Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sell most of what you own and live the life of a digital nomad? Jasper’s guest this week is Eli David who has been a digital nomad since 2010. Eli says he lived a pretty “normal” lifestyle until life threw him a couple of curve balls. Eli was fired from a job and lost a serious relationship around the same time and it was then he decided to change his life in dramatic fashion.

In the past 6 years, Eli has lived in over 30 countries while visiting more than 60! Because of this Eli has a unique perspective on what a makes a good Airbnb Pad and host. Listen in as Eli explains what he looks for when booking a place on Airbnb or other similar platforms!

Some of the topics covered

Eli’s Life before 2010

  • Accountant
  • “normal” life in one location

Eli’s Transition to being a digital nomad

  • Fired from job
  • Relationship ended

His travel pattern today

  • Stays in the same place for two months
  • Visited more than 60 countries so far (lived in 30)

The challenges of being a digital Nomad

What Eli looks for in a short-term rental

  • Co-working space nearby
  • Fast Internet
  • At least one review (usually more)

Eli’s experience with Airbnb, Booking.com &  couchsurfing.com

  • Airbnb tends to be the most expensive

Why Eli doesn’t like to use couchsurfing.com

What Eli looks for in a host and why the right fit is so important

Connect with Eli

becomenomad.com

Resources Mentioned

Become Nomad Podcast

Connect with Jasper

Email: jasper@getpaidforyourpad.com

Twitter: @GetPaidForUrPad

Instagram: @GetPaidForYourPad 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/getpaidforyourpad

This episode is sponsored by Hostfully.com !

 

Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 117

Welcome to Get Paid For Your Pad, the definitive show on Airbnb hosting, featuring the best advice on how to maximize profits from your Airbnb listing, as well as real-life experiences from Airbnb hosts all over the world. Welcome

Jasper:

This episode is brought to you by Hostfully, a company that helps you make beautiful guidebooks for your listing. Make your own at hostfully.com/pad, and a special for Get Paid For Your Pad listeners, you’ll get a free guidebook consultation after you make your guidebook.

Jasper:

Welcome back, everybody, Get Paid For Your Pad, another episode.

And today, we’re not talking to an Airbnb host. We’re talking to a guest, a user of the Airbnb platform, because I like to mix it up sometimes. I also think it’s important to get the perspective of the Airbnb user because, at the end of the day, that’s our customer. And who better to talk to than somebody who’s been traveling for over six years and has been staying at lots of different Airbnbs, who has lots of experience with Airbnb as a traveler? He’s from Israel and his name is Eli David.

So, Eli, welcome to the show.

Eli:

Jasper, thanks for inviting me. It’s a pleasure.

Jasper:

Pleasure to speak to you, sir.

You’ve been traveling since 2010, just like me, so I’m very curious to know what your story is. Why did you start traveling, and what did your life look like before you started traveling?

Eli:

Yeah, that’s a question that always comes up, as to what happened with the transition

So, I was actually an accountant before 2010, like the most boring style and normal template life there is, and I enjoyed it, as well. But, you know, sometimes when you stay in the same location for a long time, you get a little bit of thoughts, so, “Am I spending my life in the right way or not?” and so on and so on. And, basically, I had a few attachments. Those are the things, you know, that keep you in the same place, basically a relationship and a very solid career. And in 2009, I think, I lost both of them in pretty much the same month, and both of them didn’t really work out. I got fired, my relationship broke, and then I kind of figured out that I had a nice opportunity to do something different and kind of make lemonade out of lemon. And then, I told myself, “Okay, let’s try something else.”

And, you know, the Internet has become such an amazing phenomenon that you can now work remotely, and I basically told myself, “Okay, let’s try a different lifestyle.” I wasn’t sure I’m going to do it for a long time, but it’s going over for over six years already, and I’m what you can call a digital nomad. I’m traveling between locations. Usually, I stay two months in one place and change to another place, and that means I’ve been living, in the last six years, in more than 30 countries, traveled to more than 60, and lived in more than 30.

Jasper:

Very cool.

So, let’s backtrack a little bit. So, you lost your job, then your girlfriend ran away. It sounds like true love to me.

Eli:

It was. It was. But, yeah, yeah, it was a very interesting story, and all in the same month. That’s why I understood that it was a good sign of…

Jasper:

Was that a coincidence or were the two related?

Eli:

Oh, that’s a good one. No, they were not related, and they were not related at all, but the timing was all in the same place. But, you know, I’m thinking about it. I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m thinking that when I had the two of them, the job and the girlfriend, and I was always thinking that this is not really the life I wanted. In a way, I was kind of happy, satisfied with them, but I always thought to myself, “You know what? If you would live your life like you really would want to live your life, this would not be your situation.”

