Money isn’t everything.
Yes, there’s money coming in. You also have money going out and are learning how to manage the cash flow. How do you build your business? Do you buy everything you need at once or over time? What do you insource or outsource? These are questions every small business owner must ask themselves, and as a host, you are literally running your own business.
Whether it’s picking up photography tricks or learning about features guests want, putting together your ad will teach you how to market. You have to decide who your target market is, and learn how to speak their language. As guests come and go, you’ll learn about the kind of guest you want to host, and will continue to edit your ad throughout your hosting experience. This will give you plenty of practice, and up your marketing skills. These skills are transferable to other areas of your life, like when you market yourself for a new job.
Sometimes guests are rude, demanding, or needy. Sometimes people you meet or work with are rude, demanding, or needy. The communication skills you develop are transferable, and are sharpened with practice. I’ve noticed my patience with coworkers has increased dramatically, which can only mean good things when bonuses come around.
Either you will learn fast, or your listing will die while you’re trying. You can’t skimp when it comes to the major stuff, like a clean bathroom and clean sheets. You have to be welcoming. One bad review won’t break you, but a half dozen you didn’t learn from will be a missed opportunity (both personally and financially, because guests do stop coming if all the reviews were poor).
There is more than one way to solve a guest’s problem. Whether it’s keeping backup sheets, buying extra towels up front, or keeping spare lightbulbs in the closet, hosting teaches you how to think forward to anticipate guests’ needs and prepare for them. You also learn which problems are easily fixable or DIY-able, and who to keep on speed dial. This mindset carries into the rest of your life. I’ve found myself better anticipating my boss’s future needs, and working to answer the questions before they are even asked. It’s one thing to ask yourself “what else do I think they’ll need” every once in a while before a meeting, but it’s entirely another to practice the skill regularly with guests. The more you practice, and the more opportunities you have to learn, the better you are.
It may not seem like this belongs, but your house is an unlikely target when guests come and go at random hours. It also means that often there’s someone home, even if you’re at work during the day.
It could be argued the other way. Guests are still strangers, or they may leave the door unlocked. However, if you practice minimalism and have a lock on your bedroom door for while you’re sleeping, there won’t be much (if anything) of value that’s in an open area anyway, and you can always file a claim with the resolution center should there be financial damage.
When you are living alone, especially if you’ve just uprooted your life and moved across the country, then sometimes it’s nice to have other bodies under the same roof, regardless of whether or not you know them. It can make you feel a little less alone in the world.
It can be fun to meet all sorts of people who will walk through your door. Some people are fun and want to hang out (whether or not you have time), while others want to do their own thing. It all depends on the guests.
Free Food and Beverages
While still in line with financial benefits, I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention my favorite perk of hosting. It’s usually a nice surprise to find fresh unopened packages of goodies left behind, and often it’s high-quality delicious edibles. People regularly leave behind cans and bottles from local microbreweries, since you can’t take liquids on the plane. I’ve had plenty of leftover beverages on hand for game nights, parties and entertaining friends, and it’s cool to offer an assortment that was no cost to me. I’ve actually had to just give beer away to friends multiple times to make room in the fridge for the next guests.
I still wouldn’t do it without getting paid...
But clearly there are plenty of additional benefits.