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Here’s How to Set Up a Vacation Rental Website (and Why You Should)

set up airbnb website la

In the age of Airbnb, it’s easier than ever to turn your home into a vacation rental property. That means there’s more competition, especially in popular vacation destinations like Los Angeles and Orange County. Websites like VRBO are so saturated with vacation rental properties that it can feel impossible to get noticed, which means hosts have to get creative in order to be successful.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to stand out from the masses: By setting up your own vacation rental website.

Why You Need a Vacation Rental Website

Setting up a vacation rental website gives you the power to completely customize the booking experience for your clients. You can post incredible photos, highlight key features, and add your own personal touch so your clients can get to know you. In a sea of vacation rental properties, these extra steps can go a long way towards securing more bookings.

If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of creating a website from scratch, there’s no need to worry. It’s never been simpler to get your own personalized vacation rental website up and running.

5 Steps to Set Up Your Site

There are 5 major steps to take in order to get your vacation rental website off the ground.

1. Choose a host: The first step is to choose a host for your website. There are plenty of free options, like Weebly and Wix, as well as paid options like GoDaddy, SiteGround, and Squarespace. Each one offers different levels of customization, so choose one that’s within your comfort zone. Companies like Rentivo or Lodgify cater specifically to vacation rental properties.

2. Pick your domain name: This should be something catchy that captures the essence of your vacation rental experience. It needs to be easy to spell and shouldn’t be so long that a potential client would have a hard time typing it in. Search for a few preferred names – you may have to get creative if your first choice is already taken.

3. Design your site: Depending on the hosting service you choose, this could be as easy as dragging and dropping the page elements you’d like to have. Prepare to spend some time uploading quality photos and writing good, informative content that would answer a potential customer’s questions before they ask.

4. Optimize your content: Use a tool like Ubersuggest to discover what local keywords people are searching (for example, “vacation rentals in the Bay Area.”) Then incorporate these words naturally into your web content. You don’t want it to sound robotic, but you do want to capitalize on searches for those keywords.

5. Make it easy to use: The whole purpose of your vacation rental website is to secure more bookings, so you want it to have a simple interface. Include a contact form so people can get in touch, and head off potential questions with About and FAQ pages. Think about what features VRBO and Airbnb lack and be sure you include them on your website.

 

Overall, setting up a vacation rental website is a quick and easy way to stand out in a crowded market. With a little time and patience, you’ll have a slick website that shapes your customers’ rental experience from the very first click.

 

A vacation rental website can be the boost you need to see more business. If increased bookings leave you wishing for a turnaround cleaning service for your space, check out what MaidThis! can do for you!

 

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Vacation Rental


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Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

4 Thoughtful Things to Include in Your Guest Welcome Packet

guest welcome packet

When you check into a new vacation rental, what’s more exciting than the goodies and helpful tips awaiting you? For many guests, the answer is “not much.”

When was the last time you took a look at your welcome packet? If it’s been a while, chances are things are outdated and could use a few improvements. If you’re not including any little freebies, you might want to consider adding a few elements to give your packet some extra flair.

Here are our favorite recommendations for how to spruce up your welcome packet.

1. A List of Neighborhood Favorites

If you’ve actually lived in your vacation rental neighborhood, you likely have a great sense of the local area and which shops are the most fun to visit. That being said, things change over time and some businesses may have moved or closed, and new businesses have opened since you created your initial welcome packet.

Update your list and include a few favorite coffee shops (include a Starbucks for the star-obsessed), restaurants that serve the various greatest hits – brunch, breakfast, lunch, and dinner – unique or fun shops, and grocery or markets.

Aim to re-evaluate your list every 6 months or so to ensure your suggestions are still up-to-date.

2. Recommended Airbnb-Proof Recipes

While plenty of people enjoy eating at local places while they travel, there are just as many folks who like to stay in and cook for themselves.

Why not offer your guests a few easy recipes they can make in your Airbnb kitchen? Choose a few to add in print to your welcome packet from lifestyle and cooking blogs like The Touring Yorkie, Food 52, or Daring Migration.

Of course, if you make recommendations for a few dishes, ensure you’re setting your guests up for success with the right utensils. It’s a good idea to check your kitchen status before recommending recipes.

3. Must-See Attractions from a Local

Along with local places to shop and eat, you know more about what nearby attractions are worth seeing and which ones aren’t.

Give your guests the inside scoop on things they should definitely keep or add to their sightseeing list and which ones they could do with skipping. And, for that matter, you may know of some places where visitors flock but, as a local, have a better recommendation. Set your guests straight and they’ll thank you for it.

4. A Thoughtful Gift

Everyone loves free stuff – especially presents.

Regardless of how long your guests plan to stay, consider setting out a little welcome gift to say “thank you” one more time. This doesn’t need to be anything expensive, but it should be well thought out.

Consider nice chocolates, inexpensive bottles of wine, or a thoughtful keepsake your guests can take with them when they leave. Don’t stress too much over this one – it’s the thought that counts.

 

This season, take a little time to review your welcome packet and make a few changes. It may seem like an unimportant task, but it will be important to your guests. The more effort you make, the more likely your guests are to take notice and sing your praises in their review.

