London, United Kingdom Community Manager
I hope you’re all welcoming in the New Year! It’s that time when everyone talks about a fresh start, and making new resolutions to give up all sorts of unhealthy habits. That got me thinking: I know that some of you have told us about reaching hosting milestones in the past, but do you set yourself hosting goals?
Maybe you find it easier to take things as they come, or maybe something to aim towards keeps you motivated - 90% occupancy over the high season, or three consecutive stays where guests don’t need any extras perhaps.
Do you set yourself goals in your hosting journey? If so, what are they?
Good on you Katrina, the more you can involve your local community, the more successful you will be.
When I started short term renting I did meet a bit of resistance from articles in the local newspaper about the problems associated with STR in a community. I do live and host in a small town environment and everything that goes on here gets noticed.
Throughout 2018 I did a straw poll, I asked each guest what they would have spent during the duration of their stay here in my listing in my town of Mt Barker! Some were just overnighters.....a pizza, perhaps a bottle of wine and that was it, maybe $50. Some however spent considerably longer here and their stays ended up with them pouring maybe $1,500 into the community.....and in a couple of instances even more!
The average from the 127 stays I had in 2018 was $285 per stay.....that amounts to $36,195 that Airbnb verified and positively identified guests bought into my local community via my listing. Multiply that by the 157 Airbnb hosts in my area that means that Airbnb has brought into my community $5.68 million in 2018.
I presented that evidence at a local council meeting, and it was reported in the local newspaper, and suddenly much of the resistance I had previously felt disappeared. It disappeared to the point where I now have 'Airbnb Welcome Here' window stickers on many of the local traders windows and some even offer a discount for Airbnb guests.
Money talks, and I have turned a negative into a positive and I now feel Airbnb do not have one opponent in this town of 36,000 residents and so we have absolutely no restrictions on our hosting. I have 5 other Airbnb hosts on board, we each help each other out with hosting issues, we get together regularly with local council, make sure we keep our traders on side, and it is a win/win situation.....everyone benefits!
My approach may not work in a large city environment, but I think it is worth a try and I strongly recommend other hosts try it!
Sell yourself and sell Airbnb and you will be amazed what can happen!
Getting into the council meeting is the easy part Katie. Councils in Australia are required to hold open meetings to the public, there is a public gallery in council chambers and all meetings will have a few members of the public in attendance, most of them with some interest of their own they wish to put to council.
Through my involvement with Meals on Wheels, I have had a bit to do with the Mayor over the years and both she and I felt what I had to say had some merit. It was fortunate that a journalist from 'The Courier', our local paper was there and also felt my research was worth bringing to the community's attention.
Publicly, Airbnb is a bit like Fox News, the public only ever get to see one side....the bad side! They get to hear of property damage, party noise, illegal parking and how Airbnb are taking long term rental properties out of the market forcing up rental rates. Airbnb had started to get a bit of a track record when I started hosting in 2016, everyone's reaction was..."I hope we don't get one in our street"!
But I was having such a great run with lovely guest after lovely guest, no property damage, no parties, I was not taking a long tern rental property out of the market and I needed to let the community know that this was not such a bad thing....lots of good can come from Airbnb. I let the local traders know I was recommending them to all my guests....the good cafes and restaurants, the good wineries, where to get the best supermarket deals ....and they started supporting me with cheap condiments to offer my guests and I ended up getting a few other hosts on side!
It's better to have them with you than against you and Katie I feel very comfortable with where I sit in the local community, I am proud to say I am an STR host.
@Robin4 , Its funny that most nonproblems in life disappear quickly when profits come to light. We definitely do have a very positive impact on surrounding communities that many hotels and motels don't realize with their guest pools sometimes are more like cesspools. Airbnb Hosts are far more comunity conscious and conscientious and our mothership rightfully discriminating (in good ways) about the quality of guest we choose to open our doors to.
Big name Cubical Hamster Cage flops houses may host many more bodies but I would bet some serious loot that The Super 8 in Oneida has a verifiably (just read the local police blotter) higher percentage rate of guests that damage their spaces, break their rules, state and federal laws, and have a negative impact on the host community in one way or more than any guests staying at Bearpath Lodging or other local Airbnb hosts, Stay well Rob, JR
Yes, we have some goals for 2021. We want to hit a certain nightly price while still keeping high ratings. I also have some projects I want to do-- expanding the back stoop to a small back porch, planting a pollinator garden, getting quotes for new counters. We just replaced the upstairs bedframe, rug and bedding as well as pots, pans and knife block. First of the year guests get the benefit of brand new stuff!
I also started an Instagram for our cottage and am trying to get to 1000 followers by posting every day. So far I am at 135, but I get a few more each day. There are some other cottages I love spying on in my feed and I do think that we have gotten a few bookings out of it even though its only be a couple of weeks.
They sound like great goals @Laura2592 😊 I've heard a lot of hosts here in the Community say that higher prices can be very beneficial for bookings, and you do a great job hosting so I'm sure it wont affect your ratings.
Do you always make improvements around New Year?
The Insta sounds like a fun side project to feed into the business too - I know there are loads of free tips out there on how to grow your audience organically 👌
@Katie Our only target for 2021 is to start hosting again. Perhaps we will be allowed to by March but even that is unlikely I am afraid
I think this is a very fair target for 2021 @Mike-And-Jane0! Have you had hosting goals or targets to work towards in previous years pre-covid?
