As the dust settles from my first Airbnb experience, I have some time to reflect on what I have learned on this journey.
For me, one of the ultimate goals that a constant traveller like myself tries to achieve is a home away from home. Traditional hotels have recognised this need and have implemented more homely approaches such as lounge and in-room check in. The fact is that no matter how beautiful the design of the reception, or how sophisticated and fancy the package, having to still make copies of my passport, getting out my credit card and signing an “agreement” procedure somehow ruins the homely arrival experience. Of course there are the types of guests that may value arriving at a premium hotel as an event of their life, and they would expect some level of visible and fancy greetings. Fine! Just make it as an option at the booking, but its simply not for me. I am pretty sure that there are many travellers like me who are spending almost or exceeding half of a year sleeping in hotel rooms. This fancy greeting, ID and credit card verification over and over again could be annoying.
To me, the most genuine home arrival experience is arriving without making it an experience. We have three offices in three different cities and I have a home in each. Usually when I travel to one of my homes, the only thing I want is to get into my own space, take off my clothes, and walk into the bathroom to get myself refreshed. The Airbnb arrival experience is very much like this. I follow the address I am given, ring the door bell, and someone over the intercom will say: “Hi Ed, come in.” The host would greet you at the door and give you a quick tour – where is the coffee, where to put the garbage, how to lock the door, the wifi password – just like as though you are staying in your friend’s house. As the end of the quick tour, they will say: “Here is the key, just call or whatsapp me if any questions, enjoy your stay.” Although the conversation is so simple, I feel that it is very attentive. First because it is genuine, and also because you know it is one-on-one.I hope one day that the hotel I am already familiar with, would just have someone to greet me at the door and pass me the room key. “Hi Ed, welcome back! You’re staying at room 1234, enjoy, whatsapp or call me if you need anything.”
Or actually I don’t even mind to have some sort of key pickup in a mailbox just like arriving home, perhaps using some kind of Smart device to open my mail box and pick up whatever the card key or info I need for my stay.
That would be a wonderful way to arrive – home.