Hello everyone! I started hosting on AirBnB earlier this month, and was soon booked for a month solid! I have been lurking on these forums for the last view weeks and decided to post. Your advice has been really helpful! I’m renting the basement bedroom in my home (including a living room and private bathroom), and have learned from reading these forums and related blogs that I am targeting budget travelers such as backpackers who don’t expect anything fancy but want something a little more private than a hostel, and those who enjoy the cultural exchange of meeting locals in the city they’re visiting.
I do have some questions!
(1) How accurate is AirBnB’s by-the-day price recommendation they suggest on the calendar? Do they move you up in the search results if you use it? When I’ve used AirBnB’s recommendations, I have received reservation requests almost immediately. However, I notice that it puts me notably lower than my competitors in my neighborhood. Such as $5-10 lower than what my neighbors are charging per night for similar accommodations. (This seems significant when bedrooms in a house go for around $50 a night in my area.) I live in a great neighborhood, about three miles from a major city’s downtown, and the AirBnB price recommendations are pricing me similar to those in the suburbs (6-10 miles from downtown). I want to attract guests to look at my listing, but I also don’t want to be severely undercutting myself.
(2) Because of my affordable pricing (at least until I get reviews), I am getting requests from folks who just created their profile and haven’t carefully read my listing. It seems that they just want the cheapest place in town. They seem to think it is a private apartment, or not realize that I have noisy pets. (This could also be a language barrier, perhaps.) After reading these forums, I have been able to identify red flags, such as requests for airport pickup or that I open my calendar on blocked days. (What I charge per night is less than the cost of the cab ride from the airport!) I feel confident declining such requests. However, do you have any tips for attracting the kind of guests you do want? I’d like to see more requests to book from guests who realize this is a shared home, who like animals, who are easy going about noise, who are happy to crash in a clean-but-not-luxurious basement. And of course I’d love any other tips on how to get good reviews from such visitors! I’ll be providing light snacks, beer, and wine, and bought some tourist guide books for the city I’m leaving in the guest room.
(3) My first guests are about to check out after a three-week stay while apartment hunting, and I am not sure what review I should leave them, if at all. They are nice, but not a good fit, and definitely were just looking for something cheap/last minute. In hindsight, I would not have accepted their request, but I was new and excited to have a booking request. As you all have noted, guests who are apartment-hunting stay in their room all day and don’t really go out! I’m not sure these guests understand how AirBnB works because they recently asked to extend for four more days, and seemed surprised I had more guests coming. I’m not sure if they plan on using the site again, as they created their account in December and checked in the morning after booking their request.
The main issue is that we have different values about recycling and “green” living. I wrote in my “anything else” section that we are an eco-friendly household and into having a small ecological footprint etc. I didn’t write this in the rules because I naive assumed guests would self-select and we’d get like-minded folks. These guests have produced a lot of trash (in 1-2 days what we produce in 1 week), leave all the lights on and leave the space heater on when they aren’t home. Is this appropriate to write in a review of guests to warn other hosts, or is this minor/petty and I should just let it go since I didn’t explicitly say in my “rules” section to sort your recycling and turn the lights off when you leave? (I’m definitely adding a page about recycling in our city to my house manual, as we live in a city where you are fined for throwing recycling and food in the garbage, and I need to make this more clear to future guests so I’m not footing a big trash bill in the future.)
(I also shortened my maximum stay to 2 weeks since I am looking more to host tourists who are out having adventures.)
(4) When I have guests who are here for more than a few days, what kind of cleaning is appropriate? I’ve cleaned the bathroom once for my long-term guests, but their belongings are covering every surface (couches, tables, floor, etc.) so I can’t really dust or vacuum without moving their stuff, which I am not comfortable doing. I did ask them if they wanted me to launder their towels, and they said they’d do it (they have access to the washing machine).
(5) My neighbor left an old mattress in the alley not far from where my guests park. Do you think I should hire a truck to pick up this mattress and take it to the dump? Is this the sort of thing you’d get rated down on for location? Getting my neighbor to dispose of his own mattress isn’t really an option; he already has a few fines/complaints against his property from other neighbors for overgrown weeds and storing an abandoned vehicle in his yard.
(6) If I am not charging a security deposit, can I still file a claim through AirBnB for something like keys or towels that go missing? I’d like to charge a security deposit, but I worry the $95 minimum will scare off potential guests, at least until I have established some positive reviews.
Thank you for sticking with my long post! I appreciate your guidance to a newbie host like myself, and hope to pay it forward when I am a more experienced host, sometime down the road.