And, I think that, in a way, when you think about it, things happen by themselves, you know, when you actually know in the back of your mind that it should have been something else. And I’m very, very, let’s say, thankful that things worked out the way they are. And that’s one of the things that I always try to tell people, that sometimes you can leverage, let’s say, the worst moments of life into something very, very powerful because losing the things that define you, and the most important things in life are actually the things that give you freedom, as well.

So, after you wake up from the tragedy, you actually figure out that you’re free. And one of the things that people are trying to do, and this is something that I tell people when I speak with them about the subject is, “Don’t panic.” When you lose something, our first, let’s say, intuitive reaction is to substitute it. So, you know, you lost your girlfriend, you have to find another girlfriend. You lost your job, you have to find, immediately, a new job to fill in the gap. And, sometimes, it’s good to take a deep breath and say, “Okay, I lost something very important to me, but I’m way more free now to actually do some things that were not even possible a month ago.”

And, yeah, that’s the interesting thing about loss. It’s very painful, but at the same time, it gives you a lot of freedom, in a way.

Jasper:

Well, that was a very inspiring little paragraph. I mean, I completely agree with what you’re saying. I think that when we go through rough times, that’s when we get pushed outside of the comfort zone, we think outside of the box, and that’s where, usually, the best things in life usually come, from those situations.

Now that we talk about this subject, I may recommend a book by Ryan Holiday, which is called “The Obstacle Is the Way”. It’s one of my favorite books, and it talks about how an obstacle shouldn’t be viewed, really, as an obstacle. It shouldn’t be feared. It shouldn’t be something that you want to avoid or work around because, typically, the obstacle is showing you the way to a better future, the way to something else, something different, you know, and in those moments, you grow the most as a human being.

So, you know, when you talk to people, they often say, “Oh, I lost my job six years ago,” or ten years ago, or, “I got divorced,” or whatever it may be, something that most people would refer to as “a bad event”, but then, as a result, they changed their life and something better grew out of it. So, I think that’s a really good, a really important life lesson, so to speak, for me and I’m sure for a lot of other people, as well.

Eli:

Maybe it was inspiring, because I noticed that the point of loss is something that is very, very important, and sometimes you have to take life a little bit less seriously and things will work out for themselves. Yeah.

Jasper:

Exactly. And we can just believe that the universe just gave you a clear signal, and basically the universe told you, “Hey, you should go travel.”

Eli:

Oh, that’s a good one. I actually thought about it when you asked me the question, is it a coincidence? I never really thought about this before, but now, you know, I have some things to sleep on tonight. So, yeah, that’s good.

Jasper:

Yeah, exactly. Well, you know, I’ve been thinking about this. I used to be very skeptical, where I just felt everything was random. I have a medical background, and so that’s kind of the most logical thing for me to think, but I have some friends who always believed that there’s no coincidences and the universe is always putting things in our path, and stuff. And, even though I’m not convinced that that actually is the case, I do recognize that it’s much more fun to think that way, right. It’s much more fun to think, “Oh, this happened because of this, and then this happened, and that’s why I’m now doing this.” And it just makes more sense, right, instead of just thinking, “Oh, yeah, everything is just random.”

Eli:

Yeah. Someone once said, “You become what you think of.” So, in a way, whatever your thoughts are, it’s basically the direction that your life is going to take, and yeah, it makes you feel like you’re a little bit more in control because, you know, positive thinking leads to a positive life, and the opposite.

Jasper:

Absolutely. It’s more empowering. And since we don’t really know, I mean, there’s no way to prove either way, so we may as well believe what’s most empowering and most inspiring to us, right?

Eli:

True.

Jasper:

Great. So, let’s continue the conversation and talk about your travels.

Eli:

So, basically, I’m kind of a boring traveler, in a way. I’m staying for two months in a location, mainly because I work while traveling. I’m a digital nomad. I have two businesses. I have an online language school that is my main source of income. I’m working on a cool project, which is a start-up map, global start-up map, start-up link. And on the side, I’m also doing a blog and a podcast about the nomadic lifestyle, specifically called “BecomeNomad”. And basically, that kind of shows that I go to a place, I stay for two months.

The first thing that I’m looking for, and I have to be honest, (I know this podcast is a lot about Airbnb), the first think I’m looking for is co-working. For me, this is the deal breaker. Accommodation only comes in second because, thankfully, there is always accommodation. Co-working spaces are places where someone can actually do some work.

And, by the way, lots of people who know I’m working and they are hosting an Airbnb are a little bit like, “Hmm, you’re going to stay here all day working?” And I totally understand were that comes from, especially if I rent a place with someone. And no, so I’m most of the day, like the vast majority of the day, I’m staying in co-working spaces, get some work done, and then basically go back home to wherever home is, usually an Airbnb place or a booking.com place, and then just live like a local, in a way.

