Let’s talk goals! Whether you’re a newly minted host, someone aiming for the Superhost stratosphere, or you’re welcoming a new year with some new Airbnb resolutions, this post is for you. We want you to get the most out of your Airbnb. More money. Extra bookings. Better reviews. And less time spent making all that happen.
Moving the needle in a meaningful way is a two step process. First, you need to define the right goal to focus on. And then, you need take impactful steps towards that objective.
Moving the needle in a meaningful way is a two step process. First, you need to define the right goal to focus on. And then, you need take impactful steps towards that objective. This post is designed to help you do just that. Our Top Airbnb Goal Quiz will help you identify which of those four goals deserves your attention most. And our Airbnb SMART Goal Worksheet will help you establish exactly what you plan to achieve. Finally, with your goal in clear focus, we’ll dive into the most powerful actions you can take today to kickstart your progress. Sound good? Great! Let’s get started.
Pick Your Goal
Every Airbnb host wants to attract extra bookings, receive better reviews, spend less time on their hosting duties, and earn more money for all their effort. But which goal deserves your attention most? We’ve designed a few questions to help you find out. Click here to download the quiz. Rank the responses to each question from 1 (most relevant to you) through 4 (least relevant). Then just add up the columns. Focus your energy on the goal in the box with the lowest score. The goal that needs your attention most may surprise you!
Make it SMART
Now that you’ve got your overarching goal, let’s dive into defining the details. We’ll do that by making your goal SMART. That is, a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It’s easy. Click here to download the worksheet. It will walk you through creating your first Airbnb SMART goal. Once you’ve finished, post your SMART goal somewhere you’ll see every day. And don’t forget to mark that completion date on your calendar. Now, jump down to the actionable next steps that correspond to your goal. You’ve got this!
ATTRACT EXTRA BOOKINGS
Let’s start at the beginning. You’ve got to get guests in the door. Afterall, you didn’t spend all that time creating an incredible Airbnb to have it just sit empty! The crux of attracting additional bookings is having an attractive listing online. Here are the quickest ways to create an eye-catching Airbnb listing.
1) UPDATE YOUR COVER PHOTO
Here is an example of where first impressions matter most. In just a few milliseconds, potential guests make a knee jerk decision about whether or not to click on your listing. And you can’t book a guest without that. So! The image you choose as your cover photo should capture the absolute best qualities your Airbnb has to offer.
Look through your reviews for what previous guests have loved most, and see how many of those elements you can capture in a single photo. Make sure it’s is light and airy, and actually features the space itself. We love the nature shoots and cityscapes as much as the next guests, but they’re not the reason we first click on an Airbnb.
2) Hire A Professional Photographer
If you and your smartphone pictures aren’t truly capturing your Airbnb’s very best side, it’s time to invest in a professional. The money you put towards bright, crisp, high-quality images will pay for itself ten fold. Search for a local photographer whose portfolio resonates with the tone of your Airbnb, and reach out today. (Literally, you could stop reading this post and reach out right now.) In a matter of hours, a professional photographer could double or triple your Airbnb bookings.
3) Create a Scannable Description
The average written description floating at the top of an Airbnb listing tends to be either too dense or too skimpy. Neither provides much information to potential guests. Remember, these folks are flying through your listing along with dozens of others as they hunt for their perfect place.
You have two goals when it comes to the written description. First, start with an upbeat, eye catching opening sentence that will grab your viewer’s attention. Think short and punchy. And second, organize all of the information that hides beneath the “Read more about the space” toggle into a format that is easy to scan. Leverage whitespace, lists, and bullet points until guests can easily get the gist at a glance.
4) Highlight What’s Unique
You’d be surprised how often we discover the most unique aspects of an Airbnb after we’ve arrived. If your reviews are peppered with phrases like so much better than the photos! or we were so excited to find out this Airbnb had a …, you’re leaving good bookings on the table. Cash in on your Airbnb’s most unique qualities by shining a spotlight on them in your listing. Got a hot tub? Got floor to ceiling windows? Got a whole host of barn animals ready to delight young guests? These are the stuff of cover photos and headlines.
