The 360 Guest Experience that the Best Hosts Swear By
To date, there are 30 articles in the Airbnb Host resource center that relate to the topic of “guest experience,” which clearly indicates that this is an area that hosts and Airbnb deem important to improve. In fact, with more and more short-term rentals appearing on the market each day, continually optimizing your guest experience is critical for distinguishing your Airbnb(s) from the competition. We wanted to save your precious time because we know you Airbnb hosts are busy. So we went ahead and spoke with our in-house experts and partner influencers and scoured the plethora of Airbnb articles to compile the most essential advice for building a top-notch guest experience. No need to look anywhere else- in one fell swoop, this article will tackle all the essential tips short-term rental hosts need to create a memorable guest experience.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Airbnb Guest Experiences
A 5-star review can mean a lot of things on Airbnb. It can signify that your place met the guests’ expectations and that their stay was pleasant and void of any issues. But we’re talking about taking things to the next level here. On the surface, you can have a 5-star review, but if you can secure “brand” affinity and loyalty based on your guest experience then you are a true champ. Are people sharing your Airbnb link? Are they writing a detailed review highlighting your special touches and attention to detail? Are they returning to your Airbnb for another stay? That’s why we whipped up this piece- so that you can answer “yes” to these questions and successfully take your Airbnb experience from “decent” to “great”.
7 Ways Successful Airbnb Hosts Can Enhance Guest Experience
- Master Your Communication Skills
Outstanding guest communication is probably the most important factor in what makes a great guest experience. Because the sharing and caring ecosystem of Airbnb rentals is built upon a foundation of trust, each communication you have with your guests either builds upon or breaks down that feeling of trust with your guests. Guests will trust exceptional hosts that are responsive, available, and honest in their communication throughout the entire process, from the initial inquiry to booking, throughout the duration of the guest’s stay, and until the follow-up after checkout.
Communication isn’t just about how you respond, but how quickly you respond as well. When it comes to the initial inquiry, timely responses to queries prior to booking without a doubt, increase the chances of a reservation. Further, it goes without saying, that fast and helpful responses to guests during their stay significantly increase guest satisfaction. Ensuring guests have a way to reach you (or someone responsible in your absence) in the event that something comes up, is a key step in improving guest hospitality. Guests want to know that if something goes wrong, their host is available to take responsibility and help.
Below is a great example of outstanding, open and honest communication from a host. This host saw that a heat wave was forecast during the dates the guest was booked and reached out to ensure the guest knew that they did not have air conditioning. To be transparent and clear, the host took the risk of losing the booking out of concern for the guest’s comfort. Preemptive measures like this not only avoid disappointment but they show the guests that you are really looking out for their optimal experience, even if that means a canceled booking. Rather than losing the booking, take a look at how happy this guest was with the host’s concern and initiative. As the guest stated in her response, this is really the definition of amazing hospitality!
The downside of being available for guests is that it can be quite time-consuming. To reduce time spent, a lot of Superhosts are leveraging third-party tools to completely automate messaging, maintain consistency, and save time. Using such a platform allows you to easily access your messages in one simple place on your computer or mobile device and be available more readily to prospects and guests. You can also use automated messaging to respond to common questions and reduce your time spent on repeat communication.
- Set Accurate Expectations
Often, unhappy Airbnb guests result from miscommunication or unmet expectations based on your rental’s listing details. To avoid guest disappointment or dissatisfaction, it’s essential to be crystal clear about house rules, extra charges, or any other potential causes of conflict, right off the bat. Here is a great tutorial about setting accurate Airbnb guests’ expectations and why it is crucial for getting good reviews.
The Airbnb experience is quite different from traditional hotel stays and particularly for newbie guests, this can sometimes be a source of surprise or confusion. Just the fact that guests are staying in someone else’s property and are subject to certain rules associated with that can be an unfamiliar situation.
Here are some common examples of circumstances that might cause avoidable miscommunication or unmet expectations in guests:
- No towel or linen changes
- Need to heat water in advance of shower
- No cleaning service during stay
- Need to for light housework such as washing dishes, taking out garbage, doing laundry etc.
- Limited supply of amenities such as towels, soap, paper goods, pillows, blankets etc.
- Lack of parking
- Inability to store belongings for early or late arrival/checkout
- Lack of 24-hour maintenance services
- No smoking rules
- Pet and extra person fees
Keep in mind, that guests often don’t read the fine print, so, like the outstanding host mentioned above, if you foresee any potential issue, it’s always a good idea to bring it up directly with guests prior to their arrival. Remember, you want to find the right guests for your rental, so it’s preferable to have a canceled booking to the headache of unhappy, unsuitable guests who may leave scathing reviews for something that could have been avoided.
- Simplify Everything
Your Airbnb guests are seeking a seamless experience from arrival to check-out, so you want to make their stay as convenient, automated, and easy as possible. Not only will this increase your professionalism and impress your guests, it will also save you time in the long run and make your hosting easier.
