It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the vacation rental business or rapidly growing an empire-sized short term rental portfolio. Either way, you’ve got problems to solve and profits to bank. Here are our 99 favorite Airbnb tips, sourced from savvy vacation rental hosts and property managers around the country.
Just don’t implement them all at once! You’ll overwhelm your guests and leave yourself gasping for air. Start slowly instead. Try out a few of these airbnb tips for size and see what works for you and your market.
Then try a few more…
The List: 99 Airbnb Tips for Expert Hosts
1. Set up an LLC.
Banks, vendors, and anyone else you do business with will take your vacation rental business more seriously. Structure it right and an LLC can also provide you with valuable asset and liability protections in the event a guest decides to sue you for an unsafe condition or any one of a hundred other possible claims.
2. Open dedicated bank accounts.
We advise opening separate bank accounts for each short term rental property. This helps keep things organized and streamlines your accounting process. If you use cloud-based software like Quickbooks Online to keep track of things, you can then link these bank accounts directly and the software will do most of the work for you.
Dedicated bank accounts (in the name of your LLC) also make it easier to avoid personal liability for guest-related incidents and claims.
3. Get separate credit cards.
Depending on your credit score, you may want to apply for a different credit card for each vacation rental property you own. This can be really helpful in tracking expenses by asset, which is the only way to get a true picture of how each investment is performing. Most credit cards can also be linked directly to Quickbooks and other online accounting programs. At a minimum, get a dedicated credit card for your rental property portfolio or each logical sub-portfolio.
4. Start your own email list.
Email is the best way to keep in touch with past guests. You want to be sure they can reach you for direct bookings in the future or to refer their friends and family to your short term rental. The listing platforms don’t give you guest contact info, so have guests physically sign-in upon arrival and ask for their email address.
Or leave your email address posted somewhere in the rental and make it known that you offer 5% discounts to returning guests and referrals who book direct. Keep track of past guests’ emails in Gmail or whatever email client you prefer. When your email list get big and gnarly, toast to your success and then get a Mailchimp account.
Not taking direct bookings yet? It’s never too late to start!
5. Order custom house/condo stationery.
If you’re at all artistic, sketch a quick logo or graphic for your vacation rental. If stick figures are the best you can muster, hire an artist on Etsy to work something up for you. Then have custom stationery printed with your new house or condo logo. Guests appreciate subtle touches like these, which also help them remember you for future stays.
6. Stock these 15 spices in your Airbnb.
While no two cooks will ever agree completely, there’s a rough consensus around the following list of the top 15 spices and herbs: black pepper, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, rosemary, garlic powder, basil, thyme, oregano, chili powder, onion powder, cayenne, vanilla, bay leaves, and paprika. Stock most of these and no short term rental guest will ever complain that it was difficult to prep a home-cooked meal. Still curious about spices? Read our full post about the most common spices.
7. Stock these pots and pans.
Stainless steel or non-stick? It’s a raging debate on the Airbnb forums and it’s not likely to be resolved anytime soon. Non-stick coatings will get scratched up by guests who don’t know to only use wooden tools, while stainless can be a real mess after cooking with too much heat. Regardless, we generally prefer to stock this stainless cookware set, along with a couple non-stick frying pans for eggs and other finicky dishes. If you want to go budget and replace your non-sticks regularly, you can’t beat this Amazon Basics deal.
8. Pile extra blankets in cozy spots.
Don’t hide extra blankets and comforters in closets where they’re hard to find. Keep backup layers handy and obvious to generate a win-win scenario. Your guests don’t have to be cold for more than a few seconds and they won’t jack the heat up to 80 degrees the minute they detect a faint chill.
9. Use cameras sparingly, if at all.
If you’re doing cameras, keep them outside or facing front and back doors only. Be sure to disclose them to guests in advance. Most people really don’t want to be watched while they’re on vacation. Cameras in bedrooms and bathrooms will get you into all kinds of trouble. It’s just creepy too.
If you’re concerned about unauthorized guests or large parties, we recommend making friends with your neighbors by offering them a small slice of your revenue. If that doesn’t do it, also check out NoiseAware for cost-effective remote monitoring.
10. Install a secret backup lockbox.
Many short term rental owners have a lockbox on site to deliver keys to guests and provide access for cleaners, handymen, and other service providers. That works great until someone jams the box or forgets to put the keys back. It’s a good idea to have a second lockbox mounted somewhere with another set of keys just in case there’s a problem during a tight turn between guests.
We like CodeBox. You get an unlimited number of unique temporary codes, there’s no monthly or annual contract, and you don’t even need wifi. Just hang the box and it works.
11. Provide a Polaroid camera for guests.
Get a house Polaroid camera and leave it out on the counter with a small batch of film for each new guest stay. This relatively small expense delivers a big payoff in terms of guest happiness. It’s especially fun for families and kids to experience the magic of a photo you can hold in your hand.
“Shake it. Shake it. Shake it like a…”
12. Stock preferred beer and wine.
When a guest confirms a new booking, casually ask if they have a favorite beer, (reasonably priced) wine, or other fancy drink. Then stock it in the fridge prior to arrival. While this can be difficult to coordinate if you’re a remote owner, work with your cleaners or someone else local to set up a system to make it happen.
Small touches like this go a long ways towards making people feel appreciated from the moment they arrive. In our experience, a guest who knows their favorite beer is chilling in the fridge is far less likely to get worked up over the inevitable curly hair in the bathroom or that 1960s-era boiler that takes forever to heat up the house.
13. Use TextExpander for quick texts and email.
Your guests want to feel like you’re a real person who cares about their booking and stay experiences. You want to get them the information they need efficiently without giving yourself carpal tunnel. Behold the Text Expander snippet.
Set up super-flexible canned responses in rich-text with quick fill fields for things like guest names, number of nights, etc. Then assign keyboard shortcuts and whip out your canned responses in seconds via email, text messages, or even inside Airbnb and VRBO online forms. There’s a Text Expander mobile app too.
14. Make your guests feel like Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Hotels and spas have known about the calming power of robes for decades. Bring a high-class touch of plush to your vacation rental by supplying his and her robes in the master closet. You can even throw in a couple of these silly Yoda robes for the kiddos. You don’t have to offer avocado facials to deliver a bit of the spa experience.
15. Use a collage for the main listing image.
Make your listing stand out from the crowd by compiling a few key photos into a single image collage. Then upload it to Airbnb, VRBO, etc. and make it your main featured image. Use at least one exterior and one interior shot. This’ll give potential guests a quick view of your property’s best features right in the search results.
