Simple Guidelines To Writing a Foolproof Airbnb House Manual

House Rules

Picture this.  You’re on vacation, lounging on the beach.  This vacation is even more special because you rented out your place back home and the Airbnb money is virtually covering all of your expenses.  Not a worry in the world…until.  Your phone starts buzzing with texts, e-mails, and notifications from your guests asking all sorts of questions.

“What time is check-out?”
“Where can I find good sushi in the neighborhood?”
“How do I defrost something in the microwave?”

Our friends over at Superhost have a phenomenal cartoon illustrating this on their blog, I highly suggest you check it out.  Don’t let these questions derail your relaxing vacation!  Follow my guidelines to write a bulletproof house manual that answers ALL possible questions your guests may have.

1.  Be Redundant With The Basics
I’ve learned that you can never list the basic rules of your house enough times.  Yes, Airbnb has areas to fill these in on your listing page but it never hurts to reiterate.  I can’t tell you how many times people have asked for directions to my place when I’ve given explicit directions in the “directions” section of the listing.  People just don’t always take the time to read things that they should.  So I’ll include directions in my house manual along with things like check-in/checkout times, etc.  These should all be things that the guest receives in the booking confirmation email from Airbnb, but you can’t trust that they’ll actually read that!

2.  Create a Verbal Walk-Through of Your Place
Masters of memorization like to create something called a “memory palace.”  This notion was first introduced to me in Joshua Foer’s book “Walking With Einstein.”  The idea is simple.  In order to remember complex sequences of anything, you should anchor each item to a location or room in your house or another space you know intimately well.  Now when you think of this place you should also make the connection to the item you were trying to remember.  For our purposes, just picture someone entering your place for the first time and think of all the possible questions they could have from pulling into the driveway to operating the dryer in the basement.  Try your best to anticipate any issue your guest may have as they walk through your space.

3.  Cover Emergency Procedures
We all hope that there are never any emergencies when renting our space, but it could happen.  Guests like having the peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of if something unforeseen happens.  Of course it’s up to you to decide what qualifies as an actual emergency.  You should always write a few sentences about where the fire extinguishers are located just in case they’re needed.  Just recently Airbnb announced an initiative to get all hosts in the US up and running with free smoke detectors, CO2 monitors, and safety cards.  These safety cards in particular will come in handy when writing your house manual.  Be sure to leave them with all possible names and phone numbers that could assist in an emergency.  While it may seem like you’re being responsible if your mobile number is the one point of contact for everything, you won’t be much help if you’re on the other side of the world and the place is on fire.  As serious as these matters are,  I like to keep the tone light when talking about emergency situations.  No one wants to dampen their vacations with thoughts of doom and gloom, as long as the pertinent info is there, feel free to throw in a joke or two.  Which ties in nicely to our next guideline:

4.  Use Your Real Voice
Yes, you can make jokes in the house manual, in fact I encourage it!  Let the guests know what kind of person you are by the tone you use in the manual.  In some instances, the manual may be the only contact they have with you if you’re traveling or not staying on the premises during their stay.  No one wants to sift through endless drivel just trying to find the phone number for your next door neighbor to help let them in.  Make sure you keep the information organized in concise paragraphs or bullet points, but it should still sound like it came from you rather than a robot.  People stay at Airbnb listings in order to get that unique human touch that they may not get at a hotel.  Your house manual shouldn’t sound like the text posted on the back of a hotel door.

5.  Add Links
I like to create my house manual as a PDF document.  The beauty here is that you can include relevant links to things like your favorite restaurant or illustration of which buttons to press on the washing machine.  I wouldn’t go too heavy on links because not all guests will be looking at digital versions, but many of them will have it pulled up on their phone or tablet, and links add another level of depth to make things easy to understand.  Colorful hyperlinks, even to funny YouTube videos or non-essential info, help break up the monotony of the text and add more personality to your guide.

6.  Print Multiple Copies
As I just eluded to, some guests may prefer to always have paper print outs of your house manual.  While many aspects of Airbnb are inherently digital, hard paper copies are never a bad idea.  Once you have everything squared away in the digital version, I suggest printing at least 3 copies on paper.  With multiple copies you can leave them around in different parts of your house for guests to peruse whenever needed.  This also has you covered if international guests come to town without mobile phone service or other instances when a digital PDF won’t work.  Another bonus is that gusts may add handwritten notes and mark-ups to the paper versions that will come in handy for future guests.

