As avid users of Airbnb during our travels, we have come across some things we really liked that we wish all Airbnb hosts would do, and of course, we have come across some things that we didn’t appreciate so much. I have seen a lot of articles with tips for Airbnb hosts from other Airbnb hosts, but this one is from the perspective of the guest.
Here are the most important things from our perspective for getting a 5-star review on Airbnb.
Be 100% honest about the location
It should go without saying that you should be as honest as possible about EVERYTHING in your listing. This goes for the location, the amenities, the rules, etc. However, location is probably one of the biggest offenders in terms of dishonesty. We have had some interesting experiences showing up at our rental and having it be completely different than our expectations from the description and photographs.
So please, hosts, be honest. Is your house in an alley right behind a rowdy pub? Put it in the description. Is it 30 miles from the nearest grocery store? Put it in the description. Does it require guests to climb up a steep hill or dozens of stairs to access it? Put it in the description. Honesty is the best policy in all things, but location and convenience are usually the #1 deciding factor on whether or not to press the “book” button. If you are dishonest now, you’re most likely going to get a negative review later.
Use RECENT photographs
Photos are super important for your listing, and the more photos the better. We want to know what the place looks like and its layout in as much detail as possible before we book. Another important factor in your photographs is their recency. Did you join Airbnb in 2008 and haven’t updated your photos since? Better take some new ones.
Regular wear and tear and guest use will have its toll on a property, and it most likely does not look the same as it did nine years ago. I recommend taking fresh photos ever 3-6 months to keep them current. And please don’t add or remove things just for the photography session. Take the photos exactly as the place will look when guests arrive.
Communicate with your guests
Communication is key to making sure everyone is on the same page. Send a note to your guests right after they book and once again shortly before their arrival. Provide directions, all the relevant check-in instructions, and suggestions of things to do in the area and where to eat. If you aren’t present at check-in, it also doesn’t hurt to send your guests a message after they arrive to make sure everything went smoothly.
Be flexible with check-in/out times
Your guests may be driving from another location and may get there earlier or later than planned. They are probably tired from the journey, and it can be awkward if you are not ready for them and they have to wait around or find some other way to kill time before they can enter the property. I’m not saying they should be able to show up 5 hours before check-in time, but you should have at least a 2-hour grace period for check-in/out in case something comes up. This will help reduce stress for both you and the guest.
Clean, clean clean!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your property is squeaky clean between each guest. This means everything. The furniture, the floors, the walls, the bathroom, the kitchen, the dishes, the windows/windowsills, the fridge, etc. When staying in an unfamiliar place, the best way to feel at home is if it is clean. Some guests are very particular and will notice every speck of dust. If you are too busy or would just prefer not to do the cleaning yourself, consider hiring a cleaning service to come in between guests.
The kitchen should have these basics at the bare minimum
- Knives that actually cut - at least one large and one small so guests can cook
- Cutting board - so guests don’t ruin your countertops by using your thoughtfully sharpened knives
- Plates, bowls, utensils, cups, pots/pans - so guests don’t make a huge mess eating soup straight off of the dining table
- Silicone or wood spatula - so guests don’t scratch up your pots and pans
- Vegetable peeler - so guests don’t cut themselves trying to peel a cucumber with a chef’s knife
- Cheese grater - because most people love cheese
- Whisk - mornings are so much easier with scrambled eggs
- Coffee maker - this can be an “American” style drip coffee maker, espresso machine, Moka pot, French press, etc. Just make sure there is some way to make decent coffee
- Tea kettle - whether it is a stovetop or an electric kettle, this makes tea/coffee much easier
- Can opener - there’s nothing like getting back from the grocery store with something in a can only to discover you have no way of opening it
- Olive oil - sure, the guests can buy whatever cooking oil they desire at the grocery store, but if it is a shorter stay they most likely won’t use all of it and either have to leave it, dispose of it, or find a way to transport it back home. It is much easier if it is something you supply.
- Salt/pepper - similar to the oil, this is something very basic that guests won’t be able to use all of during their stay
- Dish soap and brand new sponges - do you know how much bacteria kitchen sponges hold? It’s worse than your toilet, and that’s saying something. Nobody wants to use an old sponge used by who-knows-who for who-knows-what. Leave a brand new sponge for each guest.
Be mindful of possible allergies and sensitivities
When choosing household items and cleaning supplies to stock the property with, be mindful that a lot of people have allergies and sensitivities that could be aggravated by certain things such as fragrances. On multiple occasions, we have tossed and turned at night not being able to breathe because of the fragrant laundry detergent that was used on the bedding, not to mention the toll it took on our skin being in contact with whatever chemicals are in it. To play it safe, please use detergents and cleaners that are fragrance-free at a minimum, but hypoallergenic and natural would be best.
We have also noticed that a lot of hosts leave some sort of fragrance-emitting device such as a diffuser or plug-in, which we promptly remove and hide somewhere where it won’t bother us. As long as your place doesn’t stink (which it shouldn’t if you are keeping it clean), this is really unnecessary and should be omitted.
The little extras go a long way
Providing something a little extra that is not included in the listing really makes a place memorable. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top, but something like a welcome card, some cookies in the kitchen, fresh eggs if your property is on a farm, etc. can really boost your potential for a positive review.
These are the things we find most important in a vacation rental and that can make or break a five-star review. As long as you are honest, communicate clearly, be flexible, keep it clean, well stocked and allergy-safe, you are on your way to great reviews and hopefully a lot of income from your Airbnb rental.
Are you an Airbnb host? What are some of the things you’ve noticed that get you good (or bad) reviews? Have you stayed in an Airbnb rental? Did we miss anything you think is important for hosts to be aware of? Let us know in the comments!
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