Hi new hosts (and seasoned hosts)! Just wanted to share some things I wished I had known before I first started my ABB adventure. Hopefully others will chime in as well!
- Guests don't (always) love my cottage as much as I do. Sad but true. I am a little gaga over my space and about half of the guests really seem to get that same feeling of magic that I do. But some don't. A good proportion, actually. And as such they might complain about things I think are charming features, or treat it like a hotel with daily maid service (which it doesn't have.) I have learned not to take this personally but sometimes it still burns a bit.
- There is no security deposit. We have one listed but its really up to the guest to agree to pay if and when you try to collect. Otherwise ABB will arbitrate and more often than not, hosts are left holding the bag. I think its more a psychological deterrent than anything. Don't rely on it.
-You will really have to solve most issues yourself. Honestly. This is a great platform to get your listing noticed on, but the back up support is spotty at best. You will be much better served if you have a plan for solving any problems up front. Know what you will do if a guest shows up with extra people, if your neighbors report a party, if things go missing from your space, etc. It might even help to outline some basic policies for yourself on how you will handle these situations. Stick to them. Don't be intimidated and don't wait for a return call from your "case manager." Use the forums to get information and ideas.
-Pay attention to red flags. Most problems can be avoided before the space is booked or shortly thereafter. Guests who ask for a lot of exceptions or have not read the listing in any way will be an issue. Don't let them book in the first place. The person who wants something very different than you offer may not be a bad guest, just a bad fit for you. Same with bargain hunters. Don't try to be all things to all people. Offer what you can offer and don't stress when someone isn't a fit. You want people who have great experiences, not people who will make you bend over backwards and still give a so so review.
- Price well and don't listen to ABB pricing suggestions. Don't price too low. This attracts people who will not be the best caliber of guest. If your space costs less than a Starbucks coffee and McDonald's meal per person, it does not cost enough. Don't expect that people will leave it clean or be respectful of rules. ABB suggests you price much lower than most markets. Ignore this.
-"Clean" means different things to different people. Some people will freak if they see an insect, even in the summer in the woods when they leave the doors open. Some people will check for dust under beds and on the tops of picture frames, on ceiling fan blades, etc. Some travel with a black light. Some won't care much at all. Clean for the pickiest person you can imagine because they are out there.
-Your first few guests will likely be the most difficult. There are a few reasons for this. You don't have a base line to compare things to, and some guests target new hosts to pull nonsense. Be extra careful with stays over 30 days for the first several bookings. It may seem like a great pay out, but you might accidentally become a landlord with a squatter and no lease. And you might not get paid for the whole thing if the guest complains or leaves and ABB can't collect (though your calendar may still be blocked.)
- Don't accept last minute or one night requests. There are exceptions to the one night thing-- if your space is close to an airport, train station etc. But in general, last minute or very short stay guests are the folks who don't plan well and cause issues. Parties, porn shoots and all kinds of craziness can be wrapped up in these sorts of stays.
-Don't cancel guests if you can help it. Ask ABB to do it (you get one freebie a year) or the guest to withdraw. If you cancel you forfeit the possibility of being a Superhost.
-Guests hate cleaning fees, so roll your costs into your nightly stay but still charge a nominal fee. If you charge nothing, guests often treat the space more like a hotel despite any rules (towels on the floor, mess everywhere.) Charging a bit ($20-$50) sends the message that someone is going to pick up after them that needs to be paid, but its not so much that the guest is railing over "hidden fees." Our cleaners cost much more than our fee, but guests feel like its fair enough.
-Expect that this will be more work than you anticipate. Its NOT a get rich quick scheme! There is a lot of emotional. physical and financial labor that goes into hosting. It can be rewarding, but its work. Do not underestimate just how much work 🙂
Very well thought informations. I just became superhost and learning a lot as I go. Had some problem with one of the guests. They tried to claim the money back after staying for three days in our place. I had to spend extra time to go through my CCTV(luckily I had some) to turn the case around to my side. It was absolutely horrendous experience. Thank you for your informations.
