Worldwide there are approximately 6 million Airbnb listings and any given night half of those listings are being enjoyed by customers. The company has also seen over 150% growth since 2009, so the amount of listings is set to continue to rise quickly as more and more homeowners look to enjoy this lucrative part of the rental sector.
Airbnb is something Ben and I have greatly considered and plan to do in the future. As we will both be self-employed by the end of the summer, it is important for us to diversify our income streams. Choosing to get a lodger has been one option, but the Airbnb option seems more lucrative and gives us more flexibility as to when to occupy our guest room instead of it being on a permanent basis. With Ben’s brother having his own Airbnb listing for several years now and his mum having been a landlord for as long as Ben can remember, we have plenty of advice and knowledge in the area already.
If you're already enjoying the success of Airbnb with your own rental, the likelihood is that you're already making plenty of cash and reaping the rewards of the process. However, despite the projections that there will be over 24 million Airbnb users by 2020 in Europe alone, the number of listings is also rising and there is a growing amount of competition out there.
There's no getting around the fact that you really need to make your Airbnb stand out if you want customers to choose your listing. You also need to go the extra mile to keep your ratings high, because one bad review can make such a difference to your success in getting bookings in the future.
So how do you become a successful Airbnb host and make your listing stand out?
1. Stop being defensive
One of the great destroyers of progress in this world for many businesses is being defensive. Take Dragons’ Den for example, where many a business person has received constructive criticism and responded defensively, ultimately ignoring the advice of the billionaire business people sat in front of them.
You watch it happening and will the person to stop being defensive and listen to the experts, as they slowly put up more and more defences and end up losing their shot at investment. Try to remember this example when you get feedback from a customer.
It might hurt your feelings at first, but remember it is not personal, it relates to a service they used. Once you drop your defences you can really use the feedback to your advantage. The information is absolute gold for your listing. It enables you to improve your place in a way you know customers will appreciate. It is a valuable insight into what Airbnb users want, so do value the feedback and avoid your ego getting in the way of progress.
Also take the time to reply and thank them for their feedback and acknowledge any improvements you will make. Be kind and polite. Never ever argue back!
2. Invest in your photographs
The photos that you use to promote your place will make all the difference when it comes to getting that all important booking.
When you sell a house the photos are what gets the potential buyer interested but they view the property to look properly. Because the 'viewing' part for your Airbnb customer is when they are starting their holiday, the photographs need to work much harder to sell your room or property straight away.
The commitment is made through the phone or computer screen. Do invest in really great photographs using a high-quality phone camera or if possible, a DSLR or mirrorless.
It might also be worth investing in a professional photographer to take a few photos for you. I recently had headshots done for £50 with a local photographer, so you might be surprised at just how affordable 10 or so images of your Airbnb property or room are. If they get more bookings then the cost is totally worth it.
3. Shout about it
Airbnb is there to market your property to Airbnb users and of course, they will do an amazing job of showcasing your place. However, that doesn't mean you can't let people know about it too.
For example, there are currently 1 billion monthly Instagram users at the moment with an increase of 5% every quarter. That is a lot of potential customers using just one social media platform.
You don't have to learn about professional marketing, just put your place out on any social media you use, because you never know who might be looking for a nice place to stay in your area.
4. Get a leading feature
Many successful Airbnb's have a leading feature. A feature that gets customers excited to stay in that place or that helps their property stand out from others in the area such as a bathroom upgrade or luxury accessories.
Here are some examples of leading features:
- Hot tub
- Unusual or scenic location
- Incredible views
- Access to free use of items like bikes
- Unusual or quirky decor
- Eco-friendly features
- Log burners
- A cool BBQ area and/or pizza oven in the garden
- Outdoor kitchen
- Roll top or other beautifully aesthetic baths
- Animals that stay in the home with you
- Beautiful garden
- Add hotel room features like complimentary toiletries
- Add decorations for Christmas or a Christmas tree
If your property doesn't seem to have a leading feature then your current customer feedback might tell you otherwise. What is the feature everyone mentions when they leave a review?
If nothing stands out perhaps there is room to add a quirky or outstanding feature to the property. For a small investment in a new feature, you may see your listing become so much more popular.
5. Do not underestimate the basics
It can be very easy to get carried away with making an Airbnb stand out, forgetting the smaller details that really matter to your guests. Cleanliness, for example, is always expected. Statistics show that guests expect cleanliness whether they pay £100 or £500 for their room so invest in good cleaning services, or get a really good cleaning regime in place. Noone wants to stay in a dirty, grimy property with pest problems like bed bugs or fleas. Or broken, wobbly furniture. Invest in maintenance of the property, cleanliness and hygiene.
Guests will also expect excellent communication, good customer service and ease of checking in.
Remember guests also expect everything to be working and if something major is not working, you need to let them know in advance so they can cancel their booking if they feel it is a 'deal breaker'.
Some guests may also consider services like WiFi as a basic need.
Make sure there are clean towels, toilet roll and hand sanitisers.
Before you rent out your property or room stay in it for yourself for a night and act like a guest to see if everything is up top standard. Get friends or family to do the same so you can get some honest feedback and put improvements in place before a paying customer stays.
Getting the basics right is a really good foundation for a highly rated Airbnb and will help prevent reviews which ignore all the merits of your property because of a hair in the bed, or mould in the bathroom.
“When you get into a hotel room, you lock the door, and you know there is a secrecy, there is a luxury, there is fantasy. There is comfort. There is reassurance” - Diane von Furstenberg
There is no right and wrong when it comes to making your Airbnb stand out, but there are a lot of 'shoulds' that are proven to work for other highly successful listings. Pay attention to detail, try and let your ego take a back seat and think about how best to highlight the great parts of your property without being misleading. An honest showcase of your Airbnb property will be sure to bring you bookings and great ratings in no time.