6 Easy Ways to Authentically Market Your Airbnb on Instagram

market airbnb listing on instagram

Today, I’ve got a special treat for you. Short Term Stays blogger and social media manager Snezana Krdzic wrote a guest post for The Abundant Host on how to market your Airbnb from an Instagram account.

This is actually the very first guest post I’ve accepted for The Abundant Host; I normally don’t accept them on the reg, but I thought the timing of this particular pitch was too perfect, because… LOOK!

I finally got on the Instagram wagon!

 

Follow me on Instagram for listing design tips, welcome kit ideas, personal styling tips (often from my very own listing!) and more visual goodies.

And read on for some simple, unique ways to market your listing on Instagram. Of course, I’ll be adding in my own two (or three, or fifteen…) cents as they come. Take it away, Short Term Stays!


Hello, fellow Abundant Hosts! We’ve seen plenty of Instagram profiles trying to market their Airbnb, but often these profiles all start to look the same. You can see what kind of rooms their unit has to offer, but once they are done uploading photos of their home design and space, the marketing and engagement seems to stop there.

We see no reason why you should let this happen to your Airbnb Instagram page! In fact, if you really want to corner this market, learn to be more than just a one-trick pony and take advantage of one of the most prosperous social media platforms.

Instagram marketing works for almost any niche, and it can have powerful benefits for your rental home, room or apartment. We use our Instagram to market our services and help hosts improve their service, develop their business and stay on the right path—and that’s the path of hospitality.

Now, there are several things you as an Airbnb owner can do to showcase your Airbnb, engage others in following you and motivate them to keep checking your Instagram for more exciting content.

1. Give Your Followers a Virtual Tour

Let’s start from the very beginning. You have to focus on uploading high-quality photos of your rooms. You don’t need a professional photographer to do this. If you really aren’t good with a camera, watch a few Youtube tutorials on how to achieve the best angle when taking photos of your home, and try experimenting on your own.

Sure, they can see your unit on the Airbnb website, but not everyone is scouring listings 24/7. So, don’t be shy and start taking photos. Make sure you don’t miss any of the rooms you have. If you upload shots of your entire Airbnb and leave out the bathroom or the kitchen, guests might think you have something to hide. Show them that you don’t and have all of your cards out in the open!

The Abundant Host Pro Tip from Amy: As I recommend in my Top 5 Most Common Host Mistakes, guests want to experience your place as if they’re about to check in—so, they need to see enough space for themselves to fit into it. This is a classic trademark of home design. Go the extra mile and put out the welcome materials for your future guest—the beautifully folded towels they’ll arrive to, the array of maps and locally made chocolate bar they’ll be gifted with, etc. Imagine your guest having the point of view of the photographer—what will they be greeted with? Show them.

You’ve probably put in a lot of effort to Airbnb your home. Whether it was messing around with the interior or décor, we’re pretty sure you’ve given your best to make the place look like a vacation paradise.

As guests usually get swept off their feet with the little details, make sure to include a couple of photos of all of the amenities you have to offer. Have you been experimenting with the way you store your toiletries? Do you have a gorgeous view from the balcony? Installed a new audio system or have a few DVD’s prepared their relaxation time? Take a pic and show off your skills and amenities!

2. Look Beyond Your Listing

Okay, so you’ve shown them what your place looks like. Now, take the showcase outside! It’s time to show your potential guests where you are located. Take a photo of your neighborhood, street, the outside of your unit. If you’re located near famous, local restaurants and bars worth visiting, get their permission to post their photo on your profile.

This has two advantages:

  1. You’re showing your guests that you care about giving them a truly local experience. You’re being a tentative host, not just thinking about your unit, but thinking about their complete stay.
  2. You’re luring guests in by showing them what else they’ll be able to experience if they choose to stay with you.

3. Show Them Who You Really Are

By this, we don’t mean every single detail about you, but the essence of your being. Guests don’t just want to see the ambience. They want to see the owner, too—especially your character—and you need to find a way to portray this on your Instagram.

For example, if you want your guests to know that you are a laid-back host, you love joking around and will make sure that they laugh through their stay at your Airbnb. Find a way to portray this character trait through humorous, original, unique posts.

If you’re not going to be present at the time of your guest’s arrival, take a photo of your wacky, quirky art or photographs hanging on the wall of your Airbnb, and let your future guests know that a smile is waiting for them as soon as they walk in through the door.

The Abundant Host Pro Tip from Amy: This is so important, and the secret to attracting your ideal guests. Express your personality (and even quirks) in your Instagram photographs. Make sure to include a little paragraph caption about how much you adore your patio and gardening on it in the summer. If you’re an architect and have tons of architecture books, mention that. Someone similar will find this to make the difference between choosing a “blank canvas” place and your nurtured, personality-driven space. We attract the people we want to be around by representing who we are. I make my listing a little Goddess sanctuary. I have sage, incense, candles, flowing things, spiritual art, etc. No frat boy is going to want to stay there. None ever has.

4. Get the Message Where It Matters

Have a set of hashtags that you always use with each picture, and since we’re talking about marketing your Airbnb, the list will probably include relevant hashtags such as #airbnb, #vacationrental or #rentalproperty. Create a selection of 5 to 10 relevant hashtags for your industry and don’t forget to include them (as well as your own hashtag!).

The Abundant Host Pro Tip from Amy: Your hashtag can be the same as your three little words that you use to describe your listing every time, which can help people find you. Also, something I do is save my favorite hashtags to an Evernote file (get a free month of Premium with that link), which I absolutely love and use all the time, to make it easier to quickly copy and paste them in. Also, Airbnb features listings on their own Instagram page, which has 870,000 followers at the time of this writing, so you definitely want to tag them and see what hashtags they’ve been using lately.

5. What Are Your Rates?

Social media users like to be rewarded by a business they follow online. It’s like a little compensation for their loyalty to our brand.

Try to update your guests on your seasonal rates. As the seasons go by, let them know what the average pricing is, and when it usually changes. If you have a chance and a few empty spots left in your calendar before a special event, and you still don’t have any booking inquiries, use Instagram to notify your guests about your availability. It can’t hurt!

The Abundant Host Pro Tip from Amy: This was a great one, I had honestly never thought of this. I can see this being especially useful if you’ve planned a trip away for a weekend and don’t have any bookings for the home you live in. Discount that shhh!

6. Share Your Guest Experiences

From a guest’s perspective, it’s a completely different experience looking at a page full of design and décor and a page that has a human touch.

Don’t by shy—ask your guests to take a selfie with you, or take a picture of a special welcome note you wrote for them. If your guests went the extra mile and left you a thank-you note, get their permission to post it to Instagram. This shows the crowd that you’re really in the business and that your Instagram account is not just pictures of a house.

Every brand needs to have a personal touch to it, and with Airbnb, it’s no different. The more you share your past experiences with your guests, the more trustworthy you’ll seem. And trust is everything in this industry.

Overall, the best way for your Airbnb to leverage Instagram is by being genuine, versatile, informational and creative. Be yourself, and don’t try to imitate others and their success, because you have your own story to tell.

Hopefully, we convinced you to join us on Instagram and tell your Airbnb story! Try out our tips and tailor them to suit your character, property, needs and target audience.

Let us know in the comments down below if you liked this—and if you found this helpful, please share it up (maybe even on Instagram)!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Location, Shmocation! How to Position Your Listing to Get Five Stars, No Matter Where It Is

location airbnb post big

I’m about to say something pretty controversial, so listen up. :)

Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, you can get 5 stars in Location on Airbnb.

