How to be a post-pandemic host, from Illinois’ most hospitable Airbnb host

Now that people are becoming more comfortable traveling, what does hospitable hosting look like in a post-lockdown world?

Whether it’s hosts offering spaces on places like Airbnb or VRBO and competing for eyeballs on listings, or finally welcoming family and friends back into your guest room, some may have forgotten how to host.

Airbnb just released its list of the top hospitable host in every state, using criteria like 100% five-star ratings in the categories of cleanliness, check-in and communication, with a minimum of 100 reviews. Only 310 hosts in the U.S. achieved that standard (Airbnb features around 660,000 listings in the U.S.). If a state had multiple hosts eligible, the list narrowed further by highest number of reviews.

In Illinois, the top-ranked hospitable host was the owner of The Guest House in Galena, a cozy space with blue accents and rustic décor owned by James and Josephine Asta. The couple, who live on the property, first listed the place in 2017 after using it partly as an art studio or a place for band practice.

“We were totally nervous when our first guest showed up for the first time,” James Asta said. “We went overboard trying to scrutinize every detail, making sure they enjoyed it.”

Starting at an average of $127 per night, the one-bedroom advertises cozy comforts in Galena’s historic district.

Being thoughtful as a host is even more important in the post-pandemic world, noted the Emily Post Institute in its post-COVID-19 etiquette advice. For example, whether it’s a professional host or a family offering a spare room, the Emily Post experts suggest asking about comfort levels.

Communication is key. “You really can’t overcommunicate,” James Asta said. “You always want to be proactive and communicate anything ahead of time. Do not surprise your guests unless it is pleasant.” Plus, creating two-way communication helps in case they need to tell you something. “If there’s a spill, or something broken,” he said, you want to know. After people depart, the Astas ask what could make the stay better — and act on those tips. For example, they added a fan when someone noted it would be nice in the bedroom.

Think of what you enjoy while traveling. Although they had never stayed in a rental before becoming hosts themselves, the Astas knew what they liked on a couple’s weekend getaway. Good coffee, for example. “That’s very important to us when we travel,” James Asta said. So they provide pour-over coffee from a Galena roaster. Before first offering their space, they thought about who their guests might be and how they would enjoy the location. They went with a bed-and-breakfast-type atmosphere, providing biscuits and other treats.

Be proactively thoughtful. “We try to provide things that somebody might need if they forget to bring with, say something like an umbrella,” James Asta said. In the winter, as a nicety, he will offer car rides up the hill they live on for anyone walking back from town. Once when it rained an entire weekend that guests were in town, the Astas brought in board games, yoga mats and DVDs.

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July 21, 2021 at 06:46AM

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