So, my lifestyle when I’m traveling is not that exciting, and I’m just using the weekends to explore. So, basically, the weekends is where I take off to another city and stay for one night or two nights before coming back to the base, let’s say. So, that’s pretty much my style.

Jasper:

You know, it’s interesting. So, when you’ve been doing something for a long time, it kind of becomes normal, right, and it’s almost hard to imagine that it’s something that would be very exceptional or very not-normal to other people. And it’s funny because I hear you talk about how you now define your travels or your life as not very exciting and boring, but basically, you’ve been traveling for six years, you’ve been to over 30 countries, you have an online language school, you’re working on a start-up, and you have a blog and a podcast.

Eli:

Yeah.

Jasper:

I wouldn’t describe that as “boring”, my friend.

Eli:

Yeah, I agree with you, but I’ve lived in this reality for a long time, I guess. But, yeah, I guess it’s exactly that. When you live into a reality, for you, after some time it becomes the norm. I actually noticed it when I speak with people and they tell me that they’ve lived in a place for the last 10 or 15 years, then I’m getting curious. You know, for me, this is an alternative lifestyle, in a way. I mean, I was questioning, “Wow, really? For 10 years? And what have you been doing here for 10 years?” So, I find it a lot more exciting now than looking at my lifestyle, which kind of looks normal to me, in a way, so it’s all very globe defined.

Jasper:

Yeah, no, I can tell that you relate. You know, to me, it’s become very, very normal to just jump in a plane. I mean, I just booked a ticket to Chile, and I tell people, and they’re like, “Whoa! That’s crazy! You’re just flying to the other side of the world.” And to me, it’s very normal. So, I’ve experienced that, as well, where I don’t get excited anymore as when I first started. And so, what I do is, I make sure to appreciate and to be grateful for everything. You know, I make sure to look back, and look back at what my life used to be when I was still spending 10 hours a day in an office, just so that I don’t get lost in sort of the hustle and the bustle of everything, and lose sight of the things that we can be appreciative and grateful for.

Eli:

Yeah, and I agree. When I compare the happiness I had in the last six years to what it used to be when I was working in the big accounting companies, then there’s been a huge, let’s say, change. I’m way better.

However, I have to tell you that I’m also careful to recommend people to follow my lifestyle, because some people, usually they ask me the regular questions like, “But how do you do it? You don’t have a home? You don’t feel like you need a home?” and so on and so on. And, honestly, I don’t. I don’t feel like I need a home, but I know that most people do, and I understand why is it that a lot of people that started some kind of an experiment like I’m having found it to be too much, overwhelming, and actually very, very stressful, in a way.

So, I’m kind of even not trying to advocate for this lifestyle. I don’t think it’s the right lifestyle. I think it’s maybe the right lifestyle for 2% of the people around because it requires some very specific characteristic or character that is pretty unique. So, you know, I found, currently, my path. I’m not even sure if it’s going to be for the long term, but I think it will be. The more I do it, it seems like it will be, but I’m also very careful of not recommending it because I know that it’s a difficult one, as well, for the normal person, in a way.

Jasper:

Yeah, no, I agree. I think most people probably prefer to have a home and have some structure in your life. I mean, this lifestyle comes with a lot of challenges, and that’s what people forget, you know. They look at the pictures of the beaches and the cool cities that we visit, but they don’t see the hours spent at the airport when flights are delayed or are cancelled, and constantly dragging a suitcase around with your stuff, losing things. I mean, there’s a lot of challenges, as well.

Also, when it comes to productivity, trying to figure out a place that has good Wi-Fi, a place to work, get some local connections, local contacts, finding a gym, getting a SIM card, I mean, there’s a lot of logistics. I spend a lot of time on logistics, just figuring out flights, accommodation, all that kind of stuff. But, anyway, so yeah, I totally agree with you there.

But, let’s talk about Airbnb. So, you’ve stayed in a lot of Airbnbs, and of course, as Airbnb hosts, we’re interested to hear what makes a great experience for you.

Eli:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it depends on the person you are. So, you know, it really depends on who I am when I’m getting hosted, or where I’m staying in an Airbnb place. And, I noticed that, for example, sometimes I travel as a couple, and when I travel as a couple, the most important thing for me is the quality is going to be good of the place, that there will not be any surprises, privacy, and so on and so on. And then, maybe two months after, I can travel by myself, and when I travel by myself, I actually am interested more in the person from whom I’m renting. And, I have to say, I stay long-term, I usually stay on a budget, which means that I’m opting into rent only a room when I travel alone. And it’s not only a price thing, I also…

Actually, recently, I was in Chișinău in Moldavia, one of the not-so-touristic places in Europe, and I stayed there for a long time, and I remember that I had two places that were costing exactly the same. One of them was an apartment, by myself. The other was a room in a shared apartment, and I opted for the room because, specifically, for me as a long-term, let’s say, a person who stays a little bit long-term, which is one month or maybe two months, the quality of the connection I have with the person, or even the accountability and the ability to have a friend as I’m renting a place, is very, very important for me. So, let’s say, as a lone traveler, I kind of prefer to rent with people instead of being alone.