Because, like all things, it’s not just about what you think it is—in this case, your neighborhood or proximity to the center of a city. It’s a combination of factors that we’re going to dive into in this post.

I have one caveat before I continue: If we’re talking about your guests hearing gunshots at night (a reality in some areas of all countries) and it feels unsafe to you and your guest/s, that’s something that will be really hard to counter.

However, if your problem is simply that you live on the far side of town (and you’re worried about competing with downtown spots) or you live in a really small town that’s not near any big cities, landmarks or “cool” spots… keep reading. I’ve got you covered.

I’ll start with one guaranteed way to not get 5 stars in Location.

And that is to complain about your location. Either in your listing, or to your guests in person or via messages.

How you feel about your location will transfer to how they feel about it.

That being said, here are my top four meaty tips to get five stars in Location:

Be extremely honest about what your location has to offer—and what it doesn’t.

The #1 thing I notice when I look at the listing of a client who’s getting lower than 5 stars in Location is that they’re stretching the truth (which is revealed to me by either their reviews, or a simple Google search).

If you say you live “10 minutes walking distance” from the city center and you live 25 minutes away, that is definitely going to get you just 3 or 4 stars.

Yes, your guests will notice—especially when one of them wears heels because she thought it was going to be a short stroll.

To this you might respond: “Well, other hosts do it all the time!” Sadly, this is true. But, be the standout host who tells it like it is, and you might even out those hosts near you who aren’t being honest.

For example, if you are the host in the example I just referenced, you could say (as long as it’s all true):

“While I do live 25 minutes or less walk away from the city center, let me tell you—it is a fabulous walk. In fact, I’ve included a walking map in my Welcome Guide that shows you exactly where you can stop to view the [historic art site], and for coffee on the way to help warm you up. My favorite is the [X] coffee at [Y Cafe]—tell [Ron] I sent you and he’ll give you a 10% discount!”

Boom. (Oh yeah, you know that was good.)

Going into thing more deeply on a psychological level—Why is not fudging the truth about your location a good idea?

You set up the frame of reference in your guest’s mind for what Location means.

Let me say that again:

You set up the frame of reference in your guest’s mind for what Location means.

Click to tweet that!

This is the key to getting five stars in Location no matter where you are.

What that means is: You set the expectations of what Location means, and then you play to your strengths, with 100% truth and honesty.

If that walk is so lovely, I’m going to think of that walk as an added bonus to the location—another thing to do, another perk—and give it 5 stars.

Location can mean inside your home. Pretty it up!

Even after hearing the above, a few of my consulting clients will still come back to me and say: “Yeah, but I’m really, really far away from town. I can’t change that!”

My reply is this: Let’s say you were right in the middle of it all—but your apartment has cockroaches, the windows rattle when the subway goes by, and it’s never quiet for a moment. Do you think that place would get 5 stars for Location even if they’re in Times Square (or better put, the West Village)?

Most definitely not.

Remember that location doesn’t just have to do with walking out the door and being able to buy a bagel (okay, enough with the New York analogies).

If your “location” is one in which they’re greeted with flowers, chocolates and bath salts for a hot bath and firewood for the fire place… that is an awesome “location,” my dear!

Location can mean the grounds of your home. Spruce it up!

I remember one of my favorite Airbnbs I stayed at in Colorado. The house was gorgeous, but it was definitely out of the center of town. It definitely was not in the best physical location.

But, my absolute favorite thing about the house was the garden in the backyard. The host, a lovely woman who also lived in the home in which we rented a room, said we were free to pick anything we wanted and eat it. As it was August, it was a serendipitous time to be there, and every evening—though I’m normally someone who loves checking out the best restaurants everywhere I go—I looked forward to coming home and picking everything for an amazing huge salad—fresh lettuce, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes (GAH SUMMER TOMATOES NOM NOM), delicious herbs, etc.

Often, our host would sit outside with us as we drank rosé and ate our epic salads, and we’d share stories and talk about her gorgeous garden as the sun set.

Because of this, I’d say it was one of the most memorable Airbnb experiences I’ve ever had. And it was nowhere near the happening area of that city—in fact, it was in a completely suburban neighborhood with nothing nearby but a strip mall.

But, did I give that place 5 stars in Location?

You can bet your summer tomatoes I did.

Mention your five-star review explicitly in a message to them.

The reason I say to message your guests instead of tell them in-person, is that people tend to forget the exact wording of things. If they have it in actual text through Airbnb or their phones/email, they can see that they’ve passively agreed to something.

A passive agreement in this case goes something like this:

Let’s say you check in with them and everything is going swimmingly. Wonderful! Now, you can send them the following message (or your wording of it):

“Hey [Name]! I’m so glad to hear that you and your wife are loving the place. I just wanted to send a quick message to say that if you feel that anything is lower than a 5-star experience all around for you, please let me know so that I can try to remedy it as soon as possible. Thank you and enjoy the day! I hear it’s 80 degrees there in [City]—so beautiful! Feel free to take my bike and explore it in the sunshine. :)”

(This of course is an example message of what the Feels-Like-Home Host, one of the three types of hosts, might write.)

If your guests say nothing, they are passively agreeing to give you five stars (provided of course, it truly is a 5-star experience). In this case, it’s a bit unethical (in my opinion) to directly ask someone for 5 stars or especially to bribe someone into giving them.

 

Those are my top tips, guys! And remember, don’t get down on yourself about your location—if you do, the guest will feel that and you’re sure to manifest exactly what you think about your own listing.

If you’d like to talk to me more about your specific listing and dive into what you could offer to level up your Location stars—contact me. :)


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

A Chat With the Folks From Xotelia, A Software Solution for Multiple-Listing Owners

At the Airbnb Open 2015 in Paris, I interviewed Jeffrey Messud, who Xotelia in 2012, and Eva Lejamtel, Xotelia’s marketing manager.

Eva and Jeffrey

Xotelia is a complete and flexible channel manager that helps multiple-property owners manage their bookings all in one place, with custom solutions, increased exposure and maximized efficiency.

If you have more than three listings going on different websites (including Airbnb but also Expedia, FlipKey, HouseTrip or Booking.com), Xotelia might be your sweet spot!

Read on for more about them.

Jeffrey and Eva, tell me how Xotelia works and how it can help people who want to become Abundant Hosts.

Jeffrey: We deliver real-time updates to help you manage your bookings easily. Say you have a listing on several websites; you’ll start having several bookings and you might not want the hassle of updating your calendars. If you have Instant Booking on for example and you’re on multiple websites, you have a risk of double booking.

Xotelia is very simple and very affordable. That’s what we aim for, and that’s what we offer.

What was it like starting Xotelia and getting investment (if any)?

Jeffrey: We started very small, and we got a few people to test our system. It was hard for two years! After having investment now, it’s easier. Now, we’re in 55 countries and we manage 10,200 units.

Wow, that’s awesome! Are you guys also hosts on Airbnb?

Jeffrey: Eva is a host in Lyon, France. I’m a frequent guest. I’ve spent up to two months in Airbnbs.

Lovely. What gave you the idea to start Xotelia?

Jeffrey: According to HomeAway, there are 19 million bookable properties worldwide. So, there is a huge potential in the market; people are using this kind of technology more and more. We’re at a point where Airbnb hosting can be a real business.

