This week let’s meet Carol 😊
Carol Despeaux Fawcett lives in Poulsbo, Washington in the United States. Poulsbo is a cute Norwegian-themed small town on Liberty Bay. She is an award-winning poet and writer, a business owner in the health and wellness industry, and an amateur photographer who also loves to cook, ride her motorcycle, and spend time in nature.
Carol has an apartment with stunning views of the Poulsbo marina and the Olympic mountains. Centrally located on Kitsap Peninsula with easy day trips to Seattle, Port Townsend, and the Olympics and one block away from town with famous Sluys bakery and galleries. She has been hosting for the last 4 years and she is a super host at Airbnb and a premier host at Vrbo.
Let’s hear her story! 🔊
So, Carol, tell us, how long have you been hosting for? How and why did you start? How many properties do you manage?
I’ve been hosting for 4 years. I have one property that I manage—the bottom part of my home that is totally private with a private entrance. I started hosting after my husband died. Several friends suggested I get a roommate to help with expenses but I’m a writer and poet and I have an online health business, so I work from home. Plus, I enjoy my privacy so the idea of having a roommate didn’t appeal to me. My son suggested doing a vacation rental and I was intrigued by the idea. A friend helped me finish the downstairs of my home and helped me with décor ideas and—voila!—my new business was born.
Are you an owner or a manager? Is this a part-time or full-time occupation for you?
I own my home and manage the space myself. I have my home open year-round, so I’d consider it full-time though it does slow down a bit in the winter months. I also run an online health and wellness business.
What is the best thing about hosting, and what are the biggest problems you face?
My absolute favorite thing about hosting is providing a nurturing environment for my guests to relax in. Before each guest arrives, I say a little blessing in the space, “May anyone who enters here feel deeply loved and supported.” It may sound corny, but I think our intentions are powerful. I love it when my guests tell me how rejuvenated they feel after leaving my space. My second favorite thing is meeting awesome people from all over the world.
My biggest problem really has nothing to do with my guests but finding good cleaners who don’t mind my small job. Understandably, cleaners usually prefer the big jobs so sometimes it’s hard to find someone who just wants to come clean for an hour or so.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started hosting?
When I first started hosting, I was pretty nervous about being a single woman hosting strangers in my home! If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to relax—that people are usually good and nice and helpful. I’ve even had several people over the years who, when they saw me unloading heavy groceries from my car, asked if I needed any help. People are great!
What is the most important advice/tip you would give someone interested in becoming a short-term rental host?
I’ll share a piece of advice a friend gave me when I was getting my space ready. She said that whatever piece of furniture I put in my space, to make sure I was comfortable in it.
She said many places she had stayed in had old furniture or garage sale-type furnishings in their rentals that weren’t very comfortable. That advice stuck with me so everything in my space—from artwork to books to furnishings—are things that I absolutely love. I’ve had several guests message me after staying to ask what brand mattress I have because they found it so comfortable.
Also, I thought about the theme and environment I wanted to create. As a writer, I know how important setting is. I have a water and Northwest theme to my décor that reflects where I live. The space is nicely decorated but still has a simple, clean feel to it. I also added some special lighting to add to the romantic vibe I wanted. And I leave a goodie bowl of some Norwegian and international treats from our local businesses.
I also display some of my poetry and photography in the space and leave my book of poetry, “The Dragon and The Dragonfly” on the coffee table. These personal touches make my guests feel like they are enjoying someone’s home instead of a stark hotel room.
Besides Syncbnb, are there any tools, devices, or software (eg. Remote keylocks, cameras, local guide apps, power meters, etc) you use? What is your experience with them?
First, let me just say that thanks to the Syncbnb platform, I no longer have a problem with double bookings. That has happened a few times in the past and it was so stressful! Now, I have no stress with Syncbnb and I really appreciate how FAST your customer service is on chat.
The other thing I couldn’t live without is my Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt lock. It’s a keyed lock that I control from my phone, and it has saved me many times! I change door codes between each guest and don’t have to mess with a key. Just the other day, I was out-of-town, and a guest texted me that she forgot to lock the door when they went out with friends. I was able to lock it from my phone for her!
Which channels do you list on? How much has your revenue increased since listing on multiple channels?
I list on Vrbo and Airbnb. I started with Airbnb but since adding Vrbo, my listings have more than doubled. I am booked solid in the summer months. And each year I book more and more nights.
Besides listing on multiple channels, what other things can a host do to increase his/her bookings and revenue?
I purchased my own domain name to make it easier to market and it’s easier for people to remember.
I made up some simple flyers with a picture and the benefits of my place. I gave them to friends around town who own businesses and I put them up on a few bulletin boards. I also belong to my town’s local FB group where once a month they have a space for local businesses to post their links.
Go to your local wedding venues and tell them about your space. My space has a romantic vibe, so I talk that aspect up and let them know I have a perfect spot for newlyweds. Ask if you can leave some flyers. If they have a protocol for that, they will let you know what to do.
Wherever I go—even if it’s to the doctor’s office—I tell people I have a vacation rental overlooking the water in downtown Poulsbo. Develop one sentence that tells something unique about your space. People are ALWAYS interested and ask questions. That’s my opportunity to share.
You can find out more about Carol’s property here:
Here are some photos to give you a better vision of Carol’s property (click for larger versions) 🧐