And, I guess, again, that it really, really depends on your profile, of who you are while you rent, but for me, one of the most important things, of course, is the Internet because I work online. So, this is always something that is important, but even more than that is the feeling that I can trust the person from whom I’m renting and that there are good vibes. That’s basically, maybe, one of the most important things.

Jasper:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And what do you pay attention to when you’re selecting, when you’re browsing through the search results? Like, can you describe the process that you use to find a place?

Eli:

Yeah. So, it depends on the situation. So, let’s say, in the regular situation when I’m traveling alone, the first thing that I’m checking is the price, so I’m sorting the locations by the price. Weirdly, which I don’t know why Airbnb does that, but you have a lot of dorm places, as well, there that are kind of bugging me because I wouldn’t expect to find hostels, hostel dorms, on Airbnb. Usually, if I go for those, I go for those in booking.com or HostelWorld.

So, I’m trying to find the places that have a room, one room, a private room, and are the most economical, especially since, again, my profile is a little bit different. When someone is traveling, let’s say, for five days in a location, price is not that important, but this is my life. I’m a constant traveler, which means that price does become a priority when you travel 365 days of the year, and price is definitely, maybe, the most important thing that I check before I have the opportunity to actually speak with the person and see if I want to live with them for a month. So, price is the first, definitely the first filter.

I have to tell you, Jasper, the prices in Airbnb are expensive, and when I compare it to other platforms… I think, you know, maybe I’m a little bit paranoid, but artificially expensive because I did a little bit of CouchSurfing as a host and also as a surfer, and over there it’s free, so intuitively I would say to myself, “You know what, if I’m renting an Airbnb, it’s going to be in the middle, between the places in booking.com and CouchSurfing, which is free, you know, some kind of a combination.” And, surprisingly, and this is something that disappoints me a little bit. When I use Airbnb, booking.com will always have a cheaper option, which is, intuitively, not something I would guess, but that’s the case, basically.

Jasper:

Yeah, no, I agree with you. Sometimes hotels are cheaper. Airbnbs aren’t cheap everywhere. You know, it really varies from country to country.

I remember, for example, I was in Panama earlier this year and I looked at Airbnbs, and then I looked at some hotel websites, and this one hotel website had a special deal where I could get, for $50 per night, I could get like a four-star hotel. But then, when you book it, you’re not sure exactly what hotel it’s going to be, but you know, a four-star hotel is pretty good. And then, I was looking at all the Airbnb options and I couldn’t find anything for that price other than sharing a place with somebody, but at that point, I really wanted to have some privacy. And so, my choice was between a $50 hotel room or like a $100 apartment, and then it’s like twice the price. So, I mean, I stay in hotels sometimes, you know. I mean, if it’s a better option, than it’s the better option, you know.

Eli:

I think that when someone is starting out, lowering the price, as a strategy, makes so much sense. First of all, you’re going to receive more people. I do have to warn you that you’re probably going to receive people with a story, and that could be a really interesting story, you know, cool people like me, but at the same time, you might receive people with a story that are actually so on a budget that it will be a little bit too much. I don’t know, but I do see price as a filter, as some kind of a filter. But, I definitely think that if you’re starting out and if you feel like you want to book your place more, a good thing to do is to lower the price, and especially in the beginning.

Now, you reminded me of something else, Jasper. I have to admit, also, another thing. I, currently, in the phase where I am, I will not book a place from someone that doesn’t have reviews. This is, actually you reminded me, even before the filter, the reviews are the first thing that I check, especially since I stay for one month, you know. So, I need to be sure that the person where I stay is cool. And, especially if you’re renting a place with someone, it becomes so much more important, the ability to know that someone else validated the person.

So, reviews are super-important, and that’s basically something that I would tell the host – do whatever you can to get that first review, even if it’s a losing thing, even if it’s uncomfortable and someone is coming at a time that is not worthwhile, and so on and so on, and the price is low. The review is very important and I would invest in the first few reviews, and then you can increase the prices. Because, if I have the choice between picking someone that has a higher price but with reviews, than no reviews and really low price, I know, by definition, that I’m not going to go for someone without reviews, just because they have not been in the game. They would be the most prone people to cancel on you at the last minute, and so on and so on.

So, for me, I don’t like a lot of bad surprises, so the reviews is a really good filter to show me that someone has the experience that I need, and yeah, I filter now, the first thing I see is if you don’t have reviews, I’m simply not interested in you.

Jasper:

Right. And do you also look at the profile of the host? Because, I imagine, if you’re spending a month with somebody, then I always feel like it’s the person who’s hosting you becomes more important than the actual accommodation.