7.  No Detail is Too Small
It’s never a bad idea to read over your house manual multiple times.  Pass it on to friends who know your apartment and could add anything you may have missed.  Creating a guide to a place you live in everyday is one of the most difficult things to do.  Most things in your space become second nature to you, but maybe they aren’t that intuitive to the average guest.  You can never have too much information in a house manual.  Although I will say that sometimes it could end up being more difficult to read and you may want to create a table of contents or clearly split things up into digestible parts.  While a lot of the work here can be covered in one solid afternoon of writing and brainstorming, the house manual should be a living document that evolves over time.  The goal is to invest the time upfront so that you have less work to do when actual guests are staying.

Have I missed anything?  What have been the most important inclusions in your House Manual?  Keep the conversation going in the comments or on twitter @darebnb

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/advertisingelyse/4764489661/

Posted in Automation & Efficiency Tagged with: ,

7 Things You Must Have in Your Airbnb Guidebook

Guidebook

If you’re not aware, Airbnb lets you create a guidebook for people to see when they book a reservation at your place.  What is a guidebook you ask?  Airbnb refers to a guidebook as “a collection of recommended places near your listing.”  You’re able to place pins on a map and write short descriptions of your favorite neighborhood spots across several categories.

Here is the DareBNB definitive guide to 7 things you must have in your Airbnb Guidebook:

1.  Grocery Store/Corner Store

No matter how much you’ve done to prep your place for guests, they’re still going to want to buy some of their favorite amenities.  This may go without saying, but proximity to groceries is vital for guests.  Be sure to mark down the closest large grocery store chain as a place that is most likely to have what your guests need.  Depending on where you live you may also want to include the nearest health or specialty store in addition to the closest bodega or corner store for any last minute needs.

2.  Your Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant

Sure, Airbnb guests can just check Yelp or do a Google search for nearby restaurants, but they want to hear this from you!  A recommendation from a real human becomes so much more valuable than going where a search engine tells you to go.  But don’t go listing each and every restaurant in your area.  Be selective and write descriptions that really illustrate what kind of experience your guest will be getting.  For example, is one spot good for romantic dinners, while another spot is good for casual brunch with a group?

3.  Best Coffee Shop

In my experiences as a host, Airbnb guests love coffee!  A fundamental element of the BNB model is having breakfast items on hand for your guests.  While Airbnb does not require you to provide breakfast for your guests, you may still have things like coffee and tea on hand.  But even if you do, many people want to get out a sample the local offerings as well.  If you live in a large city such as San Francisco, the best coffee shop is a real point of contention.  Give your honest opinion and urge people to give it a shot and share their feelings about it afterward.  With regular feedback you’ll be able to gauge the popular sentiment about a location and possibly change your recommendations if needed.

4.  Nearby Park or Green Space

It may depend on the climate or time of year that a guest is visiting but most people will want to get some fresh air and enjoy nature when traveling.  If your spot is located in an obvious outdoor destination (beach, ski mountain, etc.) this may not be necessary.  But if you’re in a city or densely populated area where green space isn’t obvious this is very important.  Any public city park, beach, trail, playground, etc. should be listed in your guidebook.

5.  Main Transportation Hub or Bus Stop

We’ve talked about how important it is to write a good description of your place.  One of the most important aspects of this description is your location regarding public transportation.  In many cities, your guests won’t want to worry about having a car and finding a place to park it.  Be sure to call out your proximity to public transportation in your guidebook as well.  Mark down the nearest bus or train stop.  Where applicable you’ll want to note the nearest train hub or rail line.  It may seem obvious, but in some cases you’ll want to mark down the nearest airport, especially if there are several in the area.

There you have it, five things you must have in your Airbnb guidebook!  Did I miss anything?  What do you have in your guidebook?  Let me know in the comments below or keep the conversation going on Twitter @darebnb.

