“I want guests to feel that I was instrumental in making their event a success, not just by providing a space but by being welcoming and helpful.” Madeleine’s advice to hosts is to go into each booking as a partnership, working together to make it a success.
Madeleine manages the American Bookbinders Museum, a nonprofit in San Francisco’s SOMA district. She first listed with Peerspace as a way of raising additional income to cover operating expenses, saying, “Like every other non-profit in the world, we can always use more money.” However, she recommends, not to view your guests as simply another income source.
With over 50 bookings in her first year, Madeleine understands the importance of creating a delightful day-of experience to ensure a five-star review. We caught up with this all-star host to learn how she makes her guests feel welcome and eager to book again.
1. Create a welcome kit
The day before the guest’s booking, Madeleine sends over a welcome document that has all the important information before go-time. She includes helpful things like Wifi, directions, parking, and what to do in case of emergency. Guests find this incredibly helpful, saying, “The day before the event, she sent me a detailed run-of-show to make sure all the details (layout/setup, trash, AV, etc.) were confirmed.” While some of this information might feel repetitive, Madeleine is a firm believer that you can never say something too many times.
2. Customize the layout
After somebody books your space, get a sense of their set-up needs ahead of time. How many chairs will they need? How do they want them set up? Will they need A/V? These are some of the questions Madeleine makes sure to ask every guests prior to the booking. “I like to have everything setup before anybody walks in, so that at that point, I’m not hovering.”
If you take a look at her reviews, it’s clear that guests appreciate this extra effort. One review in particular noted, “When I arrived at the venue to begin my own setup, she had already done most of the work so I just had to plug in my laptop for the presentation, test the mic, and arrange the decor I brought with me.”
3. Greet with a smile and stick around to supervise
Madeleine always makes sure there is someone on site to welcome her guests with a warm attitude. Planning an event, meeting, or production is stressful and a being greeted by a calm and knowledgeable presence can make a big difference. When people arrive, she (or another staff member) gives them a quick tour, reminding them of the Wifi password, showing them where the electrical outlets are located, and handing them the welcome kit.
While mistakes are bound to happen, being on-site for every booking drastically decreases the chances anything will go wrong. Madeleine lets guests know that she’ll be on-site during the entire booking in case anything comes up. She notes, “There’s always sort of a little dance between too present and being not present enough.”
4. Be upfront about additional charges
If there’s anything that requires an additional charge (i.e. trash removal) remind your guests upon arrival. Madeleine outlines all of the costs in her listings and when messaging with guests, but a quick reminder at the beginning of the booking always helps. By being direct, she prevents any shock, saying, “I think communication is the single biggest thing that you can do to make things run nicely.”
5. Mark any “off-limit” areas
If your space has particular areas that are off limits, make it known. Because Madeleine rents out her museum, there are many items that guests should not touch – especially, when alcohol is involved. To make these off limit zones obvious, she has a thorough event protocol: “We take all of the small things upstairs and tie down the equipment, so it cannot be turned on inadvertently or moved or used. We also put up red ropes and signs that say ‘Please do not touch.’” This is another thing that Madeleine includes in her Host Rules and Welcome kit.
6. Think about the little things
Whether it’s a meeting or event, Madeleine attributes the small gestures — like offering trash bags or something small they might have forgotten — as a way of making her guests feel welcome. Guests appreciate how Madeleine goes the extra mile. One guest has already booked her space four times, saying, “Madeleine is super helpful, including partnering with us to resolve a technical issue this last time.” Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most.
Bonus tip: Share your passions
People come to Peerspace to find something unique, and they appreciate the stories behind the spaces. “We get a lot of people who are fascinated by the museum and have no idea what it is.” she says. “We’ve also had people hear about the museum from somebody who was here for an event that was not museum related.” Don’t be afraid to share the story of your space and what makes it unique. That’s the magic of Peerspace.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for making every booking go off without a hitch. There will always be some spilt milk. But with careful thought, thorough preparation, and a little personality, you can make those mishaps less frequent and less painful. Madeleine has used her focus on hospitality to become a wildly successful Host and one of the most desirable venues in San Francisco.