The winners of Airbnb's very first Host Awards have been announced today, recognising the most welcoming, creative and big-hearted hosts around the country.
Christchurch's Angela Cossey has been named Host of the Year, thanks to rave reviews from guests and the thoughtful touches she includes in her luxurious townhouse in the central city.
Winning hosts were selected by judges Shelley Ferguson, host of The Block, and expert Superhost Merrydith Callegari, who sits on Airbnb's global Host Advisory Board. Winners were selected based on extensive Airbnb data, guest scores and reviews.
With 37,000 listings on the website, from Kaitaia to Oban, it was a crowded street.
Angela said she was "absolutely beaming" to be named host of the year, and there were plenty of guests already waiting for the move to Level 2.
"One of the criteria we scored highest on was how many repeat guests in the past 12 months," she said.
Based in central Christchurch the home away from home for guests taking a city break, in the heart of the cultural and hospitality centre, on the edge of the Margaret Mahy playground and the River Avon.
Coming from a large, army family and deploying overseas was excellent training for hosting.
Spending 19 years in the Defence Force with husband Glenn, who is still employed in communications, ten years ago they were deployed to Afghanistan.
"We travelled a lot, where we could," says Angella, who says she has plenty of experience travelling with a family.
With their three kids in tow, they've relocated through work all over the country and travelled overseas when possible.
"Because we saw the world through the Defence Force, we wanted to give the kids a taste of what we'd seen."
From Vietnam to Australia, Angela says she's tried to incorporate what she could from their adventures abroad, "both what was great and what was not great." Staying with BnBs was a natural decision, getting a local perspective to visitors in a new city, land on their feet.
Above all she has three tips for New Zealand BnB hosts which has helped her claim the title of Host of the Year.
Three secrets to better BnB hosting
Communication is Key:
Today contactless check-in, key lockers and hands-off hosting is the norm for post Covid travel. However, that doesn't mean you should ignore your guests. Learning a little more about why your guests are travelling can help everyone's visit smoother.
It's about asking enough questions, says Angela.
"Are they here for business, have they been here before, are they looking for somewhere to eat?"
Anticipate guests' needs:
After two-decades of experience in admin for the Defence Force, Angela knows planning for the needs of travellers never goes amiss. The logistics of moving a car-load of hungry kids is all about anticipating needs.
"It's nice to feel that someone has thought about what you need and anticipated it. I've certainly tried to bring that into my hosting."
Even the difference in providing a full bottle of milk over a tiny sachet is nothing, but it will speak volumes. Especially if it saves a late trip to the supermarket when everyone is tired and hungry.
Callegari says Cossey has used her own extensive travels and Airbnb stays to inspire her hosting. "Her guests describe her as considerate, thoughtful, tasteful and generous."
The award was welcome news for Cossey, who says she has plenty of bookings waiting for the move to Level 2.
Queenstown's Kaye Parker won the Community Contribution Award for launching the 'Greatest Need Fund', raising more than $1 million in support of frontline charities helping those in the community badly impacted by the pandemic.
"[Parker] gives all of herself and then finds more to give," Callegari says. "She runs her business really well and does things that benefit the community and people in need. That is true commitment."
Designer BnB of the year : Studio Seventy Four, Wellington
Architect Cushla Thurston has let her profession and personality shine through at Studio Seventy Four. High up in Vogeltown, on the edge of the capital the studio gives the impression of being far out in the wopwops. The outdoor bath is also part of this bucolic escape in suburban Welly. The treated timber used in the design was milled by Cushla's Father.
"The exterior design is perfectly poised to take advantage of the spectacular 360 degree views," says judge Shelly Ferguson. "Even while soaking in the incredible outdoor tub!"
Unique stay: Away Treehouse, Waiheke Island
Wayne and Sue Gilinsky's playful octagonal tree house keeps guests young at heart. As you might have realised, Airbnb has a thing for tree houses, however Away stands out above the canopy, with its wrap-around windows and viewing deck on Eastern Waiheke.
"There is truly something magical about being immersed in a forest, especially perched high above the forest floor," says judge Shelly Ferguson.
Best Regional BnB: Ecoscape, Korito, Taranaki
A tiny, self-contained home was designed and built by engineer turned BnB Host Edward Lawly in just over a month. At the foot of Mt Taranaki, mini HEP generators and solar panelling mean that the self-sufficient bach wants for nothing.
"The photos don't do it justice," Meredith Callegari. "A fantastic example of sustainability and clearly the ideal getaway for nature lovers."