I think people are honestly getting sick of hotels. People want to be in more in apartments, in the local culture. The customer desire is changing.

And Xotelia is more for the listing owner that has multiple properties, correct?

Jeffrey: Yes, our average customers have 3-5 properties, and we simply charge a monthly fee for our service. On average, our customers are on four websites. But when people are on all these websites, it’s very confusing. Some are better for chalets, some are better for flats… and people need one place to view everything.

Eva: When you’re renting more than a room, you start to run this like a business. And when you do that, you have to treat it like one, and bring in more systems that make things more efficient and easy.

ManagingRates

ManagingAvailabilities

Eva, as a host, what’s one of the most serendipitous experiences you’ve had hosting on Airbnb?

Eva: I had the former French Prime Minister staying in my apartment for a weekend!

Wow, really?!

Eva: Yes! I didn’t know beforehand, because his daughter had booked the apartment. It was such a surprise. My boyfriend and I said goodbye to them, wished them well, left the apartment and were in such shock.

At Xotelia, what is your main challenge right now?

Eva: The main challenge for us is to find the right way to talk to people when we are in 56 countries at the moment!

We still want to connect with people one-on-one. Our main market is France, our second is Canada, and our third is Spain. We talk with so many people, very interesting people.

Tell us a bit about your customers.

Jeffrey: Well, our very first customer was an English guy who was staying at a ski resort. He developed the system with us, but he insulted us and said it was not working, and then one day we said, fine, we’ll give you back your money—and he said: “No! I don’t want it back. Just make it work! ::laughter::

People are always trying to help us. They know we’re a young company. They send us emails telling us what to fix and how we can do better. So every month, we improve our technology.

We have famous people using our system; one of them is an actor doing rentals in Paris!

Eva: When we did a couple of testimonial videos, we met one woman at her place and she wanted to make us feel so at home. She was really involved in our company and cared about our success; she was willing to do so much to help us reach our objectives.

Eva: As we are all very young in the company; and we found that people are more willing to collaborate and forgive you more easily when you mess up!

Jeffrey: We used to know every customer. Everyone would call the Support line, “Hey Nicolas…” but we’re five times bigger now, so Nicolas is here, but he’s not available anymore. ::laughter::

What does it mean to you to be an Abundant Host?

Jeffrey: To us, being an abundant host is about making your guest happy—but making yourself happy as well, and getting to meet people that you never would meet otherwise.

Eva: I’ve met tons of really cool people. They tell me they’re tired of being or traveling alone. They always want to go for a beer. This lifestyle is such a good way to meet people.

What’s the first thing people can do on Xotelia to enhance their hosting experience?

Jeffrey: They can sign up for our newsletter online, which is available in French and English. If people subscribe, they usually want to know about the product. Then when they start to check other similar services, they often come back.

Of course, if you rent once a month or have only one small listing, that’s not right for our users.

How does Xotelia stand out from other similar sites?

Jeffrey: We’re more for high volume. We are targeting people who are doing this as a business.

We do train our customers to use the system and we give them advice on how they can sell their listings. On FlipKey, for example, you would want to sell more of a weekly stay; on Airbnb you’re more likely to sell a 2-3 night stay.

Today, we have a process, training, follow-ups and so on. We’re also extremely affordable.

We help people have a sales strategy. Often, when you ask hosts how many sales they did last year, they often just say it was a great year. They get more professional when they start using Xotelia. For example, some of them knew the Airbnb Open was going on right now, but they didn’t realize they should raise their prices.

I ask them: When you buy a flight, you buy in advance, don’t you? You know the price is going to go up the closer to the date you buy. Home stays are the same thing.

Since you have such a large customer base, what are the differences you notice by country?

Eva: In France, we talk to traditional innkeepers, but abroad we are talking to entrepreneurs. Americans and Canadians think more about price, which is great. But we need to cater to each individual market—an Australian property owner might not want the same services as a French property owner, for example, purely based on culture and location.

Jeffrey: We have some customers who have been doing this professionally for 15 years who used to advertise in paper—now, they don’t get anymore bookings from this and need to move to the listing sites. And, it’s nice to be able to help them through it.

This is a sponsored post. If you’re a like-minded and aligned company, product or service and would like to sponsor The Abundant Host through a multitude of avenues including sidebar advertising, posts and more, head here!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Flashback: How I Felt When I First Started Hosting on Airbnb

incense_home

I was going through some old journals today, and I thought it would be fun to post this little note I wrote to myself on the day I first had my professional Airbnb photos taken.

Honestly, it’s hard to believe there was a time before I hosted on Airbnb!

For some context, I want to share with you that this apartment was my very first one-bedroom by myself. I’d lived in a studio by myself from 2007-2009, before I moved to Europe for a year and then back to the U.S. again. And since I’ve always traveled a lot (and still do), after that I lived with roommates, then boyfriends, then with roommates again…

But, this space I was blessed with on Dec. 15, 2013—this was my sacred space.

So, here’s a little piece to let you into my world a little. I wrote this on Jan. 7, 2014.

Today, a professional photographer with Airbnb came over to shoot my new place. I’m not sure if he understood my meticulously sketched out vision of my “ideal guest” — someone who appreciates the artistic use of plants, atypical affirmation-oriented wall hangings (“Love Who You Are,” but also, “Ain’t No Saint,”) dry-erase inspiration boards, a chrome dancing pole, rose incense.

“People have different setups for these things,” he said nonchalantly.

I assumed by “these things” he meant other Airbnb listings, not my magnificent goddess cavern.

“A lot of the time, it’s just an extra place that no one lives in.”

“This is my baby,” I replied. “Ooh, did you get a picture of this wall over here? I love this wall!”

Ok. Maybe I’m a harmonizing freak who saged her place and sat on her pomegranate-red couch, just looking at everything, after he left. Maybe.

Or, maybe I’m just rediscovering what home is to me, and enjoying the awkward, creepy process along the way.

I’m silly. :)


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Here’s Exactly What I Made Airbnb Hosting in 2015 (Plus: An Invitation to Earn More With Me in 2016)

2015 hosting revenue

As the year comes to a close, I’m reviewing my income from Airbnb hosting with a curious eye—wondering how I can do better next year, and what my intentions are when it comes to generating value and revenue through hosting.

(If you don’t know where to find your total payout in 2015, head to Airbnb, click Account from the Dashboard, and then click Transaction History. You’ll see your “Paid Out: $XX,XXX” number for all of 2015!)

What’s your number?

How does it compare to your rent/mortgage payment? Does it meet it, exceed it… or not even come close?

This is my second full year hosting on Airbnb—and I want to be really transparent with you about my numbers so I can best help you in 2016. So here we go!

First, You Need to Know: This is the Kind of Host I Am…

First, I need to explain to you which kind of host I am currently.

There are 3 major categories that hosts fall into—and depending on which kind of host you are, you need different resources, tools and advice to make the most of your hosting experience.

I am the Feels-Like-Home host. Here’s what I write about this type of host:

Your guests say it feels just like home… and that’s because it is! It’s your home. Your listing on Airbnb is your primary residence, but you travel often, have another home or have some other reason you don’t need to sleep at your house (perhaps you can stay at a nearby partner, friend or parent’s house)—and you are happy to rent your place out while you’re gone.

And so because I live in the home that I Airbnb (probably about 1/3 of the time) and rent it while I travel, I can’t Airbnb it all of the time. Which is just fine! I want to live in my house… I quite adore it.

