Homeshare bookings for the holidays are already getting competitive. It’s obviously a popular time to travel because people have time off work and want to spend time with family, and often family members are spread out all over the country. It’s also the time of year more people put their place up to rent, so there’s more competition to break through. The trick to getting noticed as a host and to getting top dollar is to make your niche known, and the best niche for this time of year is, you guessed it, hosting families. Here are some ways to let families know you love them and help them be comfortable during their stay. Plus, perhaps as important, how to make yourself feel comfortable with pint-sized people toddling around your beloved home wielding broken crayons and spoonfuls of applesauce. (It will be fine, really!)
A generous state of mind
Remember, it’s the holidays, so tap into your holiday spirit. If you’re a bit of a control freak (I have a certain way I HAVE to fold the towels) this is a time you just have to take a deep breath and repeat to yourself over and over again, “let it go.” Or you could also continuously count all the dollars you’ll be making in your head. So if a plate gets broken, or a party gets too loud, or child topples your fake holiday tree, don’t sweat it. The point is, the more relaxed and comfortable you are, the more relaxed and comfortable your guests will be, too.
It’s one thing to say, “just let it go!” but actually being able to do that gets a lot easier when you are prepared. Being practical can work wonders. For example, if you’re worried about broken dishes, buy a set of holiday-themed plates. They can be kid-proof, cheap, and fun, and have the extra bonus of helping to make your visiting family feel special. You can do the same with linens, towels, placemats, and pillows. It’s nice to have spare sets anyway and you won’t care if a 5-year-old does a smear campaign with the rhubarb pie. It’s true kids can be a bit unpredictable at times so perhaps the most important way to feel at ease is make sure you’re home insurance policy is up to date and covers key exposures. That way, if something goes awry, you’re protected. (Insert sigh of relief.)
Get to know your guests.
A few, key questions before your traveling family arrives will go a long way in making your guest feel welcome and secure, and help you prepare. What ages are their kids? If they are young, and you have stairs, or areas of your home that you don’t want kids in, or areas that could be unsafe for them, then buy and install baby gates and cabinet locks and straps for toilet seats. They’re affordable, easy to put on and take off, and can be found almost anywhere that sells baby products. You can also pick up a few other affordable baby items such as a pack and play, high chair, or books and toys. It’s a huge burden to pack and travel with all that baby gear and if you can supply it instead, so Mom and Dad don’t have to schlep it across the country, families will flock to you! Make sure breakables and potentially harmful cleaning products are moved to higher places. (You don’t have to go crazy, most parents of young children are used to doing this themselves, but they will certainly appreciate any preemptive effort on your part.) If your guests’ children are older, stocking your place with age appropriate books, board games, and video games will certainly spread holiday cheer.
Now that everyone feels safe and comfortable with each other and you know you can pull this off, let the world know. In your posting, use a title that has “family-friendly” in it, and then list all the accommodations you’ve made that support your claim. Choose photos that highlight the extra things you’ve done to childproof your home, and the amenities you’ve added specifically for the little ones. (This could all be in one photo, just to show it’s available.) List all the family-friendly activities in your area so they know there will be plenty to do when they get there. If you’re also open to attracting couples and solo travelers, be careful to strike a balance and not go overboard on the kid stuff.