Photo Credit: http://www.scribd.com/doc/92765471/Airbnb-Bests-San-Francisco

Posted in Advanced Listing Techniques, Building Your Profile Tagged with: ,

5 Important Questions to Ask When Setting Minimum and Maximum Stay Limits on Airbnb

MinimumMaximum

When bringing someone into your home on Airbnb you want to make sure to set expectations, especially on the duration of their stay.  Here are 5 important things to consider when setting minimum and maximum stay limits on your Airbnb listing.

1.  Is one night enough?

People travel for all different reasons.  Some people always go on week long vacations, some travel only over long weekends, while others may go to a city to work for a month.

You need to ask yourself if people are likely to stay at your place for only one night.  To be on the safe side you can always leave the minimum stay at one night and see what the response is.  If you realize that people never want to stay for only a night, you can always set the minimum stay at two nights or more.

2.  Do you have help for back-to-back stays?

Well what happens when you’re out of town for a week renting out your place while you’re gone?  Say that you get one person who wants to stay Monday and Tuesday night.  Then another guest requests to stay Wednesday night and Thursday night.  Now you’re in a jam and need someone to enter the place to clean and prepare it for the second guest at some point on Wednesday.

Of course this may not be a problem if you have a neighbor or friend who can help you out.  Or you could use a convenient cleaning/guest greeting service like Urban Bellhop or Proprly.  But if these neither of these solutions sound appealing to you, then this is the perfect example where you should set a minimum stay of at least three or four nights while you’re gone in order to maximize profit.

3.  Should you cut a deal for longer stays?

Airbnb offers lots of pricing options including dynamic daily pricing that you can manually set, special weekend pricing or weekly and monthly rates.  In some cases it may make sense to offer potential guests a discounted rate if they are staying for an extended period of time.  Say your place is priced at six nights for the price of seven nights while your competition isn’t.  This could be the small advantage to help you land that guest who is indecisive.

4.  How much cleaning is needed for each stay?

If your place has several bedrooms and requires a lot of cleaning and laundry, you may reconsider allowing guests to only stay for one night.  Whether a guest sleeps in bedding for one night or seven nights, you or your cleaning crew will still need to spend the same amount of time washing them.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with laundry over one and two night stays you may want to try setting a longer minimum stay requirement.  That way you can spend less time on laundry and guests can spend more time being comfortable in your space!

5.  What is the seasonality of your location?

All locations have different desirability depending on the time of year.  For example, ski towns in Utah or Colorado will typically have much greater demand in the Winter.  Beach destinations will obviously see spikes in the Summer months.  As a host, you need to be aware of this data and set your minimum and maximum stays accordingly.

In seasons where demand is waning you can remove the minimum stay requirement to get as many guests as possible.  But when the season is busy and guests are plentiful, you should really consider lengthening the minimum stay requirements in order to cut down on extra cleaning and turnover and maximize the experience of each guest.

Make sure you have answers to all of these questions in order to get the most out of maximum and minimum stays for your listing!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthijs/82616861/

Posted in Advanced Listing Techniques Tagged with: ,

How To Respond To Negative Reviews and Look Like a Pro on Airbnb

Responding To Negative Reviews

Let’s face it, no matter how good of an Airbnb host you become, it is impossible to keep everyone happy. You are bound to have at least one guest find something that they don’t love about your place. And there is really nothing wrong with that! The beauty of a service like Airbnb is that there are thousands of eclectic listings to fit all types of travelers. Sometimes your place may just not be a good match for a guest and their experience is less than ideal.

What’s important is how you respond to negative (and hopefully constructive) criticism from your guests. Airbnb has a great review system that allows for guests to leave public reviews as well as messages that are only seen by the host. This leaves the opportunity for guests to privately provide you with information to improve the stays of future guests. This also gives you the opportunity to respond to specific public criticisms that are visible in the reviews section of your listing.

So how should you do this? It’s important to address specific criticisms head-on. A review says your place was too noisy? Stand up for yourself and say this was because of construction on the building that week. The microwave wasn’t spotless? Mention that you used a new cleaning service that wasn’t properly prepped. Communication like this is to key to the collaborative consumption model that Airbnb has hung its hat on. Negative reviews are not a good thing, but seeing a reasonable rebuttal from the host can surely limit the damage.