And so, take this into consideration when reviewing my (and your!) numbers…

And Now: Here’s What I Made (So Far) in 2015!

My paid-out total for the year (as of Dec. 21) is: $25,020

My annual rent this year was:
$8,050 (Jan-Jul @ $1,150/month) + $6,125 (Aug-Dec @ $1,225/month) = $14,175

Total rent covered = 100%, yay!
Total profit after paying rent = $10,845

(Adding in the cost of my turnover assistant, I would put my pure profit at $9,700.)

Keep in mind: This is with me living in my apartment all by myself, with no guests, for 1/3 of the year.

Therefore: I made $25,020 with 2/3 of the year availability (on purpose).

Are you making this much? If not, how can I help you earn more?

I’m making plans for 2016 to make The Abundant Host an even more useful, helpful and, well, abundant resource for you.

And so, I’m excited to announce…

I’m opening up a three-month Abundant Host Mastermind that will give you the in-depth knowledge, secrets and hacks of Airbnb hosting to ensure that you cover 100% (plus profit!) of your rent or mortgage in 2016.

Update: Enrollment to the Abundant Host Mastermind is now closed. Get notified of the next round.

mastermind you're invited

I’m taking applications for a very small group of people to receive:
  • one-on-one advice and strategies from me and other experts in the industry
  • biweekly, hour-long calls and check-ins
  • the Abundant Host Strategy guide that will show you all the steps you need to do to meet Superhost criteria in 3 months (translates to more money for you)!
  • a private community forum where you can connect and learn from each other
  • my full interaction, attention and personal advice when you need it most

Our first check-in and onboarding call will be on Jan. 2. And it will only cost you $997.

If this is the year you want to generate an extra 10K (and hey, if I did it, so can you!), let’s get started together.

If $997 sounds like a lot, consider this:

The Abundant Host Mastermind is a three-month program that will not only get you off the ground, but it comes with a guarantee—if you don’t generate at least $997 in your first three months of hosting… you’ll receive your money back!

(I’m making it a complete no-brainer to get started in community with resources and experts to help you along the way… for essentially $0, since you’ll make it all back anyway.)

I can’t wait to work with an amazing, motivated group of people!

Here is the link to the application for the Abundant Host Mastermind. Fill this out, and I’ll be in touch with you soon.

Update: Enrollment to the Abundant Host Mastermind is now closed. Get notified of the next round.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Which Kind of Host Are You? Address Your Problem Areas to Get Five Stars in Every Category

three kinds of hosts

You may have read a few blogs on hosting by now, and you may have noticed that a lot of hosting advice is geared toward the “general” host.

However, there are really three major categories that hosts fall into—and depending on which kind of host you are, you may need different resources, tools and advice to make the most of your hosting experience.

Before we go on, to refresh your memory (and for new and aspiring hosts), there are seven places you need to get five stars: Communication, Check-In, Cleanliness, Accuracy, Location, Value and Overall. Overall is actually rated as a separate category than the six other more specific categories, so this is important as well (it also determines your Superhost status!).

This article will help you:
  • figure out what kind of host you are
  • uncover your biggest challenges as that category of host
  • highlight your potential problem areas on Airbnb (read: where you’re likely to lose stars!)
  • arm yourself with strategies and solutions for rising above these challenges and problems

Ready? Let’s get into it!

First, let’s figure out which kind of host you are. The majority of hosts fall into one of the following categories—and each one has its pros, cons and tips for maximizing your Airbnb hosting strategy.

If you don’t fall specifically into one of these, you’ll fall into some overlap of two of them (for example, you rent out your home and also a small listing that is not your home).

The Bed-and-Breakfast Host

You live in a place big enough to have a spare bedroom (or two) that you can rent out for side income. You get to make some money and have friendly travelers stay with you and infuse your home with new energy and culture, and your guests get a sweet, low-cost spot to crash with the personal touches of a host waiting for them.

Your biggest challenges: Giving your guests the space/privacy they need, being a present host (but not too present!), keeping your entire place up to five-star clean standards

Problem areas where you can lose stars: Communication, Cleanliness

What you need most: To draw healthy boundaries and communication guidelines, to make sure your entire house is clean

My advice:

Anywhere the guest can go and see needs to be five-star clean—not just their room and private bathroom.

I recently stayed at a place where the guest areas were perfectly clean, but when I went to make something in the all-access kitchen, there were dishes in the sink and dirty knives on the counter. You must remember that all areas must be exquisitely clean if you want to earn those five stars.

Also, since your guest is staying with you in a temporary roommate/houseguest situation, make sure your interaction boundaries are clear.

Once when I stayed at a host’s house, I got inside the house with all my bags, expecting to need to chit-chat and dreading it a bit as I was quite weary from a long way, and the host surprised me by asking, “First things first—what are you needing right now?” I thought this was such an amazing question!

When we’ve been traveling all day, we often need some time to ground or shower or eat a snack, or simply to take a minute to settle in before we’re ready to communicate and bring our whole selves to the table. When a guest arrives, ask them this question, and then perhaps ask how much of an independent/private vacation they are seeking. They’ll appreciate it so much.

The Feels-Like-Home Host

Your guests say it feels just like home… and that’s because it is! It’s your home. Your listing on Airbnb is your primary residence, but you travel often, have another home or have some other reason you don’t need to sleep at your house (perhaps you can stay at a nearby partner, friend or parent’s house)—and you are happy to rent your place out while you’re gone.

Your biggest challenge: Too much clutter, worry for your personal belongings

Problem areas you can lose stars: Value, Cleanliness

What you need most: A trustworthy turnover assistant

My advice:

My best advice if you’re renting out your primary residence is to find yourself an incredible turnover assistant (oh, and I wrote a book on that!).

At first, you’ll think you can do it all yourself since it’s your home. But as you enter high season (which is likely either summer or winter, depending on where you live), things will start to get tricky if you ever want to get out of dodge.

Hiring a turnover assistant to take care of things for you when you’re gone can increase your earnings by 8x. I have the proof, because my assistant did that for me. Without her, I would have made maybe $500 from one set of guests in a three-week period while I traveled. Because she was there to turnover my place, I was able to make $4,500 in three weeks—which for me was more than $3,000 in pure profit after accounting for house payments.

You can find an individual assistant or hire a service—here are my thoughts on both of those options.

My second piece of advice for you is to watch your Value rating. Sure, you can charge people a lot in the high seasons, but make sure what you’re providing is worthy of the upcharges. Perhaps leave them a bottle of local wine and flowers if you’re charging them 2x or 3x what someone in low season would pay. This can go a long way toward you being more visible in the search results during mid and low seasons (which ultimately makes you more money).

Finally, while you definitely won’t have an issue with putting personality into your place, you can go too far with this—don’t leave clutter and junk around, because it clogs up the space not only physically but energetically. Even if there is tons of space to move around in, if a bookshelf is cluttered with junk, it gives off a feeling of apathy about your place, which is a feeling you don’t want your guests to take on!

Treat your place with reverence when you’re there and when you’re not by hiring an amazing assistant, and you’ll earn those five stars (and attract guests who treat it the same).

The Mega-Host

You rent multiple listings on Airbnb, upwards from two and beyond. You don’t live in any of them yourself—you’re more of a mogul, or a mini-mogul—but you still want to make sure you provide guests a quality experience (and make sure guests rate your listing highly as a result).

