3 ways hosting on Airbnb changed my life
Back in 2013 I had decided that I wanted to leave The Netherlands, the country where I was born and raised. Both my parents are from the Cape Verde islands, and I felt that for me, that was where I needed to be.
I wanted to get to know the country better, spend much more time with my family and support small local social initiatives through my foundation. *
After a few years of regular visits to the country my decision to move to Mindelo still came as a surprise, even for myself.
Since I didn’t feel like waiting any longer than I really had to, it meant that things for me went completely different compared to how other people would prepare for this huge step. I had no plan, would have no income, but I just trusted that things would work out for me.
Soon after arriving in Mindelo I set up a first listing on Airbnb, without knowing how important this would end up being. Here’s how hosting changed my life:
1. It gave me a great start
Mindelo is not a place known for its job opportunities. The city has a high number of unemployed people. I knew I wanted to start my own 'project', but I was not sure how or where to start. When a friend of my mother told me about an apartment she owned which she used to rent out to tourists and visitors, I knew right away hosting was something I had to try out for myself.
Within two weeks of listing the apartment on Airbnb I had my first booking! I was very happy and excited, and now I truly believed that my adventure would not be a dissapointing one. The pressure fell of my shoulders, because it was so important for me to be working and to create my own income.
2. Meeting the right people
One of the best things about hosting on Airbnb is the fact that you get to meet great from all over the world. A lot of times these people are well traveled, adventurous and happy to share their stories. Since I was not traveling myself, I would love to hear about their travel experiences, and we would talk about the destinations on our travel to do list.
Sharing my love for Cape Verde with visitors who were truly interested in learning more about life in the country, felt very good and opened my eyes even more to the type of tourism I want to see in Cape Verde.
In a developing country where a big part of tourism generates little income for its citizens, people traveling independently and booking through peer-to-peer websites such as Airbnb can make a difference.
I was also lucky enough to meet a few people who where self-employed. People who thaught me a couple of things about being an entrepreneur by sharing amazing advise. These guests definitely played a part in the decisions I would later make in my journey as a host and beyond. They opened my eyes to the possibilities of creating an online business, and about raising the bar.
3. I learned how to run a business
At first 'the job' was just for fun. It was helping me figure out what it exactly was that I wanted to do with my time in Cape Verde. I felt that I was doing something valuable with my time, the people I met were all very nice and kind, and I loved every commission I earned because it felt like it was all my work.
But I didn't realize that I was actually in the process of setting up my own business. After a few months of hosting I began seeing that this could really become a full time thing. I was getting more and more bookings, and needed to find more available rentals due to the many requests during high season.
Hosting thaught my how to think like a business owner. When adding new rentals I needed to negotiate so I could have good margins. I started thinking about ways I could up-sell and cross sell to my guests by offering them additional services. I learned that I should always be thinking long term to achieve certain goals.
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Freddy Gomes was one of the early multiple listing hosts in Cape Verde. He still hosts today. He’s an online marketer, working on his own projects related to travel in Cape Verde, but also has other clients such as SimplyDealsTravel.com.
He also runs a small Non-Profit Foundataion called Sonvela
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