Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I take them and think about them a lot.
I always assumed a starting point of clean and tidy makes clear business sense. No one can argue with this.
Success in a hotel and an Airbnb is the difference between trade and a craft. The Hotel Trade is the application of a simple set of rules, but the Airbnb is the artistic craft of hospitality. Of course, this is broad brush strokes, 5-star hotels/cruise ships employ artisan crafters too.
My emerging pet theory is that artisans have an understanding of human nature that they find hard to articulate as a set of rules. I guess because of its complexity. The Nudge, behavioural science and authenticity research are a start to unpicking it, but as you are pointing nudging can be inappropriate. Too much nudging becomes an inauthentic shove. In short, hosting is a personal art form.
Your answers suggest to me that social proof is the strongest method of persuading people of your Airbnb is the one they should book. It follows the astute host should do all they can to nurture social proof. Form a strategy around the acquisition of positive social proof and your business is on the right side of a feedback loop to success.
What I think I am trying to illuminate is that going the extra mile is a strategy that has as clear a business sense as making sure the house is clean.
I’ve submitted my dissertation on Airbnb hosting now. The original title was Nudging benevolent behaviour in Airbnb guests using handcrafted artefacts. A mouthful I know, but I gather academics love this. My findings are that handcrafted social “stuff” makes guests feel more at homes than a property made to look like an asocial hotel room. My experiments all revolved around assets left on or in the fridge: a handwritten note, homemade pizza and photos of me and Lynnie. I found guests left homes tidier and were more likely to ignore negative issues.
Handcrafted assets seem to work for an Airbnb as you do too.
I think the @KKC prayer flags are an excellent example. They are unique (therefore a surprise) and they send a message that you care about “others”.
@MtnGal swan towel is another example of extra care that fits this, It is broadly unique and sends a message from the cabin crew that they care.
The upholstery and personal design mentioned in @gypsy review suggest further evidence towards this too.