Hosting Hotline: 7 Tips for First-Time Airbnb Hosts (Episode 324)

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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hello, welcome back from the great episode. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:00:02] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we’re–

[00:00:04] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:00:05] Sarah: And this is the–

[00:00:06] Both Annette & Sarah: Hosting Hotline.

[00:00:08] Sarah: Today we have a great question from Sandrine. This is for all of our newbies out there. You know who you are. If you would–

[00:00:14] Annette: Actually, this is for some oldies too because I know some of this stuff, they ain’t got it done.

[00:00:18] Sarah: Oldies.

[00:00:19] Annette: Sweating with the oldies. Did Richard Simmons ever get found?

[00:00:25] Sarah: Oh, you just opened up a whole other kind of worms.

[00:00:26] Annette: I know. I started watching the documentary, and I stopped. But anyways, let’s get onto Sandrine’s question, for our new newbies and our oldies, but goodies.

[00:00:32] Sarah: For our podcast newbies or our oldies who don’t know, you can submit your own question to the Hosting Hotline. Just go to You press Record. You ask your question, and you don’t only help us get content for the podcast here, but you also help thousands of hosts who are listening hear some great ideas around questions they might have too. With that, here’s Sandrine.

[00:00:56] Question: Hi, Sarah and Annette. My name is Sandrine, and I’ve been a fan, listening for three years now, and appreciate all that you have to share. My partners and I are finally set to launch our first STR next month. Yay. We will certainly diversify our OTAs, but I would love to know any hot tips that you may have for newbies like us as we do set up our Airbnb listing, things that we definitely want to make sure are turned on or off, or just general tips that will make us more appealing on the platform, or just tips in general as we kick off. Thanks so much. Appreciate you guys.

[00:01:34] Sarah: Sandrine.

[00:01:35] Annette: We appreciate you.

[00:01:36] Sarah: Three-year listener. Thank you.

[00:01:37] Annette: Have you left us a review, though, Sandrine? Three years? I hope you have. And listeners, if you haven’t left us a review, please do. But we chatted about this question because we could sit for hours and talk about this, but we’re keeping it tight. We’re going to do rapid fire seven tips. Let’s start, Sarah, with professional photos.

[00:01:57] Sarah: Right. Ladies, everyone knows this by now, but truly, I’m telling you, not everyone does.

[00:02:03] Annette: Sarah, didn’t someone, just last week, tell you that they can take great pictures with their iPhone?

[00:02:07] Sarah: They did. And you can, but it takes skill. So if you’ve got that skill where you understand lighting and like how to take it with that– do it. Great. But if you are not, if that is not your area of expertise, we have to remember people don’t get to walk these properties before they book. They are booking off of mostly photos.

[00:02:24] And so it’s really important, and not only great photos, but how you place them in the listing. Over the past couple of months, we’ve met with members of our Hosting Business Mastery, who are paid members who want to level up their hosting business, and we do listing audits.

[00:02:40] And some of these amazing hosts with incredible properties will repeat the same, like the living room or the kitchen, three or four times the beginning of their photo drop. So the first photo, second photo, third photo are all of the living room.

[00:02:55] Annette: Mm-hmm.

[00:02:55] Sarah: That’s a mistake. The first five photos need to be a good tour. It’s like a tasting platter.

[00:03:01] Annette: You need a top five. What’s your standout, your highlights? So one is professional photos. But once you have those done, two is that order of those photos and taking that potential booker on a tour.

[00:03:15] Three. This one got me in the beginning. It got me a couple of times. I just press Publish because Airbnb’s like, you can list in three minutes. But I didn’t have a cleaning fee. I didn’t check my calendar. I didn’t think about anything. So blocking the calendar. But let’s explain that a little bit deeper, though, Sarah. Instead of just pressing Publish, you want to publish on publish.

[00:03:40] Sarah: For some reason, Airbnb does not give you access to all of these setting features while you’re setting it up. I think it’s because they want you feel like–

[00:03:49] Annette: They want it to be quick.

[00:03:50] Sarah: You can do it so quick. Everyone’s got a need for speed. So you run into the issue of publishing where Airbnb is going to celebrate you as a new host with a new property and get you leads, but then you maybe didn’t set your cleaning fee or take advantage of some other pricing strategies that you can once you list it.

[00:04:10] So my recommendation is block. It’ll ask you, how far out do you want to open your calendar? Block it out so that people cannot book for the foreseeable future. I forget what it says. It’s like unavailable, something like that. For the foreseeable future, press Publish, and then go back and go through every single phase, and see what other features are available to you now.

[00:04:33] Annette: Specifically cleaning fee.

[00:04:35] Sarah: It’s the short-term cleaning fee and the long-term cleaning fee.

[00:04:39] Annette: Yeah, that’s a toggle off of that one. Cleaning fee. You got to do both of those for sure.

[00:04:42] Sarah: That’s a new one.

[00:04:44] Annette: Next hot tip, pricing. Don’t you just price Monday through Thursday, one, and Friday, Saturday, the other.

[00:04:51] Sarah: You just leverage smart pricing?

[00:04:53] Annette: No, I’m making fun of me, but let’s help with the pricing strategy here.

[00:04:58] Sarah: Right. Especially as a new host with one property, you want to keep your expenses as low as you can. This is a future tip too. So smart pricing sounds like the smart choice for you, but you have to remember that pricing benefits Airbnb. I guess as it should.

[00:05:15] I love Price Lab’s Market Dashboard, where you can pull a report of your specific area and understand pricing structures for the entire year, your booking calendar, or how far out your booking window, sorry, to understand– for example, you don’t want to leave your calendar open for an entire year.

[00:05:36] If you don’t have a good grasp on your pricing because someone could book something far out at an incredible rate and you don’t want to cancel on them because it also dings you on the algorithm– so really understanding your markets pricing strategy for your rental, and then I would keep the calendars pretty tight until you feel really confident. I’d rather do that.

[00:05:54] Annette: Mm-hmm, than open it up and lose money or leave a lot of money on the table. House rules. Really dialing in your house rules ahead of time.

[00:06:06] Sarah: This is important too because you never want anyone to feel like they are being discriminated against. I’ve learned this in the past too because I just didn’t think of it that way. And so if you have house rules and very complete house rules, this way, you can say to someone, unfortunately that’s against our policy, or unfortunately we can’t accommodate that, as listed in our house rules.

[00:06:31] Annette: Let’s give a for example. Let’s do a for example, local guests.

[00:06:34] Sarah: For example. Yeah. Here, we’re in a metro market. We do not rent to local guests. And we have that in our house rules. That way no one feels like we’re just discriminating against them either by their photo or their name or the way they even message us on the platform, they might feel discriminated against. I’m talking black and white with your house rules and your policies. They are non-negotiables for you. List them all.

[00:06:59] Annette: Number six is having that truth-telling friend, family member, spend a night or two. It’s that pressure test it. This doesn’t have to be on the platform. I will say Airbnb can sniff this out.

[00:07:13] Sarah: Yeah, don’t do that.

[00:07:14] Annette: If you have a friend that books with you, yeah, IP address. I don’t know how they figure it out, but they do. But having someone send them your check-in instructions would be, have them go at night. If I can give you a double, double hot tip there, because things are different at night. It’s a lot more difficult to just see where parking is, see where house– I mean they might know where your house is, but having that truth telling friend. Have them take a shower. Have them take a hot shower. Have them take a cold. Maybe they like to do that cold plunge at the end. Have them make coffee. Have them use the house, maybe work from home, do all the stuff. Is there a hook where there needs to be a hook? Is the water pressure okay?

[00:08:00] Could they use your lock system? I think that will really help you. Sarah, as an ex-actor, having that dress rehearsal. That’s what we should call it. Having your dress rehearsal stay, it really will help your jitters of opening day, opening night, and then you’ll know, hey, you can maybe get ahead of something that could potentially give you a bad review off the jump.

[00:08:25] We could go on forever, but something that is near and dear to us, number seven, is safety and insurance. Making sure that your property is covered, Sandrine. And I heard you have partners. I’m sure this is a large investment for you. Your insurance company needs to know what you’re doing with that property.

[00:08:48] Again, not just insurance safety, but also, what are the regulations in your area? Have you applied? Are you approved? But these are things that are behind the scenes. You can be working on them now, but making sure that you have insurance for overnight stays for sure. Anything else?

[00:09:07] Sarah: No, there’s so much, but–

[00:09:08] Annette: I know, but we feel good.

[00:09:09] Sarah: This is a short episode. And you know what, Sandrine? You can join the Hosting Business Mastery Method, and we can help you build out your business from the ground up. You’ll be surrounded by other professional hosts who’ve been where you are about to go.

[00:09:24] Even if you’ve got that one property, depending on the complexity of it, you might need some guidance. So there’s that too. We’ll put that in the show notes too, in case anyone out there is interested in getting their short-term rental business off with some guidance.

[00:09:39] Annette: And we’ll put the dynamic pricing software that we use. We’ll put the insurance company that we use in the show notes too. We’re partners with them, affiliates for them. We think they do a wonderful job too.

[00:09:53] Sarah: We use them too.

[00:09:53] Annette: Yeah.

[00:09:53] Sarah: We use them in our own business as well.

[00:09:54] Annette: We pay them.

[00:09:55] Sarah: We do. With that, I am Sarah Karakaian.

[00:09:58] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we are–

[00:09:59] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:10:00] Sarah: Talk to you next time.