It's evident that we are starting to gain traction in our fight against COVID-19 and the global pandemic that has plagued us for the the past year. And no one is as ready to get back to business as those in the tourism and hospitality fields, including Airbnb and vacation rental operators.
Some areas have been shielded from the lost revenue and reservations, such as costal and mountain destinations. Many travelers have specifically sought our houses to rent over hotels for the safety and privacy they afford. Making meals at home and having areas to relax and unwind are ideal to those looking for safe travel options over the past year. And many tourism experts believe Airbnb and vacation rental properties will rebound faster than hotels over the next two years.
Tourism Recovery Is In Sight
Promising signs of recovery are all around us. For Airbnb hosts in Louisville, KY Business First, a business publication that frequently reports on the local tourism industry, recently published an article showing March 2021 is on pace to be the most lucrative month for the tourism industry since the start of the pandemic over a yer ago.
With a tourism recovery just around the corner, this is a great time to get back to basics and ensure your listing and property are ready for the onslaught of leisure and event travelers setting their sights on your city this summer. Here are our top suggestions for preparing your Airbnb property for post-pandemic success!
Tips for Airbnb Hosting Success
First appearances are important. So let's begin where it matters most - the listing.
Let's Talk About Airbnb Reviews
It's true that guests are still a little on edge about travel. Our experience hosting during the pandemic has shown that guest are not holding back when it comes to reviews. So let's start there. Take a look at the reviews you've received from March 2020 - March 2021. You may not have very many...and that's ok! But what feedback did you receive? Make a list of the positive feedback and set that to the side for later. Now make a list of the negative feedback. Sit with it for a second. Try not to focus on the guest that left the review but the actual words and what a future guest might think when they read that review. It's best to get ahead of the issue and address it with a kind and informative reply to set context and let future guests know what you are doing to remediate the issue. But if you didn't reply, that ok. We can still address these issues and move on to bigger and better things. Don't let a negative review get you down. They are a fact of hosting.
Take a breath and cleanse your system. I'm sorry I had to take you down the path or reading old reviews - but it's important to your future success. And hopefully therapeutic to remember the good ones. Funny how only the bad ones stick with us, isn't it?
Improve Your Airbnb Listing Game
Now let's spend some time on our listing itself. What do you think? And be honest. Is your description the best it can be? Did you fill our every section? Do you provide recommendations? Are your pictures amazing?
Airbnb offers some great tips to clean up your listing and attract your ideal guest. Here are a few that I think are most important:
Put your best foot forward with amazing photos! Here are some Airbnb photo tips:
Hire a professional real estate photographer. No exceptions!
Pic the BEST photo for the cover. Highlight your good side.
Select your top 5 photos first. No one wants to go through 30 pics before they see the kitchen.
Highlight AMAZING reviews with screen shots. Make sure they are seen!
Add captions. This is often overlooked! Describing what they are seeing. This will reduce the number of questions guests have about the property.
People show with their eyes, so pictures are the MOST important part of the listing, in my opinion. Here are a few more things to work on as we get our profiles post-pandemic ready!
Update your listing title, making it fun and informative.
Look for other top hosts in your areas and model your after theirs. Highlight guests favorites like: pet friends, big yard, hot tub, downtown view, etc. Periodically changing your title will also help with search rankings. The algorithm is known to give priority to profiles that change.
2. Re-write your listing.
You may not need to re-write the entire thing, but let's at least take a look at it and see if anything needs to change. Have you made any updates to the property over the past year? Many people took being homebound as a tie to make improvements to their residences and investment properties. Have any new businesses opened around you? Are you offering special deals to attract guests? Sometimes only minor improvements are needed. But make sure the COVID-specific language is removed if it no longer applies. Nothing says "I'm an engaged host" like the statement about travel restrictions and limited gatherings.
3. Adjust Pricing
If you are struggling to receive bookings your rates may be too high. Especially if you are coming off a long-term guest and haven't adjusted rates in a few months. If you want more bookings try decreasing your pricing and adding higher discounts for weeklong and monthlong stays. We are seeing an increase in longer stays since many people can now work from anywhere.
Make Your Airbnb Guest-Ready
Now that we have the admin work out of the way, let's take a look at the physical assets. Whether you've had multiple guests, long-term guests, or NO guests, a freshening up is most likely in order.
Here are my top tips for improving your Airbnb property and making it ready for busy months.
Touch Up Paint
Maybe it needs some touch up - maybe it needs a re-paint. Either way, there are areas of the house that don't weather the storm well. Between guest luggage and toddlers, the walls have been through it and could use some love. Find the gallon of paint in the basement, give it a shake, and get to work. But while you're considering the re-paint, consider adding new fun colors, and maybe an accent wall! This is the time to brush up on color trends and incorporate into your property. Oh, and don't forget the front door.
2. Clean the Windows
While the whole house is gonna need a GOOD deep clean, one area that is often overlooked are the windows. You may not clean the windows at your own house, but guests will notice dirty windows. Especially if it's been over a year since they were last cleaned. If you are short on time you can hire a local company to handle this for $250 - $300 for a mid-sized single family house. Or, you can use a product like windex outdoors that attaches to the hose. This is not the best solution, but it does the job. A bucket, dish soap, and a squeegee are always good too.
3. Get The Yard Ready with a Spring Cleanup
If you haven't already, get on your yard guy's list for a spring cleanup before all the good dates are gone. A spring cleanup should include:
- Clean the gutters
- Trim the shrubs and ornamental grasses
- Throw out any dead plants
- Remove any leaves still hanging around from fall
- Add new mulch to the beds and planting areas
Trust me - you will feel SO good about your property when this is done. I'm always the FIRST person on my street to do this because I want my guests to enjoy it for as long as possible. And they WILL notice.
4. Check Linens & Clean Overlooked Areas
This is my catch all areas for the small things that really add up. This is also an ESSENTIAL list. I highly recommend doing everything on this list that applies to your property.
- Check all linens for stains, tears, and consider just replacing them if it's been a minute.
- Wash all comforters and blankets in the house
- Replace work duvet covers
- Remove all removable furniture covers and pillow covers and wash
- Professionally clean carpets and furniture without removable covers (you can hire this out or rent or buy a professional steamer)
- Remove and wash the draperies and window coverings
- Empty, wipe down, and organize ALL kitchen cabinets and drawers
- Do an inventory of all kitchen items and replace anything that's broke or missing
- Clean out the fridge, throw out expired condiments, and add a fresh baking soda container
- Clean light fixtures and remove the dead bugs
- Clean ceiling fans and make sure they spin counterclockwise
- Undo anything you've done to winterize the property
- Run vinegar water through the coffee pot
- Make sure all small appliances and electronics are in working order
- Check the dryer line to make sure it's not full of lint and a fire hazard
- CHANGE THE HVAC AIR FILTERS
- CHANGE ALL BATTERIES (REMOTES, ELECTRONIC LOCKS, SMOKE ALARMS, ETC) - You will thank me!
- Replace light bulbs that have gone out
- Make sure all light bulbs are LED to cut down on the number that go out
- Update your guest book and instructions. Make sure your restaurant and attraction recommendations are all open for business
- Put out a new welcome mat
Take these actions and you can feel great about your Airbnb business being ready for guests during the upcoming warm months. If you have some tips you think we should include we'd love to hear from you! Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to the list!
I wish you a very happy hosting season.