One of the reasons I renovated was to make my house more guest-friendly; that’s why I made a second bathroom out of a laundry cupboard and a ‘powder room,’ and created an ensuite bathroom to my room. Having two bathrooms avoids awkward nocturnal meetings in the corridor or having to queue up in your own house to brush your teeth. It’s nice to have left all that behind along with exams, backpacking and dormitories.
I’m now getting my house ship-shape for the Airbnb photo shoot, a free service offered by the hugely successful online accommodation business, which connects travellers with people in over 190 countries who have a spare room or entire property to rent out. Airbnb launched in 2008 and by 2012 had reached five million bookings. In 2014 Airbnb was valued at $10 billion, making it worth more than the worldwide portfolio of Hyatt Hotels. Impressive stuff! According to the webinar I tuned into, it’s all about building ‘virality’ (not to be confused with virility) into the DNA of your product. But that’s another story.
What I love about Airbnb is that you can escape the stuffy sameness of hotel accommodation and find a place that has character, is homely and enables you to meet and share stories with local residents. In December 2012 I stayed in a spacious and stylish flat in a trendy district of Copenhagen. Although I didn’t see her much (she had just met a new man), I got on really well with my host, a freelance photographer. She was great fun, helped me with my onward travel arrangements, offered me home-made marinated herring (you can’t go to Denmark and NOT try herring) on my last night and let me cuddle her pet rabbit. Although I fancy myself as something of an animal whisperer, (not counting the belligerent donkey in Greece who deliberately nudged a boulder in my direction), the rabbit took fright and shot into its burrow-like enclosure. Never mind.
That’s why I’ve decided to ask the Airbnb photographers to include a picture of Bertie in one of the shots, so prospective visitors know that this house has a resident hound, one who loves to be part of the action. I was initially worried that Bertie’s excitable nature was going to make it difficult with guests coming and going. But, thanks to a recent one on one training session, the boy is beginning to understand that jumping up is not cool but that sitting down definitely is, and earns him a few edible treats. He does still bark in tandem with the neighbours’ dogs (they don’t seem to understand that dogs, especially those designed to herd sheep need regular exercise, ARGH!) but if I catch him and shake the jar of coins before he flies out the laundry door flap and barks up a storm, he stays by my side ever hopeful that a biscuit will magically drop out of my pocket. I never go anywhere nowadays without dog poo bags and treats…
He does still bark furiously at the possums and gets so worked up that he tries to climb the fence, so I only let him out a couple of times before bed. I’m hoping that my guests will be so enchanted by Australia’s nocturnal native animals that they will overlook the occasionally canine cacophony. I can always offer earplugs as part of the package.