Experts dish on how to stand out in a crowd of short-term rentals.
Leaving the country for a stretch? Have a guest house you’ve been looking to spruce up? With some Airbnb hosts pulling in thousands — New York City hosts average $5,474 a year, for example — there’s real potential to capitalize on that space.
Listing your apartment on Airbnb is simple enough — a few clicks and some photos and you’re up for rent. (Read the site’s guides for hosts first.) But getting that listing to stand out in the over-crowded market can be a bit tougher.
Moneyish talked to Ariel Maidansky, founder of the design-driven marketing company Envizzo and Michael Kramer, founder of interior design firm Michael Thomas & Co. to get tips on how to transform your extra space — and start earning some extra cash.
1. Size up the competition in your area
“Look at other listing and the amenities, location and décor being offered,” advises Kramer. Then save some of the listings you would like to stay in. “Make a list of the reasons you’re attracted to them and then compare your space to that list.” If there are small things you can easily add or do (such as adding standing plants or additional comfortable seating) in your space, do that before you list.
2. Price it right
“If you don’t have a history on Airbnb, price below market value for the first 10 stays to get people in the door. Look at other area properties to get an idea,” Maidansky suggests. “Once you have a handful of solid reviews, you can increase from there.” To figure out the initial price, Kramer says you should research local hotel rates and then drop your price by at least 25%.”If you feel your space offers much more than a local hotel (outdoor space, a kitchenette, a large bathtub) you can go a bit higher — “but make sure you are still priced well below hotel rates and not above the top Airbnb listing.”
3. Create a welcoming profile
“Treat your host profile like a dating profile. Use it to speak to what makes you interesting and unique,” Kramer suggests. Using words like “personable,” “friendly,” and “outgoing” will show you’re a social person and “can break any tension your guest may have around contacting you.” But “avoid words like ‘party animal’ or ‘wild child,’ he says: “You want to let the guest know you are fun but reasonable and your home should be treated with respect.”
Maidansky adds that you should “respond quickly to inquiries, don’t let messages sit for longer than 12 hours and never, ever cancel a booking” which will automatically ding your ratings.
4. Post beautiful photos
“Professional photos are a must,” says Maidansky. (Airbnb offers free photography services in some areas, or, if you have a DSLR camera, you can take your own following this guide.) Bad lighting, items left out on nightstands and general messiness are major turn-offs to prospective bookers, so make sure your room is tidy and well-lit before taking pictures. “The goal is to showcase your space at its best without exaggerating or hiding anything,” Kramer explains. That way, guests are arriving to a place that looks and functions as expected.
5. Make your guests feel at home
One of the reasons Airbnb renters chose a home over a hotel is because they want to feel, well, at home. “I strongly suggest keeping personal elements in the space like cute photos of you and your family,” says Kramer. “It will make guest feel they are staying with a friend, which can lead to better reviews.”
Stocking the bathrooms with a hair dryer, soap and shampoo are a must — but if you really want to stand out, take it up a notch. Maidansky suggests offering guests “something unique which reflects the area” such as a locally-made body scrub or jam. Even basic amenities such as giving specific information on parking and leaving the Wifi password are a good start.
6. Be the host with the most
“Be different, and think outside the box,” suggest Kramer, who encourages hosts to offer “personal experiences” whenever possible possible. “Good feedback is key in a competitive market where you are only as good as your reputation.” What quantifies a personal experience? If you live by a park, leave a picnic basket with a handwritten note encouraging your guests to enjoy a picnic on you.
Hand-drawn maps showing guests where to find great food or a specialty shop make the visit extra special. Travelers not only love that — they need it! “Be a tour guide,” suggest Kramer. “Just be sure not to vouch for a place you’ve never been to.”
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