Exceptional guest reviews are the foundation of any strong Airbnb listing. Nothing will make your listing more visible, attract higher quality guests, and allow you to charge above market prices than previous guests describing how great of an experience they had. Most Airbnb guests are fairly reasonable, so if you take the time and effort with Airbnb management to ensure you are doing your part, they will reward you.
Airbnb segments its review system into six different categories: accuracy, communication, cleanliness, location, check-in, and value. With the exception of location, you as a host have complete control over each one of these categories. Of course, there’s also the public feedback the guest leaves for you. More so than any category, the public feedback you receive as a host will make or break your listing. Remember, your guests are paying customers on leisure or business travel and it’s your job to make them happy.
So lets dig a bit deeper into each of these categories to see how professional Airbnb management can drive five star reviews.
Guest communication begins from the minute a potential guest sends you an inquiry and ends after they’ve left you their feedback. Airbnb publishes your approximate average response time so every potential guest already has a sense of your timeliness before they’ve even messaged you. In addition to timeliness, your communication must entail a certain level of clarity, helpfulness, and friendliness. Clear communication that provides your guest exactly what they need in a friendly tone will certainly be appreciated.
While some may say communication is more of an art than a science, there are some best practices that every host can follow. For one, do your best to use the preferred communication channel of your guest. Some people like email, some like SMS, and others like the Airbnb instant messaging system. The more you can mirror your guest’s preferences, the more appreciative they will be.
The second is to ensure your guest is given as much information up front as possible. It’s just as inconvenient (maybe more) for your guest to keep asking you questions as it is for you to answer them. A good way to do this is to create an Airbnb house manual. If anything changes at any point or if there are any unexpected events, notify your guest as soon as possible. When in doubt, remember it’s always better to over-communicate.
Finally, every once in a while it’s a good idea to send your guest a message just to make sure everything is going well. It will show them you care and reinforce that if they ever need anything, they should not hesitate to ask.
If there is one aspect of Airbnb management that cannot be compromised it is cleanliness. When a guest is visiting your city for business or leisure, you have to assume that their expectation is that the place is going to be flawless. This is especially the case if you’re charging high nightly rates, as you will be compared to hotels, which perform deep cleanings before each stay. The implication is that you will need to hire a professional cleaner who is both reliable and detailed-oriented. Make sure you have an adequate supply of cleaning materials for him / her to work with. If you’re not sure what they need, your best bet is often just to ask your cleaner.
In addition to a clean home, all linens must be changed in between guest stays including bedding sheets, pillowcases, blanket covers, and towels. It’s good to have extra sheets and towels in case your guest needs them. Also, ensure you have enough household supplies (e.g. garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) for the duration of your guest’s stay and that they know exactly where everything is.
One challenge that many hosts will find themselves dealing with is leaving enough time in between bookings for the cleaning to be performed. Many hosts set apart check-in and checkout times one hour longer than the typical time it takes to clean the place. If a cleaning takes 2 hours, then check-out can be at 12 pm and check-in at 3 pm. That way, it gives you a buffer period in case your cleaner is running late or the cleaning takes longer than usual. If there is ever an issue with timing, notify your guests as soon as possible and do everything you can to make it up to them.
As the old saying goes – first impressions are everything. Many of your guests will be visiting a new city for the first time and they are expecting a seamless check-in process. The first step is to find out how they will be arriving in the city (flight, train, or car) and send them directions to your home (public transportation and road). If they are flying in or taking the train, it’s a good idea to get their flight or train number just in case there is a delay and they can’t get a hold of you. If your guest is directly driving to your place or renting a car at the airport, ensure they know the parking options ahead of time. If parking is unavailable or unreasonably expensive, this must be clearly communicated in your listing. Most guests will ask, but you want to do everything you can to avoid a situation where they’ve arrived at your place with a car and nowhere to park it. Take the pre-cautions ahead of time and avoid the headache later.
As for the actual check-in, you can either meet them in person or provide a self check-in option. Meeting your guest is always nice because it provides a personal touch and allows you to make them feel comfortable in their new environment. You’ll have the opportunity to show them your place and answer any questions they have face to face. However, it’s not always possible to meet guests in person so self check-in is an effective alternative. Self-check in instructions must be clear and specific to avoid any confusion. If you go the self check-in route, make yourself available through phone or Airbnb instant message in case your guest is having trouble accessing your home.
Effectively marketing your property using pictures and descriptions that attract potential guests is essential to creating a listing that stands out from the pack. Although it may be tempting to exaggerate in your listing description, it’s best to avoid doing so. You may get more bookings in the short run, but your guests will ultimately be disappointed and their reviews will hurt you in the long run.
In terms of pictures, always use pictures of your actual property and ensure your entire place is covered. If you have a great description of the second bedroom but there is no picture, you run the risk of failing to meet your guest expectations. A good idea is to ask your first couple guests whether the listing accurately portrayed your home. Their feedback will helpful and in the case their expectations weren’t met they’ll likely be conscious of the fact that you are trying to improve when they are reviewing you.
Assuming you already have a place, location may seem like the only category on this list that you can’t control. But like anything in life, there’s always a way to make the most of what you have going for you. Your area may not be the most central or trendy, but there are probably hidden gems that your guests would appreciate.
When writing your Airbnb listing description, do your best to highlight the best parts about staying in your area. Are there any interesting tourist attractions or good restaurants nearby? Is there a famous comedy club or show that is too good to miss? How far away is public transportation and how long does it take to get to the city centre? The more you can convince potential guests that your location is unique, convenient, or both the more interest you will receive.
In addition to your listing description, it’s a good idea to create a guidebook on your listing. A guidebook allows you to pin neighbourhood attractions on the map and write a brief description for them. Often times, guests will have little knowledge of the neighbourhood (or even the city) and it’s very helpful when they get a local point of view. Putting together a good guidebook is a reflection of a host who cares about the guest experience. Invest the time and you will be rewarded with more bookings.
Value simply refers to the extent your guest felt the price they paid was worth the accommodation and experience they got. Perhaps more than the other categories, the perception of value can be subjective depending on a guest’s level of previous experience with Airbnb and their knowledge of the local market. However, by pricing your property correctly and adding a few extras to the experience, you can increase the likelihood that your guest feels like they got good value for their money.
If you’re not sure how to price your property, the first step would be to browse similar homes in your area to get a sense of the market prices. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate depending on the season or local events taking place, so try playing around with the dates when doing your research. In the beginning, it’s best to underprice your home relative to the market so that you can get experience with Airbnb management and build up those good reviews. Be sure to get feedback from your guests so that you can keep improving every time. If you become a top host in your area, you can charge above market prices and still leave guests with the feeling that they got great value for their money
Part of being a great host is going the extra mile with Airbnb management. There are lots of simple things you can do that won’t cost you a lot but your guests will appreciate. An example would be leaving some basic groceries in the fridge. This can go a long way, especially if guests are hungry after a long trip. A bottle of wine, coupons to local restaurants, and movie tickets are just a few other examples. We all like unexpected surprises and the gesture alone can mean a lot to people.