Becoming an Airbnb host is really like embarking on a brand new career. Gone are the days of simply throwing up a vacation rental listing, exchanging a few e-mails and charging folks to stay in your home for a night or two. The entire vacation rental industry has grown up, and as a result, your role must become one of being a professional.
Although experience will help you refine your job as a host, here is a list of common yet easily avoidable mistakes.
1. Failing To Clean Thoroughly. A clean vacation rental is perhaps the most important component of a successful Airbnb. It's the first thing guests notice. It's one of the main things that solicit positive or negative reviews. And failing on the cleanliness checkpoint will easily steer potential guests right off your listing before you can even interact with them.
2. Ignoring Reviews. Although the Airbnb review system is often recognized as a benefit to potential guests who are seeking a vacation rental, it has another important function as well. The review system serves as a platform for a final conversation between guests and Airbnb hosts. If a guest has a complaint, it's a place where he or she can not only warn others of potential problems with a rental, but a spot where the host can make things right for that particular guest as well as ensure the problem is resolved for future visitors. If a guest has a compliment, the review system allows a positive exchange between the guest and host to be shared with all. Be sure to reply to all comments in a timely way.
3. Setting One Price Year Round. Supply and demand. It's basic economics. During high-demand periods like holidays or during the summer, lots of people are looking for vacation rentals. These are the times to increase your price to earn as much as the market will bear. On the other hand, down times like the fall and spring in many markets, vacation rentals might be a dime a dozen. Here is where you offer special deals and pricing to try to snag those renters who have more flexibility in their schedules. You can also use your vacancy rate to check your prices. If you're constantly booked, you might be a little low, and if you're always open, your price might be too high for your market.
4. Posting A Poorly Written Description. New Airbnb hosts in particular often make the mistake of rushing through their listing information and description in order to get their listing live more quickly. You need to remember that your description, along with your photos, will be the first and only way to make an initial impression on your potential guests. Taking the time to write an accurate, complete and flattering description is worth the investment.
5. Uploading Poorly Taken Photography. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, and with today's technology, taking a decent photo is not that difficult. Invest the time in taking several pictures of your property, both inside and outside, to give your potential guests a solid view of the advantages and amenities you offer. You can also ask friends or family to help or even hire a professional photographer.
6. Treating Your Guest As Income Generators. No one likes to be seen as only a dollar sign. Airbnb management practices have always emphasized exceptional hospitality as a feature that sets the community apart from other lodging businesses. Try to go the extra mile for your guests. Find out a little about them and the reason they will be staying with you. Then, do something extra thoughtful. For example, if a group is coming in to celebrate a birthday, leave a birthday greeting or even a cake. If visitors are coming with children in tow, leave some flyers about family-friendly activities or coupons with your check-in list. Even if you are a little off, the effort will be appreciated. A simple touch like fresh eggs for breakfast or some welcoming flowers can make a big difference.
7. Ignoring the Competition. Like any business, understanding the competition is paramount to success. Take the time to look at other rental homes in your area, what they offer in terms of amenities, and how much they are charging. In addition, investigate other lodging options like hotels, bed and breakfasts, and camping sites in the area as well. Be sure you are competitive in terms of your pricing, and see if you can add things to your rental to make it stand out.
8. Neglecting Filters and Tools. Consider studying Airbnb filters and online tools as a bit of continuing education. The company is investing a great deal of time and money to make the online booking system smarter and easier to use every day. Be sure you stay on top of the new tools and filters so you can improve your own business. For instance, Airbnb allows hosts to set a minimum number of nights a guest must stay, commonly two or three nights over a weekend. This ensures that hosts minimize their vacancies during busy seasons.
9. Trying To Do It All. In the early days, it may be advantageous to operate every aspect of your Airbnb rental to thoroughly understand your business. However, once you have a good handle on how the system works, be sure you delegate those tasks you don't enjoy as much. If you hire a cleaning company to manage the housekeeping between guests or a host to handle questions, booking details, and check-in and check-out tasks, you can spend more time acquiring new properties or managing the aspects of Airbnb management that you like the most.
Making mistakes is a part of life, and you will learn a great deal by making them. However, trying to be prepared and learn from those who have gone before you is a smart move. When you embark on your career as a vacation rental provider, remember these common pitfalls to get yourself started on the right foot.