Two down and still no reviews

We’ve had two wonderful guests and our third is in the house.  Both left the house in great condition and were easy to communicate with.  However we don’t have any reviews yet.  I wrote good reviews of them.  I know it will work out in the end, I’m just anxious and am wondering if there is anything we could do to communicate to our guests how important reviews are too us without asking for reviews.  I hate it when people ask me for reviews.

I shouldn’t really worry because the real measure of our success is our bookings and on that front we are doing great.  We are booked through the end of October, once in November and the week over Christmas.  So far that is great, because we have yet to have an unbooked day.  Percentage of booked days over time and the average nightly price should be the real measure, not reviews.  However a review really would feel good.

What we learned from our first guests

Today we cleaned the house after a guest for the first time.   Because we booked back to back with a guest checking out at noon and another checking in at 3pm we only had 3 hours to clean.  This was a bit stressful thought we got through it just fine.  The guests that checked out were nice and left the house relatively clean.  However, there was a couple extra things we had to address.  The new washer and dryer needed a stack kit, I needed to adjust one of the gate sensors, and we wanted to install a key lockbox on the house.  That last one is because our first guests managed to lock the door handle on the front door and there was no key down there for it.  This way if a guest does this we can tell them how to get into that lockbox and they can get back into the house.  We also put a key in there for the deadbolt in case somehow the electronic parts of it fail.  One thing this made us realize is that doing this on a weekday could be really difficult and if a guest leaves the house really dirty or something breaks of no fault of our guest there would be no way for us to fix it before the other guest can check in.  As a result we enabled a feature on Airbnb that blocks off the day before and after each reservation to allow us to clean the place easier and fix things if need be.  I’m a little sad about this because it will mean we make less money but it will probably make our lives less stressful.

The second thing that our first guests taught us was that our automated messaging from Smartbnb is too spamy and they don’t read it, that is because it sounds automated.  Also, if they don’t have the airbnb app it texts them the first little bit of the message and they probably just ignore the rest as it would show up in their email.  We are going to have to find some way to shorten these messages or get them to read all of them in their email if they don’t have the app.

Also, they were awesome and left a couple pins in our map:

Here is a link so you can check out the listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19534111

We keep changing the title of our listing, here are a few of the ones we’ve tried:

  • The Hideaway — quiet/comfortable/private
  • Designer Renovated Secluded Adventure Hideaway
  • Modern Updated Hideaway w/ Patio and Firepit
  • The Hideaway: Whole Home w/ Private Patio, Firepit

Custom Emergency Contact Card for our AirBnB

I wanted unique signs for our AirBnB so I used Photoshop to create these.  They are very simple but look great on the fridge at our place.  Here they are.  There is an emergency contact card, quick reference to where to find the fire extinguisher and first aid kit, wifi login, and lastly our house rules.

 

A blur of excitement and preparation

The first few days on Airbnb have been a blur.  We listed on Sunday evening and are already booked through the end of October.  The next real challenge will be on Sunday when we have our first guests checking out at noon and our next guests checking in at 3.  On Monday we got our first booking, Thursday through Sunday and our first “Verification Pending” booking for the next couple weeks.  That booking fell through and we got a second booking on Tuesday almost as soon as the pending one went away for Sunday through Friday.  Then we got a couple of booking inquiries for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The one for thanksgiving found a larger place that’d work better for their family.  They wanted some place with multiple bathrooms as that made it easier “traveling with girls”.  The one for Christmas asked if we would be ok with two well trained rotties and I responded saying that rotties are awesome and they are welcome to book the place.  When I do that it starts a 24 hour counter.  After 24 hours they had not booked it and the pre-approval expired.  They messaged saying that they are trying to coordinate with 4 people and will give us an answer by the end of the week.  In response I sent them a special offer to book the place at the rate in the first pre-approval.  I did this because we increased our cleaning fee form $40 to $75 realizing that resetting the place after people stay there with pets and children is going to be a lot of work.  Then we got a booking for 25 days starting on Friday.  This time with a picture and a verified account.  I believe it is the same person as before as the first name for both accounts is the same.   In short this week has been crazy already and we are super excited.

The crazyness hasn’t just been the booking though, we’ve been doing a bunch of work up to the last minute to prepare for the first guest.  Beth took Tuesday off work and did an amazing job cleaning up the yard.  I came over after work and we spent a couple hours cleaning and then while we doing a home depot run for some mulch for the planters we realized that our guests that are staying for a while will probably want to use the washer and dryer.  And while we lived there for the last 4 years and used that set to do laundry we realized guests probably wouldn’t appreciate how poorly the dryer works.  For one it just doesn’t work that well at drying clothes so you have to run it for a very long time and be careful to not overfill it.  The second thing is that it causes a ton of humidity in the house when it is running resulting in that humidity condensing on the walls in the bathroom and hallway and causing those walls to become grimy.  As a result we hopped on craigslist and looked for a new set.  We found a couple we liked and sent out emails asking if we could buy them either that night or the next day.  One that we really liked responded saying we could get it that night so we went and bought it.  It took till 1:30 am before we finally got home, but now the house has a new washer and dryer that the guests won’t have to fight.  Also, we are super stoked about the fact that this dryer uses a condenser to remove moisture and has a drain output.  On the next day Wednesday we finished up cleaning and setting the house up for the first guests after we got off work.  This morning I sent our guest a message letting them know the house is ready and they can check in when ever they want today.  Now we just have to sit back and wait for any messages from our guests and new booking requests.