16. Upload photos of every room to your listings.
The listing platforms now allow a lot of photos and Airbnb even asks you to upload a photo of each room separately. When your listing is 100% complete with all photos online, you’ll see an uptick in search results performance. If your calendar has sufficient dates available, this should translate into more inquiries. Either way, it gives guests a more accurate impression of what they’re signing up for, which generally leads to happy customers and positive reviews.
17. Find your “A-Team” before you need help.
Before your 1st rental, have a plumber, electrician, and handyman each do a small pilot project for you. If it goes well and they seem honest and reliable, ask them if they can be available to come back on short notice for urgent repairs. Then add them to your Rolodex and rest easy knowing your team is ready to respond in real-time.
18. Post honest and truthful property listings.
Definitely talk up the benefits and key features of your awesome property. Mention the hammock in the backyard or the morning view from the front porch, but don’t feel pressured to oversell your property in your Airbnb and VRBO listings. That just sets you and your guests up for an underwhelming experience.
Set reasonable expectations and then meet or exceed them. Honest listings deliver the right guests who end up leaving positive reviews. It’s good karma too!
19. If possible, be flexible with check in/out.
It can be tempting to strictly enforce your check in and check out times for the sake of clarity and consistency. You already have enough to keep track of, right? But that’s a missed opportunity to really cement your relationships with vacation rental guests who might book again in the future. If no one’s checking in later in the day and you don’t need to get cleaners in ASAP, why not approve a late check out when asked?
Our approach is to be flexible when the booking schedule allows, and polite but firm when it doesn’t. Guests tend to appreciate a direct and candid response, even when it’s not exactly what they hope to hear.
20. Confirm bookings fast and set expectations.
Never let a new booking go unanswered. Try to get back to your future guests within an hour or two of the initial reservation, even if just to say, “Thank you, your booking is confirmed, and we’ll be in touch with more info soon!”
While most guests appreciate knowing there’s a real human on the other end of the transaction, that doesn’t mean you can’t send a canned or automated response. Just make it seem personal and be sure to set expectations as to when they’ll receive confirmation of the address, check-in procedures, and other key details.
21. Print and post short “how-to” guides.
Most guests prefer a few written bullet points on a laminated sheet near the TV, espresso machine, and thermostat to a long list of dos and don’ts delivered in an email a week before check-in. When it’s 7AM and you just want to get the coffee started, it’s a pain to get out your phone and search for instructions.
So draft, print, and laminate a few short how-to guides for the TV and any other tricky high-tech amenities like music, internet access, etc. Leave the cheat sheets near the actual appliances so guests can help themselves and get on with things quickly and efficiently.
22. De-clutter without being sterile.
It’s okay to have a point of view, a sense of style, or even a theme for your vacation rental. When done right, it will absolutely help you stand out from the competition. The challenge is finding the right balance so that guests aren’t overwhelmed by your favorite tchotchkes from that trip to Russia back in 1993.
We generally recommend taking a “subtract first and add later” approach to short term rental decor and design. Start by removing everything, including furniture and artwork, that’s not absolutely necessary for a functional guest experience. Then slowly add back special pieces that work together to create a consistent look, concept, or theme. Your attention to detail will show up in both your listing photos and your net cash flow.
23. Add task lights to save money.
Electricity costs vary greatly across the country, but LED task lighting pays for itself almost immediately. Many vacation rental owners and managers fail to include task lights on bedside tables and near desks and other sitting areas. It’s a missed opportunity because task lights, especially energy-saving LED ones, are far cheaper to operate than brighter overhead lighting. The good news is that there are finally some nice warm LED options available at reasonable prices.
They also create a sense of ambiance that helps guests experience the space as more cozy and comfortable. Many guests will turn overhead lights off when more pleasing task lighting is available. So give them the option and lower your operating expenses at the same time!
24. Surprise longer stays with fresh flowers.
The longer a guest stays the more likely they are to really get to know every nook, cranny, and shortcoming of your vacation rental. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we like to take an extra precaution or two with longer reservations.
One favorite gesture is to make sure fresh flowers are on the kitchen counter upon arrival. The extra cost and hassle are minimal in context of the total monetary value of the reservation, and it helps get things started on the right note.
We’ve found that guests who have a positive first impression are more resilient and understanding when something inevitably goes wrong during stays of a week or longer. Think of fresh flowers upon arrival as a small dose of kryptonite that will help keep guest expectations in check.
25. Buy snacks and supplies in bulk.
If you’re looking to scale up your operations or simply become more efficient, there’s no better place to start than with your non-perishable supplies. Buy toilet paper, paper towels, and pre-packaged freebie snacks like granola bars and popcorn in bulk. If you have the storage space and you’re committed to doing short term rentals, there’s no reason not to go big. You’ll cut operating expenses and save yourself time and repeated trips to the store all at once.
Our favorite online ordering option for vacation rental supplies is… Amazon Prime Pantry!
26. Keep track of rates and occupancy.
When you approach your short term rental as a business instead of a side-gig, you can eventually create entity value above and beyond the market value of the real estate alone. This is an important shift in perspective that most hosts fail to achieve. Don’t be like most hosts.
If you ever decide to market and sell your vacation rental, serious buyers will want to see historical occupancy and rate information. Keep solid records of each guest stay so you (or your broker) can do the rough math and share past performance details with potential buyers.
While Quickbooks Online is great for tracking top line revenue, operating expenses, and net income, it’s not immediately obvious how to track rate and occupancy for short term rentals in Quickbooks. So we put together this vacation rental tracking spreadsheet for you to quickly log each guest stay. You can also use it to keep track of guest contact info if you’re interested in building your own email list (see Airbnb Tips #4 above).
27. Raise your rates for last-minute bookings.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that vacation rental hosts should drop their nightly rates as unreserved dates approach. While this might be a good strategy for Airbnb and VRBO’s business models, it’s usually a bad idea for hosts. From the guest perspective, last-minute bookings are generally a function of need, not cost or value. As a host, you can’t create guest demand by lowering your rate, so don’t even try!
Instead, try increasing your nightly rate for last-minute bookings. You’ll find that most of the competition may already be booked and guests that procrastinate or have a sudden reason to travel on short notice won’t have many other options. The higher revenue you’ll bank from these last-minute reservations at higher rates will flow directly to your net income line since your operating costs stay the same.
28. Stock fresh coffee and tea.
Roughly 65% of US adults drink coffee daily, while 30% drink tea. That leaves precious few guests who won’t be poking around your kitchen looking for something to get their day started. These days, stocking at least one solid coffee option and a few select tea choices (caffeinated and decaf), is merely Hospitality 101.
To take your game up a notch, we like this bright red Nespresso Mini Machine with the capsule variety pack. It clocks in at only $0.70 per cup and adds a nice high-end European touch. For regular beans, it’s hard to beat Craft Coffee’s direct-to-consumer prices and super-convenient subscription options. They’ll even grind your beans for you fresh before shipping if you don’t provide a grinder for guests.