Eli:

Absolutely, yes. If I stay for a month, I never book directly without meeting the person before, because for me, it will be crazy. Imagine your life… You know, if you book for two days, then everything is cool. Let’s say you’re stuck with someone that is not the most amazing, and kind of makes faces when you walk around the home, and so on and so on, “That’s okay,” you’re telling yourself, “I’m out in two days.” But, when you book for a month, for me, it doesn’t matter what are the reviews and whatever, I will find ways to meet you, and if I don’t meet you, I don’t book. So, it can be either booking the first two days and then later continuing to book, or even scheduling in a place, you know, in a meeting place.

I’m a great believer that everyone should get their cut, and that means that it’s less for me than to avoid the commission. For me, it’s very important to meet the person, because, you know, chemistry is really, really important, and if I stay for one month, it’s critical for me to either book it only for two days before I commit to a long term, or meet the person in advance. Yeah, so definitely, the chemistry is important.

And, I have to tell you, there are some occasions… I never had a bad experience in Airbnb. All the experiences that I had were spot-on amazing. Or, let me correct myself. Some experiences were amazing, and some experiences were average, and I don’t want the average. You know, if I’m already booking an Airbnb… And, again, Airbnb is more expensive than other platforms. On average, when I look at what I spent on Airbnb in comparison to a private room on booking.com, I pay more on Airbnb. So, for me, when I do Airbnb, I want the extra. I want someone that becomes a friend, in a way.

And, again, it has to do with the profile of the person who rents, because if I’m going to rent as a couple, I don’t want the host to be my friend, you know. I want them to give me good information and everything, and that’s pretty much it. But, if I’m traveling alone, the host is very important for me. And that’s basically, like you said, sometimes it’s more important than the apartment, because if you walk in a place and you feel welcome, and you feel like the person who is with you is kind of happy that you’re there, it gives you a good vibe. And if you don’t, and you feel like you’re someone that is, let’s say, you’re there because you paid and they need you to be there but they would really, really prefer you wouldn’t be there, I’m not that enthusiastic about being in this situation.

And, actually, let me tell you, I had an experience that I had, I think in Prague, that I rented the place from a couple, and they were friendly but very, very cordial. Usually, I go out, I have coffees with people, and so on, and they were like super-cordial. And I talked to the guy. We were sitting in the kitchen one day and he told me, “You know, it bugs me that we have to rent. I’m living with my wife, we’re a young couple, and it bugs me that in our situation, economically, we’re in a situation that we can’t live our life and we have to keep on renting your room.”

And, I totally see that, but I don’t want to be in this situation. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t want to be in the situation that it’s only a financial transaction and nothing else. The added value is very important for me. So, until now, it’s been either amazing or good, and I’m opting for the amazing. I’m trying to find the amazing.

Jasper:

Right. And so, I think the lesson for the hosts who are listening is that, you know, don’t neglect your profile, right. Talk a lot about yourself. Really make an effort to give the guest a chance to get to know you from your profile. You can put up, obviously, a picture, and you can put up some videos, too.

I’m not sure if a lot of people know this, but you can put up a video on your profile that then guests can watch. I know I put up a little video, but I’ve never had a guest actually comment on it, or I’ve never had any feedback from it, so I’m not sure if people actually watch it. Have you ever watched a video?

Eli:

No, I never watched a video. Basically, for me, I take a look at the profile, but for some reason, I’m not that interested. What I’m mostly interested in is in the reviews because you can say about yourself whatever you want, but from the reviews, that’s where I know if you’re an amazing person, if you’re an amazing host, or you’re just cool to stay with, then. And, I think that basically, for me, the reviews have always been, let’s say, the winner here, and that’s something that maybe I can recommend to the host.

If you had a really good experience with someone that stayed with you, send them an email after and kind of tell them, “Hey, guys, can you leave a review for me?” because a good review that says, “This person was so generous, I had so much fun with him (or with her),” is going to make a huge impact. So, I would work on the reviews. If I had to pick one ingredient out of the profile section, the reviews would be it.

Jasper:

The reviews are the most important because, you’re right, it’s more credible when someone else says something cool about you than when you say something cool about yourself.

And, you know, I just booked a place in Santiago, actually, in Chile, and I definitely looked at the reviews. I remember I was looking at one place and it looked really great, and it was not so expensive, but the average stars, it was only 3.5. And so, you know, I looked through the reviews and some of them were okay, but then, every sort of two out of five, one or two out of five reviews, it would either be, “The host cancelled,” or it would say something like, “We showed up and the host wasn’t there and we waited for like three hours”. I mean, that’s just a no-go, you know. I’m definitely not booking a place if I’m not very, very sure that the host is going to at least be there and at least take care of the most basic responsibilities.

