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What have been your biggest mistakes?


#1

Hi,
A new host here trying to avoid well trodden pitfalls. I’ve already made a couple of mistakes - heavy duty, Egyptian cotton bedding is a nightmare to iron! - so a bit of a warning about others would be welcome…

Thanks!


What were your newbie hosting mistakes?
#2

One person’s mistake is another person’s feature, honestly. I thought my guests would love fresh croissants, but they (usually) want to have breakfast on the hoof/ somewhere more exotic than my living room. Other successful hosts make smoothies or hotel quality menus for breakfast a feature.

I think my mistakes have been less about stuff (my family ate the extra croissants no problem) and more about boundaries with guests. And a lot of that, even, is just luck.

So good luck, and may all your mistakes make good stories to share with the rest of us. ;D


#3

Ironing sheets! No thank you! Egyptian cotton bedding is also expensive, too! People will ruin sheets. It’s good to have spares ready to go for each bed. This forum is full of advice and lessons learned so it’s hard to make a short list. One thing we’ve learned in general is to be hospitable but don’t let guests take advantage of you. There are nice people out there who don’t expect much and are very appreciative. Then there are those who will try to get as much as they can from you. Those are the ones who usually leave the worst reviews, too. So draw a line and don’t let them cross it. Learn to say no to them. That’s one lesson we’ve learned.


#4

I have no idea what I was thinking with the Egyptian Cotton, I wouldn’t even choose that for my own bed! I think the sale price lured me in…They do look fabulous when ironed, unless I can get them sorted at our laundrette (who do service washes and irons) then I suspect they’ll be designated as emergency backups only.

In my day job I run a holiday company and it seems that the more you go out of the way to help someone, the less they actually appreciate it - I’m hopefully primed for that one! I’m actually surprised at how undemanding our guests have been up to now, I suspect that’s not always going to be the case!


#5

I’m also wondering whether following the Smart Pricing is an error for us. Our booking stats has halved since we took Airbnb’s advice and reduced our prices. I’m not sure whether this is purely coincidence and with only 2 months to gauge it on, we have limited stats to go on, but we haven’t changed anything else and nor are there any new competitors in our area.

One to test out as I go along I suspect


#6

AirBNB “Smart” pricing is a disaster for hosts. Ridiculously low prices with no regard for the costs of opening our homes to guests. Turn that off immediately and do your own research.


#7

Thanks for the advice. There isn’t an awful lot of competition in our area but still AirBnB have been coming up with ridiculously low prices at times, suggesting we put up our full house at prices similar to someone with one room in a shared house. I’ve disregarded some of it, tried the others where we have a ‘light’ month. I don’t actually think it’s helped, if anything I suspect the house is perhaps viewed with suspicion for being too cheap.


#8

It might also be that you were getting more bookings when you had your new host search ranking boost. But you say there isn’t much competition so maybe not. Another thing is that there is such as thing as “priced too low.” I had a man tell me that my room was great for the price and he almost missed it because it was priced just above his cutoff. In other words when he searches he puts the range limiters at both the bottom and the top.

I haven’t made many mistakes or I’ve had fabulous luck or both. A recent discovery for me is that it really doesn’t pay to allow early check in or late check out. And if you do, charge a fee.

I agree with don’t buy things that are too expensive but also not too cheap. I read a review recently where the guest praised the hosts towels and said they were nice “unlike the thin, cheap towels so many hosts give you.”

Next, if you have a whole house and you don’t live on the property get CCTV security cameras outside. People will book for 6 and bring 8 and you need to have a charge for additional people. They will do other things in violation of your rules so this is a good way to prevent parties, etc.


#9

I decided to increase the quality of my sheets, going from 100% cotton to organic at twice the price. The very first guests to use them left mascara stains all over them.

Back to the cheap cotton i went.

But the impulse to be generous isn’t a bad one. It’s just hard to tell which strangers will appreciate it.

I’ve changed where my generosity goes over the years - i allow late check outs and occasionally early check ins when my schedule allows, as it’s no inconvenience for me. But if people bring extra guests (using extra water and towels and they never leave a grateful review), I’ve started charging.

