How Far Out Should a Host Open for Bookings?
The two main questions to answer before listing your Airbnb is “Will my area go up in price”? and How quickly do I need my Airbnb booked”?
You should only book out as far as you know the result of your area. For instance, if you are new and you have an event in your designated area, are you familiar enough with the pricing? What if yours is 50% lower than everyone elses and you book half a year out and because you are not familiar with the area your bookings get snapped up quickly. You would lose that income that you would have otherwise generated if you had known the pricing.
How quickly you need to book can depend on whether you are new. Someone new just needs to get their listings going and some positive reviews. This feedback may be more important than actual income at that point in your start.
What Minimum Number of Days Should I Require For My Airbnb?
The minimum number of days you allow for your guest is driven by the local interest and your personal needs. For example, if your area is prime for long stays (say a week) you might limit it to a minimum of a 5-day stay. But keep in mind if you have a 5-day limitation you will end up with some breaks of 2 and 3 days between bookings that may not be filled.
The second thing you need to consider is, that if you are new you want the reviews to be as quickly as possible – it might be better to have single and two-day stayers your first month rather than two two-week stayers. Yes, single and two-dayers make cleaning an increased expense and take away your time with added cleaning- but if your goal is quick reviews to push your business to the top of the ranking you need to concentrate on this at least at the start. Your cleaning should be covered by your guest so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Footnote of caution: a one-day stay will invite partiers who want to throw a one-day party and then leave. Some experts will not allow less than 2 days.
Airbnb Offers Photo Services in some Areas
Take advantage of this and check if you fall within their area of reach. If you do have to dole out money for photos – then do it – rather than trying to save money and doing them poorly yourself.
Write Out Your Guest Manual
It’s really a rule book, but you don’t have to make it sound like one. In fact, it’s three purposes should be
- Where to have fun
- And how things work
the rules you will have are things like “no smoking”. It doesn’t have to be a long list. Check out my document on Rules.
You want your guests to leave you a good review – help them have fun by telling them what they can do in your rental town. Assume they don’t know the town as well as you.
Your “How Things Work” should be everything like, the microwave, the furnace, BBQ, Television, fireplace, and anything mechanical. Just have a page with pictures for each item and an error telling what each button they need to push or enter. Experts know if you miss this point you will get unnecessary calls – stop them in their track by having the answers for your guest at their fingertips.
How Important Are Reviews of My Airbnb?
Reviews are the lifeblood of your listing. While Airbnb does not expressly tell us their algorithms for determining their ranking of listings, we know that reviews are WAY at the top. Anything less than a 5-star is not a good review. You have to let your guests know that a 5-star means you delivered what you said you would. If your cabin is rustic and for the back-to-nature person you are not asking them if it’s a 5-star hotel – it’s obviously not.
In your welcome message, you can say something like “Welcome to our cabin! We hope you like our back-to-nature atmosphere. Relax and unwind. We aim for a 5-star review so let us know if you have any concerns. A 5-Star means we delivered as promised 🙂 and we aim to do so. So let us know how it’s going.”
3 Ways to Improve Your Chances of a Good Review
There are three major areas to focus on; cleanliness, communication, and honesty. If you keep to these three things and handle them well the average person will leave you a 5-star review.
- Cleanliness means if you are cleaning yourself (not a bad idea for the beginner), don’t take shortcuts. Dust, vacuum, restock and scrub to shine. If there’s one hair on the counter or toilet seat then to your guest the WHOLE place is dirty. If you have a cleaning crew verify their cleanliness and make sure they have a list of what you want to be covered and your specific expectations. Be sure you are on the same page when it comes to expectations.
- Communication means you have to be quick to respond to their concerns. If they are standing out in the rain because they can’t figure out the keyless door entry it’s your fault. Make sure they have all the information they need. You can send them instructions 3 days before they arrive. But be available to respond.
