HOME OPEN FOR BUSINESS
With Christchurch facing a critical shortage of beds in the years after the earthquakes, business-minded locals jumped on board the global answer to travellers’ accommodation woes – Airbnb.
More than 200 guests have stayed with superhosts Kate Dickson and Martin Little in the three years they have been running a bed and breakfast from their 15-year-old Waimairi Beach home. They expanded into Airbnb after scaling back their marketing and graphic design business which they ran from home. Staff began working remotely and the couple decided to convert the office into a self-contained studio.
‘Running our business from home has had its advantages as when guests arrive off flights we can greet them to make them feel welcome,’ says Kate. ‘Martin is very good at conversing with travellers. They often want to know where to go and which route to take to get somewhere, whereas I’m the meet-and-greet-come-cleaner,’ she says.
As Airbnb hosts, they are often some of the first New Zealanders to interact with travellers.
‘I’m outgoing so I’m happy to meet them. You learn to judge if people want to talk, and whether they want to find out about things. A lot of people want to be private,’ she says.
‘A lot use it as a place to stay after an international flight, somewhere to chill out for a couple of days before they pick up a campervan, or whatever they’re doing, to go on their South Island tour. Or they’ve finished their trip and want to chill out before they go home.’
The self-contained studio is modern, clean and includes a lap pool and sauna.
‘One thing that appeals to people is that it’s not like a hotel room, meaning it’s personalised. And we leave things in the fridge for them. We’re mindful of people coming off an international flight, and they want to have milk, coffee, tea, eggs, bread, yoghurt and fruit without having to find a shop.’
It’s this kind of service that has seen the pair receive the title of Airbnb Superhosts.
After a long season hosting, the couple usually head overseas for the southern winter and now the only places they stay are at Airbnbs – in Hawaii, Stockholm, Corsica, Bézier, and Australia to date.
At this rate, it shouldn’t be long before they become Airbnb Superguests as well.
WORDS Kineta Booker PHOTOS Cassandra Kovacs