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Well in my case I think it was more what I did not do, cancel any reservations.
As I have a lot of short stays I also have the advantage that no one review makes much difference, I find most people are fine and of course there is always the odd one but they have no impact on me so I do not let it worry me.
I do sympathise with those who have fewer longer stays, and a weird one.
It has all to do with cashing in those necessary 5* reviews I suppose. How to manage that would vary greatly from host to host and what they offer.
My approach has been that every property has it's pros and cons, so it may be necessary to overcompensate in some areas to make the pros outnumber the cons.
I am not even an on-site host most of the time, so in my case it has more to do with what is on offer than about personal presence. My daughter is my co-host and is making a very good job of it. I believe my guests have most appreciated:
The value for money aspect.
Attention to details.
A home rather than a bone rental.
Being in a prime location, in a modern and sound-proofed building has of course helped a lot in the positive direction.
These relate to sharing your home - more so than entire homes I guess:
Remember that guests can be as nervous as you on arrival.
It’s a strange environment for them so concentrate only on a few key things that are important to you - for example physically walk them through how to lock the door - it sticks in their mind.
Sounds obvious but be friendly and approachable and tell them you are around if they have any questions
In advance send them a few links to local info: like places to eat, bus tours, transport passes - but don’t over do it
Always try to be there when leaving to say thank you very much for staying with us and come back again sometime
@Lizzie Thanks for asking me to participate!
My primary Airbnb is an apartment in my home: it's a completely seperate unit from my living space. I live on site with my husband and two dogs, but generally don't have a lot of interaction with guests.
I think that for me, it's a combination of things, and it seems to work:
1) As I've mentioned before, I try and do at least one special thing for every guest. Sometimes it's dictated by what they've told me; sometimes it's something spontaneous. Some examples have included:
- Leaving champagne and a personal card for an anniversary or recent wedding;
- Leaving flowers just because;
- Leaving small food gifts and cards over Christmas, as well as putting up some decorations to make people feel more at home;
- Cleaning off a guests' cars so they don't have to brush off all the snow on a cold day;
- Free early check-in and late check out;
- Free winery tasting passes;
- Letting a guest's dogs out so they could stay later at a wedding;
- Leaving dog treats and waste bags for guests with dogs;
- Providing a couple of cold, local craft brewed beers for people who get in late;
- Providing recommendations on everything, from where to go for dinner or where to find an outdoor skaing rink to where to get a wedding cake at the last minute;
- Always having cold bottled water and a selection of coffee and tea with all supplies to make it on hand.
2) I do market research often to make sure I'm offering good value. I look at other Airbnbs in the area, as well as regular bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels to see what they're offering and at what price, and make changes accordingly. I also look at the listings of other hosts I admire, regardless of location, to see what they're doing.
3) The design and the way I run my Airbnb has always followed a simple principle: what would I want if I was staying somewhere? I know that my place is the kind of place I would book if I needed somewhere to stay in our area: the price is reasonable, the amenities are good, and I offer checkin anytime with no need to arrage it prior to arrival. It also has no wine country kitch; it's simple, clean and modern. It also allows dogs, and my dogs mean more to me than pretty much anything, so I know that's something I would appreciate! A major plus on that one is that I also get to meet other people's great dogs.
4) The importance of making a good first impression can't be overstated. If people get a bad impression from the off, even if it's a small issue, it tends to carry over into the rest of the experience. I always make sure I thank people for their booking as soon as they book and offer assistance and recommendations if needed. I also always have the unit ready to go at the agreed check-in time: I've never forgotten to set up a door code (knock on wood!).
I'd say those are my top tips, and as I said, I've been successful so far with it.
I rent a room in the house where I live and use instant book. Almost all guests stay for one night.
There's an auto instant book message but I also send a personalised one straight away when they book, mentioning them by name, responding to any questions or comments in their message and giving parking info.
A message again a few days before arrival asking how they are and to confirm arrival time almost always gets a response and a back & forth exchange of a message or two.
As the room is, let's say, not overly decorated, I use ironed sheets with the cover pulled back to help create an immediate impression of neatness and preparedness.
In winter, if they're to arrive after dark turning on a table lamp in the room helps to give a warm look to the room .
I welcome them on arrival, show them the house, explain how things operate and tell them about the breakfast of cereal, toast tea/coffee and then ask if they would like a cup of coffee or tea.
Most say yes so it's a chance to chat and ask them about driving on the left etc. and give info on attractions / bars / restaurants.
I then give them the keys and, as some find my front door tricky to operate, say "in the best possible meaning of the words, can I show you the door?". When they've stopped laughing I show them how to open/close it.
Divining how much interaction guests want is something that I've definitely had to learn. Let them make the running there as some want a lot, some none and most like to chat for 15 to 20 minutes or so.
Being there when they leave seems to leave people with a good feeling and allows you do do a quick check just after they've left to make sure they haven't left anything behind.
Some of the tips are already mentioned above, but I think these are the things that make a difference for me:
WELCOME: I consistently get 5 stars for this one, so it must be helping with the Superhost status! I am here for each guest's arrival and offer them a drink on arrival and to help carry their bags. I give them a proper tour of the house, which I never rush unless they are in a hurry/too tired. I check if there's anything else they need and let them know I am available to them.
