When they are considering renting out a room, suite or apartment on Airbnb, Homeaway et al, one of the first questions new hosts ask is ‘how much should I charge for my accommodation?’ The standard answer – which I disagree with – is to look at similar properties in your area and price just a little lower.
This is too simplistic, inaccurate and can mean that the new host will not be making the money they should. This advice should be turned on its head.
New hosts need to calculate how much they need to make to cover their costs, their time and wear and tear on their property then add their profit margin. If done properly the chances are that the per night figure could be higher than what other people locally are charging but that doesn’t matter – what the new host then needs to do is add value to their listing.
By making your listing superior to those around you, you can easily justify having a higher price, especially when those great reviews come rolling in. But how can you add value to your listing without spending money and adding to your costs?
Some value-added items can be provided to your guests at little or no cost to you. Some of these involve one-time purchases, others are very low cost and several will cost you nothing except your time. Here are twenty ideas:
- Welcoming drink: See the image above? Wouldn’t you love to arrive at your room or apartment and find that the host has left you a lovely refreshing drink to welcome you? Use a lovely carafe to treat your guests to nothing more extravagant than cool water but add ice cubes and lemon slices
- Fresh foliage: Sometimes I buy cheap flowers from the supermarket but at other times I use freshly cut foliage from the garden. And I have been known to take a walk down the street with a pair of scissors! Or try a single rose in a nice vase (especially if you’re hosting coup;les!)
- Welcome treat: Some hosts buy arrival snacks for their guests but if you’re wanting to add value without spending money, then spend your time instead and make fresh cookies, brownies or cupcakes for your guests. (If your local regulations don’t forbid cooking for guests).Or simply leave two shiny red apples or whatever fruit is cheap in your local grocery store. It’s the thought that counts
- A clutter-free zone: You guests are bringing their own belongings and don’t want clutter in their rooms. Expend just a tiny bit of energy to make sure that the space has plenty of room for your guests and that there is no visual clutter to distract them as they enjoy their time with you
- Super-clean accommodation: Take the time to check your rental thoroughly and make sure that it’s squeaky clean. Check under the bed, behind the fridge, inside cupboards and drawers … make sure that your guests feel that your hygiene is fantastic. If you have great views then sparkling windows are a must
- Where to eat: Most restaurants and cafés have paper menus that you can add to a binder or folder in the accommodation. Add personal notes explaining why you like a certain eatery and your own personal favourite menu items or any special tips you might have. Make it truly personal
- What’s on? Subscribe to local email lists so that you’re aware of what’s going on in your area during the guests’ stay. Create a printable document and add it to the guests’ room so that they won’t miss any special events
- A friendly greeting: I prefer to meet all guests personally to show them the rental and make them feel welcome. But for guests who can’t be greeted in person, a handwritten note that they see on arrival is the next best thing
- A comfortable bed: It might seem obvious but many of your guests will be out and about during the day sightseeing or working. So what’s really important to them is a comfortable bed. Be sure to sleep in it yourself to assess it. Would a reading lamp help? Are the pillows just right? You don’t need expensive items but comfort is must
- A local specialty: If your area has local produce that is unique to your area can you leave your guests a sample without spending too much? This could be locally produced honey, apple juice, fruit – whatever you think is special to your location
- Local information: This is so easy to do. Visit your local library or tourist info place and you’ll find leaflets about attractions in your area, transport timetables, even discount vouchers, Put this into an attractive binder in your room or suite
- How can I help you? Guests like to feel that there’s someone to turn to if they have questions or problems. Make sure that your guests know that you’re happy and willing to help them and how they can get hold of you (or your deputy if you’re not around)
- Fresh smelling place: Before your guests are due to arrive make sure that you open a window or ventilate the area well to make sure that the place smells fresh and clean. Ensure that the room or apartment is a pleasant temperature when your guests arrive. An inexpensive fan in the room can make a lot of difference to the guests’ comfort
- Workspace: Most guests need a tiny workspace. Many people travel with their laptops or need an extra surface for playing chess, applying makeup – so many reasons. A cheap laptop desk (see the links below) shows them that you’ve thought of everything
- Food delivery service: Collect menus from local takeout places that deliver to your area. Leave these in your informational binder or in a prominent place
- Those little touches: Guests appreciate those tiny, inexpensive items … even if they don’t use them. Q-tips, a box of tissues (one box usually lasts for months) or see here for more ideas for stocking your bathroom
- Did you forget anything? Spend a few dollars on mini toiletries such as mouthwash, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. and let your guests know that if they have forgotten anything to let you know as you have supplies of various items. You’ll find that these are rarely requested but your guests feel truly looked after
- Mirror, mirror: Be sure that your accommodation has mirrors in the room as well as in the bathroom. A full-length mirror is great for guests so that they can check their appearance before heading out but an inexpensive mirror on a stand is perfect for makeup and hair purposes
- Writing materials: A cheap notebook and a pen can make a lot of difference to your guests if they need to make a shopping list or make notes. What’s more, it encourages them to leave a thank you note for you!
- Safe and sound: Be sure that you have a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in your rental. If they are not in a prominent place point them out to your guests who will be pleased that you’ve thought about their safety
These are just a few ways in which hosts can make their guests feel extra special – and I’m sure that you can think of more. Point everything out to your new guests when you’re doing the house tour to make them appreciate just how much you’re providing for their comfort.
I like to end the house tour by telling the guests that if there’s anything they need, they should contact me.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.