Hosting guests can be fun. “You not only gain extra money, but also friendship, knowledge, experience and inspiration,” said Bee Hooi Sain, 39. Together with her husband Daren Lim, also 39, and their five-year-old son Ken Jee, Bee has been an Airbnb host since March last year.
It all started when they holidayed in Europe in 2014.
“We came across Airbnb and found that it is a cheaper accommodation option which also met our family needs, i.e. can do laundry (a must for travelling with a kid). We booked most of our accommodation via Airbnb for our 21-day trip,” Bee recalls.
So inspired were they by the whole experience that, even before they returned from vacation, they were already planning for their house makeover as a homestay. They added a loft – with three extra bedrooms – to their single-storey terrace house, and fitted the whole house with digital locks and switches. To allow more interaction between them and their guests, the space downstairs sported an open concept for the living hall, dining area and kitchen.
As they both have full-time jobs in financial institutions, hosting is a part-time pursuit.
“We wish to host guests from around the world, and provide them a safe, comfy yet budget stay in Malaysia,” said Bee, when I met her at her home in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“Sometimes we take our guests out for meals or show them around.
“If time permits, we pick our guests up from the nearest LRT or bus station, without charging extra.
“When we go back to our hometown Penang, once a month, we invite our guests to come along. They can stay at our parents’ home. We take them around so that they can get to know the place – and the food!”
Besides providing a washing machine for the guests’ use, Bee also offers assorted snacks and drinks. They also recommend popular foods that are available within walking distance from their house, which is conveniently located near the LRT Paramount station.
“By hosting guests from around the world, we have opportunities to ‘explore’ the world and learn from their travels. We meet many interesting people and enjoy conversations with them about life, travel, Malaysia, and so on.”
Their young son, too, enjoys interacting with the guests, and likes sharing stories with them.
It is not surprising that some guests end up being their friends. One such person even painted a mural on their living room wall.
“Our guest from France painted a stunning picture of the Eiffel Tower at the entrance. This has become our feature wall,” said Bee, smiling.
From ordinary Airbnb host, she aimed for and achieved Superhost status.
“Airbnb hosting can be a profitable business if you manage it well. When we say Airbnb hosting is fun, it is like saying that taking care of the baby is fun. You need time, patience and passion to nurture the business.”