Your biggest challenge: Personalization; a community vibe; feelings of sentiment and connection in your space

Problem areas you can lose stars: Communication, Check-In

What you need most: Put some soul/personality into your listing; make sure your guest’s feel they have what they need at all times

My advice:

The biggest problems you can have as a Mega-Host are with regard to personal touch and organization. For example, I have one consulting client who has 30 listings in the same neighborhood! While she’s a very warm-hearted lady, she struggles with being able to connect personally with her guests (and sees how it affects her reviews at times).

Because hosts with multiple listings tend to be not as involved in the process of hosting—whether because you’re a property manager and you’re handling a handful of home owners and renters, or because you simply can’t clone yourself to be there and fully responsive 100% of the time—this is the biggest area where you can suffer.

This shows up mostly in Communication and Check-In. These are the two categories where guests need to feel they are attended to, and that their needs are cared about.

Make sure you add some personal touches to your listings. If it’s primarily a hotel-style place geared toward quick-turnover business travelers, that’s fine—it still doesn’t preclude you from adding a little personality.

How can you do this when the art hanging on the walls really is just for decoration? Simple: Tell your guests a story of the apartment or house, or a story of how the owner moved there (or to that city). There is some grain of authenticity and passion in there somewhere, even if you’re a manager and the owner just saw the house on the market and bought it to rent out.

You can ask your owners: What prompted you to buy in this city? How did you end up there? Why this particular place? Can you tell me a story about it? The thing we are looking to achieve here is emotional resonance. How can you connect your guests with your host (or with the sense of a host) when the host isn’t there and hasn’t left any part of him/herself lying around?

Another suggestion, similar to what I recommend for the Feels-Like-Home Host, is to make sure you have clear Welcome and House Info manuals. List your house quirks and particulars in addition to the owner’s favorite parts of the neighborhood, and you’ll be making a connection through these guides as well. Plus, this is where you can insert your personal story of the house or how you stumbled upon it.

A solution that can simultaneously solve your personal touch and organization issues is by adding personal touches to each of your listings based on different aspects of your personality. For example, let’s say you adore Spain and also hiking. Make one of your listings a Spanish-style place with flamenco fans on the wall; fill another one with hiking guidebooks and free water bottles for people to use on their adventures. This helps with organization because you’re less likely to send your cleaner or guest the wrong address/instructions when your listings all don’t look exactly the same time. You probably won’t confuse the pirate ship and the treehouse.

Finally, if you don’t want to do any of this yourself, as it can be quite overwhelming, find an Airbnb consultant (like myself!) to help.

Note: This article was originally published as a guest post on Guesty.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

The Power of Independent Vacation Rental: A Chat With Barry from Homes and Rooms

After the acquisition of Homeaway by Expedia to the tune of $3.9 billion, property owners and hosts are left wondering—what will happen to those listings? How will they change? How could their revenue be affected?

And as an Airbnb host, you might wonder—what will happen if Airbnb gets acquired someday? What will happen if they change their whole model (as they often change their internal structures regularly without telling us first…) and the income we rely on to support ourselves and our families takes a massive hit?

Matt Landau of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog encourages people who are passionate about hosting to make sure they have their own independent website for their vacation rental, and says: “Anyone who does NOT begin building their own sustainable marketing portfolio is putting that passion at risk. This Expedia merger should be just the excuse you need.”

If you’re going to list your properties on an independent site, Homes and Rooms is here to help.

Homes and Rooms is a service that’s perfect for people who want to use (or are using) an independent website to present their homes, and for people who manage their properties on multiple platforms—or, an overlap of the two!

To me, Homes and Rooms stands out because they’re not trying to get in the way of the owners and the guest. They’re not a “management company”—they believe that the sharing economy is here to stay, and want to empower owners as opposed to take over their properties.

I chatted with Barry Sacks, founder/CEO of Homes and Rooms and a delightful fellow who loves to help hosts and truly believes we can all benefit and become more empowered through listing our sites independently.

barry quote

Read on to find out how Homes and Rooms can help you.

The Abundant Host: For people who don’t know about your company, tell us how it works and how it can help people who want to become Abundant Hosts.

Barry: Homes and Rooms is specifically developed to support independent vacation rental owners and small independent management companies. It came about as a result of property ownership ourselves—there weren’t a great deal of services that were purely focused on serving owners’ needs.

We provide a range of services to effectively manage people’s properties—like consolidating their listings, communicate using autoresponders and preparing live quotes for customers—all without taking the relationship between the guest and the host out of the equation.

Which is so important! Thank you, Barry. Tell me more about the top three purposes of Homes and Rooms.

Number one is to maximize profitability for our users, and number two is to help hosts understand which marketing channels are working best for them.

Lastly, our purpose is to help you save time. We all receive a lot of inquiries… the difficulty that owners face (like myself and yourself) is which guests to accept and which to quote. We see a lot of owners send out non-personal notifications (“thanks for your inquiry! We’ll get back to you.”) With our service, we provide a quote immediately, which helps guests choose your place faster.

How does the platform choose which guests to send quotes to? Is there any process specific to Homes and Rooms for that?

We allow the channels used (like Airbnb) to best do that. Guests are vetted on those platforms to make sure that they’re suitable to both host and guest. We don’t attempt to override the platform defaults—neither hosts nor guests need any more barriers to the process!

Once you allow the system to notify you, at the earliest opportunity you can decide how you wish to respond—you do this over your mobile and send out a quote immediately to the guest.

Right. And not only just accepting, sometimes you need to decline as soon as possible to open up your calendar.

The rejections that you send out are just as important as the responses. You get a feel for the type of inquiries you’re receiving.

When I look back, for example, at April 7, I’ve had 200 inquiries that include that date, and I wonder why—if you’re able to see that even though you keep declining you continue to get requests, it’s very insightful, you can increase your rates for that period of time.

How can Homes and Rooms help people experiment with rates and seeing which platforms are best?

We give you a single view of your property or properties, and help you assess which ones are working best for you.

For example, some of our customers are on 10-15 channels—by integrating them, they get updated automatically. This lets people not have double-bookings. You can view a calendar for inquiries and rejections as well, not just for the things you accepted—in Airbnb, you don’t get to see data on your declines.

So, you can see a single day and the 91 inquiries you got for that day, even if you turned them down—and then you can experiment with different rate models. I don’t know another service that does that.

Are you yourself a host on Airbnb?

I am! I have property on Airbnb in Florida. I try and list on as many channels as I can, so I use Homes and Rooms to see how it works and improve. Also, I use Airbnb and HomeAway as a guest to gain that perspective as well, and personally love to travel and always look to use vacation rentals.

What do you think of how Airbnb works as compared to the other platforms you’ve used?

Clearly, Airbnb is championing and leading the sharing economy—the communications with guests is a lot stronger. Some of the others still try and commoditize vacation rentals as a hotel room, but there is still a sense of community for Airbnb hosts and guests. We have a lot more feedback and feeling of camaraderie and connection between guests when it comes to Airbnb.

For us, it’s the personal feedback that spurs us on to do what we do.

How does your company encourage embracing the community-centric culture of Airbnb?

We definitely do, because we’re trying to provide a service to the owner—we’re not trying to cut the owner out of the process.

We’re not shouting from the rooftops that we’re providing the service of self-management of properties—so, we’re not trying to get in the way of the owners and the guest.

We’re not a management company, we want to encourage owners to self-manage and communicate directly with guests. When booked through Homes and Rooms we don’t withhold the funds from the owners; the owner can take responsibility. We support the individual listing site’s requirements, and don’t wish to prevent anyone booking through them but if the guest is someone who’s stayed with you before, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to book directly with you next time.

