Have an Airbnb listing but need some tips for how to be a consistently great host? We all know that Airbnb is one of the most popular platforms for booking and renting out property. So many people are doing it that, as a host, it can be hard to stand out. After 3 months of full-time travel (read our story here), we’ve noted that a few touches make a big difference. Here are 8 tips for taking your Airbnb from good to amazing.
Now, just in case any of our previous hosts are reading, we’re lucky we haven’t had a bad Airbnb experience. We’re also hugely lucky that some of our experiences have been absolutely outstanding. These are the ones I want to focus on. Because it really is the little things that make a big difference.
You’d think that to give the best service, meeting your guests in person and giving them a tour is essential. This CAN be true, but let me digress to tell you the story of my first ever job interview.
Picture the scene. It’s 1998. I’m 16 years old and I’ve been invited to a job interview at a well-known music and video store.
The only “job” I had ever had previously was a paper round. I was still at school, had never been asked questions under pressure in my life and I was bricking it. I REALLY wanted this job – it had the potential to be the first “cool” thing I’d ever done.
Anyway, I was sitting at a small picnic table in the staff room, opposite my interviewer. I am not one for preparation (I work quite well under pressure), so I’d hastily scribbled some notes on the bus on the way there. Otherwise I was entirely winging it.
The questions that were asked were what I would later learn are interview question classics. Gems such as “Please describe a time you’ve had to deal with a difficult person”, “Are you a team player or do you prefer working alone?” and THIS ONE: “What is good customer service?”.
Now, I don’t know where it came from, but I thought for a second and said “It’s whatever the customer wants it to be. You have to adapt your service to suit each individual.”
Which takes me nicely back to my Airbnb host tips….after telling you that I got the job – woohoo! 21 years ago and still the best job I ever had.
I realise that was quite a self-indulgent story. However, the principle can be applied to every situation in which you are providing a service to someone else. Airbnb hosting is no exception.
Whilst some guests absolutely REQUIRE you to be there to meet them and show them around, this can be the opposite for others.
For me personally, after 12 hours of travel with two children under 4, the last thing I want is to talk to a human being I don’t know, however friendly they are. Give me an electronic keypad or a lockbox to retrieve the key, and a comprehensive folder or pre-arrival email and I’m happy.
On the other hand, if we’ve only travelled for a couple of hours and we’ve just spent the last 7 days JUST talking to our kids and each other, another human is exactly what we need. This was perfectly picked up on by the lovely Ana from our Airbnb in Niagara Falls. She met us, made friends with our children and TOOK US FOOD SHOPPING, all before her advertised check-in time. She comes highly recommended and if you ever go to Niagara Falls, check out her place, it’s ace. And notice she also has the option of keypad entry – yay!
So number 1 in my list of Airbnb host tips is: if you can, be flexible with check-in options. Ask your guests what they’d prefer and then make it happen. Within reason, of course.
This is a huge one for us because we have young children. I can count on one hand how many of the 25-odd places we’ve stayed so far tick this box.
We have mostly stayed in places where we’re all in pretty close proximity to one another, or at least have to pass the children’s room to get to other areas of our accommodation like the bathroom or kitchen. Even kissing my children’s sleeping heads goodnight just before I go to bed becomes easier if NOTHING CREAKS.
It’s not so bad if you actually live somewhere with creaky floorboards, or a door that sticks, because you get to know the quirks of your own house and you can avoid them or hope your children become used to them. However, in an Airbnb, a squeaky door in an unfamiliar room can be enough to wake an overtired toddler. And if there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s an overtired, awake toddler.
So please, Airbnb hosts, if the bedroom door handle squeaks as you open it, or the bathroom hinges sound like an angry cat, get the WD40 out and de-squeakify them. It makes a huge difference, I promise.
