I love Airbnb. While traveling, I've stayed in Airbnb listings almost exclusively since hearing about it in 2009. I began hosting a few years ago and have had nothing but great experiences with the guests we've invited to stay in our home.
Recently I went to see Chip Conley, Airbnb's Hospitality guru (founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels and Esalen Board Member) talk about being a great host. He is animated, succinct, and intriguing - if you get the chance to see him on stage, do it. His talk had lots of great points for hosts to improve their listings and ratings however there were two that stuck out.
The first: DISAPPOINTMENT = EXPECTATIONS - REALITY. The most succinct way I've seen someone express one of the most important principles of dealing with customers. The second: when people travel they have a pyramid of needs with expectations, desires, and unmet needs stacked one on top of the other. Disappointment happens at the bottom. Amazement happens at the top.
Taking these lessons in stride, we've been putting them into practice over the past 6 months. We've redecorated our guest room, purchased a new bed, bought curtains, new bedsheets, and bought fancy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash for our guests.
All of which made me realize how many things I was doing for strangers that I hadn't or wouldn't do for myself.
My girlfriend and I both come from very practical families that also hold hospitality sacred - taking care of people with ironed sheets, folded towels, strong tea (PG Tips!) and good food. Both of our parents are great at entertaining and self-sacrifice, which seemingly go hand-in-hand. We managed to pick up their altruism, which has made it easy to ignore ourselves in service to others.
Through Airbnb though, we realized that taking care of other people in this way allowed us to take better care of ourselves. To realize our own unmet needs, and to build habits and spaces that took care of us as well as we had been taught to take care of others.