For teas, you want to cover the bases without overwhelming your guests. That’s why we like this inexpensive Taylors Variety Box with six bags each of eight different options.
29. Curate a custom local guide book.
You know your neighborhood, town, or city better than any of your guests ever will. So share its hidden gems and standout establishments via a custom-built binder. Collect take out menus, brochures for local activities, and other assorted maps and information covering your top picks. Pack them into a three-ring binder and put a nice photo on the cover.
If you want to score bonus points as a stellar host, reach out to local businesses for discount codes or coupons that you can provide to your guests. One other idea that goes over well is to include empty transit cards for the local subway system or commuter train. This gives your guests a nice head start on getting out to see and do interesting things.
30. Build one more bedroom.
The most under-appreciated way to get a higher nightly rate is to make your 3-bedroom rental into a 4-bedroom. Or your 4-bedroom rental into a 5-bedroom. Bigger rental homes are harder to find on Airbnb and VRBO, and you’ll immediately find yourself in a different class of rental properties that command higher rents.
It’s not always obvious how to add a bedroom and some real estate lends itself more readily to this vacation rental growth strategy. You don’t necessarily have to add any square footage. Sometimes you can simply add a dividing wall down the middle of an existing oversize bedroom or den. Other times you can just convert the den into a bedroom. The new bedroom doesn’t have to be big, just sleep-able!
31. Add a sleeper couch to your Airbnb.
If you can’t find a way to add an additional bedroom, try squeezing in a high-end sleeper sofa instead. Your short term rental will immediately be able to accommodate a slightly larger party, which nearly always demands a higher nightly rent.
Remember to increase your quoted headcount on your Airbnb and VRBO listing so you’ll show up in searches for larger parties.
32. Do your math, monthly.
Unlike guests who break things, the numbers never lie. If you’re making decisions based on gut feeling, emotions, or wishful thinking, you’re doing it wrong. Always work up accurate performance numbers on a monthly basis.
A simple vacation rental spreadsheet is enough for some hosts, while others really benefit from getting organized with Quickbooks Online or another vacation rental accounting software.
You’ve got important decisions to make about everything from nightly rate adjustments to mortgage refinancing. You’ll make better calls when you’re familiar with the hard reality of your actual numbers.
33. Switch to native plants for landscaping.
It rarely makes financial sense to rip out existing landscaping and start fresh, unless you have really expensive municipal water or the current look is damaging your curb appeal. Usually, the smart move is to simply replace plants as they die, and to do so with native options that are also drought-resistant. Native plants generally need less maintenance and less water, both of which will result in reduced operating expenses over time.
34. Charge for extra Airbnb guests.
We generally recommend setting your standard number of guests at 2 for each of the first 2 bedrooms, and then 1 more guest per additional bedroom. That means a two-bedroom vacation rental home should allow 4 guests total at the regular nightly rate, while a 3-rental should include 5 guests and then charge for the 6th, 7th, etc. up to your maximum occupancy.
The logic here is that a family of four generally opts for a short term rental home instead of a hotel because they want two separate bedrooms, among other reasons. They generally don’t expect to pay extra guest fees on top of the regular rate for a 2-bedroom home. The same goes for a family of 5 renting a 3-bedroom house.
But if a family of 5 wants to squeeze into your 2-bedroom rental home, then it’s reasonable to expect them to pay an extra person fee. The amount of the fee is up to you, but it should be more than enough to cover the extra cleaning and wear and tear that comes with larger parties. Larger families (or groups of friends) are already accustomed to slightly higher travel budgets, grocery costs, etc. so the extra fees shouldn’t come as a surprise.
35. Monitor and enforce headcount.
The tricky part about charging for extra guests is that you’ll have to enforce your headcount and fee policies, which can be difficult if you’re a remote or out-of-town host. Outdoor cameras are a good solution, as are sensors that can be set up to monitor the number of heat sources in the house at any given time. Either way, make it known before booking that the guest headcount will be closely monitored.
Be explicit in your listing that all extra people must be disclosed and all extra fees must be paid before check-in. You can even go so far as to say that unauthorized overnight guests will be charged 2x the nightly extra person fee and deducted from the deposit (if you collect one). That will help screen out anyone who plans to sneak in a cheapskate uncle or two.
36. Pay attention to the calendar.
Don’t get caught off guard when someone books Dec 24-Jan 2 at your regular rate 9 months in advance. If your vacation rental is in a popular holiday destination or convenient to major annual conferences, make a point to adjust your rates upward for peak demand windows at the exact same time you open up your calendar dates.
Airbnb and VRBO have a nasty habit of freeing up your long-term calendar dates by default on a rolling basis. You may not even realize it’s happening before someone slips in and books instantly at your regular rate. Get in the habit of managing your long-term rate calendar like a hawk and you’ll see solid returns to your bottom line.
37. Bad guest review? Don’t respond publicly.
Guest reviews are the lifeblood of a growing short term rental business and even the best hosts get dinged every once in a while. As tempting as it may be to respond and defend your honor publicly, our advice is to just leave it alone. If you get in the habit of only posting responses to negative reviews, it serves to make them stand out even more. Most guests recognize that no one’s perfect. Let your 5-star vacation rental reviews do the talking.
The other option of course is to always respond to every review – good, bad, or ugly. With this approach, you’ll get a chance to push back on the bad reviews without making them any more prominent than any other review.
Either way, you do want to take every less than stellar review seriously. Listen to your most frustrated guests and figure out how to turn their criticisms into action. Replace the washing machine that makes an awful clatter. Stock some sharper knives. Revise your listing to be more accurate. If you get the same critical comment twice, chances are you need to make a change!
38. Supply butter and olive oil.
In our minds, a stocked vacation rental kitchen includes both butter and olive oil. Butter is no longer the villain the “margarine industrial complex” made it out to be and it has a very long shelf life in the freezer. Similarly, olive oil can hang out in the cupboard for months without going rancid. Stock both for your guests on a complimentary basis. They’ll appreciate saving some money and getting a head start on their grocery shopping.
These two items are particularly helpful because it’s usually not easy to buy only what you need for a few nights or a week. They’re both relatively inexpensive in bulk, so it just makes more sense for hosts to do the shopping.
39. What’s your “wow” feature?
Is there a hammock swinging in the backyard? A high-end espresso machine on the kitchen counter? A steam shower in the master bath? Highlight at least one special property feature in your Airbnb listing description to help you stand out from the competition. It doesn’t have to be a big expensive thing, just a nice touch that helps guests imagine how much happier they’ll be in your rental home.
