When Bill Fleury began renting his Williamstown property on Airbnb last summer during the coronavirus pandemic, he didn’t know how it would go.
So he was floored when Airbnb recently named him the best host in Massachusetts.
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The top host in each U.S. state earned five-star reviews 100 percent of the time on Airbnb in the categories of cleanliness, check-in, and communication.
“We are in awe of these extraordinary hosts who have maintained this level of perfection, with five-star reviews 100 percent of the time in these review categories that matter deeply to our guest community,” Airbnb officials said in a news release.
Fleury, a Williamstown native and software developer, now lives in Northern Virginia. He has owned the Williamstown rental property on the Green River for nearly 40 years, and he renovated it before listing it on Airbnb last August. Now he rents out two units: a studio and a two-bedroom apartment.
We caught up with Fleury to ask him the secret to becoming a stellar superhost on Airbnb.
Boston.com: Congratulations on being named the most hospitable Airbnb host in Massachusetts. What was your reaction to the news?
Fleury: I couldn’t believe it. We were so shocked because we thought, ‘This is our first year doing this.’ We just couldn’t believe we were performing so well. We’re just amazed.
How long have you been a host?
We started last August, 2020.
So, during the pandemic.
That’s right. We had been setting up this building to go to Airbnb and then the pandemic hit. We didn’t really know what to do. We said, ‘Well it’s sitting there empty. Let’s just go ahead and see what we can do with it.’
What made you want to be a host?
We had always thought about it. And just renting out the apartment to just regular tenants, we weren’t really making so much. We’d rent it out, and they’d stay for three to four years, and then for three to four years it was really hard to get in and see what was going on in there. We just decided, well let’s just furnish it and [list it on Airbnb and] we’d probably have better luck. We were surprised right from the first week.
Right away you had a great response?
Yeah. Within hours we had four reservations, four bookings.
Can you describe your rental for us?
It’s on a parallel street to the main shopping area in Williamstown. We’re also on the Green River, and in the back of the property, we have a little picnic area on the riverbank and a lot of people tend to like that. We took everything right down to the studs and put in a new bathroom, new kitchen, all new flooring, new walls. My wife [Marichu] is concerned with commercial real estate. She has a lot of experience with that, and she has designed the apartments for style and comfort. She does all the decorating, purchasing, photography, and all of our marketing materials.
I’d like to give some recognition to our team members. Our property manager is Richard [Durocher]. He’s dedicated to maintaining the property and insuring that each guest experience meets the expectations established in our advertising and messaging. His wife, Leslie [Durocher], is our cleaner. She’s always spot on with her cleaning. She makes sure the apartments are always immaculate. I wouldn’t be talking to you today if it weren’t for them. I do most of the communications. I do all the interfacing with the clients, all the messaging.
Why is Williamstown a great place to visit?
Williams College is there, so it’s a very academic environment. And also it’s a very artsy place. We have Mass MoCA [in nearby North Adams] and the Williams Summer Theatre. There’s always an awful lot of artists in town. Aside from that, you’ll get the rural atmosphere of Williamstown. It’s just a very small town and it’s very cozy and everyone is very friendly.
You are a superhost for Airbnb. What does that mean?
It means that we have maintained a set of ratings from Airbnb. They check our ratings every three months to make sure that we are within their guidelines and they will award us superhost status.
What do you do as a host that makes you stand out, do you think?
I’ll tell you why we’re the best of the best. It’s because of our team. It’s all teamwork. We split up the division of labor, and everyone is engaged and they all do everything that they can do. That’s our secret to success.
What is the most rewarding part of hosting?
The reviews, actually, where they will actually thank us for what we have done. That’s probably the most rewarding.
Why are Airbnb reviews so important?
Potential renters are going to look at those reviews to see if anyone has any gripes or anything, so they can distinguish a good host from a bad host.
What are you doing in response to the pandemic?
We’ve adopted Airbnb’s five-step enhanced cleaning process. We follow their COVID-19 safety practices.
How can travelers be good guests?
Just abide by our house rules and be considerate of other people, especially within the building. Because there are other apartments here.
What is your advice for new hosts?
Pay attention to detail. Just try to hit all the bases, you know? I always ask guests if they have any suggestions for improvement. We let them know we’re always trying to improve the guest experience. And if they have any suggestions please just message it to us. And they do do that. And those suggestions we take very seriously.
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