Airbnb continues to be a great platform to turn available space into a profitable business. For people with extra rooms in popular cities or vacation homeowners looking to monetize their property when it’s not in use, there is something for every kind of traveller.
In the early days of Airbnb, the target market tended to be a little more frugal, and the accommodations didn’t need to be anything special to gain traction and make an income on the site. However, as the sharing economy has evolved and matured, so too has the business model required to create a sustainable enterprise out of an Airbnb listing. Today, the calibre of your accommodations and your hosting abilities matter more than ever.
After learning the ropes ourselves and achieving the coveted Superhost status, we put together this comprehensive guide to being a better Airbnb host.
1. Stage and Photograph your rental with the Guests needs in Mind
The first thing about being a good host is making sure your guests know what they are getting when they rent your property.
Make sure your rental is clean and orderly, so it’s enticing to guests. Then use the strategic placement of objects to give your guests a sense of the place. For example, if there is a large dining area, set the table so guests can see how many people could comfortably attend a dinner party. If there is a full-size tub, be sure to have a nice bottle of bubble-bath and place a pile of towels next to it on a chair. Maybe even put a single flower in a small white vase on the chair as well. Anything that conveys the sense of relaxation that this space is capable of providing is going to help. In the living room, consider placing a few board games on the table, and maybe a book or a newspaper on the sofa. Each of these flourishes is to begin welcoming your guest into your space the moment they see it.
Of course, you must capture all these perfect scenes just right to help fuel your guest’s imagination, so you will want to hire a professional photographer. It’s so important that in many cities, Airbnb will allow you to book a photographer through their site and pay off the cost through future bookings. Their numbers suggest hosts with professional photos can earn 40 percent more money, have 24 percent more reservations, and charge 26 percent higher nightly rates. It seems being a good host is also profitable.
2. Communication is paramount
Good communication starts the moment you post your rental on Airbnb. To begin, make sure your listing provides a good description of the rental, and what amenities are available to guests. To be a great Host, consider putting together a list of local attractions, popular restaurants, and how far they are from your rental.
When a potential guest makes an inquiry, courteous and quick responses are essential to ensure they feel welcome in your place. While being an Airbnb Host may not be your fulltime job, nevertheless, guests can’t be made to feel their questions are an imposition, or you can be sure they will be booking somewhere else. To qualify as a Superhost, you must maintain a 90percent response rate or higher. The best strategy, though, is to just reply to everyone.
When a guest is staying at your rental property, you will want to welcome them with an email on the day they check-in. Use this communication to detail any finer points they may need to be aware of, like how to adjust the temperature, or where they can find extra towels. This is also a great spot to reiterate those local attractions, so they don’t need to go looking for the listing if there was a place of interest to them.
After a stay, many Hosts are focused on the next guest. However, creating a template thank you email that you can send to past guests the day after they leave can help you develop long-term relationships and get referral guests in the future. Be sure that you also ask for feedback. Sometimes fixing a small detail, on a guest’s suggestion, can make a big difference for future visitors.
3. Never Cancel a Booking
An Airbnb Superhost must maintain a cancellation rate no higher than 1 percent. This means for every 100 bookings, you can cancel precisely one reservation. Unless, of course, the cancellation falls under the Extenuating Circumstance policy. The best system, though, is to never cancel on a guest. Once you’ve made a commitment, do everything you can to keep the booking. Airbnb users today are not the couch surfers from the early days, they are folks coming to town with tickets to shows, or dinner reservations. When you cancel their accommodations and cause undue stress for your guests, not only are you not being a good host, but you’re tarnishing the reputation of the entire platform.
4. Stock your home for guests
To go from being a regular Host to a great Host, you want to consider what your guests might need, and have these things stocked and ready to go. It goes without saying that it’s a good idea to have a few extra towels and blankets for your guests should they need them. However, you may want to consider having a couple spare toothbrushes, a package of floss, and a mini tube of toothpaste. All of these items can be purchased in bulk, and you only need to replace them if they get used. Another great add on is to install a soap and shampoo dispenser in the shower. They can easily be filled from a club-size bottle, and it keeps your soap and shampoo from wandering off in your guest’s suitcases.
When it comes to stocking your rental, this also applies to electronic conveniences. One of the most commonly forgotten essentials for travellers today is their smartphone charger. Given the limited options for cords, you could easily keep an iPhone Lightning cable and a micro USB cable for Androids in an emergency cord case.
However, one of the best ideas we’ve seen when it comes to anticipating guest’s needs was a Host who had an iPad mounted on the wall by the door. This iPad had a list of local attractions, preloaded google maps, and an emergency contact sheet if the guest had any problems. It also gave them the ability to do a quick search as they walked out the door as to where they were headed.
The critical thing to remember is that becoming a Superhost requires you to maintain a 4.8 overall rating. And the surest way to keep you rating up is to do your best to make your guests feel at home.
5. Cleanliness is next to godliness
Everything we’ve talked about so far falls apart if your guest arrives at a rental that has not been cleaned. Even if it’s just a few dishes in the sink or the toilet paper roll is empty, and a small bit of trash hasn’t been dumped. These sorts of things tell your guests that you don’t care. That their stay is not important to you. It’s also one of the simplest things you can fix. By hiring a cleaning company, you can ensure your place is cleaned and refreshed for each new guest. And, you don’t have to rearrange your schedule to make it happen.
6. Adopt a Business Mindset
When you’re new to being an Airbnb Host, it can all seem very exciting. However, if you don’t keep on top of all the little details, it can start to feel like a burden, and things begin to drop. If you want to be a great Airbnb Host, commit to running your operation like a business, even if it’s merely one rental apartment. By establishing budgets and schedules, not to mention template emails and bulk purchase orders, you can keep control of your operation and, more importantly, keep it from controlling you.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to be a better Airbnb Host, we may be able to help. For years we’ve worked with property owners in the Lower Mainland and Whistler areas to turn their empty homes or vacation properties into successful Airbnb ventures when not in use by their family. Our status as a Superhost enables us to provide additional support and could be the difference between keeping a place afloat and turning a profit. If you want to learn more about how we can help, give us a call.