@Katie Yes I do have a hosting goal this year! I’ve been mulling over this idea for quite some time and I am at the point where I have the space, location, time and motivation to start! I have recently opened up a new Airbnb (very risky right now) and am running it currently to just make a bit over break even. My goal is to brand it as, “live like a local, support local”. The location is wonderful and will attract families, youth, and seniors. It is up and running now and holding its own, so I now have time to focus on branding. I’m reaching out to local artist’s and crafter’s to allow a space for them to display their work. I’m slowly hand picking and contacting them and so far have two eager artisans committed to the idea. One makes beautiful sun catchers that will display lovely in my 1912 Airbnb. The other does macrame plant holders and wall hangings. I refinish furniture so will also be working on smaller pieces as I go along. I’m taking things slowly so I don’t become overwhelmed, but hope to accomplish the local artisan vibe by the summer.
That's that cool idea @Katrina79! Will guests be able to buy the artwork? You could print the artist's bio and hang in funky frames next to their work.
Last time I looked at your profile I think you had half as many reviews and listings. You've been busy!
This is a fantastic idea @Katrina79 (I suggested something similar recently to one of our members who had mentioned meeting local artisans and getting them involved in the business somehow).
I think there would be a good deal of guests keen to have this kind of experience too! As they say, no risk, no reward - it's great that you've had the time to start out with it recently.
Please keep us up to date on your progress as I'd love to see the art/craft and read about the artists 😃
@Ann72It is a lovely idea, I like everything about it, now just have to try it out and give it a go. @Emilia42 Yes the idea is to support and promote local so the items will be available for purchase. I was thinking just a business card with a QR code to scan, but a bio would be much more interesting. I still haven’t figured out all the details yet, I’ll do that as I go along.
I did think having one board in the house with business cards and the QR Codes to scan would be easy to keep organized, but not every artist will have a QR Code to link. I like your idea of an artist bio framed! I have been somewhat busy, but I’ve definitely enjoyed some relaxing time around the holidays. Just getting another house set up and running is quite the project!
Looking to the future, I would love to list our houseboat on Airbnb, I feel it would be a real winner! The Murray River is 2,000 Kms long so there is lots of river for users to explore.....
But it's occupancy is good with the company that are currently handling it....and if something goes wrong, they just fix it! I don't think I would get the same level of support from Airbnb.
I am fighting two realities here, the houseboat is a depreciating asset, every year it loses value! Although it is still in great condition, maintenance is going to become an issue and I may be better off turning it into a land based asset which will appreciate in value rather than depreciate!
As much fun as it is, I am not sure I am going to hang onto it!
That is the coolest @Robin4, what way to cruise, I have a friend that works a couple months a year for a local canal cruiser rental company so he can get one of their units for a couple weeks free every year, he just loves the slow pace and variety of historical and beautiful country, town and city vistas. Rob, I would be scared to death to rent it out without an experienced captain at the wheel and a solid insurance policy but it does seem like it would rent well! Best, JR
John, if you did it you would do it as our guests, it would not form part of the booking, just something we would do jointly as part of a stay.....besides, there aren't a lot of cruise ships or oil tankers on the Murray!
Anyone with a current motor vehicle drivers licence can pilot a houseboat, the rules of the river are simple....keep to the left! Ours is powered by two 90 hp Honda 4 stroke outboard engines which give it a max speed of about 11 knots in a favourable wind.
It does rent well but, the rental company take the lions share, I only get 35%, but they supply everything, the fuel, the provisions and guests special requirements including car parking whilst on the river ......all I provide is the mobile facility. But when you consider these things rent for $3,000 + per week ($45 per person per night) , even at 35% we are doing ok!
Aw I love the houseboat @Robin4, it looks so roomy that it's actually like an apartment on the water. Yes, I can see how it depreciates in value (a bit like a car does), but the boat also makes money through listing it for rental, which offsets this somewhat?
Katie, you have to run a spreadsheet or you have no idea if you are making money or losing it.
Like @Ann72 I run a profit and loss to establish what I actually need to charge in order to make hosting worthwhile.....
And then as well as that I keep monthly spreadsheets that chart the course of my hosting through the year.......
I can, on a moments notice, go to any night over the past 5 years and tell what guest I had..... and how much I made from hosting them.
This is why I have frequently said here on the CC to take no notice of Airbnb's suggested pricing tips. Accepting Airbnb's advice is guaranteed to lose you money.
@Katie , As to hosting goals, at the moment it is impossible to set hosting goals, and it will probably be years before we can be back into a situation where we can host with any confidence. As well as the current virus problem is being handled here, we are all the time getting hotspots flare up in one state or another with borders being opened and closed all the time. I had 5 reservation cancellations in December from guests who were not allowed to fulfill their travel, but, I got 4 other bookings to fill those canceled dates. You can't set goals you just have to do what Covid will let you do!
At the moment all I can wish for is a 'steady as she goes' approach, my January and February are full so I am just happy with that!
m@Robin4 and @Ann72 , you guys have it all going on, talk about super! Unfortunately, my book keeping is no where as good as my Inn Keeping!!!!! That will be my administrative goal for this year, make my books do more work for me than get me through tax day. Thanks for the inspiration you two!!!!! Stay well, JR