Want to be an even better Airbnb host?
This post is for already established Airbnb hosts who are looking for the additional edge over their competition. If you are still figuring out your check-in process or messaging strategy, I recommend you bookmark this article for a later date after you’ve mastered all the basics. With that said, let’s jump in:
Add Holiday Decorations
This has a twofold benefit. If the guest is familiar with the holiday, the decorations make them feel at home. If the guest isn’t familiar, the decorations make them feel like a local. An example is a Christmas wreath in December.
Add verbiage to the end of your listing asking the guest to write a code phrase with their inquiry. This ensures they read everything. My code word is ‘banana pancakes’. When you receive a message without the code phrase, inform the guest that you find reservations go smoothest when you know the guest has read the entire listing.
Recommended Blog Post: Van Halen, Brown M&Ms, + Airbnb Guests Who Don’t Read
Change ‘away’ to ‘to’
I constantly see sentences like this: 25 minutes away from the airport. Instead say, 25min to airport. It focuses the attention on your listing as the center of the universe, is fewer words, and is easier for the guest to read.
On my first night in Casablanca, the host ordered authentic Moroccan food and wine for us to share. This was awesome because I felt like a local, eating local food with a local. He even invited his local friend over to join!
Play Music Upon Check-in
In addition to opening the windows for natural light and adding a scent, play some music for the guest. This puts you a step ahead of your competition. The cleaner can put it on when they leave. If you send a questionnaire, you can include ‘what’s your favorite music?’
Folded Towels On Bed
Along with the triangle crease in the toilet paper, fold the towels in an exciting shape rather than a square. I’ve seen some cleaners create cranes, but I think anything non-standard will do the trick, like rolls. Below is a photo I took while at an Airbnb resort on Bali:
Create A Walk/Bike/Bus Map
If you live in a walkable, bikeable, or transitable city then create a simple map showing the guest how far they can get in 5, 10, and 20 minutes. Type your address into google, screen print the image, highlight tourist attractions, indicate where your property is, and draw circles around your property while indicated that they represent 5, 10, and 20 minutes of travel time.
Add a floor plan to your photos
I use both Planner 5D and Floor Planner as a free alternative to my recommended hand-drawn floor plans pictured below. This is especially important if you have multiple rooms with outdoor space or more than one story.
EasyCar.com is a worldwide car rental search engine. It works basically everywhere. Add a link into the ‘Directions’ sub-section within the ‘Guest Resources’ section if a car rental is likely needed by the guest.
Ideally, you are setup for a self check-in with the option of a live check-in. Most guests will choose the self check-in option. Just remember, if you do a live check-in, don’t take more than 10 minutes. But don’t make the guest feel rushed, either, like you’re trying to leave ASAP. Anything you say should be accessible in the digital guidebook for the guest to reference later. You should tell this to the guest so they don’t stress about remembering everything. After a day of travel, the guest’s mind is not suitable to absorb 30 minutes of instruction. Use the time to highlight very important house rules, how to operate tricky amenities, and personalized recommendations based on guest preference.
Pro Tip: If a guest uses Instant Book and doesn’t send another message, they’re going to prefer a self check-in. On the other hand, if a guest asks for recommendations, etc. they might prefer a live check-in. Wow them by offering before they ask.
Tourist Attraction Guides
If your listing is frequented by guests going to the same tourist attraction (ie Disneyland), include physical Disneyland park guides in your Airbnb.
Saying good-bye to your guest upon check-out is underrated. It makes for a positive last impression and you can answer any travel/flight details in person. People are usually stressed out on travel days so having a local who is familiar with the airport answer questions is invaluable. Additionally, you can ask for feedback in person and specify how you will address any issues that came up during their reservation. Consider offering a departing gift.
However, don’t intrude. The guest is already stressed out, they don’t want to have to worry about meeting you at a specified time to hand over keys or do a pre check-out process. Never enter the listing until the guest leaves as this increases the chance a guest will leave something behind, not to mention an intrusion of privacy. Even if the guest is late checking out, I still recommend you do not enter in most situations.
In the rare case of a negative stay, you should prioritize meeting the guest upon check-out as it’s a lot easier to hold negative feelings towards a virtual screen than a real human person. Often those negative feelings dissipate once the guest meets you in person and see’s how nice you are. At that point, the guest will be reviewing you as a person just as much as the property. It’s a lot harder for someone to negatively review a person than a property.
Very rarely do I allow a guest to check-in early. If the unit is not cleaned, they cannot see it. The main reason is it creates a bad first impression entering into a dirty home, sometimes excessively dirty. A secondary reason is that the guest may notice something while dropping off their luggage and specifically check it upon their return (ie why didn’t that pillow move? The place must be dirty! Did they change the sheets..?).
Pro Tip: If you can not/do not want to accommodate a late check-out, inform the requesting guest that you already confirmed an early check-in for the same day and allowing a late check-out will be too hard on your cleaners.
If something has changed about your Airbnb either good (ie Uber is now legal!) or bad (ie construction started next door causing noise between 8am-6pm), inform the guest prior to arrival.
If for some reasons you do not have an electronic lock and there is a special wiggle to get the lock to open, you must either demonstrate in person or via video. Have the guest try once while you are there or send me them a link to a video you made for your lock.
Spend a weekend in your listing
Do this twice per year. And, be sure to cook a meal in the kitchen and use all available amenities. You will always find repairs that need to be made or additions to further increase the guest experience. Often, you will find a non working light bulb. As the cleaners are there during the day, no one notices when lights go out. Additionally, a cleaner may forget to tell you about a slow draining faucet or shower drain or anything else. I promise you it will pay to do this.
Which was your favorite tip? Were you already using any? Do you have one that you think beats my list and all hosts should be doing? Tell me in the comments for a quick response!