It’s been a challenging year for every sector of the hospitality industry. The focus is typically on hotels, motels and resorts but what about smaller guest houses, bed and breakfast and Airbnb properties? How can they survive and thrive? We looked at some top tips courtesy of Jasper Ribbers of Short-Term Rental Legends.
Jasper is well known in the short-term rental industry as the author of “Get Paid For Your Pad”, which is widely recognized as the leading resource on Airbnb hosting. He has been renting out properties on Airbnb since 2012 and currently owns units in three different countries. He also manages a boutique hotel in Egypt.
1 Demand-led pricing
Demand in your market changes according to the day of the week. If you want to adjust your prices to reflect these changes, there is a quick trick you can use. This will estimate the day of the week demand – and best of all, it’s free.
1: Go to Google flights.
2: Select a round trip from a nearby major city to your city.
3: Click on “price-graph”.
4: Select a 1-day trip.
Now take a look at flight prices. On the days that flight prices are high, demand for accommodation tends to be increased as well. You can use this data to make “day-of-week” price adjustments for your short-term rentals.
While this isn’t 100 per cent accurate, it’s better to have some data than no data. For more detailed data, you can use services such as Wheelhouse which will give you actual occupancy data in your location. This will help you to set your prices correctly.
2 Estimate seasonal demand
Three key demand drivers impact every market. Understanding these drivers will help you increase revenue by 20+ per cent. They include:
- Seasonal demand
- Day of the week demand
- Local events and holidays
The weather is a good indicator of seasonal demand as your guests like to travel when and where the weather is good. There is a free tool that can help with this. Fill in the name of your city on Weatherspark.com and look at the “tourism score.”
It shows you how attractive your market is to tourists based on the weather throughout the year.
3 Use the tools available
We have already mentioned two tools that can help you with your pricing and seasonal demand indicators. However, here are a few others that can help.
- GMS – Automate your vacation rental business
- Lodgify – Manage multiple properties + direct booking website
- Rankbreeze – Optimize your Airbnb rankings and search visibility
4 Go dog friendly and increase your revenue
“Pet-friendly” is one of the top amenities search for on Airbnb. With so few Airbnb’s accepting pets, this is certainly one way to stand out from your competition. And there’s money in it too.
One Airbnb manager made half of his units pet friendly. He now makes 15 – 25 per cent more on his pet-friendly units, by charging extra for dogs.
Dogs are the most common pet that your guests want to bring on their vacations, and they are willing to pay a premium for dog-friendly hosts.
Many Airbnb hosts are put off by perceived problems – fur, chewing furniture, additional cleaning, biting, toilet mess. But in most cases, the dogs brought on vacation tend to behave well.
But if you have concerns, screen your guests.
- See if they have many positive reviews for stays where they brought their dog.
- Ask for the age and breed of the dog.
- Puppies tend to behave worse than older dogs.
- Certain dog breeds are more likely to cause allergies than others.
If you decide to go dog-friendly, make sure you charge extra for the service. And if your guests are reluctant to pay it, tell them that if the dog behaves well, you’ll mention it in the review.
Very few guests have reviews that mention their dog’s good manners. This will help your guests get approved for more Airbnb stays in the future, at a lower cost.
5 Dealing with issues with Airbnb
Most Airbnb hosts have experienced challenges with guests breaking house rules. Indeed, there’s been a surge in difficult guests recently.
Airbnb has also laid off account managers and customer support staff, so it’s hard to get in touch with them. And they tend to side with the guests when it comes to disputes.
So, how can you improve your chances with Airbnb and get them to cover your expenses when guests cause damage or break our house rules?
Here are some of Jasper’s top tips:
1 The earlier you contact Airbnb, the better.
Call Airbnb as soon as you think there is an issue. You want to make sure Airbnb hears your perspective BEFORE they hear from the guest.
2 When the issue happens, call back and have the Airbnb rep reference your last call.
- Submit as much evidence as possible: video footage, pictures and messages between you and the guests.
- You have to paint a clear picture. Explain what each piece of evidence shows and how it’s breaking your rules.
- Tell them that your guests hurt your business and the Airbnb brand, that they shouldn’t be on the platform.
3 Draw a clear line, go for 100 per cent of what you want, and say that you won’t negotiate on it.
- You want to make it very clear that you’re serious. The staff deal with hundreds of cases a day, so you want to make sure you stand out.
- Keep pushing until you get the result you expect, and don’t take “no” for an answer.
- If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, ask to speak with a case manager.
4 Stay calm.
It’s frustrating but keep your emotions out of it. Be respectful and let the Airbnb representative know you appreciate their help. That increases the chance of a favorable outcome for you.
6 Build up your email list
Email is one of the best ways to drive customer acquisition and retention. Yet, very few hosts collect emails from their guests. So how do you start?
1 Create a simple Google form.
Add at a minimum these questions:
- What is your full name?
- What is your best email address?
- Why are you taking the trip?
Provide multiple tick-off boxes for this question, like “family trip,” “working remotely,” or “girl’s getaway.” You can base these options on the guests you’ve hosted in the past.
2 Include a link to your form in your welcome email.
Mention that this form is to help you provide the best experience possible to your guests. And that it will take less than two minutes to complete. This will incentivize them to fill it out.
Ask your guest to share the link with their entire group. That way, you get a chance to collect the emails from all the guests, not just the booker.
You will now collect valuable email addresses for future marketing, and you have a better understanding of how you can make your guest’s stay better.
7 Prevent Airbnb pandemic partiers
There has been a surge in parties happening at Airbnb properties recently. Airbnb’s “under 25” booking restrictions aren’t useful as kids have figured out how to circumvent them.
Here’s how to prevent the party seekers from booking your units:
- Install noise monitoring devices in all your units AND mention in your listings that you have these (I recommend Noiseaware).
- Collect copies of all your guest’s IDs and have them sign a short-term rental agreement on arrival.
- Mention to your guests that you, the owner, or the manager of the home lives nearby in case they need any assistance (you’re positively framing this, but it will deter the party seeker.)
It is better to prevent the parties than to try and recoup the damages from Airbnb afterwards.
If you have any tips to increase revenue, advice on tools and ideas to protect your property, then contact us with your thoughts, ideas and suggestions and we’ll add them to a new article.