Here is a picture of the new (to us) washer and dryer we installed:

Once again, here is a link to the listing for all the details on it: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19534111

Here we go!

Last night we listed our first property on AirBnB.  This was really exciting and we were holding our expectations in check.  For pricing we are using wheelhouse and it recommended a base price of $155.  We thought this sounded high as we are just getting started and have no reviews so we set it at $124.  When we woke up this morning we had couple real surprises.  The first day we set to be available was Thursday and  someone had booked our place for Thursday through Sunday.  For messaging we are using smartbnb.io and in less than a minute of them booking the place it had sent them a message thanking them for booking the place.  They responded thanking us for responding so quickly.  So far we are off to a great start.  We decided that maybe we should block off Monday as this is our first booking and we want to make sure we can clean the place before anyone else books it.  I log onto airbnb to do this and discover that someone has booked Sunday Oct 1st through Oct 15th.  However instead the status shows Pending Verification.  Looking this up it means that they have about a day to finish their reservation and confirm their info.  We are really excited about this whole process and the fact that we’ve seen such immediate success at getting a couple bookings.  After that I blocked off Monday Oct 16th to make sure we can clean the place before anyone else shows up.  There are still a few small things we need to button up here before we are ready for Thursday.

How to connect a data API to your react app

This is something that seems like it should be obvious and it probably is to those who create websites regularly, however I struggled with it for a bit.  This tutorial from Fullstack React is awesome and helped me figure this out.  The TL;DR version is below.

Use two nodejs servers, one to serve the client application (that can then be bundled by webpack) and one to serve the api in development.  To run these at the same time use the tool concurrently.  Then when you are ready for deployment you can pack the client app (that you built into a static asset with webpack) and then serve it by the api server with this code:

Then you just copy the code to run the api server and client/build folder to your server and run it how you would normally there.  As to a example of how you serve data to your react app here is an example.

Server:

Client:

React Component:

For a more detailed example refer to the article listed above.  This is something I learned recently while improving rallyscores.com.  You can find the source of that site on GitHub.

 

How to learn something you’ve been struggling with

If there is something you want to learn, instead of trying the brain-dead method taught in schools where you try to read a textbook and take tests, find something you want to do that requires that topic.  This has been a useful heuristic for me.  By doing a project I learn what I want in a deeper way.  The natural next step is to answer the question what project do you want to do instead of what do you want to learn.  Then go do those projects and learn new things.

You don’t want to learn something for that thing anyway, you want to learn because that learning gives you new power to do things.  I find that it is just best to do things and learn what you need along the way.

Go forth and hack something, it’s good for you.

Three easy ways to get more readers for your blog

  • Shamelessly plug this blog (it will give you good luck)
  • Look directly into the sun
  • Cry, make list, post, do more crying

In all seriousness the primary reason people are looking at anything on the internet is to get off, but after they cleanup the mess they just made they are here for simple entertainment.  This is not because they don’t have better things to do but because they don’t want to do those things.  Of course there are the posts about how to do stuff and those do help people who are looking to do stuff and get clicks from those people.  Though how many of those are there really?  It is probably worth someone’s time to care about them but if you just want readers who are happy that you exist on the internet you should entertain.  Here is my advice on how to do this:

  • Short funny posts (no one wants to read, that feels like work)
  • Stupid titles that promise something you desire (like more readers on your blog)
  • Subtle adds

This post is a good example of a shameless plug as it is designed to get you to look at my blog.  I’m not really sure the people I want to communicate with is other sad saps like myself who are writing blogs instead of doing something useful.  Yet here I am, and I do relate to you, so I write to you.  Just to be nice I’m going to give you something fun to do after reading this:

Best Car Mod EVER – McM

I find these guys hilarious and you will to.  What are you doing looking at my blog, go watch their video and loose yourself to some hilarious antics about modifying cars.

Collect good Black Swans

I’m in the middle of listening to the book The Black Swan on Audible and it had changed my perspective greatly on several things.  One is the probability of events outside normal is larger than commonly believed and is unknowable.  These black sawn events can be good and tend to affect scalable activities.  In order to collect these we need to be doing things that are scalable.  Writing is a good example because you only write once regardless of how many people read what you write.  It is no more effort for me if no one reads this or if millions read this.  As a result I’m trying to do more scalable things in order to position myself to have the opportunity of collecting black swans of sort.  This means that I have to daily accept that every time I do something it could be a complete failure.  There are no guarantees things that are scalable will every pay off.  However if they do, the amount they will pay off will dwarf and greatly affect the average, meaning that it can be orders of magnitude in goodness.  If none of this made sense you need to go read the book and learn about now not all uncertainty is created equal and how that can affect your decision making.  Of all the books I’ve listened to in the last couple years only two books have I listened to twice and I’m probably going to listen to this one a third time and buy the book to read in print because I want the concepts in this book to really sink in.