# How much do consumables cost you?

After 3 months of hosting and a plan to adjust my prices in the next couple weeks, I decided to determine how much the various consumables I provide for my guests are costing me. It’s still an estimate since some items get used very slowly and I had to estimate the amount used, but it’s easily within 5%. The final average number is \$4.27 per night stay.

The top 5 consumables are:

\$0.76/night Toilet Paper
\$0.56/night Facial Tissues
\$0.54/night Bottled Water
\$0.47/night Paper Towels
\$0.24/night Coffee

Note that coffee is \$0.61/night if you count creamers, sweeteners, filters, etc.

I also did a theoretical calculation to see what it would cost me if every group of guests used (or took) every consumable item that I currently leave in the house. The number is astonishing at over \$25.00/night and that assumes I don’t restock anything for the duration of the guest’s stay. Of course, I could mitigate this possibility by providing smaller quantities, but that would backfire for some items. For example, I currently provide shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in larger pump bottles, but I know that if I provided small hotel-size bottles, they would cost more AND disappear faster.

Oh, and the average cost/night so far that guests consumes in utilities (water, gas, electricity, not including the fixed cost of those utilities) is about \$4.45/night stay, which is also an estimate since some utilities are consumed in the process of cleaning.

Edit: This is a 2200sqft whole home rental. 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, up to 10 guests.

You could possibly better determine the true cost of utilities by checking meters at fixed time daily, like 9am or noon and then comparing to when you don’t have guests. Though if you have propane, that would be hard to tell as no meter of gallon use.

Where Are you??? How big is your listing/average number of guests??

Your numbers seem unreasonably high unless you’re buying gold-edge toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels!! Either that or all your guests have a huge paper fetish!

Half a roll of TP a night?? A quarter of a box of facial tissues? Half a roll of paper towels??? On average that’s how much of those products you say guest are using! Where are you shopping??

We shop Costco for paper products and coffee as well as large bottles of shampoo etc. I buy a case of individual hand soaps that cost me \$.23 each. Sugar packets are \$.005 cents each (case of 2000 = \$9). I buy real Half & Half at \$1.79 per pint and coffee w/ cream and sugar doesn’t cost anywhere near \$.61 per night!

You utilities estimate seems low, but that depends on where you live. Your \$4.45 per night is \$133 per month – heck our water bill alone is often that for the house plus our listing!!

LOL
I don’t think their TP consumption is out of line at all. OP didn’t say how many guests their place holds. Don’t you limit to two, @KenH? When I get a group of 4 ladies they’ll go through 2-3 rolls in a weekend.

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Edited the original post to state up to 10 guests.

Yes that’s about right, actually slightly more. I didn’t break it down to a per-guest per-night. It might be useful, but might also be skewed by children vs. adults.

Me too.

I’m only considering nights stayed, so it’s less than \$90 per month. This is Phoenix, AZ area and is only over the past 3 months. Utilities are low in the winter, but electricity consumption alone in summer would likely be over \$300/month. Also, as stated, I am only considering the cost of utilities consumed by the guests, not the fixed cost. E.g. the monthly bill for water/sewer/trash averages about \$65, but the fixed portion of that about \$48, so the consumed water costs only \$17.

Makes a LOT more sense when you tell us the listing sleeps 10!! And I know the Valley of the Sun – I lived in Prescott for a few years and travelled there regularly…

I already know that the utilities consumed while cleaning and vacant is really small. Except water. As it gets hotter, the water usage attributable to guests will be dwarfed by landscape irrigation.

Yeah my guests use about a half a roll per guest per night. Personally, I have an electronic bidet toilet seat and that greatly reduces TP consumption. I calculated out the savings and eventually it’ll pay for itself. The slow close lid and heated seat options are nice too. My guests never use it that I know of or comment about it. Thats why there’s only one and why it hasn’t gone into every bathroom.

For the little bottles of soap/shampoo/etc I buy bulk bags of stuff off of ebay. They have giant bins of these a the airports and eventually someone just empties it into a bag and sells it on ebay. Very cheap.

I use 2 or 3 chamber dispensers in my showers that are adhered to the wall. I fill them with whatever shower gel, shampoo and conditioner I find or have on hand. Guests don’t use a ton of these products because the pump is a little button.