Eli:

Definitely so, yeah. For me, it’s the reviews and the number of people who stayed. Like I told you, again, it’s a little bit not so nice to disqualify new people that have no reviews, but simply, I can’t take the risk of you having your first Airbnb experience on me because I know that, in high probability, those people are going to cancel on you. So, again, I’m going back to the point of, if you’re just starting out, do whatever you can to get the first person to stay to have a little bit of experience and the first review. Incredibly important. And then, prices can go up and you can increase your criteria and so on, but those are the things. But then, again, I’m only one person, and maybe someone else is looking on other things, so it changes.

Jasper:

Right, yeah. And, you know, I think, also, it’s important, the first couple stays, really go out of your way to create that five-star experience. If you have to buy a more expensive welcome gift, or if you have to spend a little bit of extra time to make your guests a nice lunch or something, or take them out, whatever you need to do, you really want to have the first couple reviews, they really need to be five-star reviews, right?

Eli:

Yes.

Jasper:

Because, you know, if you have like 10 or 12 five-star reviews and a couple are like four stars, that’s not a big deal, I don’t think, because people understand that not everyone’s always going to leave a five-star review. Some people think, “Yeah, five stars, that means perfect. Well, nothing is ever perfect, so I’ll give you four stars,” right. I mean, it’s very subjective, the way that people think about these ratings. But, definitely, the first two or three, it’s very helpful if they’re five stars.

And, also, I would say that, you know, it just comes to mind, that another thing I look at, is I look at if the host responds to the reviews, as well, because that, to me, shows that that person is really on top of their listing because there’s not… It’s a minority. I’d say fewer than 50% of the hosts consistently respond to reviews, and it just shows that they’re very, very engaged.

Eli:

I totally agree. I would just say that, maybe, I do think that for someone who actually books places, if you create precedents… Let’s say, for example, you make the person who stays with you breakfast every day, it might be a little bit complicated if you don’t plan to do it for the next ones. I’ll tell you why. Because if I see a review that says, “This person made breakfast for me every day!” and let’s say I arrive and there is no breakfast every day, although nothing said in the profile anything about breakfast, then I feel like, “Ah, maybe this person doesn’t like me as much as he liked the other person.”

So, I would be a little bit careful. Like, I wouldn’t change the process for the first, let’s say, two. I would give everyone the same treatment. But, you know what I mean? It’s a little bit tricky, this thing about… Just being nice and being yourself, and being super-open and giving help is sometimes enough, so do know in advance that… Because I know a lot of people who are starting, they’re so eager to please, in a way, that they’re going to go out of their way, and they’re going to pick you, for example, from the airport, and so on and so on, and then people expect that if they see it in the reviews.

So, that’s just a word of warning, in general, from creating a precedent, in a way.

Jasper:

That’s a good point. I didn’t think of that. So, if you are going to do it, then I guess you should tell your guest that this is something special that you’re doing and that’s not part of what you normally do.

Eli:

Or just pick everyone from the airport, yeah.

Jasper:

Yeah, yeah, or just give everybody that treatment. But then, if you’re going to do it consistently, then you really have to continue doing it, I guess, right?

Eli:

Yeah, yeah.

Jasper:

All right, cool. What about pictures? Do you scroll through the pictures in the search results, or do you make a selection of listings first and then you take a look at all the different pictures and stuff? What’s your process?

Eli:

Yeah, I look at the pictures. I have to say that, especially if you stay for a long term, you do understand, through the pictures, some things about the person. Is he smiley or not smiley? You can kind of figure out the character by the, let’s say, the expressions, in a way. Yeah, so, for me, if you take a picture, smile, so that people will understand that you’re super-friendly, but not a stupid smile, like, you know what I mean.

But the thing is, yeah, I take a look at the pictures because, you know, it’s intuition and definitely something that… Let’s say that I would not book a place with someone that would have their picture as a logo or something like that. Although, I think Airbnb probably forces you to put a profile picture, right?

Jasper:

Yeah. Well, yeah, you have to put a profile picture. I was actually referring to the pictures of the apartment, but you know, now that we’re talking about profile pictures, yeah, I do think it’s mandatory to have a picture up there, but you can definitely do a logo. But, obviously, a picture, a clear headshot with where you’re smiling, I think, is by far the best option for the profile picture.

Eli:

And for the photos of the apartment, yeah, I kind of care about that, but less, again, because my experience is always about the person with whom I stay. But, let’s say that, in a way, where I care about the pictures is when it can’t go wrong.

Let’s say I’m in a relationship and I have only two days with the most amazing person ever, I can’t get it wrong. And over there, I’m looking that, let’s say, everything is in place, and because you have the expectations of another person… And I think that this is maybe one of the biggest fears of travelers, of let’s say, people who travel in a couple, they’re going to get a lot of fire if they get it wrong, in a way. So, definitely, for those people, if you know that your apartment is for, let’ say, couples on a honeymoon and so on and so on, you want to make sure that the pictures are good because people cannot take risks. Me, specifically, I don’t care that much. I care more about, is the apartment kind of okay, and that’s basically it. I don’t have a lot of, let’s say, filters for the apartment.

