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    Lessons from a private room pro

    Veteran Superhost Marcella offers her favorite tips for sharing your space.
    By Airbnb on Apr 13, 2021
    8 min read
    Updated Apr 13, 2021


    • Decide if private room hosting fits your personality and lifestyle

    • Make sure guests read your House Rules so everyone’s on the same page

    • Set clear boundaries so guests know which spaces and items are communal

    • Create ways for people to gather, like breakfast around a large dining room table

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

    Since she first began hosting on Airbnb in 2013, actress Marcella Lentz-Pope has welcomed thousands of guests from all over the world to stay in the spare rooms of her home in Brooklyn, New York. Whether you’re a new host considering sharing a space in your home, or an experienced host looking to improve your skills, you’re sure to learn a thing or two from Marcella.

    Here, she shares her five tips for private room hosting:

    “Over the years I’ve learned quite a lot from sharing my home. If you’re nervous or unsure about how to start sharing your space, here are some tips that might help you feel more comfortable.”

    Superhost Marcella shares her tips for being a successful private room host.

    1. Know thyself

    “Be honest with yourself! Hosting a private room in your home isn’t for everyone. If you’re someone who values privacy above all or you’re very protective of people touching your belongings, hosting in your home may not be a good fit for you. But—if you’re a bit more open to sharing your space, it can be incredibly rewarding.

    For me, it’s nice to come home at the end of the day and have people there. It’s like coming home to a big family. I love that I can just go downstairs and hang out with someone from halfway around the world. I really enjoy it … and you might too!”

    2. Make your rules a must-read

    “It’s super important to make sure your guests read your House Rules to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is important for all hosts, but especially when it comes to sharing the space. To make sure no one misses my rules, I actually put them in three places:

        • Directly in my listing description
        • Under the House Rules section
        • In a binder in the common area in case guests want to familiarize themselves with the rules again

        When a potential guest writes me or uses Instant Book, I’ll ask them: ‘Did you read the House Rules? Do you have any questions about them?’ This helps ensure that everyone knows exactly what to expect before they arrive.”

        Common sense isn’t always common
        “People come to your space from different backgrounds, upbringings, and cultural norms. So think about what makes your home different than others.

        • Do you have set quiet hours?
        • Do you prefer that guests remove their shoes when they come in?
        • Do you allow Airbnb guests to bring their own additional guests over?

        We all have boundaries, and they’re important to make explicit.”

        Rules continue to evolve
        “You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to learn from them. I remember the time a guest brought a stranger over without telling me. I thought that was an obvious rule for a shared space. After that experience, I learned that I needed to address that in my rules. Experience is honestly the best teacher you can have as a host.”

        3. Take time for face time

        “It’s important to me to meet my guests in person. I want to be there to welcome them, check them in to the space, give them a tour, and go over any ground rules myself. It’s a chance for me to see their reaction to the space, ask them questions I might have, and learn a bit about who I’m sharing my space with. It makes them more comfortable and you more comfortable. Guests love that little extra touch and often mention it in their reviews.”

        Greeting guests
        “When a guest books, I’ll ask them when their plane/bus/train is arriving and factor in travel time so that I can plan my schedule accordingly, and be there to greet them. For people who are just beginning their hosting journey, this can be a great way for you to ease any uncertainty. You’ll likely discover ‘Oh, I like these people. This is awesome!’ If, for some reason I can’t be there myself, I’ll have a trusted friend show them everything—then I can say ‘hi’ later in the day.”

        What to do when you can’t be there
        “This is my way of doing things, and I think it’s a great approach, especially when you and your guests are sharing your space at the same time. But I know not every host can personally check their guests in. Lots of people allow guests to check themselves in by providing lockboxes, and that can work really well, too. It’s all about finding out what works best for you.”

        4. Set clear boundaries

        “When you’re opening your home to new people, it’s important to be very clear about which spaces and items are communal, and what’s private just for you. It’s nice to make space for your guests’ belongings by clearing a drawer for them in the dresser, making space in the fridge for their food, and putting some empty hangers in the closet.”

        Creating designated areas
        “You can show people at check-in what things they can and can’t use and what spaces are private. Some hosts also use little signs indicating when a space or item is personal and not to be shared if that jives with their design sensibility!”

        Storing valuables
        “If you have valuables or important documents to protect, I recommend getting a safe or lockbox. If you have one, a room designated in your house that’s locked with a key just for you. I also offer lockers for guests to use and store valuables if they want to bring their own lock. That's the thing about a shared space: if you're trusting them, they're also trusting you.”

        I love that I can just go downstairs and hang out with someone from halfway around the world.

        5. Keep it communal

        “Design your communal spaces to be inviting and comfortable. It’s all about creating a welcoming vibe. Add touches and details that encourage people to meet, hang out, and feel at home. Of course, if they would rather keep to themselves, that’s also okay!

        Here are some ways to create warm communal spaces:

          • Get a comfy couch where people can relax and unwind.
          • Have a large dining table that invites people to sit and share meals together. One of the little bonuses I offer is breakfast in the morning. It's nothing fancy—cereals, toast, coffee, tea—but it's just a little something to start their day and a way for everyone to mingle and connect, if they want.
          • Create a playlist of music to set the tone. Turning on music in the morning signals to people that they don’t have to be quiet in the space anymore. The same goes for turning it off at night—it lets guests know people are going to sleep and that it’s time to be quiet.
          • Add universal adapters to your guest rooms and common spaces. People come from all over the world, and they often forget adapters. Having adapters is a simple way to be tech-inclusive. I also have a power strip in each room so guests aren’t limited to two outlets.

            Remember, anyone who has an extra room to share can be a host. You don’t need anything fancy; just an open mind—it’s the thoughtful little details that add up to a special experience.”

            Apr 13, 2021
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