As a service that works closely with many different people, from hosts to housekeepers to handymen and guests, there’s always a lot going on behind the scenes at Houst.
We caught up with three team members – Karl from Guest Experience, Jenn from Supplier Management and Sophie from Client Success – to find out more about them and what their working day looks like in the world’s largest host management business.
Confident, outgoing, fun.
My role is to ensure that guests have a safe, easy experience when they stay at one of our hosts’ properties. This can include check-ins, issues with amenities in properties, or just sharing suggestions for fun activities to do in the local area: restaurants, local attractions, and a few hidden gems.
We always have the interests of our hosts in mind. Guest experience is the name of our team, but really our role sits between our hosts and their guests. For example, there are some occasions when a guest will ask about something that would improve their stay, but we’ll always consider whether something could affect a property or a host negatively in future before saying yes.
There’s a genuine satisfaction in actually helping people. I once had someone call us in tears on the phone to me because they were tired after travelling, their phone was about to die, and they were having trouble finding the lockbox to a property. It was an easy problem to fix, but I could hear the relief in her voice once she was in the property – such a great feeling!
One of the hardest parts is communication. It’s true that guests can sometimes be difficult, but that’s part of the job. If I’d just arrived somewhere after 24 hours of travelling and the hot water wasn’t working or something, I’d be annoyed too! It’s understandable that people are upset sometimes, but making sure we communicate in the right way can solve a lot of these issues quickly. It’s something we’re pretty good at too, and that’s amazing – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
I did acting for a long time, so I’d say performance. It’s because of this that I really enjoy speaking in front of people and meeting new people, I think.
Personally, I’m the sort of person who, when I’m booking somewhere, I’m booking somewhere to sleep. I’ll be out most of the day exploring, so as long as the place is clean I’m happy!
Generally, we try not to get in contact with hosts unless it’s absolutely necessary – we don’t want to waste people’s time. But if we do get in contact, it means it’s probably pretty important or urgent.
I’d advise hosts to do their best to respond quickly when we do get in touch. And if you take a few extra minutes to fill out your preferences in the host dashboard, that will mean we won’t need to contact you about anything unless it’s important. Doing that makes such a big difference in how effectively we can support your guests!
Ah there was this one really nice review that a guest left. It was shared internally with the rest of the business on Slack, which was really nice as I got to enjoy a bit of recognition from both the guest and the team!
I’d probably be repairing and selling watches. I was repairing watches for a year or two before I started at Houst – I liked that it was customer-facing. Come to think of it, that’s what I really like about Houst too!
Energetic, positive, quick.
I look after the housekeepers. I make sure that they’re trained well, they have everything they need to complete their cleans effectively, and that we have enough housekeepers to meet the demand for cleans, all year round.
We spend a lot of time coaching housekeepers. We’re constantly speaking to them before, during and after their cleans, in order to help them do the best job possible. So support and training definitely aren’t lacking when it comes to Houst’s housekeeping!
Engaging with the housekeepers. Getting to meet them in person, learn what makes them tick outside of their job, and maintaining good relationships with them over time.
Managing the schedules over 200 cleaners in London alone! It’s difficult, but we have a great team – so we always pull it off.
Tap dancing! I used to do tap, jazz and ballet in my past life.
Cosiness: a place that looks welcoming and doesn’t feel too sterile. I like quirkiness too – interesting books or paintings, something that shows a bit of the host’s personality and makes the property feel more human.
It can be easy to forget that housekeepers will be visiting your property between each guest. As a host, it’s really important that after you’ve been staying in a property yourself, you make sure that it is suitably restocked with everything the housekeepers need to do their jobs brilliantly.
Sometimes the housekeepers that I coach will come into the office, or I’ll run into them in London – I love that! They’ll give me a hug sometimes; it’s like they’re my buddies!
I’d be working with refugees and migrants – I have a heart for humanitarian aid, and I’ve done a lot of volunteering at refugee camps which was really eye-opening. Sad to see in person, but interesting too.
Happy, friendly, kind.
I’m the point of contact for my hosts and I’m responsible for looking after their properties when they’re being rented out. I keep a watchful eye on the condition of properties, make sure they’re performing well, and I’m available to answer any questions my hosts have.
We want what’s best for you! Houst earns from commission, so it’s in our interests to make sure you are looked after and your property is earning you money. We only succeed when our hosts do.
Going and meeting people at their properties – I love building good relationships with my hosts and finding out all the unique things about their properties. Face to face is my favourite way to get to know my hosts properly.
The hardest part is speaking to a host if something hasn’t gone quite right. The reality with hosting, and host management in general, is that there are lots of people involved: guests, housekeepers, guest support, maintenance people, hosts and more. As with other parts of the hospitality industry, like restaurants for example, no matter how well you prepare there’s always a chance that human error can occur. Dealing with these unexpected issues can be a real challenge, but it’s also so rewarding when an issue is resolved satisfyingly for everyone involved.
I do life drawing! I’m just really good at drawing naked bodies. I don’t know why.
I see an Airbnb as a home away from home, so you can really get a feel for what it’s like to live somewhere else for a couple of nights. I look for good decor – to me, that’s somewhere that is a bit quirky with cool art, nice furniture… A nice environment to spend time in. A bit of an aspirational feel too, perhaps!
Trust the service. We look after peoples’ property, something that’s both very valuable and very personal, every single day – and we really do have your best interests at heart. It’s important to us that you feel confident with us looking after your property.
I think my favourite moment is ‘Superhost Day’. This comes about once every three months, and it’s when Airbnb send emails to let us know which of our hosts have become Superhosts. I get to email lots of hosts and let them know the good news, that they’ve become Superhosts!
I’d be travelling every continent of the world, having a good old adventure!