When Airbnb was founded back in 2008, the idea was that people could open “air mattress bed-and-breakfasts” in their homes to make a little extra money, and the site would connect them to travelers with just a few basic needs. How things can change in a decade. Today Airbnb’s offerings include mansions and castles and cool urban lofts all over the world, and its users have become highly discerning in their tastes.
In other words, competition is stiff. If you’re considering listing your second home on the site, what’s the best way to attract guests? These days a five-star user rating is almost a requirement, but don’t despair: There are things you can do to get one.
Here are a few expert tips to make your Airbnb stand out from the rest:
Know your niche
Hotel rooms are standard-issue, but Airbnbs run the gamut. You’ll need to grab potential guests’ attention to get booked. Show off your personality, and the place where your rental property is located, through one-of-a-kind design and site-specific touches. That can mean anything from chic furniture to a fridge stocked with local beer.
A photo is worth a thousand dollars
Professional photos of a pristinely clean abode are key to catching travelers’ eyes when they’re scrolling through endless options on their phone. If those pictures don’t grab the person, they are unlikely to hold them all the way to booking.
A local location is key
People want to experience the city as a local. If a traveler is visiting Houston, they want to go to the East End, they want to go to the Heights and Oak Forest. The same rule applies to other destinations. Guests appreciate recommendations for the best java or cocktails in a given ’hood—or at least a stack of local mags on the coffee table (hint, hint). Investing in a less saturated area can also make business sense. Understand your value: if you’re in a crowded space, your rates have to be competitive.
You may think that your current property space is limiting what you are able to offer but consider ways to increase value and booking options without requiring major renovations. For example, consider adding a Murphy bed or two in rooms that you don’t currently offer as bedrooms! A home office space or den can easily become that extra sleeping area that you wish you could offer.
Crunch the numbers
If you want to make a profit, treat the endeavor like a business. Estimate monthly costs down to a T—this means tissues, toothpaste, detergent. All of that needs to be on paper so you know what’s really going to be your overall cost. Some hosts create separate bank accounts for their properties; many analyze neighborhood trends, occupancy rates, and listing prices on AirDNA.co, a website that collects data on vacation rentals.
Talk to people!
You have to be a responsive host, and the Airbnb app needs to be tied to your phone. It makes guests feel more comfortable. And hosts should—at a minimum—give their neighbors a heads-up that strangers will be coming in and out of the area. Be a good steward to your community. You want to bring everybody into the process rather than surprising the neighbors with it.