How to craft your story

Superhosts Tereasa and David share their favorite storytelling strategies.
By Airbnb on Aug 22, 2023
8 min read
Updated Aug 22, 2023


  • Finding, crafting, and sharing your story is a way to connect with guests

  • Think about experiences in your home or area that guests can’t get anywhere else

  • Cultivate a social media presence for your home

  • Treat every obstacle as an opportunity to learn and grow

  • Discover more in our complete guide to taking your hosting to the next level

Superhosts Tereasa and David know a thing or two about the power of storytelling. As parents, preservationists, creative directors, published authors, and the owners of Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, they’ve learned how weaving narratives can bring people together. “As we started unearthing and posting details of the camp’s history—as a 1920s speakeasy, a meeting place for the mob, a brothel, a summer camp for the Latvian refugee community, as well as our own connection to it—we found that people really resonated with it,” says Tereasa.

Here, they share some wise words on how to find and craft the story of your home.

Superhosts Tereasa and David share their tips for harnessing the power of stories.

1. Find your hook

Tereasa: “Even if your space isn’t a century-old speakeasy, there’s always a story to tell. To find yours, start by digging:

  • What’s your home’s history?
  • What experiences are unique to your town that guests can’t get anywhere else?
  • What are the interesting tidbits you might take for granted?

Do some research and put that in your listing.”

David: “There’s so much more you can share in your listing besides the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. People want to know where they can get the perfect cup of coffee, they want to know your favorite spots—so share what’s unique about the experience you can offer. Guests are seeking a connection and a reason to be emotionally engaged, and stories help bring us together.”

2. Don’t be perfect

David: “Very early on, we learned that we needed to manage people’s expectations ahead of time because the last thing we want to do is disappoint them. So we created our Manifesto of Low Expectations. It’s a playful way for us to introduce the rustic camp life. It tells people what to expect—which is often unpleasant bugs, woodland creatures, and zero air conditioning—so if you need Egyptian sheets or modern luxuries, this may not be the place for you.”

Tereasa: “We’re a pretense-free zone. And so we lean into that with the language we use to describe our space. We decided to be straight up with people. We took a tone that’s funny but painfully true. Hyperbole is pushed to the edge for us, and it's what gives us a sense of humor, which makes us more approachable, I think. And you don’t have to be a copywriter to be approachable—you can just describe your place in a really humble way.”

David: “When I'm surfing Airbnb, I like when someone’s personality comes out in the way they describe their place. Especially if we’re going to be sharing a space, I want to know you've got a sense of humor and you're someone that I would want to hang out with. Don’t try to sell me the moon. Don't try to pretend to be the world's best anything. Just be honest and truthful and fun because people want to be comfortable when they come to stay in your place.”

3. Get social

Tereasa: “To increase interest and bookings, cultivate a social media presence for your home. Most people find us on social first, actually. They come across our images or through our Instagram feed—it’s a really great way to build an audience and invite them into the possibilities they can experience at camp. A couple tips:

    • Try to share the life moments that people want to step right into. You want to have that book next to the bed, and a steaming cup of coffee with a view out the window—all of it.
    • Good styling and good photography is an important driver for visual storytelling. Make it compelling and beautiful!”

    David: “When people visit Wandawega, I can’t tell you how many times people will tell me that they’ve seen a photo on Instagram, and they want to sprint straight there to recreate that moment for themselves. Instagram becomes a bucket list of moments—and a visual preview of your space for your audience. It can often be the reason you get booked.”

    Don't try to pretend to be the world's best anything. Just be honest and truthful and fun.
    Elkhorn, Wisconsin

    4. Keep “upfailing”

    David: “In the beginning, we made lots of mistakes. But we’ve learned to embrace what we call upfailing—and the messiness of life. For example, with storytelling, we learned that there’s such a thing as oversharing. As much as people love to hear about the brothel madam, the mafia, and the murders—they don’t necessarily want to know where it happened—especially if they have to sleep there. Over time, you’ll discover what works, what doesn’t, and what resonates with your audience.”

    Tereasa: “Upfailing, to us, is about treating every obstacle as an opportunity to grow. It’s how you learn.”

    5. Share the journey

    Tereasa: “When we first started on this journey, I had this huge fear of sharing our ‘before’ photos. I thought no one would want to come stay with us because of how horrendous it looked. But we’ve actually gotten the most engagement out of ‘before and after’ photos.”

    David: “People respond to honesty. They want to see the process. Again, they’re looking for a personal connection—so don’t be afraid to share parts of your personal journey. Keep it honest, and tell your unique story.“

    Aug 22, 2023
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