And, we definitely do see a lot more opportunity for owners to make more profit if they have their own website.

Having your own site is like taking control of your listing, then?

Yes. If we rent our property out, we are a business owner. We provide a business service effectively.

Airbnb sometimes gives this veneer that hosts are not running a business… but really, we are.

The sharing economy has allowed us all to be independent business people. It’s important for owners to still feel they’re the owner, and not providing a commodity.

At the end of the day it’s our property, and we should be able to feel like we’re getting the lion’s share.

Why do you think it’s important to have your own website?

We don’t know what the future holds. Airbnb introduces new things overnight and we’re not consulted on them. Those big guys see our properties as hotel rooms and they wish to commoditize this rental market.

There’s an emotional attachment to the service we offer our guests and to our properties… this passion can’t be boxed up as you would in a hotel room. There’s no emotional attachment to a box in a building.

The sharing economy is about emotions, and expression of those emotions through our properties. If we don’t have our own websites, we have to accept whatever changes they decide. The channels are marketing channels for our businesses—we’re not just the warehouse stock. I think it’s very important that owners have their own website and that they feel in control.

We provide a service, but you have control of how everything appears. We’re fortunate—you and I are in the space—but a lot of owners don’t have that, we shouldn’t assume they know how to market themselves.

Wow, thank you for sharing that, Barry. All right, so now on to some backstory—how did you get started with Homes and Rooms?

I’m the founder of the business; prior to that I owned a software business providing web-based services and helping to develop bespoke software services. I saw the opportunity some years back and in Sept. 2013 took the decision to create Homes and Rooms—we had some loyal trial customers to validate our thinking of what owners may need. We’ve been developing the service for a long time with a small group of owners/managers to make sure we get it right.

It was really only in July/Aug 2015 that we opened to the public. We didn’t want to provide a service to owners that wouldn’t serve them well. We don’t want them to still need to keep a spreadsheet or paper diary for their bookings.

We are UK-based company with representation in the U.S., but we support owners from all over the globe.

ipad-homeandrooms

Ok, so let’s say I have a listing on Airbnb, VRBO, etc. How do I get started with Homes and Rooms?

It takes only about 7 minutes. We invite you to trial the service for 14 days with no obligation and no credit card needed. We want you to go and explore the service. We’ve got a video that shows you how the process will work. It really is very simple.

You can accept all of the defaults or modify what you need to, you can state your listing sites, and we ask you for information from them to be able to sync up your Homes and Rooms calendar but we don’t need any sign-in information for your platforms. We then give you an email address that you can use on those sites to bring your inquiries directly into our platform or you can keep the email address you are already using. Now we have the information needed to quote guests as well as to support updating your calendars.

If the sites you list on use iCal (such as Airbnb or VRBO), we then import all of the reservation dates that you already have and block down your calendar where necessary. We provide a number of plug-ins for your own website (or the one we give you) that provide you with live availability checkers, live-quotes, online booking form, rates, contact form, reviews, Google maps, etc… this can be simply enabled for each property.

dashboard

You can create custom options for your booking form—perhaps you’ll want to provide a basket of fruit, or milk, tea or coffee… you can offer those to your guest as well. You can choose whether you want to use a website that we give you as part of the service or use your own pre-existing website—you can then use our plugins on there.

We can also convert your website to a Homes and Rooms website in 24 hours or less or create one from any property listing.

If people no longer wish to use the service, we would obviously like to know why but all of your information is provided to you—the reports on your listings, etc., are always yours to keep and are downloadable at any time.

ipad-calendar

To you, what does it mean to be an Abundant Host?

I get a lot of pleasure out of renting out our homes, it’s something I feel very passionate about. I don’t see myself ever not doing it, I’ve been doing it since 2002, so 13 years. I’ve been very lucky to make systems and processes that make hosting more efficient. It has been very profitable but also extremely pleasurable. It’s very fulfilling.

Yes, I agree.

I personally funded Homes and Rooms, and I think it’s given me the opportunity to help others. I’m helping hosts rather than guests, this service makes it so easy to run this hosting business of yours. That’s where I get the pleasure, even if I just save one or two owners from feeling like they failed… I’ve done my job.

I offer whatever support and assistance that we can. It is part of my crusade to build a community of very happy and successful owners.

How does Homes and Rooms stand out from the crowd of other external services marketed to vacation rental managers?

We focus specifically on the independent owner and manager. That’s been our focus. That’s been our purpose. Where there are other services, there are plenty of large property management companies, and they often want to take owner responsibility from you. They want to market to guests themselves—I think our service is focused on the owner that wants to self-manage. There aren’t that many platforms that have that primary focus.

Right. The thing about the sharing economy is it’s very participatory. We want to participate, even if we may have 4-5 properties and need help. It saves us a lot of time, but it doesn’t make us feel disconnected.

That’s a great description you just gave; we are participants in this sharing economy and big players. Dwellable was taken over by HomeAway, and HomeAway by Expedia. Owners that list solely on one platform should realize they are bound by that and potentially their business could be wiped out overnight.

We just want to be the service of choice for independent owners who want to self-manage their properties. We’re never going to be the product for the professional investor who buys a large condo block. We’re for that personal owner who is renting out their home or beloved vacation home.

Yes, I’m not a fan of people buying up properties just to use them for Airbnbs! That’s not the purpose of vacation rental, to me.

It’s faceless. There are so many opportunities presented to owners where they reluctantly give up real ownership and control of their properties. But there’s a way they can successfully do this and be profitable and not faceless.

What’s the first small, quick thing people can do on Homes and Rooms to enhance their hosting experience?

We do have a blog, so I invite people to that. We try to post a couple of insightful articles a month: industry news, articles focused on vacation rentals, posts about mergers in the industry, tips to new owners, and interests and insights for people who are considering renting out their property.

Alongside I run a personal blog where people can register for a free eBook with tips and insights.

What kind of communication do you have with your customers?

We have full support on Homes and Rooms: live chats, emails, etc. We won’t turn anyone away, we try to answer every question. Our telephone number is right up there on the header on every page.

I see you have a guarantee that if people haven’t seen an increase in reservation revenues at the end of the first year’s subscription, they get to use Homes and Rooms the following year for free.

Yes! Honestly, some other services are extremely and unnecessarily expensive! Ours is only from $19/month. Just continue to use it for a year until you can see the value of it. After a year, if they feel like they haven’t gotten any value, just use it for another year for free. If I can save someone time sending out those “I’m booked, sorry, I can’t host you” messages… it really saves so many hours.

For sure! And sometimes that takes a while, especially if you have to verify with other platforms.

When you’re across two or more channels, if you have to remember what you might be charging on one site versus another, etc. it’s challenging to be able to respond quickly. A system will send a full quote out immediately.

And it doesn’t remove the personal aspect. Some of those systems are pretty tightly templated, but we have full customization over those emails, so it’s still a personal response from you. We don’t put any branding on that. We don’t try to interfere with the relationship between owner and guests.

Fabulous. Is there anything else you’d like to tell The Abundant Host audience about Homes and Rooms?

At the end of the day, go and try it and let us provide whatever support we can to make you an even more successful host. We’re trying to make it so that you can communicate your own authenticity in a way that’s easy and efficient for you, without removing you from the process so you’re blind to it—that’s what our service can provide.