40. Get the right insurance.
Insurance companies can be a bit sneaky. While they might let you buy a regular homeowner’s policy for your short term rental, they’re not about to pay out on that policy when a paying guest burns down the house.
The good news is that property and liability insurance built specifically for vacation rentals is now available and reasonably priced. Slice is perfect for occasional hosts that need short windows of supplemental coverage throughout the year. Proper is best for full-time vacation rental properties as it completely replaces your existing homeowners policy. Finally, if you have considerable personal assets to protect, price out an umbrella liability policy.
41. Set up your own website.
Even if you have no intention of ever accepting direct bookings, having your own presence on the web is well worth the few hours you’ll invest in setting it up. Do it now so Google can index your site for search and your domain can start to “season,” which will help you get more visibility in the future. A simple site with no more than 2-3 pages is all you really need to get started. Publish some awesome photos of your vacation rental, a short description, and a direct link to your preferred way for guests to make reservations.
Down the road, once you have a solid email list and a surplus of returning guests, you can add a direct booking option to your website. You don’t want to be held hostage to Airbnb and VRBO’s booking fees forever, do you?
42. Find out why your guests are in town.
Simple open-ended questions are often the best way to screen your guests. Ask questions like, “Are you in town for a special event?” or “Do you have any specific activities planned?” The answers can sometimes help you screen out scammers and partiers discreetly. If the answers don’t add up, ask more questions! Depending on the responses, you can also sometimes use the additional info to customize guest experiences in unique ways.
43. Provide a decent hair dryer.
Most women hate packing hair dryers but often do it anyways to make sure they have one when needed. So stock a reliable hair dryer in the bathroom and say so in your rental listing. Maybe even include a photo of the hair dryer to reassure potential guests that you’ve taken care of the small but important details.
44. Set up luggage racks in the bedrooms.
While folding luggage racks don’t cost much, they generate outsize returns. It’s not just that they make unpacking a lot easier for your guests, but they also prevent guests from tossing their dirty suitcases on your nice comforters.
Have you seen the abuse checked bags go through on their way in and out of the underbelly of an airplane? Set up a sturdy luggage rack or two and save your sheets!
45. Supply a nice travel crib.
If your vacation rental is baby-friendly, stock an easy-to-set-up travel crib like the Baby Bjorn Light. As someone who’s personally carted a travel crib all over Europe, I can tell you it’s something we would have much preferred to leave at home! You’ll absolutely get more bookings from families if you make it clear there’s a solid travel crib waiting for them upon arrival.
46. Show some personality with local art.
We’ve probably stayed in 50+ Airbnb’s around the world, and you can always tell when no one’s actually lived there. The kitchen is stocked with only the bare bones essentials and the walls are adorned with cheap framed posters of yellow taxi cabs in the rain.
Spare your guests such generic insults and shower a few bucks on local artists instead. They’ll appreciate the business and you’ll get something that’s actually interesting to hand on your walls. Guests want to feel like they’re in a real place and that’s best accomplished with surroundings that are unique and original.
47. Do your own accounting the first year.
It’s tempting to just hire a CPA and outsource the accounting challenges associated with vacation rental finances. The problem is that when you’re just getting started and you only have one or two rentals, accounting fees can really eat into your profits. And that’s just the start of it…
The even bigger problem is that if you don’t do your own accounting, you’ll miss a golden opportunity to really understand how your property is performing. Only when you get into the weeds with the numbers month in and month out, do you start to notice the patterns that will ultimately make or break your return on investment.
Do yourself a favor and tackle the tough accounting head on from day one. Make heavy use of essential online resources like Rent Bumper and Investopedia. Keep track of your unresolved questions and then set up a one hour session with a real estate CPA to get clear answers. You can always add a CPA to your team later as your portfolio grows and your time becomes more valuable.
48. Play by all local rules and regulations.
The long arm of the law is reaching into more and more communities as the undeniable impacts of short term rentals become more obvious. In many instances, it’s a few bad actors that are ruining the opportunity for the rest of us. That’s why it’s important for responsible vacation rental hosts to step up to the plate and play by the rules.
Register your short term rental if required. Collect and pay local lodging taxes. Screen your guests for indications that they won’t be respectful of your home and the neighborhood. Don’t screw up a good thing for yourself and other short term rental owners.
49. Spend 2% on welcome baskets.
One advantage you have over a hotel operator is that your cost structure is much lower. With no full-time staff and limited marketing costs, most hosts can afford to give something back to each guest. A complimentary welcome basket with a selection of long shelf life items like popcorn, chocolate, and nuts is a good way to start each stay. You can buy these items in bulk and then parcel out the right amount of each, depending on the length of the reservation.
We recommend spending about 2% of the total spend per stay on welcome gifts or treats. If your nightly rate is $250, then spend no more than $10 for a 2-night stay. If someone stays a week, spend closer to $35.
50. List on both VRBO and Airbnb.
It’s wise to keep your vacation rental listings current on both VRBO and Airbnb. While these two platforms claim the lion’s share of all guest searches, there are actually some subtle differences that successful hosts appreciate and respect.
For starters, VRBO activity tends to lean more towards families and international travelers, who generally book well in advance. Anecdotally, VRBO guests also seem to cancel less frequently than those who book through Airbnb. One strategy to consider is to open up your VRBO calendar on a rolling basis 3-6 months out, while keeping your Airbnb calendar for the same property blocked until only 2-3 months in advance.
51. Set your nightly rate low to start.
When your vacation rental is brand new to Airbnb or VRBO, you won’t have any reviews and the search algorithms won’t give you much love. That can make it really tough to land those super-important early bookings. So set your rate 20-30% lower than your closest competitor to help your listing get noticed.
As the positive reviews start to roll in, gradually move your rate up until you’re in line with similar properties. If you’re lucky, an early guest or two may even mention that your property is a great value. That’ll be an even better review to have in your pocket after you raise your rates!
52. Switch to 100% LED lighting.
Now that virtually every style of light bulb is available in a warm LED, there really aren’t any excuses for not swapping out nearly all light bulbs across your portfolio. Just a few years ago, it was hard to get used to the sterile hospital-like ambiance and high cost of LED lighting. But everything is different now…
Unlike a long-term rental (where tenants usually pay the electricity bill), short term rental hosts always cover utility costs. Guests have no incentive to turn lights off or conserve because they’re not on the hook for the wasted energy. That leads to overuse and carelessness, all of which costs you money.
LEDs are available in much warmer tones now that closely resemble the feel of traditional incandescent lights. The cost per bulb is significantly lower than it used to be, which means a much quicker financial payback. You can get them as replacements for regular bulbs, candelabra, and even T8 fluorescent tubes. If you have dimmer switches, make sure you get dimmable LED replacement bulbs to avoid the annoying flicker.
