Sure, we had our share of hiccups and made our share of mistakes along the way. But we have learned to adjust and course-correct. We want the experience to be a good one for anyone who enters our home.
For anyone thinking about hosting on airbnb, here are some tips we picked up along the way… I hope this helps to make your experience as a host as awesome as ours!
- Photos. You should have at least one good photo of any space the guest has access to. I like to have multiple different angles so that guests can get a sense of the space. If you have free photography through airbnb in your area, you should do that. We didn’t have that option, so all our photos were shot on my phone. It was fine. It’s also good for hosts to have at least one photo and a brief description of themselves on their profile, so that guests can get a sense of who you are. Another thing: we didn’t originally list a photo of the front of the house… but changed this after a guest mistakenly ended up at our neighbor’s house. Adding a photo of the front of the house helped guests to locate us easier, and avoided annoying the neighbors with unexpected knocks.
- Listing. Be honest, succinct, and direct. Describe, but do not oversell your listing. It is better to under-sell and over-deliver! This lets your guests be pleasantly surprised during their stay.
- Pricing. Check out other local listings to get a sense of what price range makes sense for your area. We under-priced our space at the beginning, but were able to increase the price as we got good reviews under our belts. I also sent messages to local hosts to ask for their advice on pricing, how often they host, whether they notice a dip in bookings during certain seasons, etc. We got great advice and the bonus of getting to know other hosts.
- Keyless lock. We love our keyless lock. We ordered this Schlage lock from Amazon, and also this Wink hub (they work together) which allows us to easily create and delete codes from our phones. They are a pricey investment, but paid for themselves in no time. Each guest has a unique code which I delete as soon as they check out. Guests like the convenience of checking themselves in, and we like that we aren’t handing out keys (which can easily get lost or copied).
- Cleaning and laundry. We saw a pretty big increase in the amount of cleaning and laundry we were doing. There is no way around this, especially if you plan to host frequent and/or short trips. It’s a lot of work. But after a while, you get the routine down, and it all goes much faster. We prefer white sheets and towels so that we can bleach them.
- Signs! Having clear signs can go a long way to avoid issues. For example, our house has a delicate and expensive septic system, and we don’t want people flushing things like tampons. This can cause plumbing issues which are no fun for anyone. I made a polite sign to this effect and put it in the bathroom to serve as a gentle reminder. I also provided small plastic bags (super cheap doggy bags from any pet store) so that guests could place sanitary items in them before disposing in the bin.
- Establish contact with guests. Guests appreciate when hosts are responsive and available. Before guests arrive, I send a welcome message thanking them for choosing us. I also provide them with all details for their trip (eg, our address, house rules, their passcode for the door, etc). I also check in with them frequently during their stay to make sure they have everything they need. This also gives us the opportunity to address any issues asap, rather than getting ding’d in a bad review later.
- Additional amenities. We don’t provide access to our kitchen, but some guests have asked to store leftovers in our fridge, heat up dinner in our microwave, or brew a pot in our coffee-maker. After a few of these requests, we decided to spring for a mini-fridge, microwave, and small coffee-maker for the room. It didn’t cost much (craigslist y’all) and guests really appreciated it.
- Be part of the greater airbnb community. The airbnb community center is a great place to get connected with other hosts and learn from others’ experiences and/or mistakes. This will help you on your quest to become a superhost and maintain superhost status, because you can learn what works or doesn’t work for other hosts. You can also help support other hosts by sharing your own experiences. This can also be a way to get connected with hosts near you, and potentially establish relationships with people who might become co-hosts for your listing.
- Always, write that review. After guests checked out, I always wrote an honest review. When you complete the review, the guest gets prompted to review you in return, and can only read your review of them after they have written one for you. Getting reviews (good ones) helps to establish you as a host and add to your credibility. Plus, superhosts have to maintain a certain proportion of reviews AND a certain proportion of actual 5 star reviews. So it’s in your best interest to not only get reviewed, but to get favorably reviewed.
- Going the extra mile doesn’t have to be hard. I get huge bags of chocolate kisses for like $5 and keep a bowl stocked. I also use the airbnb app to send messages to guests each day, to check in, and also to ask if they need anything. It’s better to address those requests (e.g., an extra towel/blanket, or more toilet paper, etc) rather than get dinged for them later in a bad review. Also, during the summer, we sometimes have a fire in the backyard, and usually invite guests to enjoy it with us. We’ve had some really great conversations with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Another thing that guests seem to like is a list of things to do nearby. I include recommendations of our favorite eateries, museums, and hikes. It’s easy to print this out so that guests can take it with them if they want. Simple!
- Hang on to receipts. This one isn’t about becoming a superhost per se, but it’s a good practice to establish for yourself. Make sure to hang on to all receipts of anything you buy for the rooms! Come tax season, you’ll be able to write it all off.
- Don’t sweat the little things. Know that not everything is going to be perfect 100% of the time. Guests will be late checking in on account of delayed flights or traffic. People will forget to take their shoes off. There might be a weird odor lingering in the room when someone leaves. None of this signals the end of the world. There will be a few bumps in the road, but that doesn’t mean the ride can’t still be pleasant.
For us, hosting has been a positive experience. The obvious upside is the extra income, but we have also met some pretty awesome people that we would never have crossed paths with otherwise. Granted, there have been a couple weirdos too, but overall everyone is great. Anyway, there is more I could say about the experience of hosting, but let’s leave it at that for today.
Any tips to add? Have you ever been an airbnb host, or an airbnb guest?