203. How To Safely Provide Alcohol For Your Guests (AMA)

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Sarah Karakaian: [00:00:05] You are listening to the Thanks for Visiting Podcast. We believe hosting with heart is at the core of every short-term rental. With Annette’s background in business operation–

Annette Grant: [00:00:14] And Sarah’s extensive hospitality management and interior design experience, we have welcomed thousands of guests from over 30 countries, earning us over $1,000,000 and garnering us thousands of five-star reviews.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:00:28] We love sharing creative ways for your listing to stand out, serve your guests and be profitable. Each episode, we will have knowledgeable guests who bring value to the short-term rental industry.

Annette Grant: [00:00:39] Or we will share our stories of our own experiences so you can implement actual improvements to your rentals. Whether you’re experienced, new or nervous to start your own short-term rental, we promise you’ll feel right at home. Before we dive into the content, let’s hear a word from our sponsor.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:01:01] Hello, listeners and viewers, welcome back for another great week. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

Annette Grant: [00:01:06] I am Annette Grant, and together we are– 

Both Sarah and Annette: [00:01:08] Thanks for Visiting.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:01:09] This is an AMA episode, Ask Me Anything. And if you want to get involved in this episode, head to thanksforvisiting.me. In the upper right-hand corner, there is a red button that says Ask TFV. You record your voice, you ask your question, and if we select your question, it gets aired on this podcast and we answer it right here. So this week we are going to talk about booze.

Question: [00:01:32] Hello, Sarah and Annette. This is Meg from Charlottesville, Virginia. And my husband and I are about to open our first Airbnb. We close on the property at the end of October and I am just so excited and have been binge-listening to almost your entire podcast and I’m overwhelmed with knowledge. So thanks for everything. 

While I have so many questions, the one that I want to ask today is specific to alcohol in the short-term rental. I love the idea of offering upsells and stock the fridge and also had the idea of a stock-the-bar option. But I didn’t know if it varied state to state or if it was like a general alcohol, like with Airbnb in general, whether I can legally offer that or if there’s ways around it, like let us go and buy it and stock your mixers and you pay for the delivery fee and the cost of the alcohol, or whether offering something like that could get you into general trouble. So thanks for any insight on that. I appreciate it, and just look forward to listening to you guys every week.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:02:49] Thanks, Meg, for that question. I think first and foremost, we should say we are obviously not attorneys. We are not an insurance company. We are in no way, shape, or form any sort of authority on this topic. But I can tell you what in personal experience and some searches and some light research that we did is first and foremost, Meg, we encourage you to reach out to your local liquor control. You can always ask them. 

I would also contact your homeowner’s insurance. Ask them because even if it’s legal in your state to do what you’d like to do, are you covered with your insurance policy? And then as a new short-term rental owner, business owner, you should have an attorney that you can call or email or text and ask these questions to. You do have to invest in their time. But you’re a business owner now, so you need to be able to ask those questions and feel good about supporting and investing in those educated responses.

Annette Grant: [00:03:46] And I think we’re talking about two different subjects for people listening. One is, are you exchanging money for the alcohol or are you gifting it? I know that I stayed at a place specifically and I posted about it on social media because she gave us a first bottle of wine and then had a whole wine bar stocked. And we stayed there for quite some time. 

And the way that she did it is you could Venmo her money or leave cash. And I thought that was awesome. But I posted about it and had people reach out and say in their state, that is a heavy no, no. That is money being exchanged for alcohol. That is a liquor license violation. I had a host reach out and say that they had gotten in trouble for doing that. 

Again, I don’t know exactly what state that was in, but I will say there’s definitely– whenever you’re talking to the attorney or liquor control, anything like that, I do think you want to talk about the two different instances. Is it a gift for the guest or is there an exchange there? She talked a little bit about both providing the alcohol and the mixers. 

And yeah, it’s going to be an interesting territory. And again, I think also just be careful of what you’re encouraging happening in your short-term rental. If those are things that you offer, you might get into that back and forth because what if somebody wants to order cases and cases and cases of beer and bottles and bottles of liquor, and you’re like, wait a second, why are they ordering all this for my home? And then beforehand, you’re like, wait a second, what’s going to happen there? So definitely reach out and see what state you’re in. It absolutely varies state from state, I’m sure, maybe even city to city.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:05:21] There is a property that we manage where it’s very important for the owners to offer, shop the fridge, to offer catering services. And so when we partnered with this very specific cater because we are an approval-only process, you can only work with this one approved vendor and her name is Carrie and she’s lovely, and she told us that while she’s happy to fill a fridge for us and to cater to guests’ needs when it comes to food and beverage, the one thing she cannot do is pick up alcohol for them and bring it to the home, that she could only provide the mixers and let the guests know that bringing the alcohol, it’s a BYOB, having your own booze. So there’s that. 

And I think, like Annette said, you want to be careful what you’re encouraging. But I also looked up this that if you do leave a complimentary bottle of wine or I actually went to a short-term rental where they left a few cans of beer in the fridge, which was really appreciated. And again, I’m not an attorney, we’re not liquor control, but apparently it is on the consumer that if they are under 21 is on the consumer, who’s liable if they open that beer up in their fridge, especially if it’s complimentary. So you apparently wouldn’t be held responsible if a minor opened up that bottle of wine or opened up those cans of beer, if you provided it to them as a gift. 

But be mindful of that host. If you leave that bottle of wine, even if you say that the booker has to be 25 years of age or older or 21 years of age or older– 

Annette Grant: [00:06:52] But they have friends.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:06:53] And so you just want to make sure that you understand like, okay, but what if the younger person opens up behind the back of the book? Or what happens in that case? And that’s a question for your insurance company. So it’s a complicated topic, but not knowing is not an excuse either.

Annette Grant: [00:07:09] And listeners, I’m sure there’s so many of you out there that have a lot of opinions about this. So write us. Let us know. If you have any experience with this in your state or city or a specific instance, write us or send us in. Then let us know what’s up. But these are great questions and you’re going to have a lot on your plate here soon. Congrats on your new short-term rental.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:07:28] Yeah, congrats. I am Sarah Karakaian.

Annette Grant: [00:07:30] I’m Annette Grant, and together we are– 

Both Sarah and Annette: [00:07:32] Thanks for Visiting.

Sarah Karakaian: [00:07:32] We’ll talk to you next time. Thanks for listening to the Thanks for Visiting Podcast. Head on over to the show notes for additional information about today’s episode. And please hit that Subscribe button and leave us a review. Awesome reviews help us bring you awesome content. Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to hanging out with you next week.