I bumped into my friend Yami the other day. She comes into my hometown of Orosi once a month to visit a Dentist – the same one I use.
Right away, she started to tell me how she is now working for airbnb – and like a good friend, I listened.
She is now living in Turrialba – for reasons I did not ask her to explain. I know what things my friends want me to ask about – and what things they do not want me to ask.
Before I go on, I must tell you about this part of Costa Rica. It has a central ridge of mountains (including some volcanos). I live on the eastern edge of those mountains, where they drop off rapidly into the Caribbean lowlands. It is scenic country, with rivers running rapidly towards the sea.
The road to Turrialba hugs the mountains as it descends – and provides some scenic views. This is where I first saw the Orosi Valley, where I now live. Many of these rivers are dammed, and generate most of Costa Rica’s electricity. Turrialba is right on the edge of this drop off – and has a lot of rafting companies.
But I started to tell you about Yami and airbnb. Yami has a beautiful house she can rent – there are more rental properties than renters in that area, and the owner is eager to rent it. Yami has a computer and a fast Internet connection. She set up a site, as per airbnb instructions, which describes the house and shows the dates that it is available. Airbnb then shows Yami’s site to people who want to rent in the Turrialba area.
Americans want to explore the Turrialba area – because it was once a railroad town. For some reason, this interests them – and they want to explore it in style – renting a house and a car.
I have explored it myself, but much cheaper. I rented a room in hotel right next to the railroad tracks – where I had to share the bathrooms and the showers – but the place was not busy, and that was not a problem. I could view the town right from a large window in the visitor’s lounge. They pointed me to a cheap eating place, and I bought a beer to take with me. The food was excellent.
I visited an archeological site close to town – the hotel showed me where the taxi stand was, where I rented a taxi for the trip. I made sure the same taxi would be there when I wanted to come back – and sure enough, it was there, right on time. There is not much money in Turrialba and everyone is eager to please.
What made Yami and airbnb such a good match? Several things – she is bilingual, fluent in Spanish and English. Airbnb only uses English. She has a computer, and knows how to use it. And last of all – she knows how to follow airbnb’s instructions – something most Latinos find difficult.
When airbnb rents Yami’s house, they notify her when the renter is coming. She then does a meet and greet – and takes them to the house (about a hour and a half drive out of town) – and shows them where everything is (it is fully equipped). She tells them that she is the contact for anything they need in the area – all they have to do is give her a call.
When the rental is over, she makes sure the customer is satisfied. And cleans and restocks the whole house – right then. Not sometime later, as Latinos are prone to do.