Whenever a person is travelling, be it for a weekend getaway, business meeting, or as part of a trip around the world, having the comforts of home can make the travel experience more enjoyable. The connections you make with people may even be more memorable than your actual trip.
No matter what, as an Airbnb host you are given an opportunity to make a lasting impression on your guests’ in terms of both your hospitality, and the thoughtfulness you have put into their experiences.
Many listings are booked during peak seasons because of price, location, and availability; however, outside of the highest part of the season, it is important as a host to set yourself apart from other listings. With over 3 million listings on Airbnb and counting, you’re going to have to go above and beyond.
There are some basics that all Airbnbs should have and we’ve covered them here. But if you are interested in taking your listing to the next level here are 16 things you should consider adding to your space.
- Welcome gifts
A little goes a long way in terms of offering your guests something to say you’re thinking of them. Try to think of something your city might be known for, say salt-water taffy if you’re near the beach.
If you host international guests from across the globe, get something even more basic like a bag full of candies that are made in your country; for example, Krowka candies if you are listing an apartment in Poland.
Get something small, and put it in the guests’ rooms with other information they may need upon checking in (see point three). It’s little touches like this that really set you apart from the other Airbnb hosts in your area.
- Amenities packages
The more amenities you can provide, the better. For example you can provide a small basket next to each bed with various items. These can include shampoo, conditioner, and soap, towels, razors, toothbrushes, q-tips, cotton balls, nail clippers, and toothpaste.
- A personalized website and printables
A lot of your guests will have the same questions. Where should they eat, where should they shop, where should they go for the best local fill-in-the-blank. To save yourself time, but also to show you’ve thought of everything, create a personalized website or printed handbook with your favorite things in your city.
Also make sure you include information that specifically applies to your home. This would be information about how to use the appliances, which trams or busses access your neighborhood, what sites are within walking distance, hand-drawn maps that show where to park etc.
If you don’t have time to put something detailed together, print out little cards, on heavy paper like cardstock, that guests can carry around with them. Make sure that each card has emergency information on it, your personal information if they need to get in touch, and contacts for local cab companies, airport transfers, etc.
When I first started listing a space on Airbnb I created a personalized guidebook to our home and a quick-reference sheet, cut to be like a bookmark, for guests to carry with them. I wanted guests to be able to read the information I had written before they arrived, so I made what I wrote into a pdf file and hosted it on a free WordPress site.
Eventually I began putting everything I wrote in my guidebook on the site as well, so guests would be able to access more photos of what I was talking about. The information I was writing kept expanding and evolved into something that my guests could use.
A guest is going to have much more of a positive experience if they are staying somewhere that makes them feel happy. One way to ensure that guests feel good in the space you are renting is to make that space look good.
Using artwork, plants, colorful blankets, pillows, and decorations can help you achieve that. It will also help your photo stand out on the main listing page. Artwork isn’t something that needs to be changed often, so think of it as a one time investment that will bring you more guests.
- Guidebooks and maps
So we’ve talked about providing a personalized guidebook for your guests that focuses on your specific home and neighborhood. But it is also important to provide basic guidebooks about your city as well as maps that guests can take with them.
Invest in a couple different versions of guidebooks for each room you have for rent. Then go to your local tourist or visitor center, and grab as many free maps as you can, along with anything else you might think would be helpful.
A lot of travelers are on a tight schedule, so eliminating their need to go to the visitor center themselves, will save them time. Put a little bookshelf somewhere in your home and turn it into your own little welcome center.
- Streaming television applications
Use a smart TV or any number of devices to allow guests to stream shows directly on the television. It’s going to be cheaper for you to have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video available for guests than it is to have cable.
These services also enable you to use the same services yourself, within the listing or in your own residence. By having streaming services available, you also are enabling guests to view their TV episodes and movies in the languages they choose.
- In-home store
If your listing is in a residential neighborhood, far from a local grocery or convenience store, think about creating your own little store inside your home. Include non-perishable items like rice, beans, canned vegetables, soups, candies, cookies, etc.
Anything that guests can easily cook or snack on in your home if they happen to get a bit hungry. Have a price list and leave a little jar, letting guests use the honor system to pay for these items. This isn’t about making money, but rather making your guests’ lives easier.
