Katie had a bad experience. After about 2 weeks in one of my rooms, she had itchiness on her body, which we were initially unsure the cause of.
She asked to cancel her reservation and I told her that the guest can initiate cancellation through airbnb. She did so, and any unused time of stay was refunded to her and she left that afternoon.
I contacted a professional pest control company and they offered a free inspection. I personally accompanied their technician during the inspection of my entire house. During the inspection we discovered a very small amount of bed bugs in the box spring, not in the mattress of the bed where Katie was staying. We also found a few bed bugs in one of my other rooms. At that point, we decided on a thorough treatment plan where the entire house would be sprayed at least twice and the affected areas would be sprayed three times. At a cost of about $1300.
I believe that my pricing for my rooms is too low and my terms are too easy. Bed bugs are an epidemic that I have been highly concerned about being contaminated with, as I simply accept my guests warmly and hope they are not bringing in bed bugs. However, I am encouraged when I see how effective proper pest control treatment is. But, In order to maintain a high enough standard to deliver a bed bug free room I will need to have more strict policies as well as higher prices.
The simple reality is that you can't have short term stays at low rates. If you are having short terms stays you have a large number of people coming and going and a higher probability of getting bed bugs. Bed bugs don't eat garbage or people food. They hitch-hike in on a person from an infested location.
Even 3 months is a relatively short stay but the majority of my stays are the minimum 1 month that I offer. If you call this an average of 2 month stay on the 4 rooms that I offer this is 24 people per year. That's a lot of people. Just imagine for the host that has people staying only 4 or 5 days at a time!!!
This is the simple reality. One month stays need to be on the order of $800+, One week stays, if I offered them will have to be on the order of $300+. Even 3 month stays I don't see how I should even be doing it for under $700+/mo. But most importantly, Guests coming in will need to have all their belongings inspected and be of an extremely neat and organized nature, with very little excess belongings coming into the rooms. This combined with regular preventative spraying perhaps once a year or every 6 months should keep the house pest free.
And furthermore, how much cleaning do you really expect a host to be able to provide for guests staying for $400 to $500 per month? Can we really be expected to dust, vacuum, wash your bedsheets, mop the floors, scrub the toilets on an ongoing basis for that price? There is definetly an unrealistic expectation of some guests in terms of price and that's why my prices are going up and my terms are getting more strict! I will need a larger budget in order to constantly clean up after people.
My house will stay clean and empty unless I get the price and terms I want, because the alternative is impossible: I cannot lose $7000 worth of income at my regular job to get $400 worth of hosting income. I cannot spend $1000 worth of time and energy on a guest that pays me $400.
Lastly, in conclusion, I have spent $1300 on a whole house treatment program that will spray my entire house at least twice and the infected areas will be sprayed a full three times. And I have the receipt to prove it. And I have already devoted many whole days to overseeing this treatment and prepare for it.
I consider myself a highly credible host who understands the concept of value and pricing, economic forces, but also convenience, innovation, flexibility and quality.