I do have to say that one big bonus for me has always been a garden. I like places with a garden, so if you have a garden, that’s definitely, let’s say, a big bonus. Other than that, I’m pretty much okay with everything.

You know, Jasper, one thing that you reminded me, in many of my stays, and I find it a little bit weird, (I don’t know if I’m the weird person or not), there is no key to the room. If you’re staying and you’re sharing an apartment with someone, I think a key should be there, just to give people some kind of a feeling of comfort, that if you go somewhere and you want to stash money in the room before you go for the weekend or whatever, to have a key is something that I would recommend. If you share an apartment, at least give someone the option of having a key.

And other than that, yeah, like I mentioned before, the Internet and a comfy bed, and that’s basically it, in a way.

Jasper:

Yeah. I mean, for me, the Wi-Fi speed is really important because, like you were saying, that you spend most of your working hours in co-working spaces, right?

Eli:

Yeah.

Jasper:

Yeah, so, I mean, I do that sometimes too, but I don’t want to be dependent on that. Well, also because I’m doing a lot of stuff where I need to be able to… I need a quiet room, basically. You know, recording these podcasts is one of the things that I do, but also, I’m going to be working on some other audio stuff. So, I do video courses on Udemy, and so for me it’s important to have a quiet space. And so, I always work from the apartment, and that’s why I always ask the host to tell me what the speed is, the Internet speed, because that’s kind of like a deal breaker for me, if it’s not fast enough.

Eli:

Yeah, you actually reminded me, I have this application of Speedtest, and that’s the first thing that I check at home. Like, I tell people, I ask them, “Do you have Internet?” And they say, “Yeah.” And I say, “Can I have the password?” And they’re like, “Okay, that’s weird.” And then they see me going through the phone, like checking their Internet. Some people find it a little bit like, “Wow, this guy is totally obsessed with the Internet.”

But, yeah, for the hosts out there, now there is a trend of digital nomad and that’s basically people who work on the way, and for them, bad Internet means no Skype calls and no calls with the family, and so on and so on. So, don’t be surprised if a lot of them are just going to click their device and are going to run an application and tell you, “Oh, your download speed is okay, but your upload speed is not to my standards.” And that happens, and that’s probably going to happen more and more.

Jasper:

Yeah. So, I’ve actually taken a screenshot, and it’s something that I’ve recommended to other hosts too, is taking a screenshot of that app that you’re referring to. Speedtest.net, it’s called, right? And so, I take a screenshot and I include it in my picture portfolio so that people can see exactly how fast my Internet is.

Eli:

That’s great. I would stay with you, Jasper. If you had this photo, I would definitely stay with you. That’s a good one.

Jasper:

Well, you’ve got to be fast because I’m not going to be in Amsterdam for very long.

Eli:

I’ll take it into account. Okay, catch you in Chile, maybe. Who knows?

Jasper:

How’s Airbnb in Israel? That’s your home country, right?

Eli:

Yeah, I haven’t really tried. I have to tell you that I checked it out. It looked to me like there is not that much supply to what I would actually expect, and it was expensive. I have to admit that it was expensive. Israel is an expensive country, but the Airbnb here, I think that most people are taking it into a boutique experience, in a way, and definitely not my style as a traveler when I just look for a place to feel like a local, in a way. So, I guess that in Israel, it’s not as common. The more high-style places are a little bit more abundant here.

Jasper:

Hosts, I can’t emphasize how important it is to share recommendations of things to do or eat near your listing beforehand. Your guests won’t have to go through TripAdvisor, Foursquare, or Yelp. They won’t have to scratch their head and think about possible places right in the moment. I’ve been using Hostfully to create an online and printable guidebook to show my guests my favorite coffee places in Amsterdam. They use my recommendations, and I’m getting fewer questions from my guests as a result. I’ve also included screenshots of my guidebook on my Airbnb listing as a way to differentiate my listing from others. So, make your own guidebook at hostfully.com/pad.

Jasper:

So, a different topic, what do you think about Airbnb experiences?

Eli:

I didn’t have a chance to try it yet because in the last three months I’ve been in Israel. I just got here and I’m going to Spain next week, so this is something that I do want to try. I think it makes a lot of sense for Airbnb to expand to other realms. It makes sense to, and it was a move that everyone knew that they were going to try, going after TripAdvisor and all those guys, so I’m looking forward to checking it out.

By the way, a related app is basically Couchsurfing, and they also had a lot of innovations recently with some kind of a hang-out platform, and so on. So, all this innovation is quite exciting, but I still go on the classic thing of, you know, just stay in a place. But, I’m looking forward to testing it in Spain.

