So you’ve entered the short-term rental market and listed your place on a homesharing site. You’ve done the research and legwork. You’ve paid your taxes and fees. You’ve gotten additional homeshare insurance. You’ve added extra clean linens and toilet paper and shampoo, soap and conditioner. You even purchased dog toys and high chairs to appeal to all types of guests. You’ve made the investments, so why aren’t you reaping the rewards? It could just be the little things. Ask yourself a few questions and make sure you haven’t overlooked something simple. Here are the top mistakes that have easy fixes.
Your photos need work
Are your photos flattering? This is one of the most important parts of your marketing. Potential guests will scan photos first on rental sites and if it looks dingy, blurry, small, dark, or otherwise unappealing, they will move on with barely a thought. Hire a professional photographer, or a friend with an excellent camera, add some decent lighting, and you’ll be in much better shape. This is one place where it’s worth the investment to make your place shine.
Perception doesn’t match reality
Are you portraying your place honestly? While fantastic photos are important, you don’t want to go overboard. You have to be careful and set expectations. If guests arrive expecting the ocean view they saw in your photo, and that view is actually down the street and around the corner, and not from the master bedroom balcony as your photo implied, well then you have a problem. Guests won’t rate you well and that can negatively affect future bookings.
You’re only on one platform
Have you checked out all your rental marketplace options? Airbnb is one of the largest and most well-known of course, so it’s vital to be there to get the most exposure. However, on the flip side, it’s also highly competitive and crowded. Consider HomeAway, FlipKey, and VRBO to broaden your reach. It’s also worth narrowing your reach into a niche market if you can. For example, Misterbnb is for gay-friendly accommodations. Do some investigating and find the right site with the right audience that your specific place will appeal too.
You’re not available, or you’re too available
Are you as a host helpful and welcoming, encouraging repeat guests? You want to be friendly and responsive. On the other hand, if you’re hovering like a helicopter that can be annoying. Be available by text or email, but give your guests their space and privacy. Remember, while they are there, the place is theirs, not yours. When you treat guests respectfully they will give you high ratings, possibly come back again, and other guests will be more likely to book, too.
You’re priced too high
Are your rates competitive? Check out other options in your area and make sure you’re pricing isn’t out of whack. Look at nearby hotels and other short-term rentals and see where they are priced, and how your place compares. If you have special amenities that merit a slightly higher nightly rate, be sure to call out those amenities. Conversely, if your place has some challenges (not as desirable location, smaller, etc.), make sure your price reflects that, too, and come in a little bit under your competition. Additionally, if you’re new to the short-term rental marketplace, consider dropping your rate until you build up your five-star reputation.
You’re lost in the fray
Are there little extras you could be doing to encourage repeat guests? If you’re just like everyone else, and you’re not offering your guests an experience that is special in any way, they might just forget about you, or decide to try something new next time. Try to think about what you can do that would make their stay memorable. Free breakfast? Paper delivery? Something personal and relevant to you or the neighborhood? Think about what makes your home special to you and deliver that experience to your guests. That way, they’ll remember you, recommend you, and come back for more.
You’re not engaged
Are you paying attention to your ratings, and rating guests in return? Engaging in the community goes a long way for sure. The entire premise of homesharing relies on a certain level of trust. You’re opening your personal residence to strangers, so you’re trusting they will take care of your home. And when they do, let the world know so they can go on to be perfect guests somewhere else. In turn, they will give you high marks if you meet or exceed their expectations, paving the way for you to get repeat guests, more guests, more high ratings, and eventually you could even charge more if you reach what Airbnb calls “Superhost” status. In the end, this is a community, and if you’re going to be a part of it, then be a part of it! It certainly is a wonderful community to be part of.