Highlights from the past week include a visit to London (about time, I really miss that city and its people!), a short stay in Oslo before attending a destination development conference in Kongsberg. The rest of the week was spent partly preparing Fridays event, “a Christmas Tale in the Village” (check out the video here to get a glimpse of the atmosphere) and eventually helping out at my sisters` dance studio`s semester show yesterday. Over 300 of her students participated in an amazing show- I was the silly, proud big sister the whole day! :)
Credit: Dølen / Bjørn Sletten
Anyway, I thought that pace of life would slow down a bit after moving to Gudbrandsdalen. Couldn`t have been more wrong. I have probably never before been involved in so many exciting things! Therefore, today was dedicated to sleeping in, late breakfast, drinking coffee and fire up the fireplace. And that`s about it. Perfect! I did however find something in my airbnb-guestbook this morning that made me happy! I wanted to share it on instgram, and I relized I had more to say about it than what the capture allowed! :P Therefore, this blog post.
Why facilitating for visitors is both good for me…
After I listed my guestroom on Airbnb, I have had 4 bookings. So far only positive experiences, in fact I love hosting visitors from around the world! Yesterday, I had three lovely, French girls over. Students from Volda, on their way (hitchhiking!) to Lillehammer. They left before I woke up this morning, but their guestbook entry (yes, I bought a guestbook. Because sometimes analog beats digital bigtime) revealed that they`d had a nice stay. Small, cute messages, and an artwork of a drawing- of the guestroom! How awsome!
It made me think of the benefits of having guests over:
1) The people
I appreciate to meet new people. The smiles and gratitude. Stories. Connections. Experiences, even if it`s just a cup of tea with a stranger. Allowing strangers into your home on the basis of the impression of their airbnb- profile + a minimum of comminucation in advance, is based on trust. VISITING a stranger on the basis of the impression of their airbnb-profile + a minimum of communication in advance, is also based on trust. This is pretty unique! Having guests also help me maintain an outside-in perspective on Ringebu, which is useful for my job. What is there really to do/see here? What`s the best way to get around? What can be done to make the village more visitor-friendly?
2) The housekeeping
Could easily be considered as hassle. However, you can choose to see the other side of it. Need an extra incentive, some motivation to clean the bathroom, hoover aroud the house and do that extra “touch up” at home that you know you love the feeling of (once you`re finished, that is)..? Invite guests over! All of a sudden, you stop postponing and start doing. Accomplishment – lazyness 1-0.
3) The money
It is enriching in many ways to have airbnb-guests. It obviously depends on your business model and where you live. Unless you can match high demand with volume, or offer unique features which defend a higher price, renting out your airmatrass, a guestroom or even a house is not a route to enternal fortune. BUT it inevitably offers an extra source of income, which eventually adds up. I think of it as a rewarding hobby, which at some point has covered the costs of buying furniture for the guestrom, a room ( a resource) that is otherwise rarely in use.
…and the local community
1) Visitors as development-drivers
Businesses, citizens and visitors are the three main destination development-elements (Telemarksforskning). There is not one without the other, however one or two can be driving forces. There is a circle, and just like a circle doesnt have a beginning and an end, one cannot simply say that “start with X and Y will follow”. Jobs attract people, but people also attract businesses/jobs! Businesses in the local economy provide goods and services (food, transport, activities++) to both households and visitors. On the basis of the consumption of this, businesses can prosper and make investments, further contributing to the destination as a whole. Visitors play an important role in the local economy, as they increase the demand for various goods and services. This manifests in jobs and a broader range of goods and services offered, eventually benefiting the local community.
2) B&B-network in Ringebu
This is the reason why one of the goals of the project we`re working on, is the establishment of a B&B-network in the village centre. Increased capacity to host tourists, will lead to increased demand of goods and services. An B&B network has a scalability that a hotel cannot offer. It is also unique, authentic and aligns with the village profile. It is crucial that they are based in immediate proximity to each other and the village facilities. So far we have worked to identify potential providers, familiarized them with the concept, and offered ways of lowering the barrier to start up. It`s not a straight forward process, but I strongly believe the result is worth the effort. I also believe 2016 we will be the year where we have to “step up the game” and offer further incentives to accelerate the establishment. Hopefully, within a years time, my airbnb – guests have an even wider range of possibilities and reasons to pay a visit to Ringebu village.