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The only consumable costs I pay attention to are the snacks. I leave out about \$2.50 of snacks per person. I buy the cheap V05 shampoo and conditioner for about \$1. I get Bath & Body Works body wash and lotion during the big semi-annual sale for less than \$3 a bottle (usually \$12.50). Most of our guests don’t use our toiletries. Utility usage only gets out of hand with long-term guests (not through Air), but then we have a lease agreement where they pay for utilities costs over \$375 a month.

I do not keep track, whatever I buy this year gets written off for this year so that’s that. I charge enough I do not worry about it, although I do get annoyed with the cheapskates who take all the soaps and stuff but not enough to track it!

RR

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I am the queen of the bulk buy. Costco, Habitat for Humanity, auctions, Salvation Army, Wal Mart. I also have an app called Flipp that prices all the local stores.

The only way to accurately assess cost per client is at year end. But because I live here I am by far the biggest user.

This because clients use at a different rate. Some people go through a roll of TP a day. No Cottonelle for you! Others are much more self sufficient. Some mooch everything they can, and some contribute.

In the mean, my experience has been very positive. Use of utilities etc. Is exceptionally conservative. For every 30 minute shower is a five minute one.

It helps to have a well insulated, well managed home. For example, every client gets 6-8 towels. This means not running back and forth to the washing machine and dryer for 1 or 2 towels.

Big wins are bags of popcorn, those instant oatmeal packets, and fresh fruit (on sale!) in the kitchen.

Quite frankly I am always surprised at year end how little a bit of generosity costs.

I guess the real point of the post was to find out what other hosts are spending, so … How much does it cost?

My consumables are currently costing me about 3.1% of gross earnings. I’m wondering if that is low, high, or average.

Realistically Brian only you can answer that question. Percentiles are relative. I have longer term guests at a very low fee per night over up to 5 listings. I also live here, and the more guests I have, the cheaper it is. But I would say that, depending on your positioning, 3.1% is a tad on the low side.

My business is 5 listings. I live here too. It’s based on volume. I screen carefully, and my guests work long hours. They like the cheap price and the homey touches.

You know, home baked Wal Mart.

The first year barely broke even with capital costs, but I saved a lot by buying at auctions, etc. industrial supply, Costco, WalMart, auctions, and secondhand goods.

I had already retrofitted my house (\$50KCAD) but I am spoiled for features like a dishwasher, 2 bathrooms, unlimited wifi, 4 smart TV’s, blackout curtains, a microwave and mini fridge in each room, fresh flowers, a fire pit, coffee maker, rice cooker, electric cooker, slow cookers, and a coffee pot and kettle in each room and superior air filtration and air conditioning. 99% of the hard goods were second hand. Oh yeah, everyone gets duck down duvets (not second hand). I have also planned extensively for possible infestation and allergy reduction.

The first year was at a loss, the second was better, and now I am turning a profit.

Another add on was goodies. I am a mother and I cannot stand the idea of people going hungry, It’s simple little things with a standard cost of less than \$1 that gets stacked in their fridge depending on how long their reservation is. I bottle of water they can refill from the Brita unit. I also cook once a week, which they are welcome too. Food is cheap here.

After backing out personal costs, knock out roughly 30-50% in deductions.
Of the balance, factor out the costs of doing business with utilities and necessities such as TP, towels, etc.

Every guest costs me \$3-\$5 per stay in goodies. So over 50 bookings per year, staying anywhere between a week and 7 months, that’s roughly \$200. \$200 of instant oatmeal, Kraft dinner, bags of chocolate covered raisins, fresh grapes and apples, tuna cans, coffee, tea, condiments. They can get quite piggy with macaroni and cheese, and chocolate bars, so beware.

A more bespoke listing may require superior goodies, but I would base my shopping on the client and what’s on special. These days, EVERBODY runs specials.
But the Dean & Deluca client is going to run a bit higher.

Bottom line: It’s all about impressions. Sometimes it’s just a Ferrero Rocher on the pillow with a charming note and a spray of fresh flowers. You define what you offer based on your own brand of hospitality.