Another potentially negative blemish on your listing could be the cancellation of a stay. No host wants to cancel on a prospective guest, but these things happen. Of course you want to do everything in your power to avoid canceling a reservation, but once it has been done there are measures to take to put a positive spin on things. First and foremost should be the status of your guest. Do all you can to help them find a comparable Airbnb listing to stay at or use Airbnb customer support to facilitate the transfer of their payment to another listing.

Once this has been resolved you will see an automated review on your page saying “The Reservation was cancelled x days before arrival. This is an automated posting.” You now have the opportunity to respond to that like any other review. It’s important to be swift and honest in your reply. Here’s an example that I came across in my own experiences:

 Response: I was so upset to have to cancel —–‘s reservation. It was my first and hopefully last cancellation. —–‘s reservation was made several months in advance, and unfortunately my living situation changed and made it no longer possible to host her in September. —— was very understanding of the situation and I offered to do anything in my power to help her find a new place to stay. Rest assured that this was an isolated incident and I take the Airbnb reservation policy very seriously as both a guest and a host.

There you go, that sums it up nicely and most potential guests will respect your prompt handling of the matter. While cancellations can still hurt your standing in Airbnb’s search algorithm, a quality cancellation response will encourage new guests that this was an isolated incident that should have no baring on their stay.

Hopefully you’re now better equipped for any negative comments or cancellations that may come your way. Let me know in the comments below what your experiences have been.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missnita/2086268311/

Posted in The Power of Reviews Tagged with: ,

How To Get Positive Reviews on Airbnb

Positive

We’ve already talked about some of the most important factors when creating a successful Airbnb Listing.  Yes you need top notch photos and a killer description.  But even after you have these things in place, how do you properly execute to be sure your guest has a wonderful time and leaves a positive review?  Here are 5 easy things you can do.

1. Create a CheckList
When you’re getting ready for an Airbnb guest to arrive you probably have a million things running through your head.  Now is the time to create a checklist in order to stay organized!  Do you have extra toilet paper?  Have you vacuumed underneath the couch?  Perhaps these things will be taken care of by a service like Urban Bellhop or Proprly, but if not you better be on top of it.  Make a list of all of the possible things that your guest could be concerned about and then check them off one by one.  This may take some initial work upfront, but once you have a comprehensive list, future guests will be a breeze!

2. Be SUPER Friendly 
We’ve discussed how important it is to be timely with your responses but you also want to be extremely polite and courteous.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes we get in the habit of short, curt responses especially if we’re using mobile devices.  Guests will appreciate complete sentences!  No, you don’t need to sound cloyingly sweet or artificial, but you should act as if this person is a customer that you are going out of your way to impress.  The informal nature of Airbnb is one of the things that makes it so great, but remember that you’re offering a service and you should keep things professional and polite at all times.

3. Leave a Little Something Extra
Everyone loves surprises, your Airbnb guest is no different.  They have seen the pictures of your place and they know what to expect to a certain degree.  An unexpected gift could make all the difference when “wowing” them upon entry.  A simple bottle of wine or 6 pack of beer in the fridge is a nice touch.  Maybe a nice gift basket with fruit or cereals for the morning.  If your guest is a coffee fan you could set up the finest grounds for them to use when they arrive.  It doesn’t have to be much, but anything that goes above and beyond what they were expecting will help you get that positive review.

4. Check-in 
It’s always important to strike a balance between being available for your guest and respecting their privacy.  Depending on the layout of your listing you may or may not be there in person to help.  Why not send a friendly message to check-in with them during their stay?  Ask if their travel went smoothly.  If you know the weather is warm why not send them a quick text recommending your favorite ice cream shop?  No need to bother them or ask too many questions, if they have issues they will likely contact you first.  But there is something to be said about a host who wants to make sure a guest’s trip is going as planned.  Wouldn’t you be concerned if you stayed at a hotel and no one asked you how your stay was going?  This little hospitality trick will come in handy.

