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What 2 things do you wish you knew before you started hosting?

And they win the prize for the best user name! :smile:

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@Abraham_Linkedin Just so you can evaluate if below said applies to you… I’m renting my 1BD place only on Airbnb and have IB turned ON. Also, I understand you’re only starting to host, right?

Before I started on Airbnb (it will be 1 year soon) I learned that most stress that seasoned hosts have (aside from broken things and messy guests) is connected to meeting guests at odd hours, waiting for them long hours, cleaning and washing. As I was talking to quite a few local hosts (I simply contacted them one by one and invited them for a coffee), I learned that many experienced hosts (some with multiple two or even three listings) find themselves exhausted after a couple of years. They’ve been doing everything by themselves, the cleaning, laundry, accepting guests, messaging,… you name it.

So, here’s my advice : If you can, start thinking NOW how will you remove yourself from the “hosting hamster-wheel”.

Here’s what I found incredibly useful for me.

  • Provide the Self-checkin / Self-checkout option. It comes handy so many times (people coming in at odd hours, coming later than communicated beforehand, you being out of town or simply having vacation).
  • Get someone to clean your place (vet them beforehand, but that’s another story). In my case, young(er) retirees with plenty of time proved to be perfect for the job.
  • Get someone to do the laundry for you. Ideally, that’s the same person who does the cleaning. Delegate them to replenish and buy the supplies (toilet paper, coffee pods,…).
  • Create an awesome guidebook (downloadable PDF AND hard copy that’s left in the apartment). My guidebook is 55 pages long. Little text, lots of pictures + plenty of useful links throughout the guide (guests don’t read much). My guests seem to love it so much so they mention this each and every time in their reviews. It took me around 10-12 hours work to create it, but it was totally worth it.
  • If you’re going to provide self-checkin, invest a couple of hours to create an easy to follow downloadable PDF with screenshots how to get the keys (and/or park the car). Create a video too. These days, this is very easy as we all have smartphones.
  • For the self-checkin people, create a warm welcome video. Guests need to see your face, hear your voice. Talk to them as you’d be right there and do a virtual tour of the apartment and amenities as well as the map of the city. Smile;)
    That really goes a long way, especially when you’re not around.
  • Have person who does the cleaning report any unusual things (things broken, things missing,…) right when she enters the place. In my case, that is extremely rare.
  • Prepare templates for messages so you don’t need to start from scratch each and every time. I have templates for around 20 different messages and they serve me extremely well. I just personalize them.
  • Lastly, before starting to rent, do yourself a favor and stay in your own place for a night or two. Experience it. Pretend you are your guest. You will find a lot of things that need to be improved (or in most cases - better explained) and so you will
    avoid not-so-good reviews from picky people. My listing is registered for up to 4 people. So before starting to rent, we moved to our place for one day and slept over. You won’t believe how many comments my wife had. Take a pen and note down;)

Bottom line: Focus on making your listing as attractive as possible, meeting your guests (whenever you can), and communication - before and after arrival. All the rest, delegate. Sure, you will have to pay someone to clean your place and wash the linen and towels, but then again you need to ask yourself: which business are you in? Cleaning or hosting? What’s the price tag of your free time and peace of mind?

Now, pay attention. I do meet my guests, whenever I can. I believe this is what makes hosting different from hotels. That said, I don’t let my hosting side-business interfere with my life too much. It’s only a side income after all. If I have to take my kids to the doctor, I’ll do it. If I want to take my wife to the beach over the weekend, I’ll do it. If I’m out of town for whatever the reason or I simply have to concentrate on my work, … well, I’ll let my guests checkin on their own.

P.S. This is not “one-size-fits-all” approach. I believe each and every host has it’s unique situation. Above mentioned works well if your place is in a metropolitan area the location is attractive. Still, I do believe it’s worth thinking long term-how will you prevent from getting exhausted after being a host for some time. It’s worth spending time making sure that you’ll be able to manage your place without too much stress - even when things get in a way and life happens (which it will).

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Awesome advice. Thanks for taking the time to share. And I love the video idea…do you email it to them when they book or as they’re about to check in or both?

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@Abraham_Linkedin to the self-checkin people I send the link to the downloadable PDF AND a video (I use the Airbnb messaging portal). I do so approx a week (sometimes even more if I know they will be on vacation before coming to my place) before their arrival so they can have a look and familiarize themselves with the self checkin. I always ask them to confirm that they have understood the instructions. If they don’t respond, 2 days before their arrival I send them another polite message along the lines “just checking if you’ve had a chance to download the instructions for the self checkin. It’s kind of important;” … asking them to confirm that they understand how to find the keys and park their car. This way I’m pretty sure that everything is going to be fine. And, it is. I never had any problems whatsoever with the self checkin people. I also tell them to send me a quick message once they have settled into the apartment. That’s all. All of this can be done just with your phone.

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This is true!! My son slept in my suite over the slow summer and told me about a few odd noises from the kitchen upstairs that were making a racket below. Never would have thought! Yet he said he couldn’t hear the dishwasher or TV, two things I thought would be noisy.

