. I do not appreciate having to waste my time reiterating my request every time I need to contact Airbnb, and I have consistently told them so with poor support ratings.
I think Airbnb management would have been better off improving things that actually matter to hosts and guests. Airbnb hosts and guests do not care that a paperclip named ‘Bélo’ has replaced Airbnb’s lowercase ‘a’ logo. Rebranding does not make a significant difference to their Airbnb experience because Airbnb does not control all of that; the host does, for the most part.
The gentle guitar music, warm-and-fuzzy words, hashtags, cute animations and the recognition that Airbnb helps make guests feel like they ‘belong’ is not that helpful. Their constant adding and removal of features on their website and their mobile apps has been a source of frustration for users at least since I started hosting in March 2012. From one day to the next, things do not work how users expect them to work, and to me that is a much more important issue than a logo or branding. My experience as a host has been that I am often expected to provide technical support to guests because I know there’s no use relying on Airbnb for that support when the issue needs to be resolved so a booking can be made today.
I have nothing more to say about this whole thing except an eye roll and a loooong sigh.