Jasper:

Yeah, because I mentioned, if you enjoy spending a lot of time with your host, then you’d probably also enjoy, instead of seeing the tourist highlights, you’d probably enjoy meeting other locals who organize tours.

Eli:

Yeah, definitely. That would be good.

I usually do the free tours. You have them all over the place, and wherever I go, that’s one of the first things I do, the city tour that is free. And, yeah, I have to say that I use a lot, the knowledge of my host. Kind of going back to the topic before, I’m kind of expecting my host to give me the inside information, as well, to prepare me to the city and kind of… You know, I like the places that actually have the map ready for you with all the places marked, and give you the tour. This is something that is super-nice and is extremely considerate, to take a little bit of time and being some kind of a classic person that kind of tells you, “You should do this, you should do this, I recommend this, and I recommend this.” And some do it with such mastery that you’re telling to yourself that they should be tour guides, for sure.

So, yeah, Airbnb can go a lot of places. It’s going to be super-exciting to see how can they stretch, let’s say, the experience.

Jasper:

And those free tours that you’re talking about, where do you find those?

Eli:

You just Google, basically. Let’s say you’re in Bucharest, you do “free tour Bucharest”, and then you’re going to have, the first result is probably going to be a free tour. And now, this model is extremely popular all over the world. I think, really, most of the cities of the world, they have about two days, usually. Sometimes, if it’s a big city, they’re going to have three or four of them a day, and they’re free. And, in the end, you kind of decide if you feel like tipping the person who gave the tour. It’s also a nice experience and allows you to meet other people as you do the tour. So, paying for tours, especially within a city, is not something that I would do, not with the abundance of the free tours.

I recently figured out that they also have another model, which is, basically, when they give you the tour in the city, they show you the best places to eat, which are basically places that are being sponsored, in a way. That’s another way. But, it’s nice and it’s free, and those guys have a lot of experience, so I definitely recommend just Googling it and finding it in each city.

Jasper:

That’s funny. That reminds me of the famous Tuk Tuk scam in Bangkok. I remember the first time I was in Bangkok, they would have these Tuk Tuks. They’re like little, somewhere between in the middle of like a motorbike and a car, I guess, and these guys are, surprisingly, they’re usually more expensive than the taxis, but it’s a much cooler experience to drive a Tuk Tuk through the center of Bangkok.

But then, in some areas, the Tuk Tuk drivers, they basically offer you the rides for free, and then if you take one of those rides, then soon enough, you’ll find out why because they’ll literally just drop you off at like a jewelry store or like a tailor store, and then they try to get you to buy some jewelry or buy a suit. They come up with all this nonsense, like they say, “Oh, you know, today’s Government Day, so that means you don’t have to pay tax on jewelry, and it’s 20% cheaper than Europe, so you can just buy some and then you can sell it in Europe and you just make money.” And, you know, they have all these stories that they tell you to try and get you to buy something because then they get a commission, and that, apparently, that pays more than charging you for the ride.

Eli:

Yeah, I see. Maybe taking things for free is usually not a good idea. The free tours are. That’s one exception, I guess. But, yeah, you should be careful.

Although, I have to tell you also, Jasper, Airbnb, the way I see it, Airbnb has an older sister, which is CouchSurfing, and CouchSurfing is based on the free experience, and it works out. Usually, it works out really, really well.

But, you know, if I have to make the distinction between Airbnb and CouchSurfing, CouchSurfing does have some bad experiences, Airbnb doesn’t, and that exactly goes to the point that you mentioned before. As I mentioned, you know, it’s either good or amazing. It’s never bad because there is a money transaction and nobody’s using anyone else, and so on and so on. In CouchSurfing, you might have a bad experience based on this dependence. And that’s why people, when they ask me, “Eli, why don’t you do CouchSurfing?” I tell them, “No, I prefer to pay. If it’s free, it might be problematic. It might put me in a position that I’m not so happy about or feeling that I owe someone something,” and so on and so on. And, you know, I’m too old for that. I’d rather have a transaction.

So, generally in life, I totally agree that it’s better to pay.

Jasper:

I totally agree. All right, Eli, we’ve been talking for a while. Thank you so much for joining us today. And for those who want to check out your website, it’s becomenomad.com. Is that correct?

Eli:

Yes, exactly. You pronounced it well, becomenomad.com. And, yeah, it’s been a pleasure. Once again, I really thank you for inviting me, and I think it’s great that you also give a voice to, let’s say, the other side of the coin, the people who are actually staying in places, because that gives you a lot of inside information as a host as to what you should do and what you should think about.

Jasper:

That’s exactly right. So, thanks again. And for all the listeners, thank you very much, and next week we’ll be back with another episode, so see you then. Bye-bye.

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