Switching to LEDs will absolutely lower your operating costs. And because they generally last thousands of hours, the all-LED approach virtually eliminates the chance that a bulb goes out during a guest stay. It’s also worth noting that LEDs operate at far lower wattage for the same output, which reduces the overall electrical load across the property. LEDs are a win-win-win proposition for vacation rentals.
53. Install a smart thermostat.
We’re generally not huge fans of home automation due to security concerns and the myriad problems that occur when the wifi inevitably goes down. Thermostats are the rare exception, simply because the potential cost savings from better temperature control are so compelling. We like the ecobee3 lite (without built-in Alexa) and the higher-end Nest Learning 3rd Gen.
The challenge is to strike the right balance between guest comfort and efficiency. We recommend setting the thermostat to auto-revert back to the low-60s (winter) or high-70s (summer) during the middle of the day when guests are most likely to be out of the house. During down times between guest stays, let it float as much as possible without freezing the pipes or combusting the carpet! You’ll save a lot of money.
54. Turn off so-called “Smart Pricing.”
Airbnb is really pushing their “Smart Pricing” tools, which use algorithms to adjust your nightly rates up and down automatically based on various market signals. The problem is that you and Airbnb are actually running very different businesses. Airbnb is competing directly with VRBO for bookings. You’re not.
It’s in Airbnb’s interest to get you to lower your nightly rates on their platform first, while you actually want to aim for parity between the two sites. This parity is virtually impossible to achieve if you enable smart pricing since the algorithms and mix of other competing listings are different on each platform.
The bigger concern is philosophical. You just don’t want to get in the habit of competing on price. You want to position yourself to command a higher nightly rate than your square footage or number of bedrooms might otherwise justify. You do this by nailing the guest experience, focusing on repeat bookings, and making sure your photos and listing description are best in class.
At the end of the day, our observation is that “Smart Pricing” tries too hard to deliver 100% occupancy. You don’t ever want to actually achieve full occupancy, because all it really means is that your nightly rate is clearly too low. Most vacation rental hosts will maximize profitability by aiming for something closer to 90% occupancy.
55. Turn On “Instant Book.”
Airbnb calls it “Instant Book,” while VRBO refers to it as “Instant Booking.” Either way, we strongly recommend you go all-in on this key feature. Both platforms prioritize instant book properties in their search results and you’ll struggle to land consistent bookings without it.
We’ve found that some hosts resist instant bookings because they want to closely screen their guests. That’s totally understandable and is actually something you can continue to do, even with instant bookings enabled. Airbnb allows up to 3 penalty-free cancellations per year, while VRBO allows hosts to cancel guests who don’t meet house rules. While we’d like to see VRBO expand the list of acceptable reasons a host can cancel a reservation without taking a reputation hit, the benefits of instant book still outweigh the risks. In most cases, you really can have your revenue and eat it too.
56. Give each Airbnb rental a unique name.
You don’t need to go crazy and brand each property separately, but having a unique name for each short term rental unit can open up some nice possibilities. When you go with something memorable and unique, like “Santa Cruz Shark Shack” it can really help you stand out from all the other plain vanilla listings.
While Airbnb and VRBO will strip out any external web links from your listing description, you have full creative control over the listing title. If your title is an unusual phrase, some savvy guests will know to try a Google search to see if they can perhaps book directly instead. That’s a win-win for you and your guests.
57. Buy Jasper’s excellent book.
You don’t have to own an apartment in Amsterdam to benefit from the detailed step-by-step recommendations laid out in Get Paid for Your Pad, co-written by Jasper Ribbers and Huzefa Kapadia. While it’s aimed mostly at short term rental newbies, even experienced hosts will find fresh insights and new ideas. This well organized and nicely paced book is still highly relevant nearly five years on. It’s never too late to get your business plan right!
58. Make your house number super-obvious.
Sometimes guests arrive at night. It’s dark and maybe your neighbors are already a bit on edge about this short term rental thing. The last thing you want is your guest getting lost and driving up the wrong driveway.
So make sure it’s really easy to see your house number from the street at night. Maybe you need to light them up. Maybe you need a fresh coat of white paint or even bigger numbers. Maybe you need glow-in-the-dark paint! Do whatever is necessary to make sure your guests deliver themselves to your front door on the first try.
59. Give your neighbors a small taste.
Be transparent with your neighbors and consider offering them a token cut of your revenue in exchange for keeping an eye on things. Let them know you’re doing short-term rentals and ask them to notify you of anything fishy going on. We suggest a 5% revenue share to keep everyone happy. Local regulations notwithstanding, you want your neighbors on your side!
60. Shop your property insurance annually.
Many vacation rental owners simply roll their existing insurance coverage from one renewal to the next. Even if you took the time to get competitive insurance quotes when you first acquired the property, it’s unlikely your existing carrier is still the best option.
Insurance markets change every year so set aside a couple hours annually to get fresh quotes from a few competing carriers. Be sure to check in with those that focus on vacation rentals, including Proper and CBIZ.
61. Hold on tight to a good cleaning person.
Once you find a good house cleaner who can reliably handle your turns, hold onto her (or him) however you can. Churning through cleaners can cost you in terms of time, stress, and bad guest reviews. Once you find someone you can trust and lean on in a pinch, don’t hesitate to shower them with a holiday bonus. You can also give spot bonuses whenever a guest happens to drop a positive mention of cleanliness in a review.
For new hires, we suggest starting with a simple checklist to make sure the bases are covered. Print out twenty copies and leave a stack in your linen closet. Ask your new cleaning person to work through the list and physically check off each line item until they can do it all from memory.
62. Make a few key recommendations.
If you don’t have a custom guidebook to help your guests find their way around town, at least make a few basic recommendations. Include a quick mention of your three favorite local restaurants, including at least one quick budget spot and one nice dining out option. Also note one favorite activity, which might include the local farmer’s market, an under-appreciated museum, or even the perfect time of night to walk down to the beach in late-August.
When you’re ready to step up to a full-fledged guidebook, we like Hostfully’s free edition. You can even print a hard copy and put it in a binder for guests to peruse and ponder at their leisure.
63. Pay less taxes with depreciation.
Real estate investing comes with fringe benefits, and depreciation is one of the juiciest. How often do you get to offset real income with imaginary losses? Full-time vacation rentals are eligible for depreciation deductions against net rental income, even when your property is actually appreciating in value.
In fact, think of depreciation as more of an obligation than an option. When you sell your property down the road, you’ll get hit with depreciation recapture either way, so it’s best to enjoy the tax benefits now. More advanced investors with a big chunk of income to offset should consider doing a cost segmentation study in bumper income years.
Finally, we’re not CPAs, so definitely talk to one before you do anything dramatic, okay?