 

Clean my
Vacation Rental


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  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Growing from Afar: How One Host Manages Multiple Listings from Out of Town

remote airbnb management LA

 

Recently, we at MaidThis had a fantastic opportunity to chat with and interview Elizabeth K., a Dallas-based vacation rental host. Elizabeth has built her business from just one vacation rental listing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to 7: She’s recently expanded into remote Airbnb management with one listing in LA and the other 6 in DFW.

Check out our interview with Elizabeth and learn more about:

1) the systems she’s been implementing to help her grow and keep her business organized.

2) which services and apps she uses to help manage her listing.

3) how Elizabeth manages guest reviews.

 

 

Getting to Know Elizabeth K.

MT: Well, to start us off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business, and how you got started?

EK: Yeah, sure. So the first time I got into Airbnb, I was living in Denver in a very cool neighborhood – LoHi – for those who are familiar with Denver… and I moved in with my boyfriend but my lease wasn’t up yet and I was kind of stuck in the lease. So I thought, well, perfect, I’ll just throw it on Airbnb.

I was doing very well with that, actually, and eventually found myself in a similar situation later in Dallas – the boyfriend and I got a place together, an apartment with a least still on it – and what I was paying in rent I was doubling that amount, so I was covering my rent and making that much more…

So, that was my first one [here] and then the lease was up a couple of months later, so I got another one nearby where I live. I was worried about the risk and got one that was very inexpensive. From there, I got another one in the same building and in the past seven months, I have 7 Airbnb rentals.

MT: Wow! And are they all in the Dallas area, then?

EK: This is how I was introduced to MaidThis! I got one in Los Angeles – in Marina del Rey. It’s an awesome location and I was so excited about it. Everyone I know was telling me it was a horrible idea, but I felt confident I could pull it off.

One week was spent getting it fixed up and decorated, and the second week was going to be focused on finding the right cleaning company. And fortunately, I came across [MaidThis] and that was the biggest hurdle. I mean, I can decorate any place in no time, but obviously, in this business, a partnership with the right cleaning company is very pivotal, especially if you’re trying to scale your business.

Expanding & Scaling the Business

MT: Wow, that’s incredible. You’re managing multiple places locally as well as dabbling in remote Airbnb management. So you’ve done all of this since February 2018, is that right?

EK: I have, yeah, And I don’t know that I would recommend that to most people. [Laughs] I think my fiance wants to shoot me half the time!

I love getting them fixed up, you know, and creating homes for people and whatnot. And slowly, as I’ve been scaling, I’ve had to create operating systems or put systems in place that help. I can’t possibly reach out to all the people and handle everything.

So now I’m working with Guesty and a few other great Airbnb apps that automate a lot of things, which really, it’s a lifesaver. I really don’t have to worry about the one in Los Angeles because you guys go and clean, we don’t have to talk about it, or I don’t have to worry about what I owe you. I love it.

MT: So tell us how kind of how you’ve managed … Because you don’t actually own any of your locations. They’re all literally rentals that you’re renting in your name and then renting out as well on Airbnb. Have you had any issue with that as far as not being the actual owner or has it been smooth sailing for you?

EK: Some days, everything goes great and other days it’s like, oh my gosh. I’ve got a lot of hoops to jump through and it’s kind of a gray area so I certainly don’t go announcing it… Like this past weekend, it was kind of crazy. I was in LA at the Marina del Rey location, and one thing after the next is going wrong, and one of my new units – somebody walked down to the leasing office and asked for a parking pass saying they were Airbnb-ing my place. So that wasn’t very exciting. So sometimes, yeah, of course, I have to deal with things like that.

MT: Wow, that sounds like a lot to try and juggle! On the other handing, using Guesty specifically to help you manage all of your bookings across multiple sites has been working well?

EK: Yes. And let me tell you, it’s a learning curve. I was the last person on a Blackberry and trying to get me to switch to an iPhone, it literally was very challenging. It’s learning a whole new operating system.

But it’s proven to be very, very useful. I can’t tell you. The key on scaling any kind of business like this is automation. So now whenever guests check in, they automatically get an email and they think it’s coming from me because it’s very personalized.

But yeah, everything kind of runs itself. Now, I don’t even know who’s checking in, checking out. Whereas before, I was constantly reaching out and there’s just no way you can do … I have so many reservations every month it would be chaotic!

MT: Do you also work with any kind of outside management company that helps you keep track of your guests and correspondence and things like that? Are you able to manage it on your own?

EK: No, I don’t. It’s just me and Guesty and you guys now, MaidThis, fortunately. And then I’ve got my housekeeper whom I very much consider my business partner here [in Dallas]. She’s wonderful and is the first person I call about everything. She’s the only one that gets it, you know? We can laugh about things together and cry whenever people leave it especially dirty and whatnot.

It’s been … very rewarding, I guess is the right word? Is just being able to provide work for her. Not that she doesn’t already have enough clients, but now she’s been able to let go some of them, and she has her own schedule. I don’t have to keep tabs on her. She gets updates as the cleanings come in, and does her work, and I can trust that. Then she’s hired a couple of people below her, so it just makes me feel good that I’m providing employment for people.

