After researching and evaluating the prospect of jumping into the short-term rental industry, you feel good about becoming a host on Airbnb. After all, you’ve prepared detailed instructions for the guest’s arrival, set up a lockbox for keyless entry, and spent time improving your listing.
Now you just have to publish your listing and the bookings will start pouring in, right?
Achieving success as a host on Airbnb depends on many factors, and building a strong listing is just one. Standing out from your competition is another, especially since there are 660,000 Airbnb listings in the US. Have you thought about how to stand out from the crowd?
From working with over 14,000 homeowners, we’ve learned one of the best ways to succeed on Airbnb is go above and beyond the bare minimum and provide a superior guest experience.
Guest reviews are an essential part of listing on Airbnb. If you go above and beyond a guest’s expectations, they’ll be inspired to share their experience and recommend your property with a glowing review. As you probably know, positive reviews will get your listing rated higher in searches and may also be the deciding factor for other travelers.
Below are some practical Airbnb host tips about how to create an exceptional guest experience that will help you stand out from the competition, and keep your guests coming back year-after-year.
To provide a great guest experience, you’ll want to make it memorable. Think about your most memorable hospitality experience. Was it when an Airbnb host fulfilled the minimal requirements, like responding quickly? Or accepting your reservation? Or maybe it was because they didn’t cancel?
Or was it memorable because the host provided a personalized welcome note along with a locally sourced bottle of wine waiting for you when you walked in? Or maybe it was the plush dog bed and food bowls they provided because you mentioned you were traveling with your best (furry) friend?
We would guess the most memorable experiences are similar to the last two examples. The host clearly went out of their way to provide something thoughtful to make their guests feel genuinely welcomed in their home.
This can start before your first booking with a Welcome Book. You’ll want to make sure it’s a useful tool your guests can reference whenever they have questions about your home. This can include information about how to work the A/C and heat, which remote operates which device, the wifi log-in, etc.
Travelers like to “live like a local” when renting a vacation home, so go the extra mile and give the best recommendations in your Welcome Book. For example, highlight a few of your favorite dinner spots, advise your guests on overcrowded places to avoid, and mention some places to find the best live music.
If you’re not able to greet your guests when they arrive, leave a welcome gift in the foyer or the kitchen. Some of our owners say “the welcome gift is a very simple and inexpensive thing we do that has brought great returns…[and] overwhelmingly positive feedback.” For bonus points, provide something your guests can use during their stay, like a bag of local freshly ground coffee, to freshly-baked goods from the new bakery down the street (and maybe a coupon to use later).
Adding small seasonal touches to your decor is another thoughtful way to welcome guests into your home. Buy fresh flowers from your local farmer’s market, or pick some wildflowers from your yard or garden to impress them. Decorating for the holidays is also a nice touch, especially if your home is purposefully booked over the holidays. Tasteful autumn decor around Thanksgiving, and winter decorations during the colder months are always a charming touch that can make your property feel like their home away from home.
Limiting clutter and family pictures around the house will make sure your guests don’t feel like they are intruding on your space. If you do have clutter, make sure it serves a purpose, like magazines and/or books about the area, or a DVD collection guests can use. Also try to keep family pictures to a minimum since they make it hard for guests to forget they’re staying in a stranger’s house.
The last small guest-centered touch we recommend is going above and beyond the basic amenity. Guests count on you to supply the essentials (soap, toilet paper, towels, etc.), but they appreciate the little extras that make their stay more comfortable. Providing hotel-sized toiletry items like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, Q-tips, etc. is a thoughtful touch. Try buying those items in bulk since they are so regularly used and can be refilled when running low.
The same applies to kitchen necessities such as dishwasher detergent, dish soap, sponges, surface wipes, etc. that can be bought in bulk too. Don’t forget to keep a fully stocked kitchen that allows your guests to easily make a home cooked meal.
Extraordinary guest communication
Communication is a large part of hosting your home on Airbnb. You’ll likely get a lot of inquiries from potential guests and questions from people who have already booked. This is a great opportunity to create a memorable guest experience with extraordinary communication. Answering questions with a simple “yes” or “no” will get the job done, but you should make an effort to be kind and personal, to show you really care about their experience.
