madison 02/20/2019

10 Quick Win Tips for Optimizing Your Short-Term Rental - Making More Money and Simplifying Your Life

Article by Evian Gutman

Evian is the Founder & CEO of Padlifter – the one-stop-shop for getting found more often, winning more bookings and making more money on Airbnb. He is the author of the best-selling book ‘The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money on Airbnb’ and is an Airbnb Superhost that has hosted over 500 guests.

Different hosts have varying motivations for putting up their homes on short-term rental sites like Airbnb. A common catalyst, however, is the desire to provide great guest experiences and maximize profitability in the simplest way possible.

Hosts are presented with a universe of levers they’re able to pull in trying to achieve these outcomes.

What then, are the greatest bang-for-buck strategies for driving a material uplift in the performance and profitability of your short-term rental, that you should focus on?

Below we outline 10 ‘quick win’ tips for simplifying your life, making more money and optimizing your short-term rental.

1. Perfect Your Listing

Until a guest actually arrives at your home, almost everything they could possibly know about it is something they’ve learned from your listing. It is therefore essential that your listing oozes interest and relevance if you want to get booked. Your listing needs to communicate what kind of place you have, the type of experience you’ll provide, why you love where you live and why guests will appreciate choosing your place over others. Make sure to complete all available sections, use headings and bullets and tailor it to align with the interests and expectations of your target guests.

2. Add High-Quality Professional Photos

Airbnb listings with professional photos tend to get booked 24% more often than listings without professional photos and earn 40% more than other listings in their area without professional photos. Your photos are the first thing that a guest sees in search results and sits at the very top of your listing page too. It may be unfair, but with no shortage of alternatives to select from, prospective guests simply won’t give listings without impressive photos the benefit of the doubt. Getting your hands on professional photos is inexpensive and easy to organize and represents the low-hanging fruit for driving a meaningful uplift in your booking rate.

3. Optimize Your Pricing (but don’t forget about occupancy!)

Many hosts think about pricing with myopic tunnel-vision: They excite at being able to charge higher nightly rates and bemoan when prices need to drop. Rightfully so. However shrewd hosts understand that their ultimate objective is to optimize the relationship between their Average Daily Rate (ADR) as well as their occupancy rate too. A host with back-to-back bookings charging slightly less per night will be a more profitable host than one that charges a little more but only receives the occasional booking. Conduct your own independent research and use dynamic pricing tools to break free from ‘one-size-fits-all’ pricing. Continually adjust your calendar’s prices to reflect changes in supply and demand at different times of the year.

3. Install Home Monitoring and Security Devices

It’s all very well having house rules that say that parties are forbidden, or certain areas of your home are out-of-bounds. But how do you know when these things are happening and how do you intervene before minor issues escalate into major crises? Adding smart home technologies like noise monitors or door sensors allow hosts to monitor their properties without being physically present 24/7 themselves. They enable hosts to receive push notifications and alerts about anything they need to worry about, as well as discretely check-in on things whenever feeling worried or concerned. Best of all, these devices allow hosts to free up their time to focus on other ways they’re able to be a great host and continue pleasing their guests.

5. Add a Minimum Stay Requirement

Adding a minimum stay requirement reduces the frequency of checkouts, cleanings and check-ins. They free up your time and lessen the costs involved in turnovers between bookings. So long as your minimum stay requirement remains reasonable (like two or three nights), you have more to gain from increased profitability than you have to lose from a potentially lower occupancy rate. Adding a minimum stay requirement represents one of the most powerful levers for cost reduction and operational simplicity associated with running a short-term rental.

6. Install Home Access Devices that Enable Self Check-In

Being physically present to meet and greet every guest may be impractical, undesirable or both. Hosts have several options that allow a guest to check themselves in without you or someone else needing to be there to let them in. Keyless door locks (often called “smart locks”) allow a guest to gain access to the home using a code that’s given to them before their arrival. The code is unique to each booking and expires at the end of the stay. Alternatively, hosts can leave keys in a lockbox. These are small key safes that are placed on or around your property and contain physical keys to open your home. Just like smart locks, the code to open the lockbox is provided to your guest prior to their arrival. Many hosts find the small price tag for purchasing these devices is quickly justified by the big chunks of personal time they’re able to win back as a result.

7. Provide a Welcome Gift

Providing a welcome gift upon arrival is always a nice little surprise for guests. It shows consideration towards providing a phenomenal guest experience and demonstrates you’re the type of host that goes above and beyond in keeping your guests happy. Welcome gifts set the tone of the stay on a positive note from the get-go and put credit in the ‘goodwill bank’ should anything go wrong throughout the booking. They can be as simple as providing snacks, beauty products or discounts to a local tourist attraction. Whatever you provide, they almost always result in positive reviews, an increase in bookings and the right to price your place accordingly.

8. Welcome Your Guests to a Clean and Tidy Home

Guests expect to arrive to a clean and tidy home. Doing so will make your guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive and demonstrate your commitment towards making them feel at home and welcomed. Pay special attention to keeping a clean bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Ensure floors and carpets are spotless; fresh towels and linens are provided; and bugs, dust, and unpleasant odors are eliminated from throughout your space. Cleanliness is one of the review categories you’ll be rated on after every guest stay, and one of the first things future guests look at when deciding with whom they want to book.

9. Develop a House Manual & Guidebook

Developing a Guidebook and House Manual serve dual benefits. Firstly, they impress guests by providing speedy answers to questions and good guidance tips that enhance their stays. Secondly, they save you time in answering the same frequently asked questions and position you as an expert able to provide recommendations on the best your local area has to offer and how to make the most of your home. Hosts will get good mileage from their house manuals and guidebooks – build them once and re-use for the benefit and enjoyment of every subsequent guest.

10. Provide a Thank You Note

Upon the conclusion of the booking, thank your guest for staying at your place and let them know it was a pleasure hosting them. Doing so should validate their great stay or smooth out any unpleasantness that might have taken place throughout the booking. Assuming all went well, kindly request the completion of the review process, emphasizing the criticality of reviews to the Airbnb hosting process and mention any favorable reviews you may be leaving for them too. Consider also offering small discounts for future stays – these will be seen as yet another perk of the booking and potentially improve your future occupancy too.

Hosting your home on short-term rental sites like Airbnb can often feel like a daunting undertaking. There are so many things to get right, and no shortage of competition fighting the same fight too. Luckily though, good hosting is the product of discipline to core strategies and behaviors that have withstood the test of time. Implementing the above-mentioned tips and tricks will be the first step in embarking upon a path of continuous improvement for simplifying your life, making more money and optimizing your short-term rental.

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