64. Towels should be crisp and snappy.
It’s hard to say exactly how many guest nights your towels can withstand, because quality varies greatly across brands. Most hosts tend to go too long before replacing towels and that’s a shame. Guest expectations are rising and some won’t hesitate to ding you in a review for anything less than hotel-quality towels.
Rips, frayed edges, and noticeable stains are clear signs it’s time to replace your towels, and there are other warning signs too. If your towels stink a bit after only a single use, they may be carrying around embedded bacteria that simply won’t wash out. That’s gross. And if they’re no longer absorbing water off your skin like they used to, it might be time to refresh.
There are a lot of towels to choose from, but we like the Resort Cotton Bath line from Frontgate. They’re soft, super-durable, and not too crazy expensive. Your guests will love them too.
65. Sheets should be smooth and fresh.
Clean and comfortable sheets are a mainstay of high end hotels so why not make them standard issue for your vacation rental? Cotton sheets are your best bet, either percale for hotter climates or sateen for a silky smooth sheen. These two styles are what travelers generally expect to find in nice hotels. Off-white shades generally hold up longer than bright white, but darker colors can work too depending on your decor.
We generally don’t recommend spending a lot of money on fancy sheets as they’ll inevitably get stained or ripped. It’s best to simply replace decent quality sheets regularly. California Design Den’s sateen sheets on Amazon are made with long-staple combed cotton and are a great value. For percale, we like Purity Home’s sheets, which are lightweight but also quite durable.
66. Pillows should be fluffy…and hard too.
How can a pillow be both fluffy and hard? It can’t really. So make sure you have some of each in your short term rental.
Some guests want to sleep on billowy clouds while others prefer something more akin to a yoga block. No need to judge. Just sprinkle a nice variety around the bedrooms to keep everyone happy.
Amazon stocks Royal Hotel’s 2-packs in both firm and soft editions across various sizes. They’re not cheap, but they’ll last a lot longer than regular pillows and pay for themselves with many positive reviews.
67. Mattresses matter, but only up to a point.
Most people wish they slept better. That’s why mattress companies routinely spend their entire marketing budgets convincing people that their crappy old mattress is the sole reason they’re not sleeping well. We all know the truth is more complicated.
While there’s nothing you can do to guarantee that every guest gets a good night’s sleep, you can certainly increase the odds. Supply your vacation rental with good quality medium-firm mattresses that will hold up nicely over time. Softer mattresses feel great for the first few minutes, but heavier guests will take their toll on them in the long run. Avoid soft mattresses altogether.
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is a solid value that leans towards the firm end of the spectrum and is very affordable. For a more traditional style mattress, we like the Allswell Luxe Hybrid, which features integrated wrapped coils and a thin layer of foam.
68. Splurge on custom soaps.
Branded soaps used to be the domain of behemoth hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott, but now even you can embed your house logo in complimentary guest soaps. It’s a great way to build some loyalty and hopefully bring people back for repeat stays. You can get a custom soap stamp made for you on Etsy and then DIY stamp whatever standard soap bars you stock. Or you can order custom wrapped bars of soap with your logo printed in full color.
69. Use eco/green supplies for cleaning.
Eco cleaning supplies got a bad rap for a long time, but they’ve come a long ways in recent years and most do just as good a job as their more toxic competitors. If it’s important to you, hire cleaners that specialize in green cleaning or supply your cleaner with the right materials for a non-toxic rental. Include a line in your Airbnb and VRBO listings to note that your rental is, “cleaned to the highest standard without the use of toxic chemicals.” Some guests, especially those with young children, will appreciate the extra effort.
70. Buy on long-term rental economics.
When looking to acquire new vacation rental properties, always buy based on a pro forma analysis using long-term rents. Then optimize with short term rentals if and when the opportunity presents itself. This gives you an important hedge in a down economy or when local regulations become unfriendly to short term rentals.
In tough economic times, people don’t travel as much, but they still need a place to live. Similarly, if your local government decides to reign in short term rentals, you could lose your ability to operate overnight. In both situations, finding regular long-term tenants might be the only way to save your investment. Make sure the numbers will work from the very beginning and you’ll rest a lot easier!
The major exception is well-established beach, ski, and other vacation destinations with local governments that are overwhelmingly supportive of the tourist industry. These places typically feature mature property investment markets with solid tourist demand that’s proven itself over many decades.
71. Solicit guest feedback privately.
If you haven’t had at least a brief back and forth with your guest via text or email by the time they check out, you have no idea whether they’ll leave a glowing review or a real stinker.
Don’t take the chance and be sure you check in with each guest shortly after arrival. Ask them if everything is as expected, which gives them an opportunity to complain or blow off steam directly. You’ll often be able to resolve issues mid-stay, which can be a real plus in terms of guest satisfaction.
Follow-up on the morning of their departure with a more formal option to provide negative feedback and/or suggestions directly. You can do this via text/email or a hard copy written guest book in the unit. When done correctly and reliably, you should see a significant reduction in public complaints and negative reviews posted to the listing platforms.
Sometimes guests just want to let off steam. It’s better if they do it directly with you than posting to the entire world!
72. Custom welcome notes are a nice touch.
While you can now hire a robot to write handwritten notes for you, there’s really no need when you have a cleaning person already in the rental unit. Train your cleaners to write short personalized welcome notes for each guest on your house stationery. Have them sign your name (you composed the message after all) and leave the note out on the kitchen counter.
When you make the guest/host relationship more personal, we’ve found that guests are suddenly more tolerant of minor disappointments. It also lets them know there’s a direct line of communication, which helps you get feedback in real-time, rather than days or weeks later when a guest decides to post a less-than-awesome review.
73. Things break. That’s okay.
Expect a few things to get broken from time to time. Pans get scraped up. Wine glasses get knocked over. Don’t take it personally and don’t dip into the damage deposit or file a claim for every little thing. That strategy often leads to conflict, which results in stress and hassle that can drag on for weeks.
The smart approach is to simply fix and replace broken items on your own dime as a normal cost of doing business. Reserve the security deposit for major issues like damaged furniture or missing artwork.
74. Appeal your property taxes, sometimes.
Vacation rental owners of course pay property taxes like everyone else, and in some counties they can significantly impact your bottom line. While every state and county is different, most have a formal process in place to handle valuation appeals. Left to their own devices, many counties will simply continue to bump your tax basis higher and higher each year.
If values are leveling off or even falling in your local area, you may need to file a formal appeal to have the tax basis reset to a fair market value. While these appeals are generally inexpensive to file, they can often lead to property tax reductions that last for years. Look into the process in your county. Your bottom line will thank you!