Hi Abraham, I am also a fairly new host and I have a separate house in the west of Ireland. I think the experience of hosting a separate house and hosting in your own home has some differences but that said I agree with all the advice posted by other hosts. Here are some of the lessons I have learnt:
When you get an enquiry ask again how many guests will be coming as based on my experience not all guests read your listing requirements or indeed rules, in detail.
Remind guests of the check out time as this is often an issue and if they don’t leave on time, it puts added pressure on you when you are trying to get the house ready for the next guests.
Put time and effort into your house manual and rules and print off a hard copy, put it in a pretty folder and leave in the house. Be clear about all the places they can visit and provide phone numbers but put the onus on them to check venues are open as some businesses are seasonal.
Remind guests to check that their mobile phones will work in the country they are visiting, my very first experience as a host was when an american couple showed up (a bit dazed) and said their phones did not work and they were meant to be meeting friends and did not know where they were and could not contact them! I was left running around the area and phoning neighbours to try and track their friends down. Nice people but bizarre experience!
Be available to greet guests and give them a warm welcome. I leave some basics in the house like tea and coffee, toilet paper, soap, washing up liquid and stuff for the dishwasher and if (and only if) I am making scones or cakes I will make extra for them.
An obvious one but make sure the house is spotless and all the linen fresh and inviting.
Be flexible and prepared for the unexpected especially if your guests don’t speak english and you don’t speak their language, get a translation app!
Ignore Airb&bs price points, look at your area and decide for yourself what you think your place is worth.
I ensure guests book for a minimum of 3 nights as I don’t want to spend all my time changing beds etc, 3 nights work very well for me.
Finally enjoy it, you will meet some lovely people and this year, (my first proper year) I have had all lovely guests.
Very best of luck.

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@anon20475376 – perfect! Everyone needs to read this. I would add – buy three sets of all linens :wink:

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Thanks Sandy. I agree with you about the linens, I buy the very best I can afford in the January sales. Nothing like really good quality sheets even if they are a nightmare to iron!

There are more than 2 things I wish I knew​:slight_smile::slight_smile::slight_smile:It is learning process,with every new guest I find out something new,actually some of them helped me a lot with their suggestions.
Just today,my guest asked me if I have a spatula,she needs it to flip the eggs.
One more item added to my to do list.:slight_smile:

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Cute story! I once had guests that kept getting lost in my neighborhood. They hardly spoke English. Finally I would just scream into the phone (because they never stopped talking) SEND ME A PHOTO. Then I would go rescue them. Luckily their stay was SHORT

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  1. Compare your listing to similar in your area and undercut them by 15+ percent. Get lots of good reviews, then inch up your price to market rate, or higher.

  2. Be very leary of new ABB users with little to no info or history in their profiles. While some can be great guests, most will not be.

Bonus: Do not assume your guests read anything about your listing info or rules. Most skim the rules at best. If it’s super important, tell them face to face.

  1. Guests rarely read the whole listing
  2. The constant irritation of guests wanting to check in early when your check in times are clearly stated.
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As this is a constant irritation; will the hosts here who are also guests tell us why it is challenging for guests to read the listing and what if anything we can do to make it easier. Thanks.

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@EllenN. I actually think that this is partially AirBNB’s fault. There is significant lack of formatting options available to us as hosts. The inability to make our own headers, for example, make even short full descriptions appear to be wordy. Imagine if you could bold or use italics, true bullet lists, and add headers beyond the three that they have given us. I find “The Space” " Getting Around," and “Other Things to Note” to be limiting.

I know I keep harping about the Platform, but it just isn’t robust enough for the path that AirBNB has chosen for itself.

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I blame air bnb as the formatting of the page isn’t good. Most people only bother reading the first bit & they hardly let you write anything anything there. The rest of it you’ve got to click on things to get it to open up & I think people just don’t realise they need to do that.

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I’m not convinced they read anything except the price. It is one of our house rules that you have to tell us what time you will arrive. We also have it set up that upon booking the guest receives an email from Airbnb reminding them to tell us when they will arrive. If all that doesn’t work; I send them an email on the Airbnb email system. If that doesn’t work; I call Airbnb and ask them to contact the guest. I don’t know what time the guest who is arriving tomorrow will be here.

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I don’t know what time my cousin, who is 82 and should know better, is arriving on Monday. Humans are hopeless! But on a nicer note, today’s guests drove all the way from Philadelphia to Boston today and arrived within 5 minutes of their expected time. What are the chances after driving through the Northeast?

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That is spectacular!!!

Aw come on. I see your Northeast weather and raise you Los Angeles traffic.

I agree with you. As a guest I find reading through listings completely irritating. They are often poorly written. And they vary so much it’s hard to keep track. It is exhausting. And then it is hard to remember - is this the place with the hot tub? With the Kayaks? With an ocean view? A river view? Etc. Guests will peruse maybe dozens of listings, all written with different styles with different specifications. It’s a lot to weed through, trust me.

Also, when shopping listings, at the bottom airbnb suggests other places. Great, right? Only those places are not in your specifications. So, you could possibly book a place that doesn’t accept pets, but because airbnb suggested it as an option when you searched for ‘pets allowed’, you think it does. This has happened to me a number of times, though I didn’t actually book - but was very disappointed because I thought I found a perfect place for a group of 5 only to find out they only take 4.

I myself, and intelligentish woman who researches, prints out details, etc., stood at a hotel desk in China arguing to tears that we were not being given the rooms we booked. Well, I as wrong - I was just exhausted, confused, and exhausted. (We had just adopted a 12 year old boy, after all). So I think people are just limited, human, stressed, and dealing with a booking system that is, at times, wacko.

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