5) SHARE YOUR STORY
After finding an Airbnb we really like online, a blank personal profile for the host triggers a little dollop of disappointment. As guests, we want to get to know the people behind these amazing spaces. Airbnb hinges on personal relationships, right? So play into this by making sure your story is available for potential guests who care. The sooner folks feel that personal connection to you, the quicker they’ll scoop up a stay at your Airbnb. Put your most personal, relatable, and memorable self forward, and watch those bookings tick up and up.
6) Join the “Airbnb for Work” Collection
Over 15% of Airbnb bookings are now made by companies planning trips for their business travelers. As this slice of the booking pie continues to grow, there’s no time like the present to start building up a great track record with guests in town for work. Whether they’re one-nighters or they’re digital nomads (yup, like us!) looking for a month-long stay, these guests tend to be high-quality and low-maintenance. Qualifying for the Work Collection is simple, and this all-encompassing Airbnb for Work checklist will make sure your don’t miss a step.
RECEIVE BETTER REVIEWS
Given the often inflated state of Airbnb reviews, less than five-star subcategories can ward off potential guests. If you’ve got a subcategory stuck beneath the five-star threshold, here are our top recommendations to make up lost ground in any given subcategory.
1) Re-align Your Listing
Less than ideal Accuracy ratings usually represent a discrepancy between what your online listing advertises and what your Airbnb actually delivers during a stay. The wider that gap, the worse the rating. Luckily, aligning the two is easy. Open up your listing (when’s the last time you actually looked at this thing?), walk into your Airbnb, and work through each section.
What promises have you made potential guests? Delete outdated information, spruce up your Airbnb where it’s wilting, and scan the reviews for any specific sore spots that trigger disappointment. Fix what you can and document what you can’t. There’s little you can do if you’re outside of cell phone range, the walls are extremely thin, or the patter of your children’s footsteps will always be heard in your basement suite. But you can give potential guests a heads up. Most folks won’t mind, but potential guests who would will see the warning and take their stay (and negative review) elsewhere.
2) Send the Touchbase Text
This one is simple. Send the touchbase text. This is a quick message to your guests shortly after they arrive. It goes like this: Hi Erin! We hope you’re enjoying the cabin. If there is anything we can do to make your stay better, don’t hesitate to let us know. Have a great day! The purpose here is to demonstrate to your guests that you actually care how their stay is going. If a guest is staying multiple nights, send this text mid-morning after the first night. If a guest is there just one night, reach out by six or so that evening.
And if you’re hesitating here because you’re worried you’ll invite a deluge of impossible requests, collect the data. We’d bet that one out of every ten guests will actually have a request, and that most of those can be handled with just another text. And remember: if your goal is to improve your reviews, you’d probably prefer resolving a potential problem during a guest’s stay rather than to be being blindsided by it in a review when you can no longer help.
3) ADD REGULAR DEEP CLEANINGS
Deep cleanings. Period. A deep cleaning every two to four weeks, depending on the frequency of your guests. This will eliminate the vast majority of the Cleanliness complaints that come your way. The standard between-guests routine may replace the linens and sanitize the bathroom, but to keep any home in tip-top shape, a deep cleaning regiment must be interspersed with the surface level habits. If this is you, check out this Spring Cleaning post to help you make a plan!
4) ONLY FLAUNT THE LOCATION YOU’VE GOT
Dips in Location reviews mirror dips in the Accuracy category: guests had higher location expectations than materialized when they arrived. We’ve often seen this disappointment stem from hosts stretching the truth about their location. It turns out the beach wasn’t really walking distance, the featured stores are actually all closed in the winter, and the town only has two Uber drivers, which undermines the easy-peasy routes promised to and from downtown.
Just like with Accuracy, it’s all about setting honest expectations. If you’ve got a killer location, flaunt it. But if that little voice inside knows your Airbnb falls outside the best real estate ring, make sure it’s clear to potential guests.
5) LIMIT YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO THREE STEPS
Oh, how we love to sing the praises of self check-in. This post details all the reasons why we prefer self check-in as guests and gives you a step-by-step guide for preserving a personalized welcome. Regardless of your method, the simpler the check-in process, the better the experience. Good reviews will follow. Limit your check-in instructions to three steps. List each step, eliminate any fluff, and make sure those streamlined instructions are readily available when your guests arrive.