Everyone gets offered a drink when they come in - tap water or tea/ coffee, but that’s because hydration is important after air travel and puts my guests in a better mood. Plus it gives us a structured and brief chance to interact after they’ve dropped their luggage. I bring the drinks to them and say “have you found everything? Do you have any questions?” and they’re in a much better headspace than when they’ve just lugged themselves and their bags up a flight of stairs and not yet used the toilet.

It looks like generosity to my guests, but i think of it as an important part of the check-in process.

Now, if i give them homemade jam to take home with them, that’s me being generous. But that’s at the end of their stay, when I’ve decided whether i actually enjoyed their stay. :wink:


#10

Expensive bed linen and towels…went back to cheap walmart or target product.


#11

Best way to avoid mistakes is to live and learn. Second best way is to read through the forum threads! :rofl:


#12

Hi @Chrissie,

Personally, I find people are regularly very pushy about early check-in and late check-out, often without considering that there might be other people checking out before then, and often checking in after them. Sometimes they say passive-aggressive things like - “oh, we’re arriving at 5 am and would like to check in as soon as possible”. I’ve found even people who host themselves do this. Sigh. I continue to find this remarkable.

In any case, I suggest trying to be helpful about this, but at the same time not going beyond what you are comfortable doing.


#13

Hi We have only been hosting for a year and the first thing we learnt was to get a definite check in time from the guests as an email on airbnb and stick to it. We didn’t do this with our 4th guests, yes i still remember it!. Even though our listing said 7pm latest and I had put that in an email, the guests booked a flight arriving at 9.45pm, after I accepted the booking, which meant check in 11.15pm . We live 1.5hrs away from our apartment my husband got home about 1am after a full working week. Never made the mistake again, we now ask for the flight details before accepting the booking. Will refuse bookings who will not give their flight times.
We gave up on croissants and provide chocolate biscuits a great hit especially Tim Tams here in Australia. Airbnb is a great learning curve on human behaviour.


#14

If you offer a nice place, you should check with local hotels and try to be close to there costs. I offer a great place to stay and I expect to be paid what I think is best. You can’t get what we have here at a hotel.


#15

The ‘smart pricing’ is terrible. Unbelievably cheap rates and, frankly, not worth getting out of bed for, as far as I’m concerned. Also we keep getting emails from airbnb saying that people are looking for places ‘£15-20 per night cheaper than your’s’. As we rent out our camping pods for £30 per night for 2 people during the low months, this means airbnb are reckoning people are looking for accommodation for £10-15 per night. I’m not sure I believe that!

Easy to iron, easily replaceable, mid-range bed linen is the way forward. Consider it a disposable item.


#16

yes, you four lads, of COURSE you can stay.

(My football team went on to thrash their football team, with dire consequences. No damage, but no more Airb at that particular listing)


#17

I totally agree, smart pricing doesn’t work! When I first went on it said $105 per night (cheaper than if it was a full-time rental). I set it to $155 and it was pretty booked up three months in advance. I’ve now upped it to $175 and it’s still getting booked.

MY BIG MISTAKE was when I first listed my property (in the heart of Sydney) I followed the price recommendation and put it up on NYE for $200 a night with a minimum 2-night stay. I had over ten people ask to book in the first five minutes and I quickly chose someone. I later found that my place is worth over $700 a night at NYE. Even my neighbours put theirs on just for NYE and got more than three times more than me.

In other words… do research and price accordingly.


#18

White microfiber sheets and always white towels.
Microfiber doesn’t wrinkle easy to wash and lasts
And very inexpensive
Cheers
Susan


#19

Have you thought about keyless entry?
I recommend to all my clients - it’s a code that can be changed and you don’t have to be there in person :slight_smile:


#20

For someone prone to being a hot sleeper, I can’t stand microfiber sheets, at least not the two or three brands I’ve tried. Microfiber sheets on top of memory foam is pure torture. I live in a warm climate though, I can only stand it in winter. Also I got some microfiber towels here by an offer on the forum. They weren’t free but they were cheap. I didn’t like them at all. They are thick and fluffy but the pulls and pills on them were terrible and they looked like crap after just a few uses.

I have a Kwikset and many guests have had trouble with it. I don’t know why because it works fine for me. I need to change it out. Which one do you recommend?


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