19+ Vacation Rental & Airbnb Hosting Tips
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Many people leave money on the table when they enter the short-term rental market. Some don’t understand that pricing is flexible, not a static rate while others may think they’re saving money on inexpensive furnishings and linens but are really wasting money because the items have to be replaced and they lose repeat guests.
Here are Our Vacation Rental & Airbnb Hosting Tips:
- Use a Airbnb Smart Pricing / Calendar Tool
- Keep Your Airbnb Guest-Friendly and Clutter-Free
- Pay Your Cleaner a Contracted Rate
- Make Your Own Repairs
- Charge Guests for Damage
- Landscape Wisely
- Don’t Provide an Expensive Breakfast
- Offer a Grocery Service
- Offer an Airbnb Experience for Guests
- Use Sturdy Furnishings
- Provide an Amazing Bed
- Update any Living or Communal Areas
- Add More Beds to Increase View Count
- Update and Maintain Your Listing
- Add More Photos to Your Listing
- Attract More Listing Views with a Great Title
- Embrace and Highlight Your Reviews
- Review Your Airbnb Data / Metrics
- Review Your Occupancy Rate
Below you’ll find many great tips for maximizing your income while, at the same time, ensuring that your guests have a positive experience.
How to Use Great Profit Maximizing Tools
There are many online tools that can help you maximize you boost your income, maximizing your profit for your Airbnb. Some are only available regionally while others can be used anywhere in the world to streamline the business aspect of your investment.
Use an Airbnb Smart Pricing and Calendar Tool
A pricing tool is a program that helps track how much money you should charge per night based on historical data and current hotel and rental prices around you. This service can greatly increase your rental income potential as well as reduce the number of nights your investment stands empty. Below are three of the most well-reviewed pricing tools.
- Wheelhouse helps you consolidate listings, apply dynamic pricing, and create business strategies.
- Beyond Pricing is an easy to use platform. You enter your property’s account information, the platform recommends prices and you turn on automatic pricing.
- PriceLabs provides a dynamic pricing model that syncs to your Airbnb or short term rental account. It gives you daily updates and many customization options.
Superhost Tip: Use more than one booking service. Airbnb is a booking service, but so is VRBO or Flip Key. It’s easy to use more than one service but it’s hard to keep track of the different listings and calendars. Pricing tools help you sync all your accounts.
How to Maintain your Airbnb with an Eye on Profit
People who book an Airbnb rental are taking a chance. The property could look just like the photo and be part of a dream vacation or they can be demanding a refund for part or all of their stay. I stayed at an Airbnb yurt that looked charming in the photos but when I arrived I had to wade through a garbage-strewn yard to get to the yurt which stood in a field full of marijuana plants! The pretty string lights and beautiful bedding were still there, but we felt cheated and asked for a refund.
Keep your rental guest friendly and clutter-free. This can be difficult when you live full time in a rental but it is important if you want your guest to feel comfortable and come back.
- Pick up all personal items. I can’t stress this enough. A guest doesn’t want to look at a picture of your kids before they go to sleep.
- Do NOT rent your house if it has debris or garbage in or around it! It’s amazing how many people rent out a junkyard.
- Do your best to make your home accessible as possible. ADA accessible rentals can be hard to come by.
Clean Your Own Rental Space
Handling the work associated with a short-term rental yourself can add up to big savings as long as you have the time and skills to do an excellent job. A clean rental is always important and doing it yourself can ensure it’s done right. Here are my best tips:
- Bring in all fresh towels and linens, extra toilet paper, and toiletries with you. I keep mind stacked neatly in a clean laundry basket that I then throw the dirty linens in.
- Clean from the back of the space to the front, consolidating trash and laundry as you go.
- Use a consistent “fresh” scent in your cleaning fluids. If you use a floral product in one room and then something minty in the bathroom, the scents can clash and become unpleasant. I personally prefer a light lemon scent to my rentals.
