Whenever anyone starts a new venture, they’re bound to make some mistakes. In a trust-based economy like Airbnb, reputations are built on mutual reviews, and when you’re hosting, your guest will review you and your home on multiple criteria. You'll want to avoid these 5 mistakes Airbnb hosts make to stand out from the crowd.
Providing a positive experience for your visitors will ensure your reviews stay extraordinary. But mistakes don’t always revolve around guest experience, sometimes mistakes Airbnb hosts make are to their own detriment. I hope to help you navigate through some of the pitfalls, so you and your guests enjoy your hosting.
This list is by no means all-inclusive. Over the past year, these are the most frequent and severe mistakes I’ve watched hosts make. Don’t be like these hosts.
1) Asking Too Many Questions
The world of travel is changing because of short-term vacation rentals. For our entire lives, we have been accustomed to lodging in hotels. Hotels have a certain anonymity. After you check in and show your ID, there doesn’t need to be any further interaction between you and the establishment. Staff doesn’t try to micromanage your daily plans. Nobody interrogates you about who, what, when, where, why, and how you intend to spend every second of your trip.
In the world of vacation rental hosts, human curiosity often gets in the way of recognizing our visitors expected level interaction with hospitality staff. In a very real sense, you are a hospitality manager. Being nosy is a mistake Airbnb hosts make all too regularly. Remind yourself that there is a line between being helpful and simply being nosy. Many negative reviews for hosts center on guests feeling smothered by well-intentioned hosts.
2) Worrying About What Guests are Doing
On the flip side, hosts have been known to waste their new, valuable free time worrying about what’s happening in their house. In this unique situation of renting out your personal home, hosts tend to have a very passionate attachment to their space. They will drive themselves crazy trying to speculate about what’s happening in their house. Seriously, let it go. Go use your free time to do something amazing, so you can keep your mind off the comings and goings of your guests.
If you’ve read my Eleven Essentials guide, you know I recommend perimeter security cameras. There are countless hosts who jump at every alert of movement from those devices. They sit there and watch guests come and go. Watching security footage a mistake Airbnb hosts make out of boredorm, respect your time and find someting better to do. I have only viewed footage once in the past year, and that was only because a guest alerted me to a problem. Since sitting and watching them isn’t making you money or providing you joy, cut that activity out of your daily schedule. Your vacation rental business gives you a slice of financial freedom and flexibility to covet, not waste—use it wisely.
3) Running Out of Essentials
Every vacation rental should be equipped with basic necessities that guests would not expect to purchase themselves. These non-negotiable items include toilet paper, paper towels, bath towels, and batteries. “Why batteries?” you may ask. Anything in your house that runs on batteries (e.g., touch faucets, smoke alarms, electronic locks, carbon monoxide detectors) must keep functioning throughout your renters’ stay. Have a stockpile available, so the beep-beep-beep from a dead smoke alarm doesn’t drive them crazy. If you’re going to nickel-and-dime your visitors by giving a toilet paper allowance per day, you simply should not host. Being paranoid is a mistake Airbnb hosts make because of fear. When guests are flying in and traveling great distances to visit your pad, stealing your paper towels isn’t high on their priority list.
Beyond the bare essentials, I am a firm believer in providing a well-stocked kitchen. I don’t just mean plates, bowls, and flatware. Your kitchen should include small appliances such as a coffeemaker, microwave, blender for drinks, and mixer for baking. A pantry with food supplies is also ideal. This is my primary home, and guests are welcome to use all kinds of foodstuffs, like salt and pepper, oils, flours, spices, condiments, butter, eggs, and whatever else they find. I advise all my guests to visit the home before they make a grocery run, so they can see what supplies we already have available for them.
4) Charging Guests for Small Replacement Costs
Being in the hospitality industry does come with some expected costs of doing business. Part of your nightly charges should be set aside for imminent replacement costs. I see two reasons hosts get upset when things need to be replaced: They feel the guest was careless, and therefore, want to charge them, or they don’t have the money to replace the item, and therefore, want to charge them. In both instances, small replacement costs are really the host's responsibility, not the guests' fault. I am referring to things like a broken plate or a stained towel as opposed to a broken coffee table.
The general mistake Airbnb hosts make is using emotion versus logic in responding to issues of ruined items. Even though you’re renting your home, this is a business. The forethought and planning of anticipating this typical cost will help subdue emotional responses when a guest says they broke or damaged something.
I have found that guests are generally forthcoming and apologetic when there is a problem. Numerous guests have reached out to me about things from a child’s toy denting a wall to breaking a Brookstone foot massager. In all damage cases, I have thanked them for their honesty and told them I’d check it out upon my return to the house. In the grand scheme of things, you can’t stress the small things.
5) Less Than 5-Star Cleaning
The way a homeowner may typically clean their house is very different than how a vacation rental host should clean. It’s not enough to dust the top of the dresser, you need to wipe out each drawer to make it acceptable for visitors to use that storage. You’ll need to clean every side of every object, find every nook, and maintain every cranny.
Let me just give a quick plug for minimalism here. The fewer objects you have—the less there is to clean. It’s a process for sure, but decluttering will make your home easier to maintain and more guest friendly. Tchotchkes, clutter, and junk have got to go. A common mistake Airbnb hosts make is overfilling their home with pointless decorations. Minimize your mess to make cleaning faster and easier.
Would You Make a Good Airbnb Host?
If you read this article and thought, “Duh,” you could be a fantastic Airbnb host. If you read this article and thought, “Oh, she just doesn’t get it,” you’re probably too uncompromising for this profession. Hospitality is an old-fashioned, customer-centered industry. To succeed, you need to aim to be the host with the most. Now, go out there and be amazing while earning your profits!