DECOR: It might not be the case for every Airbnb, but I believe it's one of the main reasons guests book my place. The guest rooms are decorated and furnished with as much care, if not more, than I would my own bedroom. I make the beds up as nicely as I can and have extra thick mattress toppers to make them super comfy. The rooms are practical, but everything in them is also pretty!
CLEANING: I'm particuarly fussy re keeping the guest bedrooms spotless and I will offer to clean them again for longer-term guests. Obviously the house should be clean when they arrive, especially kitchen and bathrooms, but I've found that I often get 5 star ratings for cleanliness if the guests have seen me cleaning again during their stay. I don't just mean keeping the place clean, but them actually SEEING me in the process of doing some cleaning. It has some sort of positive effect on them subconciously!
INFORMATION: I have spent time building my guidebook and send a link to all guests (as well as directions to the house) a few days before arrival. I will send other information that might be useful, but play it by ear as some guests like a lot of help, whilst others don't. However, most like money saving tips! I'm happy to help with recommendations and if a guest asks me something I don't know the answer to, I'm straight on the computer to find out.
KITCHEN. Guests have unlimited access to a fully equipped kitchen and dining area, which most appreciate because eating out in London isn't cheap. I make sure each guest has a shelf in the fridge. Although I don't provide breakfast, there is coffee, sugar and a selection of different teas for them.
COMMUNICATION: This is mostly covered in the points above, but I also try to be honest and accurate about my listing so as to manage expectations. Yes, I will highlight the selling points, e.g. how close we are to the tube station, but I'll also mention that a particular bedroom faces the road and can be a bit noisy. I let guests have privacy, but if I sense they want to socialise, then I'll happily sit and chat with them. I make sure to follow up with guests during their stay to see if they need anything and send a thank you message after they leave (and sometimes a gentle reminder to leave a review).
THE EXTRAS: Most popular is the customised chalk board with the guests' names on them. I'd say 99% love this! As well as books, there are leaftlets on stuff to do in London and if I can, I also leave them local magazines with listings and recently I started collecting magazines in different languages too. As well as travel toiletries in the rooms and useful things like sewing kits, hairdryer, travel adaptors, there are full sized bottles of toiletries in the bathrooms labelled for guest use. At Christmas I leave cards and for birthdays and anniversaries. I tried leaving bowls of fruit, but these mostly went to waste. Sometimes I leave fresh flowers. I'm thinking of adding little pots of Spring bulbs when they come into bloom and maybe a sweet jar.
I struggle with the kitchen.
After a couple years- I’ve quit allowing meal preparation. Guests can still use the refrigerator, microwave and kitchen, but I ask them to limit time to 15 minutes. I feel a bit bad, but I felt that I wasn’t able to use the kitchen myself. Guests would prepare large meals late in the evening- or very early (0430) if they caught international flights.
It wasn’t consistent but it was often enough that I put a kettle in the room and changed to no meal preparation, kitchen use between 0700-2100.
I offer a large room, with use of my beautiful living room to relax in. My bedroom is off the kitchen so that had an effect on my sleep and privacy as well.
We’ll see how it goes- even super hosts get to have boundaries
@Lizzie There is the Air BNB status of Super Host and there is being a Super Host.
The first has to have a bit of luck with the guests' expectations matching the listing and thus earning 5 star reviews consistently over a period of time that results in meeting the Super Host criteria. I have seen many postings of Super Hosts that reflect luck more than understanding of this business. I certainly was in that category during my first year of hosting.
Then there is BEING a Super Host. As the previous posts reflect, attention to detail seems to be the theme. What details are attended to may vary from host to host. However, being detailed oriented is a good skill to have in any business and essential in the hospitality industry.
Also, for me, I am a fairly good reader of people which probably comes from years as a psychotherapist. I can really individualize my details when I have a sense of the guest.
Now, I pair all this guest orientation with a healthy dose of being clear about my expectations of the guest. I am flexible, but I have clear boundaries. I am welcoming but the guest understands he/she is in my house as my guest. If they don't understand that, their review will reflect my opinion that a hotel is a better option for them.
So far I have maintained the status for a couple of years which feels good but what feels even better are all the lovely reviews my guests take the time to leave :D
Me, too Linda. Their photo, how much information they give me, where they're from and info from chatting with them, I try to think about what they would like and adapt and customize every time. I also have a bit of psychology in my background, and marketing/PR! =>
Expectations - Experience = Satisfaction
Being a superhost is not so easy, even to the hosts that has only one listing. More difficult to the ones who have several listings.
It may require some time and some experience in listing management and communication.
My tip is like: Put yourself in the guest's place and think about these questions:
1- Is the place clean for me?
2- Does it have what is necessary for a good stay and have fair price? Is it good value for money?
3- In communication, respond the question as you would like other one to respond to you. Be considerate and thoughtful.
4- It is better to under promise and over deliver.
