1/….. Think about what you want to achieve:
Many new hosts think Airbnb will be a pathway to riches…..it won’t. There are some entrepreneurial hosts who will make a lot of money out of Airbnb, but they are few and far between. They have come from a business background and have plenty of money to splash around to secure the services of desirable properties. But what differentiates them from most Airbnb hosts…..they are driven, and they are ruthless!
If you expect that you are going to achieve their levels of success you will be disappointed.
Be modest with your goals, and if you exceed them you will feel far more of a success, and that will translate to confidence, rather than if you set the bar too high to start with.
2/….Describing your property:
Thirty seven percent of guest disputes stem from property description, the guest doesn’t get what they thought they would get.
When wording your listing description, do it with an acquaintance, somebody you know well but, who is not a friend, someone who does not know your property. Remember, it’s your turf, and what seems obvious to you, guests are going to struggle with. You need to describe your property in an accurate impartial way……and that can only be done with outside help!
3/…..Pricing my listing:
Your property is never going to expensive enough to satisfy your wishes, but it is never going to be cheap enough to satisfy a guests wishes. The worst thing you can do is try to compete with your opposition. The most common issue we hear is ‘If I charge any more than $XX per night I won’t get any bookings’……rubbish. You need to first establish how much money it is feasible for you to make each night based on what makes your property financially viable, and then find a way to make your listing a bit more desirable and worth paying those extra dollars for. Being the cheapest in your area will attract the guests you want to avoid……the bottom dwellers who you will never satisfy. You must appeal to guest’s strengths, not their weaknesses.
You need to offer a gimmick, something that makes a prospective guest want to stay with you, something that the guest is prepared to pay a bit more for the experience.
Appeal to their senses, offer a cool space on a hot night with an ice cold beer, or a warm cottage with the electric blanket on the bed turned on and a steaming cup of soup on a freezing night. I had one guest who said….”I never appreciated pumpkin soup before last night, thank you so much!”
Guests pay for that, and it sorts you out from the competition….and the reviews that come keeps the bookings rolling in!
4/….. Don’t hassle the guest when they are there:
Don’t put up lots of 'post-it' notes telling the guest what they can and can’t do. They have paid you for the use of your property, let them enjoy it. Guests don’t want to be bombarded with lots of instructions, so be prepared for a few dishes not done, the garbage not put out in the bin, towels left on the bathroom floor. All these things are going to have to be done during servicing anyway, don’t make the guest feel guilty because they didn’t do it! Let them leave happy that they have had a good time and would like to return again.
You charge a cleaning fee after all, leave it at that!
5/…..How to handle the review:
The guest review will tell the world just what sort of host you are. Most reviews will be easy to write because the experience was positive.
But if the experience was not completely positive, never write a review out of emotion! Wait for a couple of days, make yourself a cup of coffee and put the hosting in perspective. Was the indiscretion that bad that you needed to take the guest to task? Remember the review is going to say as much about you as it does about the guest. If there is a diplomatic way to word your review and still get your point of view across……do it. Don’t get involved in a verbal confrontation with the guest. And most importantly give an accurate review. Nothing makes a host look more stupid than a review he/she has given which says what a model Airbnb-er the guest had been, and then tells the world in the guest review response what a bloody slimy piece of sh*t that same guest was. Don’t ever get into a review situation where you have to back-track.
6/……When things don't go well:
If things do go off the rails and the guest breaks something or brings more people than allowed for, try to sort it out with the guest instead of running to Airbnb and expect them to prop you up. Most guests are responsible and are keen to make amends for the odd bit of damage. If something minor gets broken, in most instances it is an accident, don’t publicly cane the guest over it, give them a bit of slack and in most instances they will meet you some of the way. Put an extra dollar or two onto your listing amount to make up for the odd minor indiscretion.
If the damage is malicious and major…..well that is what you have STR property insurance for, and if you don’t have that…..you should not be hosting anyway.
These are my observations over the past 5 years of hosting. Some hosts will not agree with what I have written here but the steps I have outlined here have lead me to a very successful hosting experience, and I hope these observations can help others to achieve success with their hosting as well!
@Robin4 nice list! I would go further....
1. Figure out who is going to be cleaning this space. Before a guest ever sets foot inside, do a dry run with a friend who can give feedback on cleanliness.
2. Decide who you are targeting. Pet friendly? Families with kids? Couples or singles only? Professionals there to work? Who are your ideal guests? What can you do to attract those people? Don't stress if you are not right for people who want to book with you from time to time. It will be a better experience for everyone if you are honest about what you are offering and target the guests who look for that.