5. Personalized Notes 
One of the big reasons why people choose to stay in an Airbnb unit as opposed to a hotel is the personalized feel and experience they get.  You can do some easy things to take this experience even further.  Do some research on your guests before they arrive.  No, you shouldn’t be stalking all of their online information but maybe they mentioned they were coming to town to run a marathon or attend a conference.  Any insight into why they’re traveling or what kind of person they are can help you make their stay more unique.  Handwritten notes left around the house can make them feel more at home and communicate that you’re invested in making their stay memorable.  I’ve personally used an IdeaPaint white board wall to leave personalized messages for guests upon their arrival.  On top of that, you can also use a space like this for guests to leave their opinions and messages for you to see when you return.  Snapping photos of this positive feedback can go a long way to gaining future guests!

Follow these tips and the positive reviews will come pouring in!  Any ideas that have worked for you that I may have missed?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wavy1/3057284879

Posted in The Power of Reviews Tagged with: ,

5 Tips To Rent Your Apartment as The Ultimate Super Bowl Pad!

Living Room TV

In honor of the big game this weekend, I thought we’d take a break from our typical posts and have some fun.  Everyone loves a great Super Bowl party.  Lots of people are traveling for the game or for ski weekends, etc.  There are people out there who are looking to rent an Airbnb listing to throw a Super Bowl party.  So what does it take to get your listing in front of some anxious football fans?

#5 – Hype Your Location Next to Grocery Stores
Do you have a corner store just a few doors down from you?  5 minutes away from Whole Foods?  10 minutes to Costco?  These are all highlights of what makes your place the perfect location for the big game.  You may take it for granted that you have access to these amenities in such close proximity, but your guests will love it when they forget their favorite ingredient in the 7 Layer Dip!

#4 – Highlight Your Seating Area and Capacity To Accommodate Fans
Yes, you have photos of your living room on your listing, but now is the time to elaborate on how well your place can accommodate guests.  Maybe you have a flexible seating configuration that can be moved around to hold more guests.  Talk about your favorite arm chair and all the games you’ve watched while sitting in it.  The point is that you want your potential guests to see themselves relaxing in your space to enjoy the game.

#3 – Mention Your Gourmet Kitchen For Half Time Snacks
So your guests have easy access to the grocery store, what are they going to do when they get home?  Does your kitchen have a deep fryer for making wings?  Do you have a state of the art refrigerator to keep all those drinks cold?  Whatever it is that makes your kitchen special, you need to let people know.  Potential chefs and average cooks need to know these things.  Think it’s not important?  I’ve had several guests explicitly ask me about specific kitchen amenities before booking

#2 – Ease of parking for Guests To Arrive
Parking and transportation should always be a key part of your listing.  You need to let your potential guests know exactly how easy (or challenging) it is to arrive at your place and maybe park their vehicle as well.  Be honest here, if your neighborhood has no parking just mention how lovely the public transportation is.  If you have a large driveway, say exactly how many vehicles can fit there based on your experience.  And if you do have a policy of not allowing additional guests, now would also be the time to mention that.

#1 – You Have an Amazing TV and Sound System
Let’s face it, the TV setup is the pinnacle of the Super Bowl viewing experience right?  You should have an accurate explanation of your home entertainment system at all times, but it’s especially important if you’re renting out during the super bowl.  List off all the specs.  Do you even have a TV? (I know lots of people who don’t and have rented places without them)  How big?  HD?  3D?  Surround sound?  The more info you have to share, the better.  Is there a DVR to pause and rewind the game?  Can they connect to Netflix after the game ends?  Whether or not you’re an audiophile or tech person, you should be aware that some guests are looking for this information.  When choosing between a listing that just says “42-inch TV” or “42-inch 1080p HD Smart TV with 3D Capabilities and Roku” which one are people going to pick?

Hope that helps get you in the mood for the big game this weekend.  Still a few more days to rent out your place, follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dharma_for_one/8442492413

Posted in Promoting Your Listing, Special Occassions Tagged with: ,

How Airbnb’s Hospitality Standards Can Make You A Better Host

Hospitality Standards

Airbnb has made no secret that it’s setting out to challenge the conventional hospitality standards.  While no one is going to confuse your Airbnb listing with a room at the Hilton, certain best practices of the hotel industry can be directly applied to your listing.

