Like many Perth kids, as soon as I was old enough to get a passport and pay for a plane ticket, I was outta here! And like most Aussies I went to Bali. I then saved my pennies and made the pilgrimage to London. I then backpacked, went back to London. Which was followed up with more backpacking before hitting up London a third time. By then, I was fully infected with the travel bug – an infection which would ensure many return trips to Bali in the coming years. I fell in love with the very essence of travel, which translates to: no keys, no car, no mortgage – just the open road and utter freedom (on a budget).
And then inevitably, like many of us do, I ended up with a mortgage, car loans, a job and a family. My traveling days were suddenly over. I morphed into one of those parents at the back of the plane with the screaming, teething toddler, fantasising about my carefree life before airline travel with a kid… and check-in baggage. Those were the days.
Then, I was struck with a thought. I could have my own B&B and live the traveller’s life vicariously through my guests! When I had this idea, the sharing economy hadn’t been invented and B&B’s were not cool. They were Laura Ashley curtains and white doilies with English Breakfast Tea. I was going to do it better. It would be hip, modern and classy. I’d put Perth on the map so no-one would leave.
As the years passed, I eventually finished building my B&B and the laborious task of styling. I sourced the local government approvals and set to work building a WordPress booking website. It was terrible and I couldn’t get it to work let alone block out dates or update it easily. I’d have to handle money, take a bond. No wonder most B&B owners were 65 and over – I did not have time for this stuff!
And then it happened – I was introduced to Airbnb. It changed everything. I now had a sleek online listing that handled bookings, money and basically my website, for free. It was almost like the business part of this business was taken care of.
My wife and I waited for the bookings to roll in. They didn’t. We jazzed up our photos and description, dropped the price to ‘desperate’ and then it happened. Our first guests! And boy were they cool. First up, they were Belgium. Next up they rode their bikes up to the Perth Hills on a 40ºC Perth summer day with their 6 week old baby in a Belgium bike trailer. I love them for being our first guests. We chatted, we became tour guides, we talked life, politics and why their baby never cried and ours had colic. We served them breakfast. It was probably one of my favourite things to experience serving our very own guests. It all took me back to my traveling days, when my heart was more open to conversations with complete strangers and sharing utensils at a YHA. Sure we were nervous at first, but once we realised how normal and nice they were, all the worries were forgotten.
Not everyone ‘gets it’ when you become an Airbnb host. Why have strange people in your house you don’t know? What if they get food poisoning and sue you? What if, what if, what if…. I knew that if I thought like that, nothing would happen. So we stepped off and into the unknown abyss of Airbnb Hosting. And it has been wonderful.
All this was nearly two years ago and we now host guests on most weekends and the occasional weeknight. The thing is, over 80% of our guests are from somewhere in Perth. We get to meet people from our own city. It seems that having a B&B isn’t about the B&B at all. Not really. It’s about the connections with the people you meet. It’s Nat from South Perth, Leena from Sydney and it’s Ashley from Joondalup…We’re all just people and we’re all pretty great.
One of the great inventions of our time may just be the way in which we’re leveraging technology to bring about sharing. I just wish it had been around when I was starting out on my own travel adventures.
Co-Founder | SpacetoCo
Read the West Australia article here: https://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-west-australian/20171125/282278140641371