Thanks for reading, guys! If you’d like to try out Homes & Rooms, be sure to click on the link/s in this article to start a completely free 14-day trial (not even a credit card necessary!).

This is a sponsored post. If you’re a like-minded and aligned company, product or service and would like to sponsor The Abundant Host through a multitude of avenues including sidebar advertising, posts and more, head here!


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Airbnb Cleanings: Should You Hire a Service or an Individual? Here’s My Recommendation

cleaners services and indivs

There are plenty of paid Airbnb cleaner and turnover services now that serve the host community, some nationally based and some local. Airbnb has even integrated Handy into their platform in some areas, like New York City. And they often do more than cleaning—they can take care of everything from washing the sheets to handing over the keys.

(I’ve got a list of some of these services here, which is the official resource page for my book, Cleaning Up.)

My general opinion, however, is that paid services are too impersonal for this particular kind of work.

Let’s look at just one aspect of it:

If you choose a cleaning service, it is very likely that you’re not going to have the same person come turnover your pace every time.

This means several things:

  • You’re not going to be building a relationship with one person who understands you and your hosting goals.
  • You’re not going to have the shared empathy and accountability that only this kind of one-on-one relationship can build.
  • Your service cleaners will likely not be able to tell when a guest has moved a table, lamp or chair out of place.
  • Your cleaners will not have the ability to become intimately familiar with your house, which means they won’t know if smells are slightly off, if there’s a beeping sound that’s normally not there, if the refrigerator is humming more loudly than normal, etc.

Ultimately, you are likely not going to have one person who really cares about your guests.

I’m not knocking all services, by any means. Some do an excellent job, and they are definitely convenient if you need something last-minute, your assistant gets sick, etc. However, I believe they should be used mostly as a backup.

Here’s the thing: Being an Abundant Host first and foremost means we care about connection—and that connection can’t be felt by your guests if you someone who has no idea how you want your house cared for is between you and them.

Think about it this way:

Imagine you were going to see a therapist. One day, he told you that the company had switched over to a service, and that you would be promised the same kind of quality, but you had to see a different therapist every single time.

Would you stay with that company? Not many people would. Because even if you were promised a higher quality experience, you wouldn’t feel the same. It’s the personal connection that would be missing—the growing, shifting blossoming relationship with a single person.

We’re actually building three lovely relationships when we hire one person:

  1. The relationship between you and your turnover assistant.
  2. The relationship between your assistant and your listing—they’ll be spending way more time there than with you, and will learn their way around and recognize what it’s needing and what’s it’s lacking.
  3. The relationship between your assistant and your guests—this energy can be felt even if your guests never meet your assistant.

Your assistant will care more about your listing and how it’s presented as they become increasingly involved in these relationships.

The return on investment here is extremely high. They’ll start to own their responsibility in presenting your guests with an outstanding product.

And that’s something only a relationship can facilitate.

Want to learn more about how to find this mysterious, magical person? Check out my new book, “Cleaning Up: How to Work With a Turnover Assistant to Uplevel Your Profit, Freedom and Success Hosting on Airbnb,” in which I’ve written 71 pages about it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this controversial topic! Leave your comments below.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Helping Hosts Together: The Abundant Host Interviews LearnAirbnb

learnairbnb interview big

Of the many things that Jim Breese (co-founder of LearnAirbnb) and I agree on wholeheartedly, probably the most significant is this:

As hosts, we are in the hospitality industry, not the rental industry.

Just like in many other areas of the new economy—coworking spaces are a prime example—it’s not just about the space.

As hosts, our #1 job is not to provide a bed to sleep in, but to provide an experience. An experience filled with comfort, kindness, luxury—with humanness. We provide an expansive palette for the creation of our guest’s definition of leisure, vacation, business or play—on their terms.

Based in east Los Angeles, Jim has worked with hundreds of hosts over the past 18 months, running LearnAirbnb as a passion project and creating profitable strategies for optimizing Airbnb rental businesses.

In this fireside chat between LearnAirbnb and The Abundant Host, we talk about how to attract your ideal guests, how sites like ours can play a vital role in this new economy, and why it’s important to not overthink hosting (and what you should be thinking about instead).

The Abundant Host: Jim, it’s so great to have you here. Tell us about what people can find over at LearnAirbnb.

Jim: It’s great to be here! LearnAirbnb is a hub for hosts to learn the best practices and tips for them to become successful. I want to help them deliver a 5-star experience to their guests. They’ll learn all the tips and tricks they need to get up to speed.

With webinars and our course, we also focus on a formal kind of education—how can someone go from knowing nothing to being a Superhost? We try to remove that learning curve.

Awesome. Jim, since we’re both in the helping-hosts arena, I wanted to share something I experience sometimes: When I tell people about sites like ours, they think hosts don’t need our help, because the Airbnb site is so intuitive, etc. What’s your perspective?

While Airbnb is great at the basics, the reality is that we’re in the hospitality industry. And most people don’t know a lot about really taking care of other people.

There are hundreds of more guests than hosts—when you hear that, it’s often from guests.

Yes, I agree.

People think: How hard could it be? It depends on what lens you view it through—to some people, this is their lifeline, this is how they bootstrap their startup, this is how they’re able to live their lives.

Right. Jim, just like it isn’t for me, this probably isn’t your first rodeo as an online entrepreneur. Tell us a little about your background.

I started off selling Pixy Stix in second grade! ::laughter:: I was always looking to fill a need that wasn’t being filled: I started a landscaping company and a cleaning business for offices, I worked for five years at a restaurant group, and worked my way up to brand marketer and got to see how big entrepreneurs do it. I started a tea company and I learned a lot about eCommerce and online business, and I started teaching a real estate course.

What was it like starting LearnAirbnb, and do you work directly with Airbnb?

I’ve never reached out to them, but at this point I would like to. It’s getting crazy. However, we can provide more benefit if we keep ourselves separate, because we focus on the host.

When we started, we had received a bunch of inspiration from friends. The businesses I’ve done, they all test you—you really have to put your heart into it and solidify your commitment to make it real. I don’t make a lot of money from this, but I spend the most amount of time on it. I love helping people. It’s more of a passion project than anything.

I completely relate! Jim, are you yourself a host on Airbnb?

I was a host in the early days, and I speak with hosts every day. I almost take on their problems sometimes! Airbnb hosting when I was hosting is not the same as it is today; there are definitely always new programs and new third-party services. So, being in contact with hosts has benefited me a lot.

When you were hosting, what was one of the most serendipitous experiences you had?

We got to meet a lot of kick-ass people around the world. We hosted in L.A., and it’s an international hub, which was a benefit of hosting that I didn’t expect. We didn’t hang out with our guests all the time, but we did spend time with a few. One time, a guest wanted to try the best Indian cuisine in our city and we got to go on this culinary adventure with him.

I never thought that LearnAirbnb would turn into what it is now—you underestimate the impact you’re going to have on people’s lives. I never expected to have a front row seat to that.

How does LearnAirbnb encourage embracing the community culture of Airbnb, of “being at home wherever you are”?

That’s a very noble mission of Airbnb, and honestly that’s the goal of hospitality. You have to define for yourself: What does home feel like. I encourage hosts to be honest and put a dash of their personality into it. If you want your guests to “live like a local,” you need to be true to that expectation. It makes people feel at home when the accommodations are truthfully marketed. Some people prefer granite counters, some don’t mind crashing on a couch… just really tell people what you can offer.