- Keep new garbage can liners looped over the rim of the can, under the current bag. This makes changing the liner easy and many guests will see the extra liners and take out the trash themselves.
- Clean each room from the top down, saving the floors for last.
- Use a scent-free detergent on linens. A surprising number of people are allergic to scented detergents and fabric softeners.
If You Use a Airbnb Housekeeper or Cleaning Service, Offer to Pay a Contracted Rate Per Rental
Housekeepers can become expensive but if you include the cleaning fee in the Airbnb contract and keep a housekeeper on a contract rather than use an hourly service, then the rate will be consistent and covered through the cleaning fee. Here are a few more tips when working with contracted service providers.
- Whenever you have a new housekeeper, make sure you take the time to train them. This takes time but show’s them what your expectations are and how to fulfill them.
- Be generous. When your housekeeper or gardener has a larger job than usual to do, pay accordingly. If the space was left outrageously filthy, you can offer a gratuity to your housekeeper and claim that gratuity as part of the damage deposit.
- Don’t ask them to do work outside the scope of their job without offering additional compensation. People should never be expected to give away their labor for free.
Make Your Own Repairs
Many basic repair jobs can be safely learned in seconds using YouTube videos. I’ve replaced my own outlets, installed lighting, done basic plumbing, and repaired holes in drywall.
- Make sure you know how to do repairs safely. Use safety equipment and educate yourself in hazards of any work that you’re doing.
- Always turn off water and electricity to the entire house before attempting any electric or plumbing repair.
- Remember that in most places, any movement of electric or plumbing lines or structural changes need to be permitted.
- Know where your load bearing walls are and don’t structurally change them without guidance from a licensed contractor.
- When in doubt – hire it out!
Charge Your Airbnb Guests for Damage
Some Airbnb rental owners are afraid of charging guests for damage done to the rental. Be fair, but don’t allow a guest to spill nail polish on the couch without paying to fix the issue.
- Document the damage well before putting in the claim. I take pictures of every angle of the damaged item and forward them to Airbnb. Make sure to follow Airbnb’s guidelines for submitting a claim, as they will quickly deny you compensation if you haven’t followed the rules.
- Keep updated pictures of the rental so you can produce a “before” picture if necessary. Keep copies of all receipts for everything purchased for your Airbnb.
- You may also need a police report for some instances.
- Airbnb provides step by step instructions in dealing with any damage. You can learn more about Airbnb and damage here.
Landscaping can be quite expensive. Grass elevates your water bill and garden beds require constant weeding and attention. Any landscaping left to weeds gives a poor first impression. Here are some inexpensive landscaping tips that create an impact.
- Use xeriscape techniques including the use of native plants and trees.
- Plant drought resistant plantings that require less water.
- Use a drip system on a timer for all your landscaping efforts.
- Create interest through the use of bark, gravel, and pavers over weed blocking landscaping fabric to create usable outdoor spaces that require little maintenance.
- Consider creating an outdoor space for your guests. A hot tub or fire pit is extremely desirable for most guests and even a grill and picnic table can be an attractive feature.
Superhost Tip: Use planters and hanging baskets of colorful plants and flowers to give a dynamic and pleasing outdoor experience, just make sure the plants have access to an automatic watering or drip system and are very well maintained.
What Services You Should Provide and What Services Should You Skip
Providing additional services to your guests can be an excellent way to give them added value to their rental and a way to boost your income. Any free services, however, should be simplified or provided on request. Below are tips on the extras you can provide for your guest.
Don’t Provide an Expensive Breakfast
We used to bake homemade muffins for our guests each morning. I found that, while some people were charmed, many people have allergies or food sensitivities. Some of my homemade muffins even ended up tossed in the trash.
- Supply eggs, ultra-pasteurized milk, and some pancake mix. The switch saved me time and money and no one complained about what was provided.
- If you want to occasionally bake for your guests or provide fresh bakery items, charge a service fee for the extra expense or include that expense in the cost of the rental.
