Baz Cornell Achieves Airbnb Superhost Status
In news that shows even the most unlikely late starter can thrive in Australia’s dynamic and largely unregulated gig economy, Toonalook enforcer Barry ‘Baz’ Cornell has this week been awarded Airbnb Superhost status, as his rustic backyard bungalow proves a hit with visitors looking for the authentic Toona experience.
Ding Alley visited the Cornell residence to offer our congratulations and were greeted at the door with Mr Cornell’s customary spray of invective, which brought de facto wife Sharyn to the door with a spray bottle of her own.
“It’s citronella, mostly, with a bit of witch hazel,” Ms Cornell told us as she sprayed her partner in the face with three successive blasts. “Bazzles hates it but it shuts him up quick smart.
“Doesn’t it, Luv? Doesn’t it shoosh you up like a good boy?!
“Now, outside! Go on! Go play with your magpie.”
And with her suitably chastened partner dispatched to the backyard, Ms Cornell invited Ding Alley in for a cup of tea and to take us through their successful hospitality enterprise
“Well, as you can imagine, when I put the suggestion to Bazzle a couple of years back that we could make good money converting the granny flat into an Airbnb, he didn’t exactly leap at the idea.
“He said he’d rather die than make it easy for any more effin’ blow-in C’s to come stay at Toona, and there was no effin’ way in hell he’d ever be convinced otherwise and that was the effin’ end of the effin’ matter. That it was a matter of effin’ principle, and someone had to draw a line in the sand to maintain effin’ sanity here at Toona.
“I said that was a shame, ‘cos I’d heard the Moore family up the road were getting like 250 bucks a night for that tiny little unit under their house that only sleeps two, and with a touch up and lick of paint, we could get 300 bucks a night in summer, easy.
“By the time I finished the sentence, Bazzle was reversing out the driveway in a cloud of dust, headed for Bunnings, and a week later we were open for business!
“Like any new enterprise, we had a pretty steep learning curve. Well, not so much for me, but, you know our Bazzle, he’s got his … quirks, so the first few months were a mixed bag.
“The first booking we ever had, I was out doing some running around when the guests were due to check in. Got home a few hours later and there was no-one there, except Baz looking pleased with himself. He told me proudly how he’d checked them in exactly like I coached him to, then ‘gave the blow-in C’s five minutes then went out and told ‘em to eff’ off back to where they came from’.
“The poor love, you should have seen his little face when I explained that guests were actually supposed to stay for the night, or else we wouldn’t get their money. He just stared at me blankly, like a dog being shown a card trick, before I saw that dim light of understanding register.
“So it really was baby steps with Bazzle. Like, I always bake muffins for our guests. The first few times I asked Baz to take ‘em out to the guests he’d just go to the back door and throw ‘em at the bungalow hard as he could while yelling ‘here’s ya effin’ treats ya blow-in C’s’.
“But the penny dropped when the money started coming in, and Baz could see the link between hospitality and the ol’ cashola.
“Like, as long as I’ve known Bazzles, every morning he’s given hell to all the #vanlyfe crew who’ve overnighted at the point carpark. Nowadays, he still gives ‘em shit, but he’ll also hand ‘em a flyer for our place.
“He even insisted on baking the muffins once for a couple he took a particular shine to, a lovely retired couple in their sixties. We had to give them a full refund as they spent the whole weekend in a state of cannabis-induced paralysis. So no more baking for Bazzle.”
At this point, Sharyn grabbed her iPad and scrolled to the ‘Cornell Cottage’ page on Airbnb.
“The early reviews weren’t all that flattering, like, they’re generally two or three stars at best, and a lot of guests expressed confusion.”
- “Asked for directions to the best beach for surfing and was given an elaborate map to URBN SURF in Melbourne. Odd.”
- “Insisted on waxing my board as part of the service. Claimed he didn’t know he was using soap.”
- “Weird, how can a person tell me ‘Welcome to Cornell Cottage’ one moment, and just two hours later be punching the fins out of my board because I ‘looked at his wave funny’?”
“But, as you can see, our reviews improve through 2020, It’s the strangest thing, but copping shit from Bazzle kind of became part of the attraction. Like you haven’t had an authentic Toona visit if Bazzle hasn’t told you to eff off.
“Not sure if it started off with inner-city lefties being ironic and postmodern, but people actually started recommending Cornell Cottage on the basis of Bazzle’s grumpiness. One guest wrote of ‘a quaint gruffness not without a certain eccentric charm’ – like Bazzle was some kind of fictional character or something.
“And so now we’re offering Airbnb Experiences that can be as authentic as you care to make ‘em, no matter what your budget. Low level verbal abuse for all guests is complimentary, but for a small fee Bazzle will single you out in the lineup for special attention, right up to the premium package – a physical altercation on the beach, which we’ll document with authentic shaky phone footage and tag you on our socials.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen Bazzle so motivated! He’s always coming up with new ways to improve the experience. Like, now, as a follow up service, he’ll call guests up a fortnight after their trip, wrap a hanky around the receiver and threaten to kill ‘em if they ever come back to Toonalook. And the return bookings are strong.
“So strong, in fact, we’re thinking of building one of those Tiny House things, double our income. Do you reckon you need council permission, or can you just whack one up?”
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch.