How To Improve Your Listings

1.   Take The Right Pictures

The quality of your pictures is very important for guests to select and book your Airbnb. Most important is to show your home exactly how it is in order to give your guests an idea of what to expect. Take pictures with good resolution and show your guests how they’re going to find your place when they arrive - clean and welcoming. 

2.   Make your listing a destination, not just a rental.

Airbnb makes it possible for you to stay at a unique apartment every time and everywhere you travel. Make sure your apartment doesn’t look like every other boring apartment. Give it identity and personality! Guests are always looking for something new, something they haven’t yet seen. Your apartment could be just what they are looking for!

Additionally - If your location is a an added bonus for your listing, your customers are going to want to know what they could do around the area. Think of all the amazing views, parks, events and tourist attractions - and share it with them!

3.   Build Your Listing Based on Trust

Your listing can be built on trust, and the best way to build it is through your guests’ reviews - bookings will start coming in faster! Leave guest reviews and prove to your future guests that you’re an engaged and active host who cares.

Make sure you are getting consistently positive reviews, and address any complaints proactively by being professional and helpful. 

Providing a personal service is also a good way to show that you care for you guests. If you’re away and can’t handle your Airbnb’s the way you’d like to, Cityami can help you host your guests while you're away. We answer questions they may have, offer local tips to New York City, and attend to any emergencies that might arise throughout the duration of their stay.

Lots of Visits but no bookings?

 

Are you having trouble with your listing? Lots of visits but no actual bookings? Here are some suggestions to help improve your results:

 

1. Do you have more than a 4-day minimum? While it's recommended to have a minimum that makes financial sense for you, having a minimum length of stay requirement can also limit your business. Imagine you have almost the whole month booked, and only a few days available, because listing sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and booking.com will  only shows listings that are available during the dates being searched for, your posting won't be shown unless guests match your exact availability.  Try to do some research on the type of guests who are appropriate for your listing, and how long they typically stay in your city. Having a high minimum will prevent people who are looking for a brief stay from booking your space or even knowing it exists. With a lower minimum, you're able to host guests who are looking for either a short stay or a longer one, thus being able to increase your search results. Business travelers tend to visit for a few days, and are a great source of repeat business. Opening up your listing to shorter stays could mean you’ll appeal to people who travel for business. They may even add a few days at the end of their stay simply to enjoy your home and the city!

2. Answer your inquiries and booking requests as fast as possible. Most listing sites monitor this and give preference to those who respond quickly. Not only do most guests book the first host to respond, it will also help you in building your reputation as a caring and welcoming host.

3. Try to share honest and accurate, yet appealing and welcoming photos of your appartment. Set the appropriate expectations, but also paint the picture for eager anticipation before your guest's arrival!  

4. Add an exciting description of your neighborhood. You know why you love and chose to live where you do. Now share this with your potential guests! Include a few snippets about  the main attractions and transportation types in your area, along with travel time to the most popular destinations in your city. When writing these guides, be sure to plan according to the type of guests you think will be best suited to your listing.

How honest should your vacation rental profile be?

We've all been at this crossroads at one moment or another. You have a great apartment, in a great neighborhood, in a building that hasn't been updated .. since.. well, 1967. It's seen the Ed Koch era, the Giuliani cleanup, and the 21st century gentrification. Yet somehow, the owner hasn't quite figured out how to take out the trash on a (weekly?) basis, the graffiti on the walls is only ever painted over with new graffiti, and the stairs - they break from time to time. Also, there's been a construction site outside your front window for over two years.

YOU DON'T WANT TO TELL YOUR WOULD-BE GUESTS ALL OF THESE DETAILS, RIGHT? It could scare them away, right?

Wrong.

In order to maintain that five-star status, you're going to need to set the appropriate expectations. It's essential to make your profile as honest, transparent, and concise as possible. This is the only way to avoid misunderstandings and unhappy guests.

The right guests for your home will understand the ongoing perplexities of housing in your neighborhood, and for them construction will mean nothing more than a little extra dust on the windowsill.

Not sure whether your profile matches your home true to color? Get an outsider's opinion. Cityami offers this service free of charge to all of our clients. Still, you don't need a vacation rental manager to tell you your home doesn't look anything like your photos. Ask a friend who's visited recently, your cleaners, or that neighbor across the hall who's also listed.

Happy hosting!

Check-out time was 3 hours ago, and your guests are still there? What now.

Inevitably, this moment will come for every long-term host. Your guests loved your space so much (or it's just so cold outside), that they're not really making any movement towards the door. You were understanding for the first 30 minutes, but after the first hour frustration starts to build. 

This is one of those moments that are truthfully better to curb before they even begin. If guests are staying in your home, ask them the evening before what time they plan to leave, and if it's later in the day, remind them that check-out time is 11am. Let them know the cleaners are arriving shortly after, or simply that you need to prepare the room for the next guests. If the guests are staying over while you're away, send a message at 9am that same morning. It should always be friendly, and always assuming the best. Let them know check-out is 11am and ask whether they need luggage storage or a car service (if applicable). 

At first, it can feel rude or awkward telling a guest they need to leave, but it shouldn't! You are, after all, running a small-scale bed and breakfast, and they are not relatives visiting for the holidays. Keep the conversation light and simple, and it won't be a big deal. If your guests ask to stay longer, don't feel obligated to let them unless it is truly no trouble at all for you. 

At the end of the day, you want to continue to enjoy hosting. You and your guests alike will all be happier for it!

 

Do you really need to buy new linens?

