So You’ve Got Your First Airbnb Renter…Now What?
These and other articles are part of our Airbnb Super Host Series. If you haven’t yet made the Airbnb leap, go sign up to see what it’s all about. We are pretty awesome when it comes to Airbnb, and we want to share all our experience with you. But, there are others out there who are just as, if not more awesome than us. Like Jasper Ribbers for instance, who wrote the definitive guide to Airbnb hosting.This is a great one-stop shop for Airbnb hosts. But let’s get started with today’s Airbnb tip!
Do you want to learn how to be a good Airbnb host? Let’s start with a cautionary tale of what not to do.
The worst Airbnb experience of my life. Just. The. Worst.
My family and I planned a trip to NYC for a weekend of shopping, theater, good food, and time square craziness. We were so excited. Topping it all off, we had found the perfect loft condo in Manhattan that looked like a famous person’s weekend getaway. This condo belonged to, let’s call him Donald the dumbbell.
A few days before we left I decide to get in touch with Donald. I had questions about parking and key exchange, as his listing was lacking some basic information. First warning. Ignored.
I waited, no response. So I decided to call. No answer. Left a voicemail. No response. Sent a text: “Hi, is this Donald?”
The response: “Joey, I told you I’m not f**king ready to hit the gym”. My name is Glenn by the way. In retrospect, I could have been more specific with my first text. But I am not the jerk here, Donald is, focus on him.
My response: “Sorry, there must be a misunderstanding, my name is Glenn and I rented your condo through Airbnb for the weekend”. What I wanted to say will remain unsaid, but it played out really well in my head.
Donald: “My bad bro, what’s up?”
After 4 more “bro’s” and some back and fourth, we ironed out the details. Donald would meet us at 6pm that Friday when we arrive at the condo.
Guess who didn’t show. Not only did he not show, but when we finally tracked him down two hours later, he claimed that I had the time wrong. Donald clearly had better things to do. He was in the middle of his 1000th bicep curl at the gym when he barely acknowledged my presence as he handed me the key.
After providing us with his key, Donald explained that he needed to come by later to pick up “a few things”. Pick up a few things? Did he even remember he had an Airbnb rental? Or maybe his parents were cousins, and Donald was a bit slow. Was I being a jerk? That’s possible too.
The empty Chinese food boxes littered throughout the apartment confirmed my suspicions. When Donald came to pick up what I can only assume was a 5 pound bag of protein powder, he explained I was his first Airbnb renter. And hopefully his last after I gave my Airbnb rating.
Don’t be like Donald the dumbbell. Below are 6 tips to help you be the best Airbnb host once you get your first renter.
1. Communicate Rules and Instructions
Now that someone has booked your property, the hard part begins. You need to be responsive, courteous, and helpful, all at the same time.
You can start by thanking the renter for their booking and directing them to your written guest resource. A guest resource is a must. These written products will contain the most relevant information such as address, key exchange, house amenities, instructions for home use, parking details, and much more.
Creating a fantastic and comprehensive resource for your guests will save you hours of back and forth. There are several options to create this resource. You can do it the old fashion way by creating a template email or word file. My two favorite resource creation tools are Airbnb’s owner Guidebook, and Coral’s Guidebook.
Airbnb has an option for a detailed description and guidebook for each listing. This is useful in that you can communicate with renters information that wouldn’t typically be included in your public listing.
I prefer Coral’s free Guidebook. We have found that it is more flexible, comprehensive, and user-friendly than Airbnb’s guidebook and detailed description feature. Coral’s Guidebook also improves communication between the host and guest. Check out a demo here to see how easy it is to use.
2. Be Available
This one is easy. To be a good Airbnb host you need to always be available. No, I don’t mean hanging out in the bushes outside your house in case the renters run out of ketchup.
There is a reason smartphone’s are so popular, and it’s not because of Angry Birds. Have your smartphone on you at all times, with the Airbnb app installed. This will allow you to be there for your guests should they have any last minute questions.
Always have your renters phone number handy as well in case you need to pass something along. For instance, I received an email form my condo board that the water was to be shut off for a 12-hour period for maintenance. Good thing I had my renter’s contact information to communicate this information, or else it could have led to a negative review.
People don’t expect you to solve all their problems, as long as you are available and willing to work with them.
3. Be Their Concierge
Typically, people are renting on Airbnb for tourism purposes. So help them out a little. Leave local guidebooks, pamphlets, or business cards in a designated spot in your home for their use.
Casual Capitalist member Gavin, who’s killing it on Airbnb in Toronto, has a magnetic dry-erase and cork board in his kitchen. On here, he can leave cute messages welcoming his guests. He also pins the business cards of his favorite restaurants, attractions, and businesses in his area. On many occasions people have commented positively on this extra feature in Gavin’s review section.
Make suggestions of various activities and attractions that might be of interest to renters. Make sure to be prepared with both adult and kid-friendly activities.
4. The 24-48 Hour Message
We at the Casual Capitalist suggest owners communicate with renters 24-48 hours before their arrival. A simple message to them asking if they have any questions goes a long way. While you’re at it, wish them a safe trip.
Often people are so busy preparing to travel that they forget to ask you something. Prompting them with an email, text, or Airbnb message goes a long way in showing you are a caring host. Read that again Donald!
5. Exchanging Keys
Be sure to have a fool-proof plan in place for key exchange. This could either be a lockbox on your door, meeting them in person, or some type of smart lock that can be unlocked via smartphone. These smart locks are becoming more popular and are available on Amazon.
There is also a unique service offered called KeyCafe. Here, you can leave your key at a designated cafe near your rental. Renters will then pick up this key at the cafe. Be sure to keep in mind the hours of the cafe before sending someone there when it’s closed.
You must make sure to note your guest’s departure time and plans. Either by plane, train, bus, or car, you should be aware of how and when your guest plans to leave. This way, you can inform them of possible travel or traffic issues since you know the city the best.
Ask them if they need help finding a reputable taxi service (yes I mean Uber!). Find out if they want public transportation information such as subway or bus schedules.
Finally, if they were good guests make sure you let them know. Once a guest has departed, you can then make sure they left the property in decent shape. Then you can leave them an honest review on Airbnb. If you had a bad experience, check out our post on writing negative reviews and maintaining your reputation capital.
For the most part, you want to give guests good reviews. Of course, if they break stuff and try to hide it, or leave the place as a complete disaster, you can let them know. Airbnb has a security deposit mechanism in place as well as a dispute resolution center you can consult for more on this.
Follow these easy tips and you will be well on your way to being an Airbnb all-star. The income is nice, and all you need to do is be available and courteous.
As an added incentive, if you maintain almost perfect reviews you qualify for the the coveted Airbnb super-host status. More on this later.
Some other resources that have also helped me along the way are Sally Miller’s eBook Make Money On Airbnb. And the guys over at Get Paid For Your Pad have a number of awesome resources for Airbnb hosts.
Happy renting, and never be like Donald the dumbbell!