75. Know your full cost of commissions.
A lot of short term rental hosts assume that their total commissions cost is the 3% host fee or a similar small amount. Sophisticated owners know that’s only part of the story. The true cost is the entire differential between what the guest actually pays and the net you receive into your bank account.
While it can be maddeningly difficult to calculate, the true commission generally runs between 10-20% on the major listing platforms. That’s a lot!
If you’re considering experimenting with direct bookings, it’s important to know the full size of the opportunity. That’s why we recommend calculating the true commission on each guest stay. You’ll suddenly have a much clearer perspective on who’s making exactly how much money off your vacation rental activity.
76. Include “ambiance” photos in your listing.
For many potential guests, travel is an emotional event. While bedroom counts and locations absolutely matter, creating a certain feeling can sometimes make all the difference. This is where adding an ambiance photo or two to your listing can help turn page views into bookings.
Depending on your target audience, some novel ideas for great emotional listing photos include: 1) a steaming cup of coffee sitting on a table outside near an empty hammock, 2) a hot tub bubbling with cans of beer balanced on the edge and snow-capped peaks in the background, or 3) a shot of a two wine glasses perched in front of your widescreen TV with a famous scene from Casablanca showing. Get as creative as you like, as long as you can actually deliver!
77. Set up popular TV streaming apps.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu and HBO Now are currently the five most popular streaming services. Make sure all five are set up on your televisions, even if you don’t personally have accounts. This makes it easy for guests to log into their own accounts directly to access their playlists and favorite shows during their stay. Most of these services now also support “guest accounts,” which can make it easy to share your logins with guests without giving them too much admin access to your account settings.
78. Deploy bunk beds to raise capacity.
Bunk beds are a novel way to increase the size of groups you can accommodate without actually having to build new bedrooms. Sometimes couples with kids like to travel together, which can often yield four adults and four kids for eight guest total. If you have a 3-bedroom rental with two bunk beds in the third bedroom, you may be able to land these booking at a rate closer to the market price for a 4-bedroom.
Having a bunk room also makes your vacation rental work better for groups of guys (or gals) on an annual ski trip or out-of-town getaway. Single-sex groups often need lots of single beds but they hate paying up for huge 5 and 6-bedroom houses. Bunks are an elegant solution for this cohort of guests…but only if you want to attract them!
79. Upgrade your smoke detectors.
Fire detector standards are changing as of May 2020, with new UL requirements coming online across the US. While your local regulations may lag by a few years, it’s a best practice to go ahead and upgrade.
Potential guest injuries and deaths from fires are a big liability for vacation rental hosts and the new smoke detectors are light years better than their predecessors. As an added bonus, the new fire detector technology is much less prone to false alarms from cooking and wood burning fireplaces. That makes for a better guest experience all the way around.
We like the X-Sense combo smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They’re not cheap, but the built-in lithium battery has a 10-year lifespan, which means you’ll never again have to endure that awful chirping sound.
80. Got fast WiFi? Prove it.
Plenty of listing tout fast and reliable wifi speeds, but that can mean a lot of different things to different people. If you’re proud of your Internet connection, run a SpeedTest and include a screenshot of the results towards the end of your listing photos. It might be just the thing to entice business travelers or Instagram addicts to book your property instead of your competition.
81. Trick out your Airbnb rental theme.
Consider tricking out your vacation rental with a unique and tasteful theme. This can be especially lucrative if you’re operating in a weekend getaway market where guests are looking for a quick escape. Being immersed in a Disney Frozen wonderland for more than a couple nights might be a bit overwhelming, but a weekend sounds magical. The key is to go all-in, make the theme obvious in the listing, and don’t get so distracted that you skimp on basic comforts and necessities.
Depending on your location and typical guest profile, some possible design themes include Swiss Family Robinson, trappers and gold miners, Tiki, mid-century modern, and…the list goes on forever.
Thanks to Jeff and Pirate Ridge for showing how well this concept can work!
82. Earn interest on your revenue.
One of the more insidious aspects of the rise of Airbnb has been its impact on the timing of guest payments. Let’s be clear, the online listing platforms are making a killing on the float these days and that’s costing hosts dearly. Guests pay at the time of booking and then you get paid sometime after they check-in, which can be weeks or months later. When you do finally get paid, you want those funds going directly into an interest-bearing account.
The best rates we’ve seen lately are with online banks like Ally and Marcus. While their rates are now back below 2%, that’s still ten times higher than a typical checking account. A couple percentage points may not seem like much, but it will add up over time.
83. Sell your swag!
If you’ve branded your vacation rental or have a solid theme in place, you could extend the brand by offering coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc. for sale to your guests. It’s now easier than ever to get small production runs made at low cost with custom print companies like Zazzle and Cafe Press. Payment can be a bit tricky but a cash honor system can work just fine in some markets.
Alternatively, you could offer free swag to guests who book more than a certain number of nights or apply whatever other criteria makes sense for you. Small touches like this can really help build guest loyalty, which then translates into repeat bookings.
84. Write letters to support vacation rentals.
If you’re operating a short term rental and want to continue doing it, make sure your city council members, county commissioners, and state representatives know where you stand on this issue. They regularly hear from grumpy neighbors and hotel operators who want to shut down short term rentals for good. If you don’t speak up and let them know that you’re exercising your property rights, you just might lose them someday.
85. Develop a healthy Instagram habit.
Start an Instagram feed to support your vacation rental property or an entire portfolio of properties. Fill it with nice shots of local attractions, activities, favorite restaurants, and the occasional glamour shot of your vacation rental’s best features. You can even plug a few competing properties in the local area from time to time if you want to make friends.
Instagram is a crowded platform and it can be tough to get noticed, so we recommend a slow and steady approach. Build your following one guest at a time and don’t get too wrapped up in trying to post everyday. Be the tortoise, not the hare.
86. Post clear checkout instructions.
Many short term rental hosts don’t appreciate the importance of having clear vacation rental checkout procedures. When done correctly, checkout procedures give you and your guests peace of mind that everyone is living up to their end of the bargain. You can also sometimes use them to get a jump start on your cleaning, at no extra cost.
Most vacation rental hosts can get away with asking guests to take care of a few select items upon checkout. Ask guests to strip the beds, pile used towels on the floor, and make sure no dirty dishes are left behind. Post a hard copy of these check out procedures in the house rather than sending them via email where they’re likely to be missed or strategically forgotten. You know your market better than anyone so use your judgement as to how many asks your guests will reasonably tolerate. Your cleaner will be happy and should be able to complete the turn in less time!
87. Have a signature house cocktail.
We’ve mentioned welcome baskets and other goodies already, but higher end vacation rentals can take things up another notch by developing a house cocktail. It can be a classic drink or something of your own creation.
