How can new hosts avoid getting bad reviews on Airbnb? There are some common mistakes that are easy to make if you are a first-time host and they can result in all sorts of negative consequences – from your listing not appearing high in searches, to the end of your Airbnb business in more serious cases.
To help you navigate your way through the tricky waters of Airbnb, we have put together this list of things to keep in mind.
1. Using bad pictures
Many hosts, keen to get their business up and running as soon as possible, make the mistake of pulling out their smartphones, taking some happy snaps, and posting them on the internet as part of their Airbnb listing. We can’t stress enough the importance of outstanding photography as a way of ‘selling’ your Airbnb as a destination.
Poor lighting, bad angles and unprofessional compositions are not going to do you any favours. You also need to think about what you’re taking photos of….are there any strange items that should be removed from the photo before you press the button? (Like your neighbour’s cat or a towel hanging over a door?) Check out our ‘Taking the best photos’ article to ensure you do the right thing when it comes to images.
2. Setting up wrong expectations
It can be tempting to write a description that over-sells your space. It’s not okay to exaggerate the truth in order to make your Airbnb sound better than it is. Your excessively colourful property description might result in lots of initial bookings but in the long-term, you are going to get a bunch of bad reviews and cancellations. Always be honest.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative and inspiring with the words you choose to explain what you’re offering…but make sure they are truthful. Don’t say your apartment is in a ‘central location’ if it’s an hour from the city by public transport. We have put together tips to help you write an awesome description.
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3. Fixed pricing
You might think it’s a good idea to lock in a nightly rate for your Airbnb after checking the rates of your competitors but did you know that many hosts use flexible pricing to entice guests to book during the low season? This also works to your advantage during popular travel times like Christmas and the Summer holidays as you will be able to earn more money/increase your rates in relation to the season.
Depending on what part of the world you are based, take into consideration public and religious holidays like Chinese New Year when some hosts will charge four times their usual rate. Don’t be afraid to go in and change your prices throughout the year and always keep an eye on your competitors.
4. Being too impersonal… or too personal
This is a skill that comes naturally to some and for others, takes time to develop. Most Airbnb travellers choose this type of accommodation because they want a personal and authentic experience when staying in a new place. That means they want to get a sense of who you are as a person…and to feel your passion for your hometown.
This doesn’t mean they want you to knock on their door every few hours with travel tips and maps. Like any situation, it’s really a matter of judging for yourself how friendly your guest wants you to be. They will give you a clear indication with their questions and body language as to how much interaction they require. If they are asking you for your advice about places to eat and things to do – make sure you give it!
5. Not communicating clearly or quickly with guests
Replying to emails in a timely manner. Making sure you address all of your guests’ questions. It might seem like simple stuff but it’s amazing how many hosts let the team down when it comes to communication.
This can lead to confusion, unhappy guests and inevitably negative reviews. Try to be clear in all of your communication – especially when it comes to writing the directions/giving advice about public transportation options for your Airbnb.
6. Theming your space
We have all seen those photos of some supremely quirky Airbnb… a time-machine-themed space hut…or a Cherokee Indian inspired tepee… but unless you are a confident interior decorator we strongly recommend you avoid creating a themed space. Yes, it’s good to have a point of difference but if you go over the top with your theme you will run the risk of alienating a large percentage of travellers.
There might be 10 percent of guests who’d love to stay in a minimalist Japanese themed apartment and sleep on a futon – but 90 percent would prefer a more neutral space with a soft bed. Check out our blog about creating inspiring spaces to get more of an idea of the dos and don’t’s of theming.
7. Assuming things about your guests
This can lead to some very tricky situations – whether you’re assuming that they would treat your home like you’d treat their home…or whether you’re assuming their level of English is good enough to understand your house rules. Never assume. Always go above and beyond when it comes to setting expectations, writing simple and clear house rules, and making sure you do your best to understand the needs of your guests.
8. Not prioritising guest requests
One way that you are guaranteed to annoy your guest is if they make a request and you ignore it or take too long to respond. This can be as basic as an email asking the cheapest way to get from the airport to your Airbnb – or a more challenging request to fix something that is broken in the apartment.
Even if you’ve already stated the best transport options in your welcome email…and even if there’s no way to repair what’s broken because it’s a Sunday and nobody is able to attend to the issue – you still need to communicate with guests and let them know that their comfort, safety, and enjoyment is important to you.
9. Letting your ego get the best of you
What happens when your guest is unhappy with the service you have provided even though you wrote a clear description and did your best to manage their expectations? Or what if, for some reason, you mess up as a host?
Guess what, you might have to swallow your pride and apologise …or offer up kind words even when you know your guest is being unreasonable. Most of the time situations can be resolved in a way that works for all parties. The important thing is not letting things escalate so that your guest becomes angry or overly disappointed. More tips here.
10. Becoming complacent
So your Airbnb business is going great. You’ve got bookings for six months in advance. You’ve got a decent set of five-star reviews on your page. Guess what? Your work is not over! Becoming complacent as a host is a big mistake.
You need to always keep your eye on the local accommodation market and notice any changes that you might have to take into consideration when setting your price. You need to keep giving 100% to guests and you need to make sure your space is always immaculate when new guests arrive.
Getting it right
GuestReady is an Airbnb management company in London. We can help manage guest relations for you and make sure you don’t suffer any of the common pitfalls. Want more inspiration on becoming a fantastic host? Read When Airbnb hosts get it right.