Dispatches from SxSW, Part 7: Are You a Good Guest or a Vexing Visitor?

by Joey deVilla on March 12, 2012

A Special Guest Post from Hilary Robinson

Hilary Robinson has style, grace and panache, which makes me wonder why she hangs out with a questionable character such as Yours Truly. I’ve known that she’s a world-travelling event planner extraordinaire for a long time, but only recently discovered that she also has her own business, MAJ Communications, a company that specializes in teaching business etiquette. If you’re a young entrepreneur looking to cut a deal with “suits” but don’t know the protocol, how to speak to them or are always wondering which fork to use at a business lunch, Hilary can help you! Take a look at her site, or if you prefer, drop me a line and I’ll introduce you to her.

As I write this, I’m staying at a condo that I’m renting via AirBnB. I suggested to Hilary that she should write an article about AirBnB guest etiquette, since it’s a relatively new frontier for good manners. She was only too happy to oblige, and the end result is below. If you’re booking a place to stay through AirBnB, make sure you read this!

Are You a Good Guest or a Vexing Visitor?

For this year’s SxSW Joey, with his usual flair for keeping things fresh and interesting, is skipping the typical hotel room and trying out AirBnB.com  – a space finding service that connects hosts who have spaces to rent with guests who are looking for a unique travel experience.  The service places guests in private homes (with or without the owners there) so it encourages host and guest to build a connection through social media, and relies on feedback and recommendations – all this got Joey and I talking about the merits of being a good guest.

So, whether you’re staying with friends, family or a in rental property, these few dos and don’ts will get you asked back or get good feedback…

Do…tell your host what time you will arrive – give them your itinerary if your trip involves planes, trains, etc.

Don’t…be late.  If you are, find a way to let everyone know.

Do…bring a little something for your host – it shows you appreciate the invitation.  Kitsch or useful; extravagant or simple; edible, drinkable or decorative…it doesn’t matter as long as it’s thoughtful.

Don’t…drink the house dry (ok, depending on the friends and circumstances this might fall under a “try not to…”).

Do…bring a bottle or two…not the cheap stuff.

Do…offer to help – cook if you’re good at it, do the dishes if you’re not.

Do…make your bed (and make your mother proud).

Do…take the dog for a quick walk or amuse the kids for half an hour to give your host a break.

Don’t…forget that your host has gone to some effort to feed, water and entertain you….so don’t treat their home as a hotel.

Do…treat your host to a night off – cook, order in or take them out.

Don’t…leave a trail of destruction behind you.

Do…tidy the bathroom after your morning makeup or shave.

Do…leave your room/space neat and tidy when you finally leave.

Don’t…outstay your welcome.

Do…if you have the room, reciprocate the invitation.

Don’t…Don’t…Don’t…forget to say thank you!

DO…DO…DO…send a thank you note (handwritten!) at the very least – even better: send a bouquet of flowers or small gift basket filled with favourite nibbles and tipples.

Do…apply the above to rentals and rental hosts as well.

Remember to…up the ante if you’re staying for longer than a couple of nights.

It’s not an exhaustive list but it’s a start – and if you combine these suggestions with your own flair then not only will you be a great guest, a virtuous visitor, and considerate company but you’ll have a good time and be asked back!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gabriel Mansour March 13, 2012 at 6:01 am

Thank you for posting this, Hilary/Joey! As I write this, I’m currently in the process of looking up a place to stay in New York on AirBnB, and this list will most definitely prove very useful!

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