There are so many aspects to hosting but one that gets so much attention seems to be the never ending drive for that all treasured “5 star review”. Most of us as host have special things that tend to make our Airbnb’s unique and special. But I think it’s some basic things that really help keep those stars flying in our direction. Guests want to experience that WOW effect in most all their adventures. And staying in an Airbnb can be slightly scary for many first timers (they say) so the quicker they feel comfy and relaxed or at home the better.
1] Chalkboard Greeting - In our cottage we turned the A/C door into a chalkboard with a personal Welcome, Wi-Fi password and recommendations for eating and my must see things in Pensacola. Seeing their names on the large chalk board appears to be a real delight for almost all guests. And they know they are special and belong right here! (We just feed those egos a little bit)
2] Keyless Entry - For most of the Pensacola guests going to the beach and having to deal with keys can be rather tricky. Plus who wants to have to make extra keys and be on the alert at any hour to let a guest in your place when they’ve lost the keys – so the keypad code system is a great answer - just 4 numbers - no keys, no hassle, just freedom. Makes for a streamlined super easy check in as well. We keep it secure by changing the codes after each guest. Our Schlage keyless entry holds 15 codes at one time so we can assign a number and delete it immediately after check out. Many hosts use the last 4 numbers of someones phone. The new guest has their code which is different. Safety first.
3] Mattress Protectors - Recently a friend said she always strips the beds in her Airbnb work travel stays. She said on a recent stay somewhere the mattress had many awful stains so she felt the bed was dirty and really wished she had not seen that. It spoiled how she felt about her stay up to that moment. Making sure everything is sparkling clean is maybe the most important deal (star) breaker! Some guests think they are doing the hosts a favor by stripping the bed (m friend did) or sometimes there are stained sheets and maybe embarrassment or not? So make sure your mattress is not stained (if it is a zippered protective cover will help). I use 2 mattress protectors at all times – to make certain and protect the mattress which I think is the most important furniture in an overnight stay. We have a fabulous Muse sleep bed that everyone seems to totally adore.
4] Lint Rollers - Did you know that most people typically lose between 50 - 100 hairs a day? Any guest will tell you a stray hair/s on their pillow or bed will spoil things very quickly so my “go to” in managing this challenge is Lint Rollers – I lint roll the bedding before stripping and laundering and then after I make the bed I lint roll once again. Making sure to find every single hair. I buy lint rollers in a 4 or 6 pack because more is definitely more and better!
5] Extra Towels - If you search out really good towels at great lower prices you can be generous with guests and leave extras and most often they are not all used. I’d rather have to wash a couple towels after check out than having to deliver more at any given hour. This seems to work out super.
6] Toiletries - Something most hosts work to balance, is what toiletries to put in the bathroom so we decided large pump bottles of body wash, shampoo and conditioner would be eco-friendly, much cheaper and less hassle. No soap bars for the cottage and less clean up.
7] Extra Pillows - The sleep/play experience is the most critical since a large amount of time is typically spent in the beds we all offer. So I believe it pays to offer extra pillows for each guest – 2 per person, plus a few décor pillows. It looks terrific and adds a touch of luxury for little expense and work. All pillows are first covered in hypoallergenic protective zippered covers and then we use extra soft cotton pillow cases.
These are a few things that work for us and seem to keep those 5 star reviews coming.
With over 125 - 5 star reviews in 2 yrs, I totally enjoy hosting in Pensacola Florida and learning from and sharing with others about their hosting experiences. The Community Center has been a real blessing of people, information and advice, a wonderful community we can all celebrate being part of. Please share any of your tips, and life hacks you have found, below.
Happy Hosting and Many Blessings, Clara
@Clara116 Lint rollers! Such a good idea, I always check the bedding for hair while making the bed but had never thought of buying a lint roller, thanks! I already have all the other things listed in place.
Hi @Clara116, thanks for your tips and I do agree with them. I have keys, and have considered rekeying to one key.
i have used lint rollers in the last, but I don’t enjoy the “sticky” it might leave on the linen or upholstery.
