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
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 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!
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
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!