@Laura2592 With COVID at least here in the states I have found offering last minute stays has been profitable as many family’s have stayed working/schooling mobile. With that said when traveling with a family as I have done many times anything can happen either your making great time and you show up at a halfway point early or your travels have been delayed and just need to stop for the night. You can set a time so they can not book last minute after 8PM which is what I have set. As soon as my guests leave I immediately start cleaning and re-set wether I have a guest booked or not. This was a learning lesson for me as the bookings come when you least expect them. That way the space is always ready, if it’s been anything after 2 days before I get another guest I always ask them to message me 1 hour prior to arriving and send them my exact GPS with my google maps app. This way I know they are about to arrive and I quickly do a last minute dusting with a swiffer duster always LOOKING UP, for any dust or cobwebs and a finally spray of Microban through out the entire place so it’s fresh. I have a 3 bedroom apartment with tons of decorations and furniture so this takes me about 30 min to do. I always greet my guests in person (this has been one of my best reviews) as people want to feel “Hosted” not renting g an empty space…. It’s called “Air Bed and Breakfast” for a reason. Hotels don’t let you just walk right in so nor should you. Ok so that does not work for people that host off site but they are hosting blindly and I find in this forum that many issues hosts have are the ones that host off site and blind. If you are greeting them upon arrival you have a chance to see that there is a dog, or more people then they booked…. This gives you a precious opportunity to make the aware you need to alter their charge as it CLEARLY states you charge by the person and for pets. As I said before by letting them know, as soon as they book, you need a 1 hour ETA so you can greet them and let them in at arrival they stay pretty honest. I had a family of 8 once and they included their infant in the charges and when I did the count I merely said “where is #8, dis you loose one on a gas stop? (Giggles)” the wife said “no she is here” and held up here infant daughter. I said well we need to fix that amd took off the charge for #8. Heist remember these guests are trusting you just as much as you are trusting them, amd treating them with respect goes along way.
YES you are gonna have a “Karen/Ken” but that happens anywhere just be kind and thoughtful. I had a “Ken” last week he walked in as I showed him around and turned to me and said I am allergic to glade plug ins …. Sure no worries I took them all out sprayed the entire place with unscented air freshener and open the windows and told him it would be a couple minutes, he told Airbnb after he canceled that I was accommodating but feared the scent was in the linen and furniture and I did not get a penalty. But canceling after checking in was a new one for me so I Daughtet out Airbnb and only communicating with my guest thru Airbnb after he left so they could see the message. Yes I have heard the horror stories about hosts having issues with Airbnb helping them resolve experiences gone bad… but if you document with pictures and Airbnb messaging Airbnb will side with you most times. Enjoy what you do and so it because you WANT to not because you have to.
@Elizabeth1028 there has been a lot of debate around greeting guests in person during COVID, and at one time I think ABB disallowed that (don't recall if that has been lifted, someone can chime in.) Its important to read the "Updates" section of the forum as all the new rules and info are posted there. COVID had a lot of weird stuff happening with stays, cancellations, refunds, cleaning etc. Rules change often and you don't want to be doing something out of goodwill that can land you in hot water.
Not all hosts can do immediate turn overs. If you live on site, that is theoretically easier. Last minute travelers often create a lot of drama as they have not read listings due to the very last minute nature of their requests. If you are a new host, its always a good idea to get familiar with the basics of hosting before going to the "advanced" class 🙂
Also, if you are hosting 8 people for $65 a night that is $8.125 a person. Its hard to fathom that you would be recovering all your costs for $8 a head especially with a breakfast. I might consider removing air mattresses and lowering your guest counts if you are uncomfortable increasing your rates. You want to make sure you are compensated for your time, energy, communication, cleaning, furnishing, supplying, cooking, etc. Good luck!
@Laura2592 It’s actually $65 a night (summer rates) $85 a night Hunting season rates as I am booked everyday for a year in advance from Oct - Dec and $15 per person after the 1st person. I am a Cattle Rancher that provides everything I harvest on my ranch and farm that I grow myself even farm fresh eggs from my coop(so food costs is extremely minimal on my part). Oh and I am in North Dakota we lifted ALL COVID restrictions a long time ago (6+months ago) and Airbnb said (as I read everything that comes out) to follow LOCAL CDC GUIDELINES, which I do and even go further then Airbnb lists for Cleaning procedures ( I dont just wash my linens and towels they get soaked in a Stripping bath with Borax, vinegar and baking soda, then rinsed and put thru the washer machine on Sanitize cycle-with Tide Free and oxyclean and dried on the sanitize cycle in the dryer). When it was still in effect guests were greeted without shaking hands and all wearing a mask including myself.
