It’s a wonderful feeling. You’ve prepared your apartment or room in your home and made it ready for Airbnb guests. You’ve taken some lovely photographs of the place and uploaded them to your listing page. You’ve spent ages writing about your accommodation on the site, you’ve deliberated over house rules and you’ve filled out the online guidebook with local information.
You’ve checked with your city about any applicable local taxes or regarding any permits you might need. You’ve also spoken to your homeowners’ association, condo board (or even landlord in some cases) and you know that what you’re doing is perfectly legal and above board.
If you’ve done your homework, then you’ll know that getting money from guests’ security deposit is a long hard road and that claiming for damages from Airbnb itself is even more of a palaver. So you’ve had the foresight to change your insurance policy to ensure that it covers you for any damage done by your paying guests.
So now you’re ready to make your listing live, right? No. There’s still a little work for you to do. I know, you’ve done so much already but for trouble-free hosting there’s just one more step.
I’m sure that you’ve thought of everything. You’ve made sure that your guests have everything they need in your room or apartment. You’ve probably spent a couple of nights there yourself to make sure. (If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to do so.)
When your listing goes live, you’ll immediately receive a boost in Airbnb’s search results. That means that your first booking could arrive just minutes after you’ve make your listing live – and they are arriving tomorrow. Are you really ready?
DO YOU HAVE EMERGENCY AND CONTINGENCY PLANS IN PLACE?
I’ve found that even hosts who truly believe that they have thought of everything don’t have these in place. It’s not being pessimistic to spend a little time thinking about what could happen and what you’d do if it did. The answers to many of these are obvious and simple.
For example, it’s highly likely that during your hosting career you’ll have a problem that involves you requiring specialist services. If and when these things happen you don’t want to spend ages scouring the internet and calling random companies. If you don’t know appropriate tradespeople ask your friends for their recommendations. You’ll need to have:
- A plumber. Preferably a firm that has a 24 hour call out service. If your guest lets you know at midnight that the toilet is stopped up then you’ll be glad you have the plumber’s number
- An electrician. Electrical mishaps can happen as often as plumbing problems. Hopefully your contact can also sort out any heating or cooling problems too.
- A handyperson. You just never know when a shelf might loosen itself from the wall, a tile is cracked or a minor leak occurs.
- Cleaners. Even if you intend to clean your rental yourself there may sometimes be emergencies that mean you’re unable to – not a good situation when you have a back-to-back booking. Be sure to have numbers for specialist cleaning services too such as for your carpets and upholstery.
Make sure that these numbers are readily available in your phone’s contact list. And it’s a good idea to list them by the job they perform rather than their names – you might think that it will be easy to remember that you’r plumber’s name is John but after a few months you’ll have forgotten; file him under P for plumber!
You might also need to have the contact numbers for other people depending on your listing and your location. Here in Florida we don’t need snow removal but you might.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT HAPPEN?
- What will you do if your guest complains that the internet signal is weak?
- If the water supply is cut off due to work, what will you do for your guests?
- How will you handle it if maintenance work is suddenly – and noisily – being performed in your building?
- What will you do if a guest breaks your house rules?
- What will you do if extreme weather conditions arrive?
- How will you deal with a guest who becomes ill?
- What would you do if you wanted a guest to leave your property?
Try to imagine every possibility. For example, if a guest accidentally breaks a window do you have a number on your phone for someone who can come out quickly to repair it? Or far more commonly, if a female guest informs you that she’s had a ‘feminine accident’ in the bed, what will you say and do?
WHAT MIGHT YOUR GUESTS NEED TO KNOW?
You’ve filled out your guidebook with masses of useful information but what else might your guests need to know?
- How things work. Most guests don’t have a problem but sometimes, you’ll find guests who have no idea how to use your coffee maker or even change channels on the TV. It’s not that they’re stupid – they may just be unfamiliar with your appliances or with your culture. Be sure that you’re prepared.
- You can spend ages pondering and perfecting your listing on Airbnb but you’ll still have guests (probably more than you think) who don’t read it – or take the initiative to look up themselves how long it takes to walk to the beach or the convention centre or where the nearest supermarket is. Be sure to have this information at hand.
- Do you have a plan in place for guests who don’t speak English and whose language you don’t know?
Think long and hard about this because these questions will depend so much on your property, your location, local amenities and attractions, the facilities you provide and your house rules.
AND WHO DO YOU HAVE AS BACKUP?
Many hosts have a partner who can deputise for them if needs be. But what if you and your partner were both unavailable? Family emergencies, illness, accidents – there are many reasons why both of you could be out of action. If you both get a bad case of the flu, your business is being threatened.
The ideal person to look after your rental if you can’t is a local Airbnb host. Alternatively you can train a friend or neighbour but this is a time consuming task. Remember that they need access to all the information we’ve spoken about above. For our backup person, I have a lengthy hosting manual online (password protected) so that he can access the information on his phone when he’s in the rental or answering guests’ queries.