So you’ve set up an Airbnb account and hitched yourself to the Airbnb craze. And why not? It’s a smart way to profit off a room you don’t use on a regular basis, or to earn more on a rental unit.
But as the popularity of Airbnb continues to grow, you need to grow alongside it, if you want your Airbnb business to be competitive. What worked four years ago may not be good enough to stand out and attract consistent bookings today.
Sub-par listings, accommodations, or Airbnb business practices are a surefire way to leave money on the table.
If four walls, a bed and a glass of water are all you offer, it’s time to reevaluate your Airbnb business plan. Here are seven suggestions to perk up your Airbnb business, impress your guests, and boost your bookings and revenue!
1. Attract Longer-Term Bookings
Every booking requires you to coordinate with guests, change the linens, clean the rental unit, and so forth. A one-night booking requires the same amount of work on your part as a one-month booking, yet the difference in Airbnb revenue is enormous.
Running an Airbnb business is effectively a second job, which means managing your time is a top-priority. Your time is a limited resource after all, and one you can’t get back.
One option is to charge more for one- or two-night stays. For example, you can set the nightly rate on the higher end, then offer deep discounts for weekly or monthly bookings. Another option is to set a minimum stay requirement.
When determining your Airbnb strategy, weigh the pros and cons of longer versus short-term stays. Does your state require eviction for renters who stay longer than a certain period of time?
If you’re renting a room in your home, you should take time to vet long-term guests to make sure you can live alongside them for the full length of their stay!
Booking several short-term guests a week can result in a pricey turnover. Making sure your space is tidy after every guest might not seem like a time sink, but it can add up fast. Should you choose to host a guest for months at a time, they’re held to a higher level of accountability, which means less wear and tear. What’s more, you’ll enjoy a steady source of more consistent income.
As a final thought, keep in mind that one- or two-night stays can prevent longer-term guests from booking during that time slot. If someone books your unit for a Saturday night only, all of the following guests looking to visit for a week-long stay that week will no longer see your listing as an available option.
For the fine details of long-term hosting, check out Airbnb’s advice on the subject.
2. Keep Your Listing Current
It’s not enough to set up an Airbnb profile and kick your feet back. As a host, there’s a lot expected of you from both your guests and the site itself. Forget that you’re running a business on Airbnb, and you risk obscurity.
To stay relevant to Airbnb’s search engine, you have to put detail into your listing. Your online presentation is the first thing potential guests will see before they decide whether or not to contact you, so a stellar listing is a must.
How do you go about improving your image? Start with images! Photos of your space that offer a realistic representation of its look and feel will draw people more than a block of descriptive text ever could.
Make sure the unit is spotlessly clean, and take photos during daylight hours on a sunny day. The more light, the better.
Use a real camera rather than a phone, and take shots from every angle.
Aim for at least 20 photos, preferably closer to 30. Include a shot of the front of the building.
Another tip is to rewrite and improve your description on a semi-regular basis. Be as thorough as possible — both about the space and your neighborhood — to avoid any surprises for your guests that might result in a poor rating.
Airbnb owners should also note their parking policy in the listing — guests value any amenities your place can offer, and will value a safe and inexpensive parking space if you can provide one.
Always make sure you specify exactly how many bedrooms there are, and the size and number of beds in each. It’s amazing how many hosts fail to do this, and lose Airbnb revenue and bookings because of it.
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3. Spruce, Spruce, Spruce!
Everyone has had a poor hotel experience. The sheets have a criminally low thread-count, the locks don’t work and there’s a suspiciously dark stain on the carpet.
Do you really want to operate your Airbnb business like that?
As a host, you’re expected to provide for the people staying in your home. You don’t earn five stars by sitting on your hands. Before your visitor steps foot through the door, you should have checked off the following questions:
- Is there a bottle of water on the nightstand and fresh towels left folded for the guests?
- Is the bed made and the rest of your home clean and welcoming in its presentation?
- If you own a pet and you’re renting a room in your home, have you searched for dog/cat hair that might potentially cause an allergic reaction?
Check in advance with your guest to see if they have any unique needs. You don’t want a clumsy interaction where a request has been unaccounted for, leaving you on the spot without an answer.
