City Life, Tips & Tricks

Host with the Most: 9 Expert Airbnb Hosting Tips for Designing the Ultimate Experience

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Living space is changing. Our pads are no longer only the places we live, but also potential sources of revenue. With the explosion of Airbnb hosting, more people are looking to their own pads to help them make a few extra bucks, or even to pay their mortgage entirely. It’s a beguiling dream — but it’s also a competitive business, which means you need to do your research on becoming an Airbnb host, adjusting your existing place to accommodate specific visitors, and ultimately considering your dwelling as a service experience.

Thankfully there is a lot of help out their for newby Airbnb hosts, and a ton of tips you can pick up to help you build a profitable business in your home or apartment. We spoke with a number of hosts, designers, and frequent Airbnb guests to cut noise, and focus on those fundamental tips you need set up a successful Airbnb pad.

#1: Focus on Your Ideal Guest

Like any business, it’s hard to succeed as an Airbnb host if you don’t first know your customer very well. Have an ideal guest in mind for your property, whether that be a weary business traveler, a couple looking for a weekend away from the kids, or a place of solace where people can get away, disconnect, and re-charge. The more you know about what your ideal guest values, the easier it will be for you to make appropriate design decisions to accommodate their visits. “Though using old furniture that your neighbor was going to throw away instead of splurging on an IKEA bedroom set may be the more cost effective option initially,” said Ashley Rose Marino, a Ft. Worth based interior designer and frequent Airbnb traveler, “you may want to reconsider and invest in pieces that are typical of your ideal tenant’s style.”

#2: Add Eye-Catching Design Elements and Furniture Outside the Ordinary

With your guest firmly in mind, remember that people are looking for an experience in the places they stay. Think of your own hotel or Airbnb searches. You’re likely not attracted to bland utility – but those places that look different, thoughtful, and maybe even like a break from your daily house or apartment routine. Consider taking some chances on design and decor to make your pad feel like a destination.

As Naples, Florida-based photographer and Airbnb Superhost Peggy Farren recommends, the more unique you can make your place, the better.  “Many people who use Airbnb are looking for an uncommon experience,” Farren said. “ Make your room stand out with a theme or eclectic wall decor or something to make it different than all the other typical rooms.”

If your current furniture doesn’t quite cut it, look to consignment stores, or warehouse stores, which can carry design pieces at lower prices. While some discount or independent design shops won’t offer delivery – we’ve got you covered.  

#3: No Matter the Design, Make the Space Bright and Airy

Ensuring your space is bright and airy doesn’t mean everything has to be stark and modern. You can maintain your unique style while brightening up your pad and accommodate your ideal guest without taking changes that make you uncomfortable. Think of establishing an airy foundation with light colored ceilings and walls – and store any dark or heavy furniture. If you don’t have a ton of natural light, consider also painting any dark wood paneling or fireplaces, and adding mirrors throughout your pad to capture and distribute light.

#4: Cut Back on the Clutter

Becoming a successful Airbnb host doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your things and start from scratch, or stuff it all in a deadbolted closet during guest stays. But anything that isn’t directly related to the comfort, enjoyment, or experience of staying with you should go – at least temporarily. It’s cost effective to rent a small self-storage unit to store any items you don’t want to ditch, donate, or sell in preparation for listing your pad.

A larger self-storage can also be great decision if you want offer options for guests – like cribs, rollaway beds, or grills during the summer months. Rather than storing it on premise, you can simply hop over to your self-storage unit and pick up what you need, right when you need it.

#5: Don’t Forget the “Bed” in Bed & Breakfast

A great place to sleep is crucial to a good experience for your guests, and a good rating for your place. So if you don’t have a super comfy mattress, go shopping. Invest in a nice bed with nice sheets, pillows and other bedding.  “When I took stock of all our reviews one thing stood out: how much our guests loved our mattress,” said Sarah Krakaian, a New York-based host who also helps new hosts furnish and run their own successful Airbnb operations.  “We didn’t spend a fortune, but we did take our time selecting the right bed for our space.”

#6: Pictures Say a Thousand Words

Like searching for a house or an apartment, photos can make or break a booking for an Airbnb host. After all, people can’t actually visit your place in person, so you have to give them the next best thing, which are professional, high-definition photos that show off the key features of your pad. Think about what you’d look for if booking a hotel: clear images of the outside, living space, bedroom and bathroom. Hire a good photographer and be sure to discuss with them in advance exactly what you hope to capture for your listing.  “It doesn’t matter how comfy your mattress is, what amenities you have to offer, or how beautiful your space is if potential guests aren’t drawn into your online presentation,” said Karakaian.

#7: The Small Things Really Do Count

Think back on your own travels. When you’re away from home, you forget its comforts. You also may just forget to bring something with you in the rush to leave the house and make your flight. So, thinking ahead for guests can help ensure winning reviews. Some common items to consider leaving for guests:

  • A simple, visible wifi password (and great wifi)
  • Universal chargers for different types of phones and devices
  • Local takeout menus
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste and razors
  • Shampoo, deodorant, and lotion
  • Bottled water

Remember, your title is host – not manager, or owner. So think of all that the word implies when representing your property and its experience to guests. And, if you really want to go the extra mile, consider leaving food or beverages from a local purveyor to deepen your guest’s experience. “We sometimes leave cupcakes from our favorite bakery or a bottle of wine with a “Thank You” note,” said host and avid Airbnber Rachel Hill.

#8: Make Room for Change

As an Airbnb host, your place, and the experience you deliver there, will ultimately become a product. That means you should constantly look for ways to improve it based on guest feedback, or your own. Consider staying in the unit occasionally as a guest, noting small things you’d like to change. It might be as simple as modifying your welcome basket, or perhaps more complex, like rearranging the furniture to accommodate a better flow. Feel free to experiment, and always look for feedback to help you improve.

#9: Make Coming and Going Easy and Secure

Most Airbnb’s don’t have a concierge or welcome team when guests arrive. So, be sure accessing the property is easy and secure. Add helpful, but not overly bright, motion lighting near your entryway – and add a keyless entry option like a lighted touchpad lock. Or, consider something more techy like the August Smart Lock, which is app based and allows you to change settings after each visit, and even give specific guests access to specific parts of your property depending on the type of booking. That said, technology can and does fail – so have a hide-a-key backup somewhere on the property in case your guests can’t access the pad with your smart security features.

When you’re turning your space into an Airbnb, you’re selling an experience, not a room or house. Be sure you consider that experience and that you’re clear on the work required to deliver it consistently, and hopefully without too much ongoing effort. You want to be able to manage the experience, without becoming too wrapped up in the labor of a property manager. That’s where Dolly can help. We offer same-day, on demand moving and labor, to help you move new furniture in and out of your pad, or to and from a local-self storage unit. So when you find that  perfect oversized chair at a local consignment shop that doesn’t deliver – give us a shout.

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