Thanks, @Lizzie. Superhosting is a bit of luck, as some have said. It's gone in a flash. (Once, in my case, specifically in a flash flood. I got "the guest asks you to..." email, and everyone knows the rest of that story.)
But for all except that quarter I've had the badge, and communication is probably the thing. It is absolutely essential that guests do not misunderstand what they are getting here - how literally in-the-woods our listing is. I frequently tweak my description and rules to keep them very clear, and I encourage and answer as soon as possible any questions that come in via the messaging.
Interaction at arrival might be important, too. I walk the kilometre to the treehouse with every guest who arrives when I'm home. They get a personalized instruction letter if I am not home. After they arrive I leave them to it. No "how are things?" messages from me. I'm available to them, but I treat them as unavailable to me. I'm not recommending others do this necessarily. My listing is one that attracts people who don't want to be jarred out of a backwoods experience with text notifications.
I keep the treehouse and grounds as spotless as possible. It's tough in the woods, especially when it is raining, but I feel a lot sorrier for hosts who have their bedrooms treated like hotel rooms. I ask for no-trace camping, and often get it, which leaves just the usual mopping and restocking and dealing with whatever the raccoons have been up to.
Or maybe it is the waffles. We're far from cafés and shops, so I do cook breakfast when I'm home. That loops back to communication, too, since no one eats in stony silence - the conversations over breakfast are always fun.
I loved reading the responses here. We're all so different, but the common thread seems to be empathy for our guests, successfully determining what they need, and providing it with, I assume, a smile.
@LizzieThe thing our guests mention the most, is being there for them as a host. Not possible for everybody, so clearly not essential to Superhost status, but we live round the corner and it's what people coming on holiday for several days find helpful.
An example would be our current guests who want to go fossil hunting and I said I'd drop round a bucket and some hammers tomorrow. They were surprised this would be possible. I want them to have a good time, they're paying good money, it will cost me nothing but a few minutes of my time. We're all happy!
With each guest I learn a little more and make adjustments. I seem to get the best reviews when I let the guests check themselves in, but let them know to call me if they need anything or have any questions. (I live in another section of the house). Initially I text them the special little quirks about the guest quarters and give them a friendly acknowledgement that the place is ready for them. Even though my listing states there is a fee for early check-in, if there are no back-to-back booking time crunches, I will let them know if the place will be ready early and don't charge them. They are always welcome to drop off their luggage even if the place is not ready.
I clean and vaccuum meticulously and make sure everything looks and smells fresh and clean. I leave a little basket of goodies, and put drinks on the counter. Jams, sugar, creamer, coffee and an assortment of teas are also available. In the bathroom are extra toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other little items such as safety pins, band-aids, etc. Sometimes people take them all, but mostly they just use a few of the items (thankfully cheap at the local $ store!). I also stock the fireplace and all they have to do is light it.
If they want extra ice, I let them know just to give me a call, but people usually go to the grocery store and stock up on this. Last time, the toilet backed up and I came down to mop up and washed and dried the rugs for them. I fixed the problem the next day, and offered them 50% off the second day of their next stay and thenked them for being so patient. (Luckily it was not the main bathroom!).
I'd say that being friendly and helpful is the biggest secret of my success. I also update my Airbnb pictures, description and add points of interest periodically to make sure it reflects any changes. I also buy new pillows, sheets and blankets when they start to look worn. Last year I re-evaluated the space, rearranged it and even purchased some new furniture. I want my renters to be happy and I treat the space as if I was hosting my own family!
I've been hosting since Feb 2015 and a Superhost since July 2015. I'm extremely fortunate in that I am able to rent out the entire top floor of my home which comprises of a double bedroom, shower room and a sitting room/study. I am also extremely fortunate in that I live in a lovely "villagey" part of west London with wonderful local shops, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs with easy access to both Heathrow and central London. With all those plus points on my side I would have to be very stupid not to take advantage of them and mess things up by being anything less than friendly, helpful and able to read what the guest wants. Most guests are a little anxious when they arrive anywhere new so the first job is to dispel that anxiety and make them feel like they are truly welcome by smiling - no one wants the door opened by someone with a face like a thunder cloud. Make sure that the room is spotless and looks inviting and cosy - if they are arriving after dark, make sure that there is a bedside lamp switched on, a desk lamp etc. I still get a real kick out of hearing a guest say "Ahh this is lovely" when they get upstairs! It is also vital to extablish their level of understanding of English - there is no point in chatting away happily to a guest about the facilities if they don't understand you. This should have been partially apparent from the pre trip communication anyway, but some times I have found that they have asked other people to type their messages to me and that their level of understanding is way lower than I expected. I've had some very funny "sign language" sessions ...
I suppose the most important thing to remember is that the guests are paying to stay with us - it can be easily forgotten in the hundreds of other little issues that arise - and that as such, and within reason it is our job to provide a first rate service and cater to their needs. A resentful sigh or grimace when they ask you the same question for the umpteenth time is not what superhosts do.
The greatest compliment a guest can pay is to say that staying here has made their trip to London "special" or "memorable" - that really does make all the hard work worthwhile.