Emily Collins-Ellis is a Senior Advisor to the philanthropy sector and an Airbnb ‘Superhost’. She lives with her wife in south London, regularly renting out their spare room on Airbnb. We spoke to Emily about her experiences as an Airbnb host, her tips for anyone thinking of becoming one themselves – and how Klevio has made hosting a whole lot easier.
Emily, can you start by telling us how you came to be an Airbnb Superhost?
Five years ago my wife and I bought a two-bedroom apartment in Southwark in south London. Obviously living in London is very expensive, so we decided to try renting out our spare room on Airbnb to make some extra money. We weren’t married at the time, but after we got engaged we tried to really push our home on Airbnb to help pay for the wedding, and by virtue of welcoming so many guests and making a real effort to get 5-star reviews we achieved Superhost status.
How did you manage key exchanges before Klevio?
It was really challenging. There were a couple of times when we left a key in a lock box, when there was no way we could be home, and it was a bit alarming to do that in Central London. It even meant that sometimes we’d lose out on bookings because we’d have to be very specific about check-in times as it had to be after we got home from work.
Then if we had evening plans, or the guests couldn’t be specific about the time they were arriving, it would sometimes mean them having to wait outside the house, or having to come home early from events. It really wasn’t ideal and it just didn’t feel very secure either.
Do you use Klevio to let guests check in themselves?
We let people check in when we’re not there if they want to, and we’re much more comfortable doing that now we have Klevio. But for the most part, we still prefer to be in to welcome people and give them a tour around the house. If we do give them a physical key then it’s after check in. It kind of depends on their needs too. But Klevio has enabled us to make plans based on our convenience, rather than have to arrange our lives around guests.
Going back to when you got Klevio, how did you find out about the product and where you specifically looking for a remote access solution at the time?
I’d been looking for a remote access option pretty much since we moved in, I’m very much a ‘tech’ person and I’m always looking for the latest thing to make our home more automated. We’d been trying to think how we could hack our intercom, and other DIY solutions to make it more convenient, especially for letting people in when we’re not there. And then I found out about Klevio through an Instagram advert, so it was very well targeted! I went for the beta test because I thought it was something that could work for us, and I’m very glad I did.
Has anything about the product taken you by surprise?
One of the things we’ve used it for that I didn’t necessarily think about is to let people in other than guests and deliveries. For example, we often use a website called Flat Llama which is essentially an Airbnb for items, so you rent out things you’re not using, like drills or cameras. And when people come to pick things up or drop them off, it can be really logistically challenging to make sure we’re in when they want you to be. So having Klevio has enabled us to just buzz them into our building remotely and then have them leave the items in a safe place.
Also, the one feature I’m very excited about and that first attracted me to Klevio is being able to use our intercom remotely, see who’s buzzing at our apartment on the phone, and if it’s the postman for example we can then let them.
How would you summarise the main benefits of Klevio?
Convenience and control. Being able to share keys with people who are staying with us without worrying about security gives us back so much control. Also, it’s just impressive! Even for myself, if I walk in with somebody and buzz myself in without getting my keys out, I always get comments about how cool that is. So it’s a nice little personal experience as well…
Finally, do you have any tips for someone thinking of hosting on Airbnb?
I would say the number one thing is being really clear about what experience it is that you’re offering, to avoid a mismatch of expectations. Some guests will come expecting a ‘sofa surfing’ experience where they’ll get to know you, chat loads, and spend lots of time with you, whereas others are just looking for somewhere to lay down after sight-seeing or visiting family. The difference in those two expectations can really effect someone’s experience.
And then also just be crystal clear with instructions, don’t assume that anyone will figure out exactly what you expect of them in terms of putting dishes away, cleaning windows, etc. Finally, try to remember you’re not a hotel and people are often using Airbnb to escape the hotel experience. So make sure you’re warm and welcoming.