10 October 2016

Balloon Fiesta and Our AirBnB Experience

Yesterday was the final morning of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Last year I spent all but two days at the event working. This year I worked a lot of hours so that others could enjoy the event. We attended on Thursday morning, the first day of Fall Break when all the kids are out of school. It was painful to get up at 4 a.m. but definitely worth it to be able to park right at the event.

image by kalanicut

We had planned to go to the evening glow on Saturday night but it was raining and we were tired and in the end the glow was cancelled due to weather, so we were glad we chose to stay home and watch a movie, even though we were bummed we didn't get to an evening event this year. This was a good lesson for me to remember when advising travelers about coming to Fiesta. It does sometimes rain and sometimes activities are cancelled. Last year we had very good luck. This year several events were cancelled. So if visitors come for two days and they hit a bad weather patch they might not get to experience much. I'm recommending from now on at least three days, just to make sure travelers don't make a trip of a lifetime and then not see much in the way of balloons in flight.

We opened up our AirBnB townhouse (see the link in the left column here) for potential lodgers the week before Balloon Fiesta and within 72 hours we were booked for the event. We ended up having four groups stay which meant we had to clean and prep the townhouse five times from start to finish. I have a totally new respect for hotel housekeeping staffs now and I will always think twice about staining the hotels white towels with makeup or other gunk.

I have to say this unexpectedly has been a fantastic opportunity to teach our kiddo about hard work, a family business and what it takes to make money. She has been very involved on the days when we were cleaning and she was not in school. While it was at times challenging to keep her involved and work through a lack of enthusiasm at times, I think her eyes were definitely opened to how hard parents work to support their families. I think it was fun for her to learn about AirBnB and feel a part of a business venture. It truly is a family run business!

We came up with a system that seemed to work for us. First task was to grab all the towels, work on stain removal and then get them in the wash as fast as possible. That was always the thing that took the longest, the washing and drying of the towels. Then we would strip the beds and put on the spare, clean sheets and remake the beds. Nest we'd clean the bathrooms, then the kitchen, then do a dusting and sweeping of the entire unit. The last thing we did was grab the dry towels out of the dryer and restock the bathrooms. In the future we'll invest in more towels so that we aren't dependent on the four nice white sets for the two bathrooms. But for this first AirBnB effort, we really wanted to keep our investment costs down and buying four extra sets of sheets so that we could easily trade off was a big investment. I really believe that time is money and the longer it takes us to prep the house the more money the less profit we make so we are working on efficiencies that will help us get things done faster and smarter.

Before Balloon Fiesta began I put together a nice gift bag of snacks wrapped in cellophane with a handmade Welcome To ABQ sign tied to each one for the four groups who were coming. It was great to get this done in advance and now we will just keep a few made up bags on hand all the time. We included salty snacks like chips, a little chocolate, some simple shortbread type cookies, small fruit candies, and granola bars they could take on the run. We put that on a pretty tray in the kitchen so they would find it when they came in, along with coffee cups, water bottles and napkins. We also stocked the fridge with a few cold water bottles. For three dollars a flat, we felt having a nice supply of a few bottles of water was a great and inexpensive benefit for our guests.

It usually took us about two hours to get all the work done, but each day we would try to do a couple of extra jobs that needed to be done on a less daily basis like fixing up the boards on the deck, updating lightbulbs to LED, repainting door trim, etc. It was hard, tiring, dirty, sweaty work but it sure was fun to go over as each family checked out and read the messages they left for us in our guestbook, and see their positive reviews on the AirBnB website. 

Each group said they wanted to come back, had a wonderful time staying at the townhouse and would recommend us to friends and family. We've had more inquiries and are considering long term rental options as well. But it's been a very positive experience so far and we are officially AirBnB hosts which is pretty fun.

After a couple of weeks of Balloon Fiesta work taking up my time, I trying a new work plan starting tomorrow. I have created a schedule that all the family has access to of my work hours. This way I can block out time that won't get interrupted by things like tax preparations we've worked on recently and other projects that can take me away from my business building during the week. Today I have a full day of work hours which I am excited about. I am going to work on product creation, some office organizing and online store preparations. I am excited to focus on those efforts and I hope that having a blocked out schedule will make it easier on my family to be able to plan for projects and activities around that. I'll report back on how it's working. Hope you have a great week!

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