3. Don't buy a remote property in an area you don't know well. Recipe for disaster. So many people seem eager to do this with the promise of easy money. You have to understand the area well enough to know your investment is safe AND give your guests some guidance on things to do, local events, etc.
4. Know you are on your own. ABB is very hands off when it comes to host support. Have a plan for solving issues yourself. They will not intervene in most cases and if they do, its long after the fact.
5. Take breaks. It can get really emotionally draining to host several difficult guests in a row. Block time on your calendar so you aren't always having to deal with guests when you can. Require notice, have a day blocked before and after, don't do one night stays, etc. Down time is important.
6. Stay in your own space. See what its like. Whether its a guest room or remote home, play guest periodically. Identify maintenance issues, low supplies, things that go bump in the night.
7. Thank your neighbors.
Thanks Laura, you are absolutely right with each of those points and I hope others will join in and add their own relevant hosting tips.
I did post something like this a few years ago, but with a relaxing of travel restrictions around the world we are probably going to see an influx of new hosts and I felt it was time for a refresh.
Obviously there is more to successful hosting than the few items you and I have mentioned but, if this thread grows it might become a good resource for beginner hosts and help stop a lot problems from developing.
This is great advice! We are getting ready to close on our property and have decided to stay in the cottage a few days first to work out the kinks and be sure we know how everything works. Slow and steady wins the race. We are excited but cautious and want to hit the market when we’re ready. Thanks for the advice.
Implement a relacement fund. Set money aside from earnings each time it goes in the bank. This can then be drawn on for eg; broken crockery, mattress and pillow protectors if stained.
Another fund for tax because you don't know what you will be paying untill the end of the financial year.
I would add -
Never stop improving your space, think about what's working and what could be better. Over time and as budget allows replace and upgrade things, and refine your target market (it might change over time) and really speak to them. Your price can inch up as your space improves and reviews build.
The soundest advice I've ever read, @Robin4. I like how you keep it to just 6 bullet points. There are posts here that go on for pages. That would be overwhelming to someone starting out. This is the perfect new host intro. Make it up into downloadable pamphlets! 🙂
What a lot of fantastic ideas,
The welcome board is important, it makes people feel at ease straight away as they have found the right place, some guests have taken photos of blackboard as they are so impressed.
I always ask guests if there is something i can do to improve facilities and learnt to add bedside lights when one guest liked to read in bed at night, another good idea was put shelves by one of the vanities for toiletries bag etc, so always keep an open mind and strive to improve all the time.
Dont nickel and dime on amenities, like buy decent toilet paper, quality shampoos and soaps,
a good nights sleep is so important so quality mattress, linens, pillows, etc remember the old saying you have to spend money to make money plus lots of treats that people don't expect and they know you have a passion for hosting and not just doing it for the money and will want to return plus tell there friends.
Great conversation all! One more thought to add. Ask your guests what they would recommend to improve future guest stays. We do it with every guest. We have found this to be very effective. Now that we have 20+ guests under our belts, it's a challenge for them to find something. Great way to build Superhost status.
@M199 we do that but its a mixed bag.
Sometimes its thoughtful and actionable. But many times its "add an additional bedroom" or "do something about the fact that it rains a lot in April." Or "repaint in a color I prefer." I think guests can absolutely give fab feedback but most times they choose to say things that are impractical, hyper specific to their taste or downright impossible.
Wow, thanks for that info. The biggest suggestions we've had was to add a mirror and a range hood in the kitchen. Actually, come to think of it, our worst suggestions came from a Superhost. Lol🙄
@M199 Hey I love your place and since I too have a 400 sq.ft. cottage in our back yard.. was a funky garage....then I used it for 15 yrs doing therapy and then converted for an Airbnb cottage....I always like to see what other hosts are doing and looking for ideas and possible new things that I missed, or just never thought about. I was surprised with your photos....I think if you update those - you can still do them with a good phone camera. I do my own with a Google pixel 3A and I think they work..... I don't do the full kitchen like you but offer basic plus treats. I saw one thing written on your listing that I wanted to comment on you write that the guests last 4 digits of the phone will be the door code. I know many hosts do this BUT it has now become a possible security risk....Recently I read one person was being stalked by her ex and he found the Airbnb she was in and used her last 4 of phone and gained access into the place. I'd suggest you do random numbers instead, I've changed to this and feel its better - just a heads up. Ok, what was the worst suggestion? happy hosting, Clara
I particularly like your comment about just letting the guest enjoy the property and their time spent. I find so often that hosts try to bombard their guests with rules and preferences that mitigate the risk of pet peeves. Viewing your property through the eyes of a guest is something I try to do constantly and I think its valuable when you are adding improvements to the space as well.