Here are some ways to streamline the process for your guests to make their stay smoother and reduce the amount of questions they have for you.
- Setting up keyless check-in and check-out (allows guests to arrive and depart at their own convenience.)
- Providing all the necessary directions, check-in and out instructions, passwords, and Wifi codes in one (eliminates most of the common questions guests will have upon arrival.)
- Provide instructions for appliances (such as washing machines or air conditioners)
- Provide info about services they might need, such as local transportation, dining options, or laundry services.
- Stock up with supplies such as garbage bags, towels, sheets, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and toiletries, so guests are settled with everything they need right off the bat.
Resourceful Airbnb hosts often utilize automation tools which can save tons of time in setting up these conveniences, many of which can run on autopilot. For example, you can create a guestbook of information (online or in print) or automate emails with all the details that will go out to guests at a certain time before their arrival. Many hosts place signs around the property with instructions as well. These days you can even find many premade templates, such as this selection of Airbnb welcome signs on Etsy. Being preemptive and thinking like a guest to anticipate their needs and questions is a key way to improve your guests’ experience.
- Keep It Tidy and Clean
If your rental is dirty or cluttered, it is going to be a big turn-off for guests, regardless of how special or unique it is (or how thoughtful and communicative you are as a host). Even though Airbnb guests are consciously staying in someone else’s home, they don’t want it to feel too much like someone else’s home, so hosts should try to reduce the clutter and personal items as much as possible. All surfaces, linens, and appliances should be clean, especially in the bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms. For many guests, entering a dirty rental creates a very negative first impression that is incredibly difficult to rectify no matter how good the rest of their experience may be.
Cleaning sufficiently can take a significant amount of time, so this is an area that you may consider outsourcing. Finding the right Airbnb cleaning team and establishing clear communication is essential if you do decide to do this.
For an exceptional guest experience and ultimate hospitality, you can design a space that will allow your guests to feel special, pampered, and relaxed. Here is some great advice from a host that is expert at envisioning and creating a memorable experience for her guests through the many details and unique touches she adds to her rental.
- Think Like Your Guest
An Airbnb host seeking to know how to improve hospitality has to think like a guest, to deliver the best Airbnb experience. Living in your space yourself and asking for feedback from others, allows you to anticipate the needs of your guests and meet (well, exceed) their expectations. Whether it is having enough towel hooks, phone chargers in convenient locations, or comfortable pillows and mattresses, experiencing your property through the eyes of your guests will empower you with a better understanding of how to make guests feel welcome and comfortable during their stay (i.e. including essential and unique-to-your-listing amenities). One great way to gain insights on what your guests are looking for is by reading reviews on Airbnb that guests leave for you as well as other similar listings.
For example, if you are located in a tourist destination and tend to attract families on vacation, providing games, toys, a high chair or a portable crib will impress guests by showing that you are thinking of their needs and going the extra mile. If you tend to host business professionals or nomadic workers you want to focus on a fast and reliable Wifi connection, sufficient electrical outlets, and a comfortable workspace.
Exceptional hosts often go the extra mile in getting to know more about their guests in order to surprise them with a little something personal. Whether it’s a birthday-themed cupcake, a bottle of wine for an anniversary, or even the removal of breakables for a family with small children, catering the experience to the lifestyle and special occasions of your guests will stand out and be noticed.
- Be the Local Expert
Another way to enhance your guest’s experience, especially for unique destinations, is to make it local. Travelers will love a city guidebook, including local tourist attraction information, your favorite restaurants and shops, grocery stores, and details about local areas of interest. You can act as a guide for your guests, offering assistance in planning an itinerary, booking a dinner reservation, offering discounts with local businesses, or creating a small welcome basket with local delicacies. Create a theme in your decor by adorning your home with local artistry, themed products, and city guides. The unique expertise you have about your local destination can greatly enhance your guests’ experience, not only in your rental but throughout their visit as a whole.
- Give Positive Feedback
When it comes to a great guest experience you want to make your last impression count. Unless you have a terrible experience with a guest, writing a nice review is a fantastic way to leave a lasting positive impression and elicit a great review in return. Of course, for the sake of the hosting community, it’s important to be honest if you have a bad experience with a guest as a warning for other hosts. Read here for more tips for Airbnb hosts on writing guest reviews.
When it comes down to it, great guest experiences lead to great reviews and this is what will help you stand out from the growing number of short-term rentals that guests have to choose from. Adopting these 7 habits of highly successful hosts will certainly improve guest satisfaction and create a memorable guest experience. To learn more, check out the following article for more tips on how to become an Airbnb Superhost.
Quality guest service requires that hosts devote time to learning what their guests need and expect from their experience, but there are ways to lighten this load. To see how Guesty For Hosts can save you time and simplify your hosting start your free 14-day trial today!