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4 Things I Learnt from a One-Year Private Lodging Business

Hello, this is tamoara.

Just one year has passed since I launched a private lodging business in May last year.

An average of 1 to 2 groups/month, both Japanese and foreign guests, at the ratio of 50:50, stayed at my lodging house so far.

Today, I would like to focus on what I learnt from managing the business over the past year!

I hope it will be helpful for those who are thinking of starting a private lodging business.

First of all, cleanliness is the most critical factor for the guest.

Airbnb also lists up cleanliness at third in their review items, after accuracy and check-in.

In our case, we spend a few hours cleaning on the day or the day before the guest arrives.

As we won’t do much cleaning if there is no reservation, it would be helpful if someone makes a reservation appropriately.

Here’s how I perform cleaning:

Bedclothes

Remove bed sheets, quilt covers, and pillowcases, and put them in a washing machine, then place the quilts, pillows, and blankets in the sun.

When the washing machine stopped, take them to a launderette and use a dryer for 20 minutes.

I use a dryer because if I dry them outside, they may get stink bugs.

Finally, I do the ironing.

The sheets are difficult to press because they are big, so it’s better to fold them first.

Guest Room

Spray “Scrubbing Bubbles” on beds, desk, TV, and refrigerator and wipe them with a wiping cloth.

For mattress and sofa, I spray “Febreze“, just in case.

Finally, vacuum and wipe the floor with “Quickle Wiper” to complete.

Toilet

Clean the inside of a toilet bowl with a toilet brush and “Toilet Magiclean“.

Next, put “Scrubbing Bubbles” to toilet paper and wipe the entire toilet bowl.

Vacuum and wipe the floor with “Quickle Wiper”.

Finally, make a hotel-like fold on toilet paper.

Corridor / Entrance

Vacuum and wipe the floor with “Quickle Wiper”.

Outdoor

Sweep the leaves, sand, and insect carcasses around doorways with a broom.

As you will repeat the same procedure every time, it would be easier to manage if you make a check sheet.

Cleaning is what you can do before the guest arrives, so do your best!

2. The Charm Of "Nothing Special"

Next, why foreign guests choose “nothing” countryside, which is not a tourist destination?

Here is the ranking of reasons based on the information I heard from our guests directly.

Experiencing real Japan

The most popular reason was “I want to experience real Japan“.

It seems that they want to experience the life of Japan as it is, not the life decorated for the foreigner.

They suppose local people make pickled vegetables or chop firewood on their own etc., especially in the countryside.

Because there is nothing special

The next frequent reason was “Because there is nothing special“.

If there are many tourist attractions and restaurants, it is difficult to decide where to go.

A guest said that he used to eat sweets from convenience stores at a hotel in tourist areas.

In that respect, the countryside is limited in what you can see and eat so that you can enjoy it without hesitation.

Seeking discoveries

The third reason is “I want to seek a discovery“.

Finding undiscovered spots in towns not listed in the guidebook is one of the pleasures of travelling.

Kagamino-cho (town) doesn’t actively promote, so it’s perfect for finding hidden spots.

Many guests are attracted to “nothing special” like these!

Besides, it is my impression that many of these guests are accustomed to travelling and have an understanding of local culture and manners.

3. Breakfast Should Be Served

Why are B&Bs so popular?

One of the reasons why B&Bs are preferred over hotels is the homely atmosphere and the warm homemade breakfast.

A homemade breakfast is more memorable for the guest, which leads to a good review.

Also, if there are no nearby restaurants and you don’t serve breakfast, your guests have to bring a cold bento (packed meal).

Every trip, everyone wants to relax in the morning, right?

Therefore, I recommend you to serve breakfast!

No food business permit

food business permit becomes a problem when you serve breakfast in your accommodation.

To get the permit, there are high hurdles, such as adding another kitchen and refurbishing the floor with waterproof material.

At the moment, I can only say “We provide breakfast ingredients for free!”.

It would be great if we can serve breakfast only with the consent of the guest, or with a simple refurbishing, but these criteria seem to be the same in Europe.

If you don’t have a food business permit, I believe the best solution is to get guests to support you with cooking partially.

4. Interaction With The Guest After They Left

Lastly, let’s talk about how you should interact with the guest after they checked out.

I think many of you would like to continue interaction with the guest after they left your accommodation.

At least, I want to know if they got home safely.

In this case, I recommend Facebook and WeChat.

Facebook

Available in many countries except the mainland of China.

It has a built-in translation function so that you can use it in any languages.

Also, if you create a dedicated page, you can quickly place your information and advertisement.

Unlike telephone and email, the advantage is that you can continue to interact with your guests lightly.

WeChat

Only messenger app that allows you to interact with your guests in the mainland of China.

WeChat is the only option for the guest from the mainland of China and no other choice.

However, some guests don’t have an account or may feel it is a bother, so you shouldn’t force it to your guests.

Conclusion

Thanks to many great guests, I could become the Airbnb Superhost and close our first year!!

While the business has been closed due to the pandemic of COVID-19, I would like to improve our accommodation to provide a better experience continuously.

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