June 29, 2015

The Worst Parts About Being An Airbnb Host (and how to fix it)

June 29, 2015

The Worst Parts About Being An Airbnb Host (and how to fix it)

There's no business quite like the vacation rental business. Technology is enabling so many people to take part in the transformation of an industry. You can access everything from the palm of your hand, both as a guest and a host. But anyone who's been in the vacation rental industry longer than a few weeks knows it's not all roses and rainbows. Sometimes the responsibilities for Airbnb hosts are challenging, stressful, and fraught with problems. Here are some of the worst parts about being an Airbnb host, and how to fix them for your guests.

1. The lockbox snafu

PROBLEM: Even though a large number of Airbnb homes have lockboxes installed for easy access any time of day or night, a lockbox can have all sorts of issues. If you aren't there to personally let your guests in, you could be opening your home to just about anything. Or, leaving your guests out in the dark or cold because the lockbox isn't working (it's rusted or jammed, the new code didn't take, or even that it was removed by the HOA).

SOLUTION: The easy answer is to greet your guests in person. This solves all the issues and ensures you know exactly who is staying in your home. If that's not always an option, a professional concierge service can meet your guests, physically hand them the keys, walk them through the home,  and even coordinate their arrival.

2. The 24/7 guest requests

PROBLEM: One of the great things about vacation rentals is how personal it is. But this also means hosts are on call for any issue their guests might have. There is a lot of guest communication that is required in order to be a successful proprietor, especially if your guest is new to Airbnb. However, all guests expect immediate responses, regardless of what you've got going on in your daily life.

SOLUTION: Unfortunately, without a professional service there's really no way around this one; it's part of the package deal. Fortunately, an Airbnb concierge service will take this completely out of your hands by being your guest's dedicated point of contact during their stay and allowing you to go about your other business. Most guest issues are easily troubleshooted or have a simple explanation, but you still must be easily and immediately accessible for the smallest of issues and many hosts find this an annoying aspect of the industry.

3. The damages

PROBLEM: The number one fear of new Airbnb hosts is that something will go wrong with the home, and sure enough this happens to everyone. Whether a guest calls because the AC suddenly isn't working or a light bulb is out, your response is always that you'll fix it and fix it immediately.

SOLUTION: More often than not, the speed of your response and acknowledgement of the issue will get you points even if you can't actually fix the issue right away. Recently, the AC went down in an Airbnb property. To solve it, we did three things simultaneously:

  1. We immediately started reaching out to repair vendors.  
  2. We walked the guest through some troubleshooting tactics that we hoped would fix the issue (turns out it was a fried converter, a very very expensive part to fix).
  3. We went to a hardware store and bought 3 oscillating fans and a portable AC unit for the guests.

We authorized the repair of the converter and bypassed first going through insurance, analyzing our warranty, or getting additional bids. We absolutely paid more up front than we might have otherwise, but it was worth it in this situation. Our best advice is to resolve the issue first, and then look into who is responsible and what, if any, compensation needs to be doled out for the loss of use or enjoyment. This is certainly more art than science, and unless you have direct evidence to support the guest caused the damage it's best to eat the cost yourself and seek reimbursement from your insurance policy. Having updated, properly maintained equipment is worth so much more than dealing with issues later on.

Tagged: airbnb, vacation rental guests, vacation rental