As an Airbnb host, our biggest currency is a guest review. A positive review is worth more than your weight in gold. When guests are looking for properties, the first thing they look at are the photos and then, the reviews. Hands down, that’s the order. If you don’t believe me, ask your guests. Unless they’re like me and other guests who just don’t read, they will likely go and read your descriptions and rules.
What will your guests review you for?
How accurate are you? Any surprises the guest will receive? Your description and photos need to be accurate. Yes, you can have a different duvet cover or towel color. But if you have photos of a kitchen, the guests better be able to use it (no, I haven’t gotten over the Savannah experience). My co-writer stayed at an Airbnb in Santa Cruz, and the listing mentioned a washer and dryer but failed to say you have to pay for it and get quarters. This incident stayed with her because it was an unexpected inconvenience.
It’s better to over-deliver. For example, I mention in my description that I provide some breakfast items. But I also have spices, oils, and condiments for people to cook with, and guests love it. The minimum you need to deliver is what you posted on your descriptions and photos. Like I said before, the best compliment is, “It’s just like the photos.”
I know you answer your guest’s inquiries quickly, but do you anticipate their questions beforehand? As you gain experience hosting, you will get the same questions over and over again. Yes, it’s tiring, but it’s our job. How far are you from the public transportation? In my case, how far is it to Manhattan? Is it safe? What restaurants are nearby?
I created a template that I use once a guest books a reservation. I’m sharing it with you here. It’s a simple document with detailed information. I also send them another similar document 10 days before their arrival.
Remember to answer inquiries within 30 minutes. Why? Because when a guest sends you an inquiry, they’re still looking at other places. Answering while they’re searching could stop their search and encourage them to book with you.
Also, don’t disappear after they arrive. A simple email or text asking if everything is to their satisfaction creates a positive experience. After they check-out, an email of “I hope you had a safe trip home and a reminder of how important a review is for your business” goes a long way.
It should go without saying that your place needs to be clean. I’ll be writing a detailed post about cleanliness and how you can set yourself apart from the competition. After you or your cleaning person cleans your place, give it one more look around. Sometimes, things get shifted and moved, hairs fall on the floor, etc. The worst is finding hair in the bathroom; I’m always fighting it. I wipe the bathroom one more time with a disinfecting wipe, just to make sure I don’t leave a black hair behind. And don’t forget to clean the floor around and behind the toilet! It should also go without saying to do the following things after every guest exchange: change the sheets, towels, and bath mat.
You might not have much choice about your location, but you will be reviewed on it. Is it near restaurants, public transportation, convenient to the major attractions. If you don’t have the ideal location, be upfront about it. This is where accuracy and communication comes in. If you’re a train and a bus to your home, say it. If there is a bit of a walk to the restaurants, state it. Your price will have to be lower to compensate for the lack of a prime location.
How easy is your check-in process? Have you provided all the information your guests need to be able to:
1. Find your Place
2. Get the keys
3. Get the Wifi Password
Do you have and offer public transportation information? Any car services you recommend? Are you flexible with flight schedules? I understand we have a check-in time for a reason, but sometimes you can’t control that the only flight arrives at 9am. Can they at least drop off bags? Or do they need to be carrying their bags everywhere they go until they can check-in? Place yourself in your guests’ shoes. You don’t want to be a pushover, but you do want to be considerate to their plight and make things as easy as seamless as possible for everyone involved.
According to Merriam Webster: Value is a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; the monetary worth of something.
What’s a fair return in your home? For me, it is the perception a guest may have of paying too much for what they are receiving? In other words, “was this experience worth the money I paid?”
I understand your listing might be your home. There is an emotional attachment. I think I should get at least $400 a night for my private apartment, but will I get that? What will be your guests’ expectations? They will likely want views of Manhattan or to actually be in Manhattan, a washer and dryer, and amenities that I don’t provide.
Value is a contextual concept.
What happens if you receive a bad review?
I received a bad review from a guest. She actually contacted Airbnb to close my account. I took it personally and responded to her review. It wasn’t my proudest moment. That review still lives; it will never be gone from the site. I recommend sleeping on it before sending any response you might regret later on. It’s ok to write a mean response to vent your frustration; just make sure not to ever send it!
Now, when I get a non-stellar review, I address the issue without getting personal (at least, I try). A guest mentioned the wifi was slow. I just responded that I’m adding an additional router. Someone said the refrigerator was loud – nothing I can do do about that. Hopefully, the guests will tell you these discrepancies in private and not air your dirty laundry in a review.
HELD HOSTAGE BY A REVIEW:
Reviews are super important. That being said, don’t become enslaved to a bad guest because of the potential for a bad review. If a guest tries to extort you, asking you to lower your price or change your rules don’t agree. Communicate with your guests via the Airbnb platform and get them involved.
Here are links for:
Don’t forget, you can pull amazing quotes from your reviews for your descriptions. Your guests will write what’s important about your home, and you can use their words. Guests’ positive words will go much farther than your own with potential guests.
How do you handle reviews? What’s your philosophy about them? Share your insights below.
If you want more tips, how-to and insider information on providing the best experience in this sharing economy, sign up for updates.
Until next time, Happy Hosting!