Offer a Grocery Service
Many people are thankful to have the kitchen stocked with their food choices and you can (and should) include a delivery fee for the convenience.
- A grocery service is especially appreciated when arriving at rural listings.
- Give your guests a price list that is slightly more expensive than the prices at the grocery store. 5-10% is a reasonable upcharge.
- Revisit the prices on your list often. It’s easy to overlook changes in grocery costs and this service could end up costing money rather than boosting income.
Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:
- How Do I Contact Airbnb by Phone? Here’s the Number…
- The 5 Best Wifi Routers for Airbnb: Screaming Fast Options for Hosts
- The 5 Best Grills for Airbnb: Are Gas, Charcoal or Pellets Best?
Host an Airbnb Experience that You Can Provide to Your Guests and Others
If you’re a homebrewer, baker, windsurfer, nature lover, bike enthusiast, or artist you can offer your guest an experience like no other and make additional money in the process.
- Make sure your insurance covers accidents if your guests could possibly cut, burn or in any other way hurt themselves.
- It’s important to get any certifications your state may require for food handling or using chemicals or power tools.
- Airbnb has an “Airbnb Experiences” landing page where you can see what other people have offered guests. From astrology readings to catered hikes, the ideas are endless!
Superhost Tip: Showcase a local artist’s work in your rental. You can take a commission for every piece sold while providing private gallery space for talented individuals. Just make sure the art is complimentary to the rental space.
How to Maximize Profit Inside your Airbnb
Many first time hosts forget to consider the financial impact of their decisions surrounding furnishings, linens, and other used items in their hosted space. This is a mistake. Considering financial impact goes two ways, however. While irreplaceable items of great value should be removed from the space, replacing it with poor quality items can leave a guest feeling like they’re in a budget motel. Below are my tips for the items inside your rental used by your guests.
Use Sturdy Furnishings
Cheaply made or overly delicate furnishings shouldn’t be used in a rental. Nor should Grandma’s antique hutch be exposed to renters unless you have a grudge against Grandma. Renters are ultimately hard on the furnishings and you should keep your house equipped with furniture that can take a beating, is repairable, and is safe. Other furnishing tips include:
- Buy furniture with stain resistant fabric, or leather.
- Avoid Micro-suede. It can be ridiculously hard to keep clean.
- Consider using washable custom slipcovers. It can extend the life of a sofa by many years.
- Good furniture can be expensive, but replacing your furnishings on a regular basis is a waste of both time and money.
Provide an Amazing Bed
A cheap bed leads to poor reviews and no one want’s to return to an Airbnb where they didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Follow these tips to help lull your guest off to sleep and encourage them to come again:
- Splurge on bedding. This is the one place to really invest well.
- Buy two sets of beautiful hotel quality bamboo sheets like these.
- Invest in a beautiful, well-made duvet and thick down-substitute comforter and plenty of fluffy extra blankets.
- Provide two soft pillows and two firm pillows.
- A large bolster pillow gives your bedding a modern finish.
- Make sure the frame is stable and doesn’t squeak.
- Your mattress should be moderately plush, comfortable and clean.
- Chose a headboard that compliments the room.
You can check out our comprehensive list of bedroom essentials here.
Update any Communal or Living Areas
This is a perfect place to find ways to expand your Airbnb business. If you have the space, consider using living areas as a way to increase the number of guests each rental space can hold:
- Look into murphy beds or bunk beds to provide additional accommodations.
- Roll away beds can be perfect for children if you have room to store them.
- Invest in a sofa with a hide-a-bed for additional guests.
- Remember to change your listing to reflect the ability to accommodate extra guests. Most Airbnb owners charge a fee for each extra guest accommodated.
- But remember that your home should be an adequate size to accommodate the extra guests/beds, or you’ll have too many people crammed in your house during the day. This will lead to negative reviews. I personally tried adding extra beds, and got dinged by guests saying that my space was too small for the allowed number of guests.