For example, after your home is booked, you should touch base with your guests two weeks before they check-in. This is a great chance to be proactive and send a personalized note along with a digital copy of your Welcome Book so they are familiar with directions, house rules, and quirks of your home even before they arrive. For example, if your home is slightly difficult to find (ie. on an unmarked road), use this opportunity to give advice and call out some landmarks they can look for when arriving at your home. This may even keep the guest from calling you in the middle of the night panicking about how to navigate the area.
Sending a personalized note with the Welcome Book is a perfect time to build rapport with your guests. If you know the purpose for their stay (ie. a bachelor/bachelorette trip, family reunion, etc.) then you can highlight a few places or things to do in the area you think they may like. For example, if your guests want to explore a National Park nearby, then this is your chance to give insider information like when it’s most crowded, which entrance is best, etc. Remember, your guests are probably hoping to “live like a local” while visiting, and this could be exactly what they are looking for.
Some hosts will often leave a guestbook for their guests to sign during their stay. These are a nice touch, but for Airbnb hosts they may discourage guests from leaving a review online. Instead, encourage guests to leave their review on Airbnb, so you get credit where credit is due–ideally in the form of a glowing review. You can also ask them to post their own pictures and experiences of their stay on your listing’s social media accounts, giving you free advertising on various platforms, help shape your brand, and give it a greater internet presence.
Reviewing your guests after their stay is an easy way to solicit reviews of your property. Airbnb allows both hosts and guests to review each other two weeks after their check-out date. Often, when a guest is reviewed they’ll likely return the favor and review your property/hospitality as well.
Sending a personalized thank you after a check-out is your final chance to leave a lasting positive impression. To make their experience memorable, be sure to thank them for choosing your home, reference a specific activity you suggested or touch on a conversation you had, and welcome them back to your home again.
Ask for help when you need it
You might have started renting your second home intending to do everything yourself. However, after a few months you’re getting more bookings than expected, and providing an exceptional guest experience, cleaning, and maintaining your property is starting to feel really overwhelming. Try not to let those feelings get the best of you – especially since having a full calendar means that you’re doing very well. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone, so be sure to ask for help when you need it. There are a lot of resources available that can help manage your home.
The most helpful may be a professional vacation rental clean team who will make sure your place is spotless before any check-ins. Cleanliness is the number one cause of guest complaints, so be sure to consider those that have experience cleaning short-term rentals, since it’s slightly different than your typical house cleaning. They’ll need to provide a higher level of service to ensure your home is guest-ready, and accommodate any scheduled quick turns (ie. when a guest checks-out at 10 am, and another one checks-in at 3 pm). Download these checklists for a full look at the cleaning duties your clean team should provide.
In addition to keeping your home clean, it also needs to be fully functional before a guest arrives. The last thing you want to encounter is a broken A/C unit or a bathtub that doesn’t drain properly right before a check-in. Another good resource to have at your disposal is a local handyman or someone who can help maintain your home. Staying proactive with home maintenance is essential since fixing something may take a few days and you don’t want to inconvenience your guests. This contact can save you a lot of time, energy, and stress by performing routine maintenance every six months.
Cleaning and maintaining your vacation rental is an easy way to cut down on management costs and increase your income. But it only makes sense if you live locally and can afford to treat hosting on Airbnb as your full-time job. Can you guarantee you’ll have enough time to run your rental and get impressive reviews?
Guest reviews are an essential part of Airbnb and every other online listing site. The best tip we can give to first time Airbnb hosts is to go above and beyond the minimum requirements of any listing site, and focus on providing the best guest experience you can. Aiming to create a memorable experience is a great way to bring in 5-star reviews.
Exceed expectations with Evolve
With Evolve, you don’t have to stress over the time-consuming parts of vacation rental management.
Evolve’s fresh approach to vacation rental management gives you total marketing, booking, and customer support across all of the top listing sites (not just Airbnb), so you can focus on providing an incredible guest experience. We’ll connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, and you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.
It’s our job to drive more guests to your property for maximum income, while giving you more choices with fewer rules – all for an industry-low 10% management fee.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $750 million in rental income. And we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Homeowner Consultants today at 877.881.7584.