James Jenkins-Yates, Founder & CEO, Airsorted
According to latest figures from Visit Bristol, Bristol is booming, attracting a total of 2.69 million staying visitors (those that stayed overnight) in 2016.
Airbnb hosts have been a huge part of this inflation, offering visitors to the city a unique, cost-effective and highly flexible accommodation option. In fact, Airbnb has boosted the local economy by an estimated £359 million, as Airbnb guests stay twice as long as other visitors and also spend double the amount of money compared to others. Meanwhile, hosts themselves are expected to earn an average £3,400 a year for renting their properties out in the city.
With such income on offer, you too may be thinking about dipping your toe into hosting. While setting yourself up as a host on the platform is straightforward, really perfecting the art of hosting is a bit more difficult. Remember that Airbnb is a community focused on user reviews, so you need to maintain high standards as a host, in order to get positive reviews, which will in turn help you to get more bookings.
As founder and CEO of Airsorted, a hassle-free hosting platform that amalgamates and services guest bookings on Airbnb, I’ve learned there are six key things to be aware of when aiming to become the perfect host.
Vet Your Guests
You can’t choose who wants to stay in your property and guests who act irresponsibly are not, for the most part, commonplace, but hosting troublesome visitors is in nobody’s interest. They can cause havoc on your property, which you’ll need to clean up of course, but they’ll also annoy your neighbours too. Airbnb has vetting options, such as previous host reviews, if these are bad, that’s a red flag immediately. Also, as they are staying at your property, don’t ever be afraid to ask potentially problematic guests for details about their trip. Based on this, if you’ve any doubts as to their intentions, then just kindly decline the booking.
Write and Read Reviews
As I’ve mentioned, guest and host reviews are by far the most important indicator of whether you are going to have a positive or negative experience on Airbnb. As a new host it is really critical that you read a guest’s reviews before you accept a booking request, and then to write reviews for your guests when they leave. The reason is that the more reviews that are on Airbnb, the easier it will be to build interest in your property and also trust amongst would-be bookers. Also, remember that guests have the ability to review you as a host, so it is a two-way street, and you need to make sure you’ve been fair and accurate with your feedback on your visitors.
Putting rules in place is a really effective way to filter out potentially difficult guests. There are some standard rules that Airbnb suggest such as No Parties; No Smoking; No Pets, but then you also have the opportunity to add more bespoke advice. What is important to note is that such home rules can be written into your listing, and a guest must agree to these rules before they complete their booking. Other useful rules include asking visitors to avoid congregating in shared building spaces, such as a reception, or playing loud music after 8pm that will keep your neighbours awake. A simple way of reminding guests of their obligations is to leave signs or notes at the property as a friendly reminder.
Deposits, Host Guarantee & Insurance
Even with the most careful and respectful guests, accidents can and often do happen. The best tip I can offer to avoid a precious personal possession being damaged is to try to avoid leaving anything of significant monetary or sentimental value at the property. Also, to prevent against any losses from accidents or damage, you can write a security deposit into your listing. Currently, Airbnb’s own, what it calls, “Host Guarantee”, also covers losses up to £700,000. However, it is important to make claims quickly as Airbnb generally won’t uphold that claim once the next guest has checked in or once two weeks have passed.
Also, a further word of caution regarding this host guarantee, it doesn’t extend to third party bookings made for personal travel, even if made by a family member or friend. It can be quite a wise move to take out additional insurance designed especially for the sharing economy. Reputable providers like GUARDHOG are able to help with this.
Maintenance & Emergency Contacts
As with any home, issues will always arise. A really easy way to manage maintenance or emergency issues is to make a list of contractors or companies that you can call on should you need any quick fixes for your guests. Also, it can be useful to contact them in advance to get an idea of their general availability and pricing (factor in additional costs for seasonal, weekend, or late night pricing). Keep an eye on the calendar too, to make sure your boiler is serviced and your radiators bled before autumn for example. Finally, be sure to provide reliable contact information for guests should anything arise, including alternative emergency contact information if you are going to be out of town.
Talk to Your Neighbours
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, it can certainly be worth mentioning to them that you are opening your home to visiting guests. Show them your listing and explain to them the steps you are taking to be a responsible host. Reassure them that you do not want your Airbnb to cause disruption to them, check in with them every now and again, and welcome their ongoing feedback. Make sure that they have a contact number for you too, or an emergency contact if you are going to be out of town.
While becoming an Airbnb host may seem daunting, with some care and attention, you can make sure you become one of the best in Bristol. Given the the extraordinary growth in popularity of Airbnb in Bristol and the additional income it offers, it really is an opportunity not to be missed.