"Sky high and contemplating WHY?"
Updated: Aug 5, 2018
L' Autre Vie #10 By Rae-Helen Fisenden.
Kind of funny really. I’m writing this whilst travelling at 35,000 feet at the moment between Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast. That’s Queensland, for the uninitiated, and the weather in Winter is deliciously mild unlike Melbourne, which is horribly cold at this time of year. July/August- Ouch! Get me outta here!
Such a different colour and topography to France as I glance out of the aeroplane window. Beautiful nonetheless.
Today was a gold star day. We received a Super Host award from Airbnb.
A little yellow badge suddenly appears next to our french properties and, as people actually do filter their Airbnb searches to Super Hosted properties, it does increase traffic our way.
It’s ok. It’s happened before and seriously, I’m pretty proud when it does, but not overly bothered when it doesn’t. I’m mainly happy because there are certain reasons why we qualify.
First, we have to have a certain amount of bookings in succession. Second, we need to respond to people promptly and within 24 hours and, third, we can’t have any cancellations. Right. I get that. Airbnb don’t like cancellations for obvious reasons. Neither do we for that matter.
In addition, our reviews need to be exemplary in every way. Ok. Wow. Huge call.
Hence, when Airbnb do their bi-annual summations as to whether we fall into these categories and we qualify, it’s a nice feeling. Often shoulder periods and therefore lower bookings affect this result negatively, which has very little to do with standard. As you can imagine, the competition out there is fierce. Very fierce indeed, and getting more so every day.
So, the pressure is on. Or is it?
I am an Airbnb fan and thus far I can say with confidence, that as both a Host and as a Traveller using Airbnb, my experiences have, in the main, been nothing short of excellent. I guess though, we don’t want to pander entirely to an Airbnb quantified experience. We feel that what we offer is really authentic, clean, well set up and comfortable. We set about choosing our two properties for very specific reasons. We didn’t just suddenly decide one day to let out our holiday home or rent out a few rooms to earn some extra cash.
We deliberately bought the two houses in separate locations as vacation rentals located in some of the most beautiful parts of France. We believe they provide an authentic taste of the “real France” where you can actually live like a local and experience a fabulous french immersion.
And we firmly believe we have chosen two excellent but very different properties (pictured below) which deliver lovely vacation experiences at very reasonable prices.
We love our homes in France but more than that, we are really committed to helping others experience the best of France. We offer homes that become a “ home away from home” for our guests who often reiterate this sentiment in their reviews, time and time again. Sure, you can stay in a hotel that may be more contemporary and chic, but it’s not the same as living in a whole house where you can really unpack, kick back and completely relax. No one knocking on your door to clean your room. No noise from the guests next door and plenty of room to stretch out at the end of a busy sightseeing day to just...chill. And I think a major bonus is that if you want to self cater, you can. Both kitchens are well equipped. And in case you were wondering, they do have kettles and toasters!
Plus, we offer to assist our guests prior to their trip to book planes, trains and yes, automobiles and essentially to help plan their holiday.
We cater to people’s needs and act, in a way, as travel agents, but without the added fee. Booking directly with us definitely cuts out the added expense of the middle man. We listen to what people want to do, their interests, what their concerns are, what questions they may have, and we respond.
For example, we’ve helped a lady from the States organise a surprise fly fishing holiday in Beaulieu for her husband. We hooked him up with a local expert and the first day out he caught 20 trout! They were over the moon.
We’ve organised bikes to be delivered to our Berbiguières cottage and suggested popular bike paths for families to follow.
We’ve suggested daily activities for a Mum with two active boys and basically worked out an itinerary for their week including caves, rock climbing, canoeing and hiking.
We suggest excellent restaurants and markets for foodies, help with booking french cookery courses as well as great sightseeing experiences for those who love to get out and about. During the months we are in France we offer a chauffeur service for those who may not want to drive.
Often people just want to relax in front of the fire or watch the world go by as they sip a coffee and eat a fresh pastry. Or a beer and a pizza at the local Brasserie. We get it! Everyone is different and have very different needs and expectations.
There’s something very refreshing about being able to book your own holiday YOUR way and at YOUR pace. There’s no doubt that tour companies definitely take the pain out of planning where to go and what to do, but the attached price tag and the frenetic pace can be rather daunting, not to mention,- exhausting. What we offer is an affordable alternative.
I guess we lead a privileged life as many have commented, but I think the biggest kick we get out of doing what we do, is when we receive feedback from happy customers. Our Guest Books are wonderful to read and help us time and time again to keep on keeping on. Nothing like a bit of encouragement and a glowing report to inspire us! And when people actually book and come back for a second stay, we know we must be doing something right.
But it is not without risk. Not without work. And definitely not without courage.
We live a little precariously from year to year. Hoping for bookings. Constantly marketing. Travelling back to France to attend to necessary things that crop up whilst trying to make a modest living through our rental properties. It’s not always a walk in the park but it’s mostly, extremely rewarding to be able to help others fulfil their dreams.
So that’s our story really. Nothing very grand but certainly an adventure.
Do have a look at our website. If you live in Melbourne we’ll be at the “Paris to Provence” 10th Anniversary Festival to be held at Como House from November 30th for the weekend’s celebrations. Come and say hello. 🇫🇷 We’d love that!
Or find our properties on my Facebook page under Our Cottages in France/Facebook. Some nice photos are posted there that my husband, Neil, has taken, plus my blogs. Perhaps recommend us to family and friends.
À bientôt! Et Merci!