Before the city started grappling with the tax implications and zoning kinks sparked by such online room-rental sites as Airbnb, Chad Williams was a believer.
The 36-year-old owner of Creative Visual Design would rather check into a room off the beaten path — and make a little money renting out his own place — when he travels. “The right host can make an experience far better than a hotel,” he says.
But strangers in your house?
“I’m a very trusting person and I enjoy meeting new people,” he says in an email, “but it really comes down to gut feelings, conversations with the guest prior or after booking, or reviews from prior hosts or from their friends which show up on their Airbnb profile. I require my guest have a Verified ID, which means they must enter their driver’s license, Social Security number, email, or any of their social profiles.”
Williams’ house in the near West End can accommodate as many as three visitors. It currently rents for $60 a night, with $10 per extra visitor and a $10 cleaning fee. A rewarding part is his interactions with unique visitors, he says, sharing one of those experiences in a Facebook post recently:
“My current Airbnb visitor is a 62-year-old software engineer from Raleigh. He is on a Match.com date in Williamsburg at the Trellis. To prepare for his date, he drove there today to see the restaurant, make a reservation and picked out their table. He then drove back here, showered and got ready. I wished him luck like the first day of school and told him I would wait up for him to get the juicy details if he came home, wink-wink.
“So he went early, picked flowers from outside, asked for a little vase and put them on their table. He also gave her a box of Godiva Chocolates and wrote her a poem. She was very impressed and they had a great time. He said she was so gorgeous and he thinks they will keep in touch and see where it goes.
“People like this make being an Airbnb host pretty awesome. Super nice guy, extremely intelligent and he shared lots of interesting stories. After listening to him for a good while it’s clear the thing missing in his life is an amazing woman, and he’s made it a priority to try to find someone to complete him.”
Chad’s Five Tips for Would-Be Hosts
1. Keep in mind that people use Airbnb out of choice, not from lack of hotel inventory.
2. I set up a separate bank account so all Airbnb money goes there. I then use it to add new items to the room, put some additional money toward my mortgage or take a trip.
3. I insist users have a Verified ID.
4. In Virginia we currently pay income tax, but not hotel tax.
5. Setting defined rules and expectations has provided me with excellent results after 45 visitors.