Remember that first impressions matter! If you want to be perceived and remembered in a positive light, allocate at least an hour to preparing the space your guest will be staying in. The extra care counts.
Small touches can make a huge impact.
A bottle of wine left with a handwritten note. A list of recommended restaurants or entertainment. A chocolate left on the pillow.
To get the most out of your Airbnb business, you have to go above and beyond the call of duty. Unexpected little touches like these make your Airbnb rental memorable.
If you’re meeting your guests in person, take a moment to ask them about their plans for their stay. Ask if they’d like any recommendations or referrals.
Have a favorite restaurant in the city? Aware of an event that’s coming up? Bring it to your guest’s attention; it goes a long way toward forming their final opinion of your service.
Guests will appreciate the time you take to show them special attention. You’ll stand out in their mind as someone who not only housed them for a few nights but also led them to discover new opportunities.
5. Co-Host Other Airbnb Landlords’ Rental Units
Hosting your own Airbnb listing is well and good, but have you considered co-hosting another? A co-host’s responsibility is to assist other owners in managing their Airbnb unit and the needs of their guests, and it’s a great way to earn commission on the side.
If you are familiar with the area and are running an Airbnb business there already, it can be an easy way to expand your business and Airbnb revenue. You already have a cleaning crew in place, and you can tweak your Welcome package to reflect the other host’s property.
The technical process is a simple one. Just ask the other host to visit the Airbnb website, navigate to “Listings,” select the listing they want to edit and click “Co-Hosts.” From there, they can add you and up to two other co-hosts.
As a co-host, you’ll be expected to communicate with guests, prepare their accommodations, make updates and clean. If you’re willing to make space in your schedule to offer an extra pair of hands, it can increase your profit and improve credibility.
6. Make Your Listing as Accessible as Possible
You won’t generate any money through exclusivity. The goal of any Airbnb owner should be to present their home as a safe, inclusive space for people of any background. Selectivity is fine — necessary, even — but choosiness hurts more than it helps.
Consider making your space particularly welcoming to guests with children and animals. If a family intends to stay in town for the night and they’ve brought their young children and dog, they’ll be searching for listings that allow everyone to stay. Making this openness explicit can attract more interest.
While its true that you run a greater risk of damage by letting in rowdy kids and pets, you’ll make up for it in increased business.
When detailing your listing on Airbnb, include information relevant to people with special requirements. Is your rental unit wheelchair accessible? Is their elevator access to the unit? Does the shower feature handles?
The more inclusive you can make your listing, the more Airbnb revenue and bookings you can expect.
7. Incorporate Flexibility into Your Airbnb Business Plan
Sure, you have your own schedule, a full-time job, other responsibilities. But the more flexible you can be to special requests, the better your ratings will be, and the more bookings your Airbnb business will see.
For example, find ways to accommodate guests’ requests about check-in and check-out times, to the extent that you can. A delay in a car rental or flight might cause an unexpected change in your guest’s plans. Would you want them to leave a poor review because you kicked them out into the cold to enforce a policy?
When you’re mapping out your Airbnb business plan, look for ways to automate entry and exit, so your guests can arrive without you, and “check out” without you.
Similarly, be responsive if guests make a special request. If the unit does not have air conditioning, and a heat wave comes through, can you provide an extra fan or two? If a guest loses a key, what’s your plan for getting them a copy of it?
You can charge extra for items like lost keys, but what you can’t do is leave the guests waiting without a key for eight hours. If you’re not available to help a guest, who’s on deck to help them?
Invest an hour in drafting a thorough Airbnb business plan, and include contingencies like lost keys, special requests, backup contacts, and so on.
Think Like an Airbnb Business
Airbnb hosts and other vacation rental landlords are businesspeople, and need to think like business people. That includes creating an Airbnb business plan, having detailed policies in place, and plenty of contingencies.
Most of all, it means focusing on marketing. Looking for ways to make your listings stand out. Outstanding “product” photos of your unit. Being responsive to all requests.
If you follow the seven tips above, you’ll see significant boosts in your Airbnb revenue in no time at all. Happy hosting!
“Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor behind her blogs, The Estate Update and Velvet Jobs Review. You can keep up with all of her tips for those entering the market by subscribing to her weekly newsletter. ”
What are your tips for boosting your Airbnb revenue? Share your experiences and thoughts below!