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How to Rate 5 Stars in the Sharing Economy

February 24, 2017 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

Complaints about the sharing economy have come down like someone on a high who's going through withdrawal. There are prejudiced hosts who exclude people from booking homes because of race, religion, or sexual preference. Other hosts suck valuable revenue and guests from hotels and B&Bs. Neighbors become outraged about strangers lurking in their 'hood. 

Today, everybody's a critic, yet nobody is focused on what hosts of the most stylish homes need to rate five-star reviews from today's most discerning guests. In the spirit of transparency, those well put together houses don't morph out of nowhere or even from the brains of creative homeowners. They're copied from a limited paid subscription manual that a group of style gurus offers. We're sharing it in the interest of having fewer disgruntled guests stomp their feet when all they get is another riff on the now clichéd Nancy Meyers Hamptons' white kitchen in Something's Gotta Give.   

Welcome to our five star, one-stop manual that covers a host’s preventable blunders: 

  1. Have at least one Nespresso coffee maker with milk frother, preferably in the company's perky red, along with a dozen of its glass cappuccino cups, and a generous supply of capsules in flavors that show how culinary sophisticated and unbiased you are. Consider Indriya from India and Rosabaya de Colombia. Don't forget a swirl capsule dispenser for storage.

  2.  A Breville toaster oven, the small $149 model, will suffice for guests to melt their Italian taleggio cheese in portobello mushrooms, according to Chef Yotam Ottolenghi's latest vegetarian recipe. Of course, you've cleared out the contents of your Liebherr or Sub-Zero freezer so there's room for their for containers of Talenti's Sea Salt Caramel ice cream and a bottle of Vodka made from locally-produced grain. It's OK to purchase the Breville with a 20 percent coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond; just hide the receipt.
  1. A Sous Vide machine that lets guests cook their Citerella-or Whole Foods purchased meats and fish like restaurants do, especially those that have passed muster with your town's food critic. You don’t want them to have their knives out for you! Be sure to have recycling bins for the thirtysomething set who demand being green even on vacation. You'll also want the right gingerbread and gravlax spices so they can prepare the latest in Nordic cuisine, the current craze among the hippest chefs.

  2. A few recent copies of Dwell and Veranda magazines will show that you subscribe (leave on your address labels). Consider white-washing your floorboards--a spin on Scandinavian style that will complement your Nordic cooking, adding three or five pillows per couch--always an odd number, incorporating something Mid-Century, and removing Sixties mahogany furniture that you found cheaply on Craigslist. Nobody wants that outdated style. 
  1. Five rolls of triple-ply toilet paper per bathroom, a generous stash of bath products from Jo Malone so they know you didn't swipe them from your last hotel stay, deodorant to kill any bacteria, and a stack of thick gray towels. Arrange in a basket but first hone your rolling technique by watching Youtube
  1. New mattresses that are firm but not too hard. It’s fine if you bought them from one of the new mattress-in-a-box vendors like Tuft & Needle. Add a mattress cover that won’t let the bed bugs bite, clear off night tables, be sure your flat-screen TV is at least 64 inches wide with 4K resolution, and empty closets, except for one pair of Louboutin heels you discreetly leave on the floor to show you know that Manolos don't cut it anymore. 
  1. One bookshelf should be filled with at least 10 titles from your bookstore's bestseller list; Jeff Toobin's American Heiress and Ann Patchett's Commonwealth are good choices now, but you'll need to update periodically. A stack of magazines on your main coffee table should cover all interests, from Bon Appetit to Farm & Ranch Living (you may get some Trump supporters), the Economist, and one alumnae magazine. You can borrow one from a recent Stanford grad. 
  1. Some well curated modern art on the walls--prints will do if signed, limited editions. You can find a Jeff Koons on eBay. 
  1. For the techie crowd, include Apple TV, Wi-Fi throughout the house, sound system with Niagara Platinum speakers, and a Nest thermostat so guests won't complain you were stingy about sharing your heat and air conditioning. Yes, it’s that smart. 
  1. Don't neglect your outdoors: some leafy kale in planters for high fiber content, the sound of water from a pond for guests' meditation. Don't add pricey koi fish since they'll have to be fed and cause worry if the local wildlife should consume them. Consider having a food truck stop by at least once, the latest amenity in those urban high-rise apartments that attract millennials. 
  1. Make available a list of sights, restaurants, fitness centers, and shops you compile online and in booklet format. You can also leave a printed copy of your Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews or at least a link. 
  1. Lastly, stock your refrigerated drawers with breakfast for your guests, which sites recommend. Include freshly-squeezed orange juice with pulp for more fiber, a mix of bagels you FedEx in from New York City's Zabar's, low-fat veggie cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia's rather than a generic brand, and a non-dairy option for that one vegan who always shows up.

Before guests arrive, install Nest's Cam security camera to capture any transgressions they make before you review them. You can never vet your guests enough. They've been known to leave a few greasy spoons in the sink, crumbs on placemats or counters, and marks on walls you recently painted using Benjamin Moore's Simply White (Oct-117) 2016 Color of the Year. If guests damage anything, show them photos before you deduct any amount from their deposit. At least be prepared to counter sue when they show you photos they took of the garbage can you left half filled before you vacated, how one mattress sagged, and the incandescent light bulbs you selected rather than energy-efficient LEDs, which have come down in price. How much profit do you really need?

And for any unemployed lawyers reading this, take note. There's a new field of employment waiting for you: mediator for the growing number of sharing economy disputes.




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