6) ROCK THE FIRST IMPRESSION
A weaker star rating for Value doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lower your price. It just means you need provide guests with more bang for their buck. The quickest way to increase the perceived Value of the stay is by creating a fantastic first impression.
For example, a personalized welcome note and small gift greeting your guests demonstrates the kind of thoughtful hospitality guests associate with good Value. Plus, by investing this kind of effort up front, you prime your guests to notice the best sides of Airbnb and, where it teeters, to give you the benefit of the doubt. This entire post focuses on how to impress your guest the moment they walk in the door.
Spend Less Time
Your Airbnb should support your life, not the other way around. If running your Airbnb has started to dictate how you live your life, it’s time to hop in the driver’s seat and take back control. Here are the quickest ways to ratchet back the number of hours you spend with your hosting hat on.
1) Opt for Self Check-In
Arguably the most time consuming task an Airbnb host can undertake is providing in-person check-ins for every guest. More intrusive than the hours of cleaning or the constant app chirps, welcoming each guest for a guided tour of your Airbnb is most taxing on you, the generous host. While your hospitable intentions are spot on, the mental taxation and physical restrictions simply aren’t worth the benefits in-person greetings produce.
So once again, we’ll ever-so gently point you back to our self check-in post, at the bottom of which you’ll find one of our all-time favorite comments from an Airbnb host. Paul writes: “Your suggestions have vastly simplified my life. No more ETA, text us when you are one hour away emails. My evenings are now free…and I think our guests like it as well.” Just think! Your evenings could be as free as Paul’s.
2) Batch Process Tasks
What tasks do you do over and over and over again? Does laundry come to mind? Stocking the bathroom? Writing those personalized welcome notes for each guest before they arrive? Time to consider implementing some batch processing.
Sure, some tasks have to be completed in a staggered fashion. You can’t do a month’s worth of cleaning in one session. But you can do an entire month’s shopping at once. Or prepare an entire month’s sheep grain. (Yep, that’s part of this incredible hosting team’s routine.) Make a list of your hosting duties and pinpoint which tasks can be knocked out in batches. Then do it. (That last step really matters!)
3) Draft Communication Templates
How many texts do you send to your current guests that you know you’ve sent to the guests who came before? Welcome texts, check-in instructions, touchbase texts, check-out instructions, etc., etc., etc. Time to create some templates.
Draft your very best response for each of your most common communication scenarios, and save these templates somewhere convenient. Then when the time comes, just copy and paste, tweak the names (or avoid names altogether), and press send. Not only will this save you time, it will provide more consistent and thorough responses to each guest you host.
4) Create a House Manual FROM YOUR FAQS
There’s a reason FAQ pages proliferate throughout the web. They’re huge time savers! Plus they offer consistent and thorough responses (yep, just like the communication templates above). So create your hosting FAQ page: it’s called your house manual. Pull out your archived conversations with guests and collect all the questions they sent your way. Then, head over to your written reviews and look for missed opportunities to provide a disappointed guest with critical information about your Airbnb.
Cluster these questions into categories, and ta-da! There is the outline for your house manual. Now all you need to do is copy and paste the responses you’ve already drafted into a word document, spruce it up, and press print. Oh! And make sure you set your finished house manual out somewhere obvious. A house manual that’s easily overlooked defeats the purpose.
5) Turn Your Processes into Checklists
The impact a simple checklist has on increasing the quality of output has been documented from hospitals to airplanes to America’s beloved McDonald’s french fries. Everything is more consistent and more streamlined when you’re relying on a checklist instead of memory to execute a predictable process. Airbnb hosting is no different. Create a checklist for each process in your Airbnb hosting routine. And then use them.
Are you worried about losing your unique, personal hosting flair? Don’t be! All that goes into the checklist too. In fact, this will ensure that each guest gets the very best experience you can design. The more detailed the checklist, the better. Those nitty-gritty instructions won’t just benefit you on a weary day. They’ll make the next step even easier.