as far as last minute bookings all the rules on my listing are printed out in large legible print inside and that’s the first thing I point out is the list of rules, which also lists extra charges for damages and stolen items. So yes your right living on site is way more beneficial and less hassle as you have time to deal with things immediately and document with pictures and I have found better reviews as my biggest compliments besides my homemade breakfast is my personal service … almost all my guests have comments on how it was a breathe of fresh air to be greeted personally and not just punch in a code to enter a dark space. As I also turn on the reading lights in every room and have motion sensor hallway and bathroom lights. This helps the kids too who are afraid of the dark and need to get up in the night to go potty. Wink wink
@Laura2592 I just looked at your listing and LOVE it if I am ever in MD as I am originally from NC I will have to make a point stay at your place. But I follow what hotels amd other Bed and Breakfasts charge. I stay very competitive in my area as again I am in North Dakota, I mostly get Hunters as we are the Pheasant capital and in the summer I get travelers coming to and from all the National Parks Roosevelt, Devils Tower, Mt Rushmore, and Yellowstone. Also in August it’s Sturgis Bike rally and that brings a lot of business too as we are SW North Dakota so only 3 hours from all the National parks and 1 hour from Roosevelt National park. That’s why catering to last minute bookings benefit me as these people are just stopping to rest before moving on to their final destination and being so close to all those National Parks helps a lot. I did try to up my listing to $95 a night but went a month with no bookings. And yes living here on site again makes it easy for me to make these accommodations.
@Elizabeth1028 there is really no need to defend your practices 🙂 I think when you are a host long enough you will start to see some patterns and adjust accordingly.
We started at $50 a night. For an entire house. Why? Because there was only one other place in the area and it was twice as big charging $85. We had no idea what we would attract-- we are a half hour from any regional attractions and a good hour, hour and a half from a major city. We were scared we would not get bookings. We had a LOT of clean up after our first few guests and some so-so reviews. It took time and energy to adjust our prices and policies to where we should be. And guess what? The other hosts in the area RAISED their prices as we did. Now we have more competition and a few places that lead the way on pricing at $199 a night or more. We are still booking like crazy. When you adjust your market does as well.
What I am trying to say is that you shouldn't believe that your listing or experience is really all that different than any host. Yes there is a lot of diversity and variation. But I learned with the benefit of kind people on this forum who had a lot more experience than I. Several years out now and going to hit 175 stays this year, I post a lot to give back to the community that helped me. ABB customer support isn't always aces. These people are offering their free advice and valuable insight.
You don't have to agree. You don't have to suggest that people only know a tiny bit of geography. Heck, you don't even have to respond to every post. If anything offered in this forum by me, or anyone else who has experienced some unique, difficult or delicate hosting situations can apply, its worth taking that on board. Best of luck again! Bowing out of this conversation now in the hopes that others will comment and add insights.
@Laura2592 Love it! I guess I was reading g your responses as harsh so I apologize… lol it is hard to get across your meaning in a text forum. And yes you have been doing it longer and I am sure you have seen way worse then what I have …. And I am sorry for you for that but it does come with working with strangers. I have had some minor damages and only one bad review from someone that was a no show. So I totally get where your expertise comes from and I appreciate you and your advise.
@John5522 I would do a search on others in that area, see how much they are booking for nightly and how many available days they have on their calendar. Narrow it to homes that have similar amenities to what you have/similar bed and bath counts. Take the average of the number of booked days and nightly price for similarly situated listings. Read reviews to see what guests are doing (are they going to attractions in the area? Is this place close to those or are they booking further out for more quiet/lower cost, etc.)
Once you have those numbers, calculate what your costs are to run your listing. Do you have a mortgage? Electricity/water/gas/trash/sewage bills? Insurance? Do you have to buy new furnishings? What cushion do you need to have for breakage? Do you need a landscaper to cut grass or a now removal service? How often do you want to use the place yourself? Do you need to do any painting or renovation to make the place attractive and habitable for guests? How much can you afford to pay for cleaning between each?
Compare your outgoing costs against the averages in your area. Then you will have an idea.
Great information and suggestions. I had a recent learning experience. I had a recent guest cancel too late to receive a refund but politely requested one anyway. I didnt respond immediately and then he requested a reservation change to a later date. I approved the change and then he canceled again. This time he was entitled to a partial refund. 😳
Oh gosh how cheeky and sneeky!! Seems strange how that guest could cancel and then request a date change!!
I had a guest actually check in and then 3 hours later text me to cancel as he had changed his mind!! Of course I didn't refund him but he made up some story about his brother being in an accident and he had to rush back. But the thing was he was from another country and his brother lived abroad. So I knew it was just an excuse so I didn't reply and later he gave me a really bad and actually untrue review. He didn't like the fact that he wanted to leave at 3 am and have a shower before when its a shared guest bathroom and we have other guests staying and we live there too. He would have woken the whole house!! and he hadn't read our house rules re taking showers after 10pm.
I have since switched off instant book and made my same day booking 12 noon to allow more time to vet a potential guest.