- Bicycles or other outdoor items
Having a set of bicycles on hand for guests to use is a great addition to any listing. Whether the bikes can just be ridden around the neighborhood for fun, or actually used as a form of transportation, remember to include all the safety items as well; such as, lights, helmets, and locks.
Other outdoor items are going to depend on where your listing is located, but could include things like a badminton court in the backyard, lounge chairs, patio furniture, beach towels, picnic supplies, coolers, or hiking poles. Anything a guest could use to enhance their experience in your city.
- Cell phones
When most of your guests that stay with you are from your own country, this might not be as essential. If you are running a listing in a place that attracts international travelers, having a few cell phones around can come in handy.
In most European countries you can buy a used phone fairly cheap, and then load it with a SIM card that is pay-as-you-go. Tell guests the phone is for emergencies, if they need to contact you, or for calling trusted cab companies, or tourist related businesses. The peace of mind that they have a way to call someone, without needing to be connected to WiFi, or paying obscene roaming charges, will make their stay even more comfortable.
- Planned activities
Airbnb now offers “Experiences”, which are activities guests can book and pay for during their travels. Consider hosting your own activities for guests. Teach guests how to cook a local specialty, or offer tours of your city. Have nightly dinners or drinks available for guests if you happen to live in the same space or nearby.
Whether you charge for the activity or not is up to you, but if you enjoy cooking and want to teach people how to make something special, consider offering that as part of your listing. If you happen to be going on a nearby hike one day, invite your guests with you. Not all guests will want to participate in planned activities, but many will, and it will make their experience unique, which will lead to coveted positive reviews.
Obviously you have no control over this one, but make sure to let guests know if you have parking available. People traveling by car may only want to book places with free parking, so if you’ve got it, tell them immediately in your Airbnb listing.
If you don’t have free parking directly at your place, let guests know where they can park nearby and what it will cost.
- Free pick-ups
If you live in an area where people are arriving all sorts of different ways, it is an added bonus if you include something like free pick-up.
Consider the fact that you offer free pick-up when coming up with your price point for your listing, but including it will make guests feel like they are getting a great value, plus will take so much stress away from their arrival to the city by knowing someone will be waiting for them at the airport, bus station, or train station.
- Superhost status with 5-star reviews
Airbnb has its own way of telling potential guests which listings are the best in each city by naming hosts that go above and beyond as Superhosts. This Superhost status can only be achieved by meeting certain requirements, including receiving 5-star reviews, which are always important.
Airbnb lists the requirements for becoming a Superhost on their website as having an account in good standing,”and over the course of one year you must have: hosted at least ten trips, maintained a 90% response rate or higher, received a 5-star review at least 80% of the time you’ve been reviewed, and completed each of your confirmed reservations without canceling.
Airbnb further specifies that you don’t need to apply to become a Superhost. Hosts who meet the program requirements on the assessment date, you’ll qualify for Superhost status. For more details on the program, check out this article.
- 24-hour guest communication
Understanding that guests will be communicating with you across multiple time zones makes it important to have around the clock availability for correspondence.
The easiest way to do this is to make sure you have a smartphone with the Airbnb app installed. Any time someone communicates with you on Airbnb, the app will make a sound and notify you. We’re not saying you have to wake up on the middle of the night to respond to potential guests, but if you do, you’ll likely secure more bookings.
- Holiday treats
If a holiday is coming up in your country/city, do something special for your guests. Get them something small that represents how your country participates in an upcoming holiday.
Maybe there is a special food that you eat during Christmas or a special “palm” that you decorate with on Easter. At the very least if you know your guests will be staying with you on a specific holiday, give them information about how they can join in the festivities in your city.
- Pet free environments
People have allergies. Providing an allergen-free home is important to many guests that might be allergic to dogs, cats, or birds. On the other hand, if your home is going to have animals, offering a pet-friendly listing may very well help you get guests that are traveling with their furry companions.
As we said before, regardless of whether you choose to have pets in the home you have listed or not, the most important thing is that you let guests know the policy. The last thing you want is someone who is allergic to cats to book your listing and then show up not knowing that their is pet dander everywhere, causing them to feel sick.