Airbnb Linens

Think of you vacation rental as it started - a new spin on bed and breakfasts. So, when you imagine your own ideal experience in a bed and breakfast, imagine what the bedding looks like. Does a faded, slightly stained comforter sound welcoming? Sheets with miscellaneous spots on them? We thought not. While these stains might be old news to you, something you've grown used to seeing , to someone new staying in your home they're more than uninviting - they're a bit scary. They could also be the difference between a 3-star and a 5-star rating for cleanliness. 

Our advice? Buy clean, white sheets and a white duvet + cover that can be washed easily between guests. Why white? Well, for one - white naturally looks clean and pristine. White can also be bleached - and you'll want to bleach it often.  Guests will inadvertently spill things, leave the sheets on the floor, sleep with their makeup on, etc. These are all things that can stain.

Happy hosting!

 

Speaking of linens: How many towels should you leave for your guests?

The unique thing about rentals booked through Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway is that, well, they're usually a home. More often than not, they're your home. So as you're prepping for your guest there are a few things to keep in mind. While your home certainly isn't a hotel, and likely costs less than a hotel, guests still expect certain hotel-level standards. Part of this includes leaving enough towels, and while we're at it - making sure they're still in good, fluffy shape. Whether you have a laundry machine in your home, or down the street, the best number of towels to provide is two body towels and 1 hand towel per guest with an additional 1-2 kitchen towels for the home. This number remains constant regardless of the length of stay. The reason? Some guests may prefer 1 body towel and 1 hair towel, or perhaps the towel doesn't dry quickly enough. Whatever the reason, don't be stingy. Something as small as a well thought out quantity of towels could be the line between a 4 and a 5 star review. Taking care of your guest will always make the experience more pleasant for all parties, and your reviews will reflect this.

My guest showed up with an unexpected friend.. now what?

Whether you rent an entire apartment or just a room in your home, sooner or later, this will happen to every host. As part of the sharing economy, you've opened your home to visiting guests - you've become part of a new generation, a generation that isn't afraid to share their home. Then someone new, unexpected shows up. Whether your rental is from Airbnb, VRBO, or any number of services - this wasn't in the plans. What do you do?

There's no need to panic. More likely than not, your guest just felt so comfortable in your home that they didn't think it was an issue to bring someone else - a simple misunderstanding. After all, do they need to ask permission to bring friends to a hotel or to their home? No, of course not. So what to do? Of course, do as your manners would have you do - and welcome your guest's friend. Offer them a glass of water. Then, casually, ask whether they're stopping in for a moment or plan to spend the night. Chances are your guest wasn't aware you charge extra for additional guests, and now is your time to let them know. If your home can't accommodate additional guests, don't hesitate to let them know - kindly. 

The trick with Airbnb, VRBO, and any number of international home sharing platforms is that misunderstandings happen before you know what happened. Whether it be a cultural difference or a simple misunderstanding, always approach the situation kindly, giving your guest the benefit of the doubt. Chances are they had no poor intention whatsoever. Who knows, their friend might just be one of the most interesting people you'll ever meet!

Writing your description

Image courtesy of 

Image courtesy of 

Everyone who has listed or considered listing their space on Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, or any number of other vacation rental sites knows the thought. "What should I write? How much should I say?" 

My first piece of advice is to keep it simple - as much as you want to write paragraphs upon paragraphs to win your potential renter over, don't. The average renter will read no more than the first 2 sentences to a paragraph before moving on to the next listing.

My second piece of advice is to be careful what you leave out. Does your neighborhood look scary, but is actually safe? Include that. Is your rental super small? Include that in your listing description as well. How you say it is also important - don't make it worse than it is. You may scare away some potential renters, but that's ok - they wouldn't have been happy anyway - and a bad review is much, much worse than a brief gap in rent.

I really recommend going through the process yourself - whether or not you actually end up staying in a vacation rental. Look at what other homeowners write, and think about what makes you feel most comfortable. 

If all else fails, have a (trusted) friend review your listing. A second opinion goes a long way.

Finding the right guest

Everyone who has rented remembers the first time fears. "Will my guest care for my home? Are they going to have a crazy party while I'm away? Should I put my valuables in a safe?"

The truth is, there's no way to know for certain how anything will turn out. However, chances are your guest will care for your home as much as you do, if not more. Vacation rental services such as Airbnb are great for this very reason. Not only do they allow you to vet your guest on many levels (Identity check, Requesting information about their stay, Recorded credit card information), they also act on several levels to protect you and your home. From a simple security deposit to their $1 Million insurance policy, when you rent your space through their site, you can rest assured your home is generally protected. 

Still, what do you do with irreplaceable items? If an item means a lot to you, whether for sentimental or other reasons, you may want to tuck it away for the duration of your rental period. We often recommend homeowners secure their valuables in a safety locked box or cabinet. If it's too large or bulky to stash away, a simple "please don't touch" note often does the trick. In the thousands of rentals we've seen, not once has a guest damaged or stolen any of these "forbidden" items. 

What else can you do to make sure your rental experience is as seamless as you'd hope? The number one piece of advice we can give is to vet your guests carefully. Make sure they are choosing your home for the right reasons (location, size, proximity to an event, etc.). If your home is in the middle of the city center and your potential guest mentions they chose it because it looks "quiet and peaceful", you may want to wait for a better fit. If your guest isn't happy, neither will you be - and your reviews will reflect this. Likewise, if your potential guest refuses to give details about their stay, move on to the next potential. When you have a better understanding of your potential guest's needs, you will better be able to determine who they are and whether they will love and care for your home as much as you would.