Airbnb For Dummies
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An Airbnb host and a landlord are two different positions. Many people think nothing will change when switching from acting as the landlord of a long-term rental property to the host of a short-term Airbnb rental. You may think that the only changes will concern money and overall operations. However, when you decide to host on Airbnb, you’re signing up for a much different experience.

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As an Airbnb host, you’re inviting someone into your home and space. You’re actually in the hospitality industry rather than the real estate industry. With this change comes a new way of thinking. After all, you’re opening your home and welcoming guests into it. Hosting family or friends is a more similar experience to what hosting on Airbnb entails rather than renting a space to someone for 6 or 12 months at a time.As an Airbnb host, you need to set your expectations clearly on your Airbnb listing and then reliably deliver on those expectations. Most importantly, you need to maintain a guest-focused mindset. Your main focus should be on making your guests’ stay as great as possible. Ensure you have the following in place to effectively deliver on all those expectations.

Opening your heart and your home to guests

If you’re offering your personal space to guests, you’re letting people right into your life. You must be ready to welcome them into your home — and not just on the good days. Some days you may be stressed and not want to talk to people. Even though other things are going on in your life, as an Airbnb host you’re still welcoming people into your home whenever your calendar is open. You really have to be ready for that reality. You can’t let any of your day-to-day life impact your guests’ stay.

On the flip side, being a great host doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time with your guests. Be mindful of what sharing your space looks like and the extent to which you’re letting guests into your life. The most involved way to host is by offering your spare bedroom or living room in the place where you’re living. Doing so can be challenging at times but also rewarding because you can meet and get to know your guests and build relationships.However, pursuing that arrangement means going in with your eyes wide open because more than likely you won’t want to interact and help guests every day (or however many days you set your listing available). Essentially, be prepared to be there for your guests whether you want to or not.If you have a vacation home that you’re welcoming people into and you’re not living there with them, you still need to remember the “mi casa es su casa” mentality. You want to avoid thinking “Hey, you’re in my home for this set amount of time.” Instead, you’re setting an expectation that “While you’re here, make yourself at home.” Be prepared for that type of hospitality. You want your guests to feel comfortable and be able to enjoy themselves. They shouldn’t be walking on eggshells worried about upsetting you or messing up your space. To avoid having your guests feel that way, consider putting away anything that carries extreme sentimental value to you that may risk being damaged by guests. Doing so can put you at ease with having guests in your space. Also be sure to clearly communicate anything that you’re particular about, such as how certain things get organized or put away. If you don’t communicate clearly, then you risk becoming frustrated with your guests, which is the opposite of what you want.

You have to be comfortable with your guests during their stay. Physically and mentally prepare yourself. Doing so can be tough. If you’re not ready to welcome people and have your home be their home, then being an Airbnb host may not be the best fit. Ultimately, as soon as you can fully welcome guests into your space, you’ll be able to offer the best experience. Make known any concerns about your space so your guests can meet those expectations and enjoy a stress-free stay.

Establishing trust through transparency and dependability

Because you’re essentially operating in the hospitality industry as an Airbnb host, a high degree of customer service comes into play. Unmet expectations can frustrate your guests. As a result, you want to establish your guests’ trust by being transparent and dependable.

Keeping an eye on the big picture and remembering that each individual guest stay adds up to create an overall level of guest satisfaction is important. No single guest can be looked at as being insignificant or unimportant. If you don’t consistently offer transparency and dependability, you’re going to lose trust and credibility in your reviews. When you aren’t meeting the expectations you set, your guests are going to let you know. Clear and fast communication is a good example of what shows up in the reviews. People won’t trust you to get back to them when they have questions in the future if they see a high number of past guests complaining about the time it took you to respond to their messages. This applies to any expectation you’re setting for your listing as well as the baseline expectations for staying in any Airbnb accommodation. Essentially, ensure that you’re thinking in the long term and that you maintain trust by always meeting and exceeding guests’ expectations.

Keeping your place clean and well equipped

From your own standpoint as the owner of your listing you may be perfectly content with some weeds in the front lawn or some dust on the baseboards. However, when you become a host, you need to consider these different elements from a different mindset. Keeping your place clean and well maintained is an important part of being a great host.

Similarly, you may not often cook for yourself and you may therefore have a relatively limited supply of cooking utensils. Though that amount may be entirely acceptable for you, as a host you have to consider things from your guests’ perspective. If there’s something that your guests would reasonably want or expect, then it’s in your best interest to equip your property with it.

Delivering on (rising) expectations

Airbnb is continually raising the bar on the guest experience, and the bar is already set high. Airbnb started as a simple air bed and breakfast. Guests had the expectation that they would be staying on an air mattress on the floor of an apartment. Back then, it was closer to an upgraded version of couch surfing. Today, many guests view Airbnb as an alternative to a hotel, and the expectations are clearly higher. In addition to what you’ve promised as their host in your listing, your guests will have certain baseline expectations. Meeting those expectations is a great place to start. As Airbnb grows and expands as a company, these expectations continue to rise. Here are some baseline expectations your guests will have:
  • Your property is clean.
  • Your Wi-Fi is reliable.
  • Your property is safe and secure.
  • Your property has adequate heating and cooling.
  • You quickly and reliably communicate with your guests. If you take hours or even days to respond to them, you can expect unhappy guests and negative reviews.
As a new host or a host who wants to do better at hosting, you have to understand those expectations and be prepared to meet them. Even if you aren’t in an Airbnb Plus/Airbnb Lux space or aiming to reach Superhost status, you should still aim to offer the great customer service and unique experience Airbnb promises its guests.

Setting up systems so your guests have a unique stay

Most hosts want to share their city with other people, and as a host that opportunity should excite you. If you set up systems to lighten your hosting load and delegate certain responsibilities, then you’re much more likely to enjoy the hosting experience.

One of the most common examples is hosts putting a system in place around cleaning. Most hosts don’t want another part-time job as a house cleaner, and needing to add that to your plate can be stressful. After you start hosting, you can set up systems around tasks like cleaning so you won’t get burnt out in the long term and can consistently deliver that personal touch as a host.

Adding a touch of personal magic

What sets Airbnb apart most, and the reason guests consistently choose Airbnb over hotels, is the experience of living like a local. Guests have already experienced the same corporate hotel experience in different places around the world. With Airbnb they’re getting the unique experience of living in a home or apartment.

Your touch of personal magic is about making sure you have the bandwidth to enjoy hosting, and that shows up in small and big ways. You communicate with your guests and answer their questions, which demonstrates you’re excited about their arrival. This excitement can materialize both in person and through your messages.You’re passionate about hosting and really love what you’re doing. Perhaps you give a small gift basket and are eager to hear how your guests are doing. You share tips about event and activities in the area with your guests. You may even leave something special for your guests during their stay. Compared to the burnt-out host who is just going through the motions about their guests being there, you’re excited and do what you can to make their stay memorable and relaxing.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Symon He, MBA, and James Svetec are the experts behind LearnBNB.com. Symon is also a real estate investing instructor with Linkedin Learning, and Udemy, and James is the founder of BNB Mastery Program, the No. 1 expert in rapidly scaling an Airbnb business.

Symon He, MBA, and James Svetec are the experts behind LearnBNB.com. Symon is also a real estate investing instructor with Linkedin Learning, and Udemy, and James is the founder of BNB Mastery Program, the No. 1 expert in rapidly scaling an Airbnb business.

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