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What's it like to host on Airbnb in Bali?

Musings from an American expat in residence since 2005

As a long time resident of Bali, I've learned that Bali is a place that can teach a great deal.  I arrived here when I was relatively young, just 24, fell in love with a local Balinese girl, fell in love with the island and settled down.  Two important lessons Bali has taught me is gratitude and hospitality.
Morning Routine
Most mornings, I feel pretty lucky.  I'll make myself a nice strong cup of Vietnamese coffee, a happy habit I acquired while traveling. I'll then stand in front of my computer and answer Airbnb inquiries that've arrived overnight.  I try to keep my response time down under an hour.  Since both me and Wayana carry the mobile app on our phones, we can usually hit that mark. I'm also a late sleeper and she's an early riser, so it works out pretty well. 
The Commute
I'll ride my motorbike through a few Balinese villages, weaving through teak and kapok forests. I'll pass a few desolate beaches, some local markets, a golf course, and some construction projects. There's a lot of construction projects these days.  If I'm feeling especially motivated and need to shed some weight, I'll put my mountain bike to use and peddle out.
Our listings
We began our hosting career by renting out villas in Jimbaran to student groups on overseas study programs in Bali.  A lot of our friends own villas in Bali and they're not here most of the year, so we help find visitors to experience their wonderful homes.  We also have local friends that had home-stays, boutique resorts and we got involved with helping them as well.  

Nowadays, most of the properties we manage are in the Uluwatu - Padang Padang - Bingin region. They're all close to the beach, remarkably affordable and unique in their own way. We spend a few hours at each listing everyday to make sure things are running smoothly and we get to meet our guests.
Airbnb guests
We manage a lot of online bookings but there's a special place for our Airbnb guests.  We make an effort to check-in every guest at arrival, give them an introduction to the area and help them find transport, mobile phone cards, and other small things to make their trip more enjoyable. Airbnb guest are a bit more like friends and less like 'customers'. The Airbnb community has a really healthy culture and rarely do we have problems with a guest.  It gives us a bit more courage to reach out and really connect with a guest, and learn about them as well.  Bali is well known for it's culture of hospitality and we do our best to uphold that wonderful tradition. 
Traveling while standing still
One of the things I enjoy the most about being a host is the feeling of traveling constantly. As a seasoned traveller, I know the best thing about travel is the people you meet. When I took off to see the world for two years, I would find myself speaking to people that I'd never talk to normally.
As a host, we get that chance everyday. We've met CEOs of tech companies, honeymooners from India, night club owners from Shanghai, yoga practitioners from Norway, and even a couple from China that asked us to witness their wedding. People open up in incredible ways when they're traveling and they're much more open to sharing. Of course it doesn't hurt that usually we have conversations over a beer overlooking an incredible ocean view.
As a small business owner
Airbnb is an enormous enabler since it basically allows our family to look after a few dozen listings with just two people. Back in our early days, we'd need a much larger team to take calls, schedule bookings, collect deposits, handle guest communications. I wrote about the early days of renting villas without Airbnb here.  Now we can put our staff to work on things that they're really good at, being hospitality ambassadors and making our guests feel good.  
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