Air BnB and Woodfarm Barns – the big secret
Air BnB is now bigger than the five biggest hotel chains in the world combined.
This might not be a surprise to you. Along with companies like Uber, Air BnB has been at the forefront of the tech evolution. Air BnB is one of the companies who is setting out to change the way we look at the world. More specifically, Air BnB wants to change the way we think about renting holiday cottages. But perhaps we’re already quite happy thinking about holiday cottages the way we do?
So there’s no denying it – Air BnB is huge.
Five years ago I bet you hadn’t heard of Air BnB, or Uber, or possibly even Tinder. But then just ten years ago the idea of prodding your phone screen to keep an eye on your bank account might have seemed far-fetched. But the world moves on. Some people call it progress, others find it annoying. It might not surprise you to know that I’m a fan of this type of mobile technology. Even if it is sometimes baffling to me. One of the reasons I like it is that it’s great at bringing new friends and customers into my life. After all, you’re reading this on my own website, quite probably you’re reading it on a phone. This is much more efficient than visiting each of you at home to share my news and tales of adventure. Although I’m sure your homes are delightful.
We get it, you hate Air BnB!
No way, I didn’t say that at all! I have friends who used the service and had several wonderful holidays. So if Air BnB is so great why hasn’t it put all holiday cottage companies out of business? Some Air BnB fans will cheerfully tell you that Air BnB is so much more personal than booking a holiday cottage through a large chain, or staying in a cookie-cutter type hotel room. I can see how this could be the perception; a lot of Air BnBs are run as hobby businesses. So-called ‘top up’ income generators. So if you have booked an Air BnB stay in someone’s spare room or outbuilding they will likely be delighted to see you. Nothing could be more personal than having your host insist on showing you around every nook and cranny of their little nest-egg builder. But not every Air BnB is so personal, or so welcoming.
A few days ago I was having a chat with my marketing fella. I’ll call him ‘Andrew’, on account of the fact that’s the name his parents gave him. He was chatting about a recent excursion in which he stayed in an Air BnB.
When I asked him for a quick verbal review of the Air BnB location, on grounds of professional interest, his single-line, abrupt review was ‘it was cheap’.
As reviews go that wasn’t the most in-depth I’ve heard.
Air BnB and my boggling mind.
My mind boggled a bit. Through my many years running Woodfarm Barns, I had a long list of questions I wanted answers to. How clean was the place? What sort of area was it in? What were the neighbours like? What facilities were nearby? I won’t trouble you with the entire list. It was long.
Andrew has rented holiday lets through Air BnB before, as have a great deal of other people. So I asked him how it compared to other places he had stayed at. ‘It was cheap’ came his reply. I offered him another coffee, perhaps the part of his brain that shared information about Air BnB reviews needed more stimulation. After the coffee had reached his brain Andrew elaborated on his review with just one more sentence, but it was a single sentence that spoke paragraphs:
‘The towels were too small.’
There’s no denying that Andrew must have been stood somewhere near the front of the line when height was handed out. He’s reasonably tall. Not Jolly Green Giant tall, but not Ewok size either. But the towels being too small tells me a lot about the level of personal service and attention to detail this Air BnB host invested in his business. Small towels are just the tip of the iceberg. When I asked Andrew about the previous Air BnB he rented he sort of looked into the middle distance with a wistful look in his eye, and proceeded to talk at great length about what a lovely place it was.
So I asked Andrew if he was going to leave a bad review for the place with the small towels, and the icebergs-worth of other negative issues. Probably not, as it turns out. In summary, he simply said ‘you pays your money, you takes your chance’.
Here at Woodfarm Barns, I’m incredibly proud of the hundreds of five-star reviews we’ve earned over the years. In reality, a lot of people who stay here never get around to leaving a review, and that’s really okay. The best review my guests can give me is to rebook and recommend us, and that’s exactly what they do. Many guests come and stay at Woodfarm Barns year after year. Some guests have been staying with us for as long as we have been open, and have become good friends.
If you’re wondering about our towels…