I am more inclined to use a chamois-styled cloth that I have wet and rung out, and rub across the surface. This lifts hairs pretty easily. Another is to use a dampened mop across a rug before vacuuming.
i always want pillows, so ensure I offer plenty. Different profiles so guests can choose a low or high pillow.
i don’t use pillow protectors on scatter cushions, but ensure I have plenty of spare covers etc, if I need to soak oil, honey or “peanut butter” spots. That way there is no panic with turnaround!
@Cathie19 I have never experienced any residual left behind........I've even heard of hosts using Duck tape wrapped around your hand sticky out and it will grab anything and everything. Now Gorilla tape would probably leave its mark. lol
Lots of elbow grease @Helen427 !
I do a variety of things. I try to use cold water when I don’t know what it is, to not cure the stain.
I hit it with a pre wash spray on solvent.
I then usually hit it with sard soap.
If needed I’ll then repeat and sprinkle some laundry detergent and laundry booster on the spot.
I’ll then place it in a bucket with detergent and a little water.
I’ve never lost an item to oil yet! Fingers crossed....
Pigment dyes, can be another story.....
I have used Zep Purple. Can get it at Home Depot. it is an industrial degreaser. I dilute it 50%.
Powerful stuff. Wear gloves. Do not inhale fumes. I degrease engines with it, but have soaked laundry in it before washing to remove oil/grease stains. It has removed oil stains, undercoating, melted crayons on interior, mold. I have not found too many things it won't take out. I washed my work-clothes in it for about a year before the fabric fell apart. So don't use it regularly!
Great post @Clara116 and a fantastic topic to kickstart the CC Festival of Hospitality. Whoop. Thank you so much for creating and sharing this. :)
With you welcome board, do you normally write a little message specifically for your guests? Perhaps if there is a particular reason why they are visiting your area.
@Lizzie We have a welcome board tailored for each set of guests and a very detailed house manual, in five languages, giving them advice on everything from using the appliances to do's and don'ts in the house to sites, attractions and shopping in the local area.
But even so, we still write a custom welcome letter for every set of guests, and we address any additional requests we haven't already addressed by Airbnb email in that. For instance, our last guests told us the names and ages of their two daughters, and we were sure to mention them by name and point out some additional things that they might want to do. The mother had also asked for specific restaurant recommendations, and so we included a full page of these along with our greeting letter.
So yes, we think that these little personal touches are very important. We're still new to hosting, and so we don't know if this will end up being the "5 star makers" that @Clara116 mentioned at the start of this thread. But from a guest's perspective, we know that we would love it if a host had ever done anything like this for us.
@Cindy458 Thank you. So far the guests seem to like it. We're only at Guest #6 now, but the first five game us 5 stars in every category and wrote very nice reviews--some glowing!
As I said above, we just did this based on our own experiences as travellers. The stays we remembered (and made note of) were the ones where the hosts had been thoughtful and gone the extra mile. Yes, it's a bit time-consuming, but when you read those words of happy praise, it reminds you of why you wanted to be a host in the first place. :-)
@Rich-and-Yan0 Thanks for inspiring me! I'm going to try the custom welcome letter. We have an extensive guidebook binder and via email I've asked guests to let me know if there is anything they need. Sometimes I do still have guests wait until after they leave to make suggestions in their review or private messages. Perhaps the personal welcome letter is a better way to encourage them to ask questions/make requests during their stay.
@Stephanie6 You're very welcome--though my wife and I just checked out your listings and we don't think that you need a lot of tips from us, lol. Those are two very beautiful places you have there. The first one has the funky "boho" feel, and the second one just exudes luxury. Well done!
We're still relative newbies, with not even three full months of listing in yet. And unlike San Francisco, which seems to get visitors all year round, our place in the south of Portugal is largely seasonal. But we're now up to Guest #6, and it's been great fun so far corresponding with them and trying to take care of their needs. Only one has been a "problem guest," but they at least gave us a 5-star review.
Anyway, whatever it is you've been doing, keep it up. Your guests sure seem to like it. :-)