Friday, November 3, 2017

What I Wish I Had Known- 10 Tips for New Airbnb Hosts

This is a sponsored conversation with igloohome. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

We have been hosting on Airbnb for nearly 3 years. Sometimes it feels like it's been much longer, and sometimes it seem like we started yesterday. With almost every stay, we learn something new. You'd think we had learned and thought of everything by now! But even still, there are a few basic tips that every host should know before they start hosting.
1. EASY ENTRY. You are going to need a way for your guests to get into your house. I know you are thinking, duh, the same way I get into my house. But I'm talking about when you aren't there. Even if you are hosting at your home, there are times when you cannot meet your guest when they arrive. Having a key management system is crucial. Check out the Smart Keybox by igloohome on Amazon. Our favorite thing about it is that you don't have to install a new door knob! It's so easy. You put your keys in the lockbox and provide your guest with a code. Just like that your guests have a key to your house, and you didn't have to schedule time to meet with them! Another important thing about this system is that you can create a one time use code for every guest, and the system integrates with Airbnb, making your life much much easier.

2. MORE INFO IS BETTER. You may not think you need to put something obvious in your listing, but put it in there anyway. Provide as much information and as many pictures as you can. Our upstairs is small, so we make sure we mention that in several places. Make sure you are clear about the flaws of your home. Do you live in an old home? Do the floors creak? Is there a coffee maker in your space? Does your guest have to walk up stairs? Put all of these details in your listing. Your guests will be happier if they know what to expect.

3. REITERATE YOUR MAIN POINTS. When someone books, make sure they have read your listing in its entirety. I cannot stress this enough. We have spent a lot of time and money decorating our space. I think people get caught up in the decor, and they don't read the listing. They just want to stay here because they like the decor. They miss that our upstairs is small and/or that they will be sharing a bathroom. People usually have the same complaints (because no one's house is perfect), and they have those complaints because they didn't read the listing. You can explain your space in perfect detail and it won't matter if your guest hasn't read what you've written. When this happens, you are more likely to get a non-perfect review. We like to mention the big "flaws" in our message before we agree to book. We will say, "Hey! We just want to make sure you read our listing in it's entirety, specifically noting that we have three dogs and are 6 miles from downtown and you will be sharing a bathroom." Be really thorough with them so the expectations are where they should be. We have had people change their minds because we pointed out these "flaws."

4. SAY WHEN IT ISN'T A GOOD FIT. Don't be afraid to not approve a guest if it isn't a good fit. When we first started hosting, we would let anyone stay with us. This isn't a wise choice for any party involved. Pretty early on we realized that we needed to be more selective with who we let stay in our home. After all, this is our home and we live here while our guests are here. We are two ladies, we have dogs, our home is older and therefore has it quirks. If it seems like someone isn't going to vibe with that, just let them know it isn't a good fit. I promise they will be happy that you were honest with them, because they don't want to be uncomfortable in your home.

5. LESS IS MORE. This may sound counterintuitive, but we have found the more "extras" we offer guests, this provides more opportunity to complain. We also noticed that offering extras did not improve our ratings or guest satisfaction. We used to offer snacks (this was not advertised. It was just a nice gesture), and someone complained that we didn't offer healthy snacks. This is just one example. Be sure to be clear about what you offer and what you don't. If you only offer the necessities, that is okay. Just be clear!

6. MEET YOUR GUESTS.  This is mostly for people who are hosting in their own home. Do your best to meet your guests at some point. We have found there is a direct correlation between 4 star reviews (you want 5 star reviews only) and meeting our guests. Meeting your guests puts them at ease and the more they like you, the better review you will get. You can answer questions at this time and overall set the tone for their stay with you. Every now and then we have to let a guest check-in on their own, and that is where the igloo home Smart Keybox comes in. If this is the case, do everything you can to make their entry easy and smooth and then make sure you meet your guest sometime before they leave just to make a connection.

7. CHECK IN WITH YOUR GUESTS. We found that if we had a guest who had a complaint or need, they often didn't mention this until they left their review. The day after a guest checks in, send a message through the Airbnb app and ask how everything is going and/or if they need anything. I can't tell you how many people actually say that they need something. If we had never asked, they would've just gone their whole stay without mentioning what they needed.

8. BE HONEST. An Airbnb stay doesn't end when your guest leaves- you still need to leave a review for them. Be honest in your review of your guest. Leaving a bad review can be uncomfortable, but if you don't, then this person could give another host a hard time. Hopefully, you will never have to leave a bad review. Most of the time people deserve good reviews, but it's important to note even little things that might help someone else out. Also, utilize the private review option. This way you can make suggestions to your guest without anyone else seeing what you said. Side note- make sure you check the room/house before you leave a review. You never know how someone left the space until you check it out.

9. SAY NO TO WHITE. Trust me. Yes, white looks crisp and clean. You think you can bleach white linens. But you cannot bleach out make up stains. There are a lot of stains you cannot get out, in fact MOST of them don't bleach out. We've had to get rid of all things white. We have dark grey sheets and navy towels, and I cannot recommend this enough. We had a beautiful white coverlet and we had to replace it with something darker. People will eat pizza on your beautiful white bed. They will spill coffee. So spare yourself the heartache, and avoid white linens. 

10. HAVE MULTIPLES. Make sure you have multiple sets of linens, but don't have too many. If you have too little then you laundry will be your life. However, if you have too many linens, then you could get lazy about laundry and let it pile up because you have so many sets. And again laundry will be your life. Three sets for each bed is our magic spot. If I'm honest, laundry is still our life. We swim in laundry. Maybe this tip should read- hire someone to do your laundry. :)
Well, we hope that these tips can be helpful to you. I definitely wish we had thorough resources when we first started hosting. We didn't know what we were getting into! If you are still leaving your keys under the mat for your guests, check out the igloohome Smart Keybox that we are talking about. The system takes seconds to install, and makes the exchange much easier (and classier) for your guests. Plus you can buy it right on Amazon- our favorite store in the world, not even kidding. If you have any more hosting questions, we would love to hear them! We will tell you the truth and hopefully make hosting a bit easier for you.
Being a host on Airbnb has allowed us to meet some really cool people we would've never met. We have actually made friends with guests who have stayed in our Airbnb. The extra income can help you live your dreams, as it has for us. Being a host is a lot of work, but if you manage your expectations and do your research- you can set yourself up for success!

peace, Casey


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