I agree. One of my listings is a little goddess sanctuary. I market it that way, and the people who respond and want to stay there are people who resonate with being in that kind of space.

Yes! You can’t expect your house to be marketed to every guest on Airbnb. Pick something and stick with it if you want to attract your ideal guests. For example, if you want to target the business guest, show the printer and fax machine or high-speed Internet. But if you put out a trashy home, you’ll attract trashy guests.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for potential Airbnb hosts?

Realize you’re in the hospitality industry and not the rental industry. There’s an experience that’s expected. Be a human and not a heartless business owner. Don’t act like McDonald’s versus the guest. Treat them like family.

Ask yourself: What do you want to get out of hosting? Do you want to rent out your whole place, just a room or a separate place? If you want to make money, you have to be in a high-demand market. If you want to meet people, you have to be social. Know who you want to benefit. And don’t overthink hosting.

What do you mean by “overthinking hosting”?

People who want to start hosting always say: Oh I’m not ready, I have to take all these pictures down. I hear so many excuses, but they’re just scared to do it. If our mind’s think we can’t, then we can’t. Overthink it, and you’re going to totally self-sabotage yourself.

Jim, what does it mean to you to be an Abundant Host?

I really like this question. To be an Abundant Host is to put everything in your heart into hosting. There’s only one thing that’s infinite or abundant in the world and that is your heart, your human essence. It means showing people the happiness and joy and wisdom of your city. It means delivering an experience that’s one-of-a-kind. When you love what you’re doing, everything is easy and you don’t second guess or doubt things.

Beautiful. What’s the first thing people can do on LearnAirbnb to enhance their hosting experience?

Right away, sign up for our email list—I send out tips every couple of days to hosts. They can read it over time, too. We also offer our hosting calculator, and various videos on hosting. We’re also over on TwitterFacebook and YouTube.

Thanks, Jim!

A special note from me, Amy: Thanks for reading, fellow abundant hosts! This interview was important to me because I believe collaboration trumps competition—and my goal is to make sure you feel as informed and ready as you possibly can on your journey to having a profitable, successful, freedom-filled life as a host. I hope you can feel that here in our community. :)

Be on the lookout for an upcoming collaboration between the two of us, LearnAirbnb and The Abundant Host (read: free goodies for our readers)! To find out when that’s happening, sign up here for my newsletter. Thank you, and have a beautiful day.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!

Get 5 Stars in Communication & Arrival—Even When You Never Meet Your Guests

Update Oct. 2015: “Arrival” is now also phrased as “Check-In” on Airbnb. They are the same thing! ;)

If you travel a lot, use a lockbox for your guest’s entry/exit, have your turnover assistant greet your guests, or otherwise are not able to meet your guests in person—how do you create a personal connection with them?

How do you make sure they feel confident, safe and satisfied—satisfied enough to write you a raving review filled with 5-stars across the board (particularly in Communication and Arrival)?

In this post, I’ll show you some easy ways to do just that.

I have a confession to make.

I’ve only met one of my guests in person. And yet—

I’ve never received anything other than 5 stars in the two categories that are often thought to be dependent on in-person connection.

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(These are real screenshots taken from my personal Airbnb dashboard page on Oct. 21, 2015.)

Recently, I received this raving review—from someone I never met or even chatted on the phone with:

Amy’s condo was in a perfect location. Her space is full of positive energy and charm. Even the water cooler has a smile to help you stay hydrated at altitude. :)

Amy was easy to work with via text and emailed thoughtful instructions and tips for the city ahead of time. She also left them printed for out as well for easy access. Incidentally, she recommended great restaurants.

We felt like guests in a friend’s home. Thanks so much for welcoming us!

We felt like guests in a friend’s home.

How can you get reviews like this without even meeting your guests (or even talking to them on the phone)?

1) Write a descriptive, authentic personal profile.

On your profile page, make sure you tell your guests how you show up in the world. I distinctly remember the profile of one host I stayed with in Palm Springs who was an actor, and found Airbnb to be the most delightful thing he’s ever discovered. He told the story of how it changed his life in his profile, and it added soul to his listing. I never forgot it.

On my profile, I talk about my business in which I help people live their full selves through self-inquiry and self-expression. Knowing a little bit about my worldview and my work helps people feel more connected to me. As a bonus, it also ends up attracting like-minded people to my place (here’s more on how to do that).

2) Choose the method of communication that works best for you.

I’m definitely not advocating that you don’t communicate with your guests at all. I do think that if you’re not going to meet your guests in person, you should choose a method that you can be consistent and reliable with.

For me, that’s texting. Sure, some people don’t like it—but I always give them the option to call.

Here’s how I phrase it in my personal email, referencing my homemade guides:

During your stay, if you have any questions, please refer to my Airbnb listing description/reservation email, as well as these two guides. If your answer is not there, I am always available at ###-###-#### (text preferred, as I’ll likely see it faster)!

This statement, combined with my first communication being a friendly welcome text, has guests responding via text 98% of the time (which is an actual calculation—one couple out of my first 50 chose to call instead of text me back).

Being an entrepreneur, I’m not always available by phone—I’m often flying, meeting, playing, creating—but texting is the method I can most easily attend to. It takes minutes for me to answer a concern via text message.

Which method works best for you? Email, phone, text? Which method will help you be most responsive to your guests? No matter what it is, if they feel you’re 100% reachable, they’ll thank you for it.

3) Send people detailed information in one place.

I recently stayed at a gorgeous fairytale castle in Venice as a guest on Airbnb. Everything about the stay was wonderful—except one major thing.

The information was completely scattered. One message told me what the door code was. Then another message the host and I chit-chatted. Oh but wait! A few messages later, she told me what the gate code was.

This made getting in and settled really difficult. Sure, the information is all there—but when you’re traveling, you want everything in the same place, instead of standing at the door loading emails and scrolling through messages. And once you’re inside, you want to know how to use things that might have house particulars/quirks to them, too.

Make sure your information is in one place, all together, in one guide. (I give people blueprints for this in my coaching calls!)

4) Check in with guests 1-3 times during their stay—not more.

Guests do want to feel like you actually care that they are in your home—but they also don’t want to feel bothered on their vacation.

Here are the three direct methods of communication I engage in (after an initial detailed email with guides, plus leaving printed guides out for their perusal):

  1. A welcome text, letting them know you’re available if they have trouble arriving.
  2. A text on the morning of their departure, wishing them safe travels with hopes that they enjoyed their time, and a gentle reminder of the check-out time. Often, I include local brunch suggestions based on their dietary preferences and day of the week.
  3. This third direct communication is a maybe, and should be allocated for times when: a package is arriving and you want them to put it inside, some fresh water is being delivered and you want to notify them to bring it in and feel free to drink it, a maintenance repair has to be done and you want to verify this is ok with them, etc. Save this one for necessity—don’t blow it on, “Hope you’re having a great second day, heard it’s sunny out, what’re you up to?”

Follow these rules, in addition to making sure you have detailed guides emailed and printed for them (ask me more about this!)—and  you’ll be golden.


Thanks for reading! Have a question that wasn't answered here? If you'd like more specific help, I'd love to work one-on-one with you. Or, if you want to work collaboratively in a group with fellow motivated hosts, find out if the next Abundant Hosting Mastermind group is open. I also wrote a book, Cleaning Up, where I give you the nuts and bolts (and so much more) of finding your perfect turnover assistant, thereby upleveling your profit and success on Airbnb. Have a beautiful day!