- Honesty is making sure you don’t misrepresent your listing. If your little cabin is so “ala natural” that it has a porta-potty – make sure they know. I saw a listing in which they handled it very well…they said something like “You see that cute tiny little building next to the cabin – that’s the outhouse. No adorable little cabin would be complete without it”. Handle the negative with class. If they have to go two miles on a steep dirt road be sure and tell them about this adventure so they are forewarned. And if they shouldn’t tackle it at night be sure they know.
What Should I Do If I’m Going to Get a Bad Review?
After you have done all you can for your guest then there is nothing else you can do. There are some people who will not be happy no matter what.
But let’s say it really is your fault – your cleaner forgot a stinky fish in the oven – their kids got bit by fleas and you know they just don’t want to deal with you even though you have apologized. If this should happen treat them with respect – do not leave a review and hope they forget to leave one.
If it’s a fixable situation then be quick to fix it…a plumber to unplug something they didn’t plug should be taken care of immediately (actually, even if they plugged it – don’t argue with them).
What About Retalitory Bad Reviews?
Retaliation is one of the main causes of bad reviews. For example, let’s say they destroyed several towels, smoked when your rules say not to, and had some broken plates. Airbnb requires you to document ALL claims BEFORE the next guest checks in. Once the new guest is on your steps you can no longer file. However, there is something relatively new at Airbnb; you can fill out the claim but don’t file it until the 14-days have passed for the guest to write a bad review. This will allow you to leave a good review (and get a good one in return) but prevent them from issuing a retaliatory review when you are charging them for their damage.
How to Write Good Copy for Your Listing
Don’t get lazy here, you want you guests to picture themselves having a fun or relaxing time at your home. Your title is the second most important part of your listing (the photos being number one).
There is no need to include price or location in the title as these are usually filtered out automatically by the search that the guest sets up on Airbnb. On your title keep in mind that on a mobile the title could be chopped off. However, Airbnb does favor about 50 characters. Put your most important first and do not use adjectives such as “lovely”, “beautiful”, “charming” or anything that is so generic it doesn’t mean anything.
Listing it’s amenities is better than using flowery adjectives that mean nothing. Mentioning “Beach” is okay…but “Rochester suburb neighborhood” is probably not. They might not know the neighborhood well enough to know if “Rochester suburb neighborhood” is good. And if they do know then they don’t need that in the title.
When you write the detail of your listing that is where you can give specific and honest details. You can spin the negative so that the reader can be informed and not surprised. Like the porta-potty mentioned above.
Be sure and mention all amenities and what it is near in the listing details. For instance, if it’s near Disneyland be sure and mention it – if it has no internet be sure this is mentioned. Leave no surprises for your guest – disclose disclose disclose.
Should I Use More Than One Short Term Rental Platform?
This is primarily a personal decision.
You must ask yourself two things; can Airbnb fulfill my bookings? And if I choose to include another platform am I willing to juggle the additional time needed to make sure the bookings are in sync? If Airbnb is keeping you booked then it’s easier not to use another platform, If you are in a lower-demand area you may have to.
Consider Platforms/Apps called Channel Managers. Just Google “Channel Manager” then look at the list and compare each to what you need.
Should I Use Airbnb’s Instant Booking?
Instant Booking is a setting in which you give your guest the ability to book automatically without getting your approval first. It’s split on whether experienced Hosts advise using Instant booking or not. For the New Host, it makes sense to book immediately and don’t keep potential guests on hold awaiting your approval.
The thought of not allowing Instant booking is that you can have better control over who you allow in your property and ferret out partiers and the like. This, obviously, isn’t any guarantee that they will not harm your property. You do, however, run the risk of the potential guest finding a new location while they await your response and approval.
The Pro use of Instant Booking is that you can reduce the rif-raf if you require an official id (such as a driver’s license), a profile photo, and at least one review. So if you require this upfront, the pro-instant-bookers point out, there will be less opportunity to get a dud of a guest.