In September of 2013, Airbnb hired founder of Joie de Vivre hotels Chip Conley to be their new “Head of Hospitality”  This title main sound vague and it seems to be intentionally so.  Conley is tasked to transition Airbnb to another level of hospitality in order to legitimize the service and standardize certain practices for a more uniform experience.

One of Conley’s first duties was to create a list of standards for Airbnb hosts to abide by in order to improve the experience for the guests.  These standards include:

-Accuracy – Is your listing what you say it is?
-Communication – Are you available and clear with messaging?
-Availability – Is your place available when you say so?
-Commitment – Are you committed to your guest?
-Cleanliness – Is your place clean?
-Amenities – Have you outlined the amenities your guest will receive?
-Welcome – Have you ensured a pleasant first impression and welcome to your space?
-Support – Are you there if your guest needs you?
-Reviews – Have you left an honest review of your guest?

Airbnb has done a fine job of illustrating these standards on their site so I’ll refrain from going any further into detail.  The point is that they’ve given hosts a blueprint to follow in order to become a successful host.  These standards were based on deep research and data that the company has compiled over the years.  While Darebnb tries to help new and potential hosts learn more about the service and its possibilities, these standards become perfect supplemental information.

Not to worry, over the coming months we’ll be diving deeper into some of these standards.  While this may sound intimidating, the end goal is always to provide your guest with a positive and memorable experience.  A combination of success with these standards will help you get there.  From the viewpoint of the host, we’ll next take a look at how to ensure that these standards result in more positive reviews, which result in more booking, which result in more income!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rishibiswas/3455512306/

Posted in The Power of Reviews Tagged with: , ,

How To Get The All Important First Review On Airbnb

First Review

People often ask me questions about getting started as an Airbnb host.  Sometimes the most difficult part of getting started is getting that all important first review.  Positive reviews will obviously lead to more bookings, but what does it take to get that initial review when starting from scratch?

Even if you have the best description and stellar photos it can sometimes be intimidating for potential renters if you don’t have any reviews yet.  Let’s face it, people are more likely to try your place if they can read first hand accounts of how wonderful it is.  You need to do everything in your power to get that positive first review.  Let’s look at how to do it.

When you have no reviews on your listing you are at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other listings in your area.  These other listings have all been vetted for, potential guests feel a sense of security.  In order to overcome this on your listing you need to compensate in another area.

Pricing is a vital component of any good listing, and now is the time to use it to your advantage.  In order to get that first review you may need to significantly lower your nightly rate.  Starting off slightly below the neighborhood average will help you stand out as a viable option despite your lack of reviews.  Don’t worry, you can always raise your rates later, but right now a positive review will be far more valuable to you than the money you’re trimming off the asking price.

You should always be comfortable with the guests staying at your place, but now is the time to broaden your horizons!  First time hosts need not be as discriminatory as established hosts.  Getting that first guest in the door should be your priority, so give someone a chance and don’t play favorites.

Once you have your first guest booked you need to do everything in your power to make their stay exceptional.  While every booking should be treated this way, your initial guest is even more important.  Go the extra mile!  Confirm check-in and check-out times, make sure the space is impeccably clean, leave something special like a bottle of wine or gift basket.  Do your research on the guest and suggest potential activities that might strike their interests.  Whatever you do, just be in tune with their needs and try to anticipate anything they may want to enhance their stay.  Hospitality is the name of the game.

It may seem daunting when you’re faced with a profile with no reviews, but rest assured that if you follow these rules you’ll be swimming in positive reviews in no time.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginable/111412432/

Posted in The Power of Reviews Tagged with: ,

5 Extra Clever Ways To Get Your Airbnb Listing Seen

Extra Clever

Even if you’ve done everything right when setting up your listing, it never hurts to go the extra mile to ensure that it’s being seen by the right people.  Sometimes it’s the little creative things you do that help your listing stand apart from the others.  Here are 5 extra clever ways to get your listing seen by potential guests.