Just keep it simple enough for guests to mix themselves upon arrival. Also be sure it’s cost effective since you’ll want to supply the basic ingredients on the house. This can be a fun way to extend a warm welcome, help your guests relax after a long travel day, and give them a sense that they’ve truly arrived. Finally, keep in mind that signature cocktails work best when they’re relevant, which means you probably wouldn’t tee up a dry Manhattan for your beachfront rental in Miami.
88. Forget Facebook and Twitter
While some larger property management companies have benefitted from building a presence on Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, it’s getting harder and more expensive to pull this off. Both platforms are full of deep-pocketed travel and tourism companies who bid up advertising rates to get in front of potential guests.
Independent vacation rental owners and hosts just can’t compete on Facebook, so we recommend spending your time and energy elsewhere. Focus on Instagram, start a blog about local events and activities, build your own website for direct bookings, or just take the rest of the day off. Just about anything is preferable to banging your head against the wall trying to get a consistent return from your Facebook spend.
89. Give Lodgify a try.
While we’re on the topic of direct bookings, Lodgify’s owner option is our recommended choice for hosts looking to get a direct booking website up and running quickly. They’ve been around a while and regularly introduce helpful new tools. Lodgify’s webpage templates are flexible and optimized for mobile devices, while booking calendars sync easily to Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com.
Most importantly, Lodgify makes it relatively painless to accept payments directly. Just hook up your bank account and guests can book directly via credit card or bank transfers in essentially any currency. The best part? You get paid when the guest pays, not three months later when they finally check in. Try the 7-day free trial to see if Lodgify is a good fit for you.
90. Keep your coffee table books local.
Coffee table books have gone out of style a bit lately, but we think they’re still a nice touch for most short-term rentals. Carefully chosen hardcover photo books that draw on local influences or cover nearby movements or landscapes can help give your rental a sense of place. Even if guests never crack the covers, they’ll still appreciate your efforts to curate a specific look and feel for the little slice of paradise you’ve decided to share with the world.
91. Build an ADU for short term rentals.
We’ve talked about adding bedrooms and/or bunk beds to increase guest capacity, but an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is another great way to squeeze more vacation rental juice from a single property. It doesn’t work for condos or apartments of course, but if you own the land underneath your vacation rental, you may very well be allowed to add a second smaller unit.
Sometimes you can squeeze in an ADU over the garage or in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be big. Some markets can support units as small as 300 sf or less as short term rentals for singles or couples. California in particular, is taking the lead on making ADUs easier and faster to build across the state. Check your local and state regulations to see what’s possible.
92. Supply bikes, boogie boards, etc.
Some travel destinations require a bit of extra gear in order to get the full experience. Bikes for riding on the beach in South Carolina and boogie boards for enjoying the waves in San Diego are just a couple of examples of accoutrements you may want to consider making available to guests. Folding beach chairs, snorkeling gear, snowshoes, or any one of a thousand other items may be in order depending on where your short term rental is located.
While some of these items can be a bit pricey, a good chunk of the money your guests save will surely come back to you in increased bookings and glowing reviews. Be sure to include photos of these sorts of amenities in your property listing since not everyone reads the full written description.
93. Subscribe to these three podcasts.
Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days and it’s more important than ever to choose your shows carefully. Starting a new podcast is an investment of time and mental energy. You only want to dive in with the very best. So here are our three favorite Airbnb podcasts, all of which feature experienced hosts and actionable advice.
- Get Paid for Your Pad with Jasper Ribbers
- Unlocked with Matt Landau
- Vacation Rental Success with Heather Bayer
94. Rank higher in search results.
While we’ll never know the exact formulas that Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com use to generate search results, there are some proven strategies and tactics that can help you rank higher. As a former Airbnb employee, Danny Rusteen knows them all and then some.
Start with Danny’s comprehensive book, Optimize YOUR Bnb: The Definitive Guide to Ranking #1 in Airbnb Search.
If you’re still looking to improve or need some extra motivation, then consider hiring Danny to generate a custom optimization report for your specific vacation rental. It’s less expensive than you might expect. If you’re doing any real booking volume, the investment pays for itself quickly.
95. Repair or remove anything broken.
The only thing worse than not having a washing machine in your vacation rental is having one that only works some of the time. It’s actually better to just remove appliances or anything else that aren’t functioning than to leave them in place and risk a bad guest experience.
For example, if your listing says you have an outdoor grill, make sure it’s in good shape and stocked with plenty of propane or charcoal. Otherwise, get it out of there and remove any mention of it from your listing description and photos. That way everyone’s on the same page and you won’t get complaints and bad reviews about how you didn’t deliver on something that was promised at the time of booking.
96. Keep track of your adjusted cost basis.
Cost basis is an important accounting concept that can save you thousands of dollars in taxes when tracked properly. If your vacation rental property appreciates during your period of ownership, the IRS expects you to pay capital gains taxes on the difference. But what if you’ve invested $20,000 on a new kitchen and spent another $5,000 sprucing up the landscaping?
Assuming you’ve kept track of these capital expenses appropriately, your cost basis in the property will be adjusted upwards by whatever amount hasn’t already been depreciated. That can save you a lot of ducats at the end of the day.
Find a good local CPA to fill you in on the details of how this works. Then track it yourself with Quickbooks Online.
97. Attend vacation rental conferences.
While most vacation rental industry events are tailored to property managers running tens, hundreds, or even thousands of units, they’re actually rich feeding grounds for DIY owners too. Larger management companies have seen it all, tried every piece of software, and know a lot of tricks that the average Airbnb host just hasn’t figured out yet. You’ll learn a lot by simply sitting down to lunch next to industry veterans.
Annual short term rental conferences like those hosted by the Vacation Rental Management Association, VRBO Partner Summit, and Vacation Rental World Summit are all open to independent hosts. Tickets aren’t cheap and you’ll have to front plane tickets and lodging costs too, but at least it’s all tax-deductible!
98. Splurge on toilet paper.
It may seem inconsequential, but small details like the quality of the toilet paper you supply for guests can make a big difference in their overall impression of your rental property. No one likes crappy one-ply toilet paper and you don’t want your guests confusing your nice loo with the public restrooms at the local beach park.
So make a trip to Costco every now and again to stock up on high-quality rolls at a low cost per square foot. Even if no one ever gives you props for trying harder, it’s still good karma.
99. Don’t forget to execute.
The best Airbnb tips in the world don’t mean a thing unless you actually put them to work. We’re big fans of doing things deliberately, but with the emphasis on “doing” rather than “deliberately.”
Don’t get stuck in a pattern of constantly seeking advice. Your vacation rental, your business, and your objectives are all unique. You’ll often find that another host’s secret sauce doesn’t even move the needle for you.
Try things out. See what happens…
Want even more Airbnb tips to raise your hosting game?