6) Get Help
Yep. Get. Some. Help. It’s time. You’re not actually going to be able to duplicate yourself, so you’ll need to find someone else to lend a hand. Sound scary? Before hackles go up and you protest that no one could replace your unique hosting style, ask yourself this: when was the last time you took a vacation? Wouldn’t it be nice to be at someone else’s fabulous Airbnb for a change, basking in the sun while your place back home is still chugging along like clockwork? With the right person, this is completely doable.
First, figure out the math. What could you pay someone to help you host while still running a profitable Airbnb? Be patient as you look for the right individual. You’ll find them! When you do, explain your Airbnb’s story, what you strive to create for each guest that visits, and how your process (all beautifully documented in those checklists) gets the job done. Then, take a deep breath and let them take your Airbnb for a test drive. Once they’ve gotten the hang of it, your adrenaline and stress levels will fall back to your pre-hosting days. Now doesn’t that sound nice?
Make More Money
There are only two ways to make more money with your Airbnb. You can decrease its expenses or increase the revenue it brings in. Ideally, you do both! Here are three tips for method to help your Airbnb make the kind of money you envisioned when you opened its doors.
1) Buy Amenities Wholesale
How many toilet paper runs have you made in the last year for your Airbnb? If the answer is more than 12, it might be time to consider picking up a membership to a wholesale store. In addition to streamlining your Airbnb shopping, stores like Costco offer all the amenities your Airbnb requires at a fraction of the cost. Toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, hand soap, dishwasher detergent, dryer sheets, and the list goes on and on. Give this approach a try for the next 12 months and see what a difference it makes.
2) CUT THE CABLE
Airbnb utilities can add up quickly. In addition to ensuring that you’re not leaking energy when your Airbnb is vacant, consider cutting the cable cord if your Airbnb is still hooked up. Options like Roku or Sling are significantly cheaper and allow your guests to pick up with their favorite shows wherever they left off.
3) SET A BUDGET
At more than one Airbnb, we’ve been indulged with so many luxury amenities, we haven’t a clue how the hosts are actually turning a profit. And we’re pretty sure they don’t want to do all this work for free. If this sounds like you, it’s time to set a monthly budget for your Airbnb upkeep. With this new bright line in the sand, you’ll surprise yourself with a slew of new, slightly scrappier but nonetheless impressive ways to leave your guests speechless.
4) RAISE YOUR RATES
Now, this feels counterintuitive as Airbnb guests to advise hosts to raise their rates. And yes, the Airbnb marketplace has more than a few outrageously overpriced offers up for grabs. But! We’ve also seen hosts who provide outstanding stays who deserve more money for their efforts. If you haven’t increased your rates in years, hop online and scope out the competition. Keep your rates competitive, but don’t hesitate to ask for the rate your Airbnb is worth.
5) ADD A CLEANING FEE
Notice that we said add a cleaning fee, not jack up your cleaning fee more. As guests, we’re accustomed to paying a small fee to cover the cost of cleaning the Airbnb after our stay. This amount should not be exorbitant. We’ve seen cleaning fees that nearly double that cost of the stay. But! We’ve also seen hosts who don’t charge a cleaning fee at all. If that’s your situation, this advice is for you. Adding 10 to 15% fee to cover the cost of cleaning up between guests is a completely reasonable way to make sure your Airbnb stays profitable.
6) OPEN A SECOND AIRBNB
Ok. Before you brush off this idea completely, humor the thought long enough to ask yourself this: If you absolutely had to open a second Airbnb, how would you do it? You’ve already done the hardest part, right? You’ve figured out how to create an Airbnb listing, host guests, get good reviews, etc. If you’ve already optimized your Airbnb–you max out bookings, you’re a star-studded Superhost, you’ve streamlined your entire process to require the minimal amount of time–, then maybe you should be asking yourself how you could replicate your success. Think about what a doubled profit would mean for your life. Perhaps we’ll leave you to ponder that thought…
Thank you so much for spending some time here at bnbNomad! We wish you the very best as you create and achieve your SMART Airbnb hosting goal. Don’t forget to download your free copy of the Top Airbnb Goal Quiz and the Airbnb SMART Goal Worksheet. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts! What advice do you have when it comes to getting more out of your Airbnb? Let us know in the comments below, and until next time, happy hosting!
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