Superhost Tip: Make the bed the focus of the bedroom. Hang your best picture above the bed, place nightstands on each side, and lay on the bed and look up, searching for cobwebs or to see if the ceiling could use a fresh coat of paint.
Update Your Listing to Reflect Value for Your Guest
I update my listing on a yearly basis. We tend to finish our listing and think that it’s “done” when in reality, your listing changes as you learn to be a better host and beautify your property. Make time to review your listing…after all, it’s the first impression your guest has of your rental.
Provide many recent pictures of your rental on the listing. There is nothing more frustrating for a guest than to expect a champagne experience and be offered a cheap beer instead upon arrival:
- Revisit your photos. Often looking at photos of our property at its best shows us area where we can improve our guest’s experience and encourage repeat visits.
- Make sure that all major features of your property are the same as when the original photo was taken.
- Retake any photos that need to be updated.
Optimize your listing information for clarity. This is extremely important because guests are not reading your listing carefully but rather scanning it. Here are some ideas to make your content catch the guest’s eye:
- Get rid of any long blocks of text and make your listing easy to scan for information.
- Write in an active voice. For example, you wouldn’t say “In the dining room you’ll find plates” but instead “You’ll find plates in the dining room.” The second example is far easier to read quickly.
- Lists are easier to read than paragraphs. Easy to scan lists are great for rules or lists of amenities.
- Add emoticons to your title, like stars, squares, etc. to draw attention to your headline
Embrace and highlight your reviews. In your listing you can mention positive guest reviews which set the stage for a positive review process at the end of your guest’s stay. Reviews help book your rental and therefore are tied to the profitability of your Airbnb. Here are some ideas for netting good reviews:
- Respond to requests quickly. A good response to a bad situation can become a positive review rather than a poor one.
- Provide a guest book. The guest will see all the positive feedback from past guests and contribute to it themselves. This helps them practice thinking of your property in positive terms.
- When your guest leaves, tell them how much you enjoyed their stay. It’s in our nature to return a compliment.
Superhost Tip: When you do get the inevitable bad review, respond to it publicly with an apology and the action that you took to resolve the issue. This can put a positive spin on a bad impression.
Revisit Your Data to Ensure Profitability
Pricing tools analyze your daily rates and can help you keep track of your investment’s profit, but whether or not you use a pricing tool, take time quarterly to look over the amount spent on your Airbnb business and the amount earned as well as these other important factors.
Look over how much your averages are. How much, on average, is your business making per week, per month, and per day. Look at points in time where the rental wasn’t performing to that average. See if you can figure out why. Some factors that affect rents are as follows:
- Rentals can see a dip in traffic if there is poor weather.
- Has competition opened up down the road?
- Was there a week without any community events in an otherwise busy summer?
- Did any groups you normally accommodate chose not to return this year?
What was your occupancy rate? Often, looking at your occupancy rate can help you determine what days you should charge less for a stay.
- Did your rental stand empty midweek?
- Are there local companies that might have traveling business people interested in filling mid-week nights?
- Do you mostly have people staying one night or are multiple night guests more common?
- Are you open to having single night guests on weekdays? Doing so will help fill gaps in your calendar. Just don’t accept last-minute guests from your city or area.
How much money is used in maintaining your investment? Are there areas you should do the work yourself or find a less expensive way to maintain the maintenance on your property?
- Look over these figures seasonally. How much does fall clean-up cost you?
- Look over your property for areas that can be proactively fixed. Do you spend a lot of time and money working on garden beds? Consider pulling them out or planting perennials. Does paint peel in the same spot regularly? Try to fix the underlying issue. Leaky faucets and hose bibs can be costly. Dead limbs over your house can cause costly issues with the roof down the road. Taking care of problems when they’re small helps maintain a healthy profit.
In the end, enjoy the feeling of having a lucrative investment. Whether you use the money you get from your Airbnb to pay down your mortgage, provide for your retirement, or simple provide money for you to travel, yourself – establishing a profitable business is an achievement!