1.  Create a Unique URL

When sharing content online, we’ve become trained to create special trackable and shortened URLs that fit nicely within character limits and just look cleaner to the eye.  Sure you could create a shortened bit.ly link to track the number of clicks your listing is getting when you share it via social media but why not take the extra step and create its own unique vanity URL.  Let’s look at an example that I created.  My apartment lies in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Therefore I went to a domain registry site (I used Domain.com, but HostGator or GoDaddy are also viable options) and registered the URL www.missionapartment.com.  Once I owned that domain name I was able to setup a redirect in order to forward the URL to my standard Airbnb listing page.  Super easy, takes no more than 15 minutes!  Now you have a clean URL that you can share with people rather than the long complicated www.airbnb.com/123456 that you had before!

2.  Create Business Cards or Physical Flyers

Now that you have a unique URL for your listing you can share this wherever you’d like.  One clever way to get the listing seen is to print it up on business cards.  Many services like VistaPrint even offer free business cards.  These could be as simple as the URL, maybe your phone number, and a line from your description to entice visitors.  What you do with these is up to you, but you could pass them out to friends, take them to meet ups or conferences where this it potential to meet out-of-town visitors.  Use your imagination and come up with clever places for your cards to be seen.  You may also want to take this a step further and print flyers, postcards, or other materials to promote your space.

3.  Be Active In Airbnb Groups

Airbnb has launched its “Groups” feature as a way for fellow hosts to communicate on a variety of issues.  While there are many benefits to this, we’ll stick to the topic at hand.  By communication with fellow hosts you establish a sense of credibility.  If a neighborhood host has multiple bookings or can’t meet the demand, they may look to you to help.  By being active in the community you generate more awareness of how wonderful your space is, and the more likely you are to garner interest from group members.

4.  Talk about it in Real Life

Because so much of the Airbnb experience happens online, we often forget how powerful face-to-face communication can be.  I’ve always spoken about my Airbnb hosting experiences with pride.  When family or friends ask that dreaded question “what’s new?” be ready to share some tidbits about your latest hosting experience!  In many cases, the person may not have ever heard about Airbnb and will be eager to learn more.  By making this connection you’re creating the possibility that this person will share this with their friends, and at some point one of these conversations may lead to a new booking!

5.  Ask Guests To Tell Their Friends

The review process is vital to your success on Airbnb but some guests may be willing to take things a step further.  When leaving a review of your guest you have the option of leaving a message solely for them to see.  This is a wonderful opportunity!  Yes you should give them the sincere praise for being a good guest, but now is also the time to extend an open invitation.  Tell them that they are welcome back at your place at any time.  And even better, tell them to share their experiences with any friends who may need a place to stay in your city.  You’d be surprised at how powerful an in-person review by a close friend can really be.

These are just a few of the more creative ways to get your listing seen.  Any others that have worked for you?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21560098@N06/6700017521/

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Hack The Airbnb Search Algorithm With Calendar Updates

Calendar update

As a good host, you want your potential guests to see an accurate window into your availability when they are searching.  Airbnb uses an algorithm to determine which of these listing will be shown first, and having an updated calendar is a great way to improve your chances.  It’s frustrating for both parties if a guest sends an inquiry for a date that turns out to be unavailable.  Therefore, it is extremely important to update your calendar on a regular (even daily if possible) basis!

Airbnb makes this easy to do and you’ll see a link to update your calendar from your listing page.  We’ll get into more calendar-specific pricing updates in a later post, but for now let’s just focus on the importance of accurate availability.  The booking system on Airbnb is founded on the idea of trust between hosts and guests. Guests trust that if your calendar says your listing is available, it better actually be available.

Obviously every listing will have a different sense of availability.  Some people renting their primary residence may only make the place available over holidays or weekends when they know they’ll be out of town.  For people renting a second home or vacation property, the dates may be available closer to 100% of the time.  Either way it’s just important to keep this calendar accurate so there are no surprises during the reservation inquiry process.

When viewing a listing page, you’ll notice an area in the right margin that indicates the last time your calendar was updated.  People have a clear glimpse into how dedicated you are to your listing, and how diligently you update its availability.  So remember to think twice when updating your calendar.  Be sure that it is an accurate representation of when you want your place to be rented.  And it never hurts to go in and click that “my calendar is up-to-date” button if you’re looking to rise in the all important ranks of Airbnb search results.  Follow this advice and you’ll hack your way to the top of the search page!

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/h_is_for_home/3687392107/

Posted in Promoting Your Listing Tagged with: