Airbnb a ‘side business’ for Chandler families The Chandler Arizonan

Airbnb a ‘side business’ for Chandler families

Airbnb a ‘side business’ for Chandler families

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

Karen Argo thinks the key to being a popular AirBnb host is knowing how to read people.

She and her husband Brian have been renting out a casita at their Chandler home for the last five years through the online marketplace and have become one of the best-reviewed properties in the East Valley.

The couple’s 400-square-foot guest house was booked for 330 nights in 2019 and almost has a perfect five-star rating.

Former guests have written several favorable reviews, calling the family’s casita cute, cozy and comfortable.

Karen Argo said her home’s close proximity to the Loop 202 likely makes it popular among Airbnb users. But she believes the hospitality her family provides has also had some impact on her high rating.     

She tries to adapt to the needs of each guest. So, if someone’s especially chatty and sociable, Argo makes herself available to answer questions. But if the guest is more private and reserved, the host will keep her distance.

“It’s important as a host to know who you’re dealing with and what kind of personalities they are,” Argo said.

Argo’s home is one of seven million properties available to rent through Airbnb.

The popular website attracts travelers from around the world looking for temporary lodging and has helped homeowners turn their properties into de facto hotels.

When Argo moved into her Chandler home a few years ago, she initially planned to use her guest house for her mother. But after Argo’s mother decided to stay at her Sun Lakes residence, Argo listed her casita on AirBnb.

“We thought it would be a fun adventure to meet people,” Argo added.

Over the years, Argo and her husband have hosted guests from around the world – some of whom have come to be friends of the family.

Argo recalled hosting two young British pilots who had been sent out to Chandler to complete a series of missions across the Southwest.

The pilots would spend each day flying out to Sedona and Las Vegas, then return to Chandler and tell the Argos about their adventures.

It’s exciting getting to hear the stories of each guest, Argo said, and find out why they’re visiting Chandler.

But there can be a big learning curve to hosting, she added, since each guest has different needs and expectations.

She’s had a couple emergencies over the years – like when a guest thought he was having a heart attack and needed to be rushed to the local hospital. It ended up being a false alarm, Argo said, but she’s thankful she could help the guest in his time of need.

Argo typically doesn’t rely on outside help to assist in managing and maintaining the casita. It’s up to her and her husband to clean the room after every stay, respond to correspondence and keep track of bookings.

“It can get a little overwhelming,” Argo said. “It’s like a side business.”

Chloe Casselberry, who manages another popular Airbnb rental in Chandler, said renting out her spare room helps her earn some extra income while busily raising her two young children.

Her 500-square-foot studio near Chandler Heights and McQueen roads is almost always booked between January and April. This constant flow of tenants is enough of a preoccupation to keep Casselberry from having to work a day job.

“It makes it so I don’t feel as much pressure to go get some part-time job,” Casselberry said.

The family has welcomed an interesting collection of guests from across the country. Casselberry said one out-of-state guest have become a pen pal to her daughter.

The mother said she’s careful about which tenants she invites to stay, vetting Airbnb profiles seeming a bit suspicious and requiring every guest show proof of identification.

Airbnb allows hosts to decide whether they want guests to show identification before booking.

It adds an extra layer of accountability, Casselberry explained, in case something was to happen on the property.

“I feel like it’s all made for a really good experience for me as the host,” she added.

The company also permits hosts to decide how long they want tenants to stay. Casselberry only requires a one-night minimum, yet Argo asks guests to stay for at least two nights.

Teenagers were trying to use the guest room as a place to party, Argo said, so she added a two-day minimum to limit the rowdy activity.

Airbnb properties transforming into party houses has become a growing concern among state legislators.

Homes renting out several rooms to online tenants have angered some neighbors due to the extra noise and activity it generates.

Democrats have called for the repeal of legislation passed in 2016 and restricted how cities in Arizona could regulate short-term rentals. Some Republican legislators recently joined them, approving new curbs on such properties.

The measures face an uncertain future in the Legislature when the full Senate and House vote. And while he has not said what he might do if they pass, Gov. Doug Ducey has said he sees nothing wrong with the 2016 legislation and doesn’t want to discourage what he considers a private business enterprise.

Airbnb has championed the state’s 2016 law, crediting it with allowing the company to collect $53 million in tax revenue over the last two years.

“The Airbnb community continues to make significant, positive economic contributions across Arizona, generating tax revenue and helping families earn meaningful extra money,” said Airbnb Public Policy Manager Laura Spanjian in a statement.

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