A lot of hosts like to leave a little welcome pack for their guests. We’ve had everything from a full hamper of essentials (wine, coffee, washing up liquid, you know, REAL essentials), to baskets of fruit, to crayons, cookies and colouring books for the children. All of this stuff is SO thoughtful and massively appreciated. But, a lot of the time we’ve been left stuff that we won’t eat because it’s not vegan-friendly. This isn’t a huge problem most of the time because the stuff can be rolled over to the next guests. But it would still be nice to take advantage of these little extras.
So, if you want to show your guests that you’re thinking of them as individuals, here’s my 3rd tip: send them a message a few days before they arrive to ask about any preferences or allergies. That way, your lovely thoughtful touch becomes a really useful one too.
It should go without saying, but good communication from our hosts has been absolutely essential on this trip. We are staying in so many places, and have so much onward travel to plan, I just don’t have time to chase people for information.
I’d recommend sending an email about 2 days before your guests are due to arrive. This should give details of check-in times and procedures, any codes or specific entry instructions and anything else you think they might need before they arrive.
We’ve also had a couple of lovely hosts who have sent us an “everything OK?/anything you need?” message the day after we arrived. One absolute legend in Orlando (check the house out here) sent a pre-departure email to remind us of check-out procedures. I know this stuff is usually included on your Airbnb listing, so may seem like overkill. But not having to go looking for it was brilliant, especially as we had to leave early the next morning. Thanks Colin!
When you’re only travelling with one power adapter, and you have an iPad, two Kindles, two phones, a toothbrush, two pairs of headpones and a laptop to charge, any extra charging help is HUGELY welcome. Ana in Niagara Falls (she really was amazing), has a couple of these awesome USB chargers and they were so handy.
We’ve also stayed in a couple of places that have them built into the sockets or along the kitchen worktops (hello Dana from the Rabbit Hutch in Golden!). Yay for technology!
This is one is for those who want to make their properties truly kid-friendly. A couple of people have asked us for ideas on how to make their listings more family friendly and this is first of our Airbnb host tips we’d always suggest.
It goes without saying that a cot (crib for my American readers), high chair and kids’ tableware are all useful additions. But we’ve found having some interesting toys and books has been more valuable than anything.
Our children are travelling with one small carry-on backpack each. This holds their bedtime cuddly toys, an iPad or tablet, their amazing Puro Sound Labs bluetooth headphones and a tiny bag of toys. Needless to say, after about 3 weeks of travelling, these toys had lost all novelty. I don’t really know why we still have them. So, when we arrive somewhere and find they have NEW STORIES for bedtime or a cupboard with a few toys and games, we are delighted, and less insane.
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Maybe ask friends or family if they have anything they no longer need or buy second hand from a charity shop. Anything that keeps our kids playing independently so we can have a bit of reset time is beyond useful.
Continuing our Airbnb host tips to make your listing more family-friendly, we’d suggest nightlights! At the very least, if you have shaver sockets in your bathroom and it’s safe to do so, plug in a nightlight. It makes middle of the night bathroom trips with the little ones so much easier.
If you can stretch to it, a couple of additional nightlights elsewhere also help. We’ve found that, as we’re settling in to a new place, the kids can lose their bearings if they wake at night and want to find our room. A few well-placed nightlights can help them navigate and avoid night time screeching!
We book Airbnbs so we have more space, home comforts and a kitchen so we don’t have to go out for food. It might seem trivial, but cutting an onion with a huge, but blunt knife is awful. Please, get a knife sharpener and keep your knives nice and sharp. It really makes a huge difference for those of us who want or have to cook.
And while you’re at it, get a decent, large non-stick frying pan. I have not experienced rage as burning as when I had to cook pancakes in a tiny pan that LOOKED non-stick but was anything but. Oh, and there was no spatula.
I hope this list of Airbnb host tips has been useful. However, I’d really like to gather more!
Are you an Airbnb host? If your guests have commented on anything they absolutely love about your property, drop me a comment below to add to this list. Or if you reguarly stay in Airbnb properties, what little touches/easy wins would you suggest to hosts?