MT: What you’ve accomplished this year is really incredible! So just to confirm, you have six rentals currently in Dallas or in the Dallas area? Dallas, Fort Worth, and then just one in LA?

EK: Right. One right now in LA. The whole thing, it’s kind of just been an experiment. From what I read from other companies that have done this and done a good job of it, I think it’s kind of crazy that I’ve gotten seven in the past six months.

But now, we are actually, we just put our own house that we live in on there. I thought I had it blocked off for another week, but I noticed Friday morning when I woke up I was like, “Oh no, honey, we’re not gonna have to go stay at number one.” I have them all numbered because yeah, we just got like an eight or nine night booking here!

It’s exciting. It’s crazy. We’re kind of like living this hobo lifestyle of having to bounce back and forth.

MT: So tell us a little bit about how you decided to expand outside of your own – for lack of a better term – niche there in Dallas into a completely different state. How did you make that decision? How did you get started? That’s very unlike what most other MaidThis Airbnb hosts are doing currently. It’s a really interesting story.

EK: It makes me sound like a crazy person, but I noticed this girl and she had hundreds of reviews and I thought, how on Earth? So I clicked and I saw that she had 64 listings and I was like, what on Earth? There’s no way. This cool chick from Canada, she looks, like, younger than I am. I’m like, how does she manage that? That’s when I first started really diving into the idea of expanding and I saw that she had places in Dallas.

And then the more I started diving in and finding other people with multiple listings, it seems like there’s a handful of them that they like to center themselves in cool cities and the urban areas of cool cities. I know Dallas very well because I was born and raised here, and lived in LA for that 12 years, so I know LA well. I know Denver well. So I was thinking, you know, I might as well … Plus, I feel landlocked here in Dallas. So I thought it’s a great excuse that I have a place to go stay for free out there. [Laughs]

If I can pay the rent and put some money in my pocket, and it’s making a lot of money in my pocket, so yeah. I just decided to take the leap and I’m pretty excited about it.

My plans moving forward, but I’m going to slow down because it’s not practical to continue at this rate. I want to get everything really dialed in, but I would like to get maybe four more in that area in LA and then yeah, maybe like Denver or Hawaii.

Dream big! The more I’ve grown, lately, I’m targeting nicer places and trying to furnish them very nice and really make it fancy because for me, at least, I found that the nicer properties tend to be a little more profitable. They’re more risky, but yeah.

Getting It All Done

MT: Are you purchasing all of the furniture yourself to furnish these places and the décor? Or are you renting that stuff?

EK: I am purchasing.

It’s like a constant running joke if ever stuff were to hit the fan. I have got like a warehouse-full worth of stuff. I’m gonna have so many washer dryers, PBs, air mattresses galore, sheets. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff!

LA, that was very challenging. Here, I’m like a handywoman. I’ve got a garage full of tools and I’ll buy furniture. In the beginning, I was buying nice, used furniture and then I would fix it up and make everything look pretty, but the more I’ve grown, the more that’s not practical. So I started buying stuff. LA, I really spent a lot of money. That was challenging trying to just get everything and be out there without my car and my tools and my crap.

MT: So, when, officially did you start listing that rental on Airbnb or the other online listing platforms? And because you’re so far removed from LA currently, how often do you go or plan to go to see it?

EK: I think I posted it in September.

And you know what else I do? A little cheating tip I do is I normally post them on Airbnb or whatever. I go ahead and create the listing even like two weeks before I have the keys. So I might snap some pictures whenever I’m doing a walkthrough and things like that. Yeah, I put that one on in I think late September and it was booked the entire month, maybe.

There was one weekend it wasn’t booked, and so I flew out there. That was last weekend, but it’s been booked solid since. I had one girl that booked it for over two weeks, and she really wanted to stay the entire month, but the rest of it was booked up so she couldn’t. But that one’s been great.

There have been a few things, like, when I just went back out there, I had a storage thing for the garage. It actually arrived late and my first guest was already there… I’m in Dallas. and there’s a huge box out on the patio. So that was a little stressful.

When I was just there, we got it set up. My fiance helped me and it took a long time, but there’s a back stock so we have extra supplies and stuff like that in LA. Here, I can run them around or whatever, but obviously, I couldn’t do that there.

Over the weekend though, I have this guy coming tomorrow, and he requested bottled waters to be there. But I have a girlfriend that lives around the corner, so she went and stocked the fridge for him.

MT: That’s nice. So it definitely helps to have somebody or some entity that can help for things like that. If you didn’t have that kind of contact or friend in the area, so let’s say you do decide in the future to expand to Hawaii or to do a rental in Denver, how would you handle a situation like that if you don’t have somebody that you can call and say, “Hey, can you do me a favor?”

EK: I don’t know yet, but we will find out within the next six months, I guess! I know a lot of people in LA, but Hawaii, for example, I’d have to go out there and get the furniture, and da, da, da. During that time, I would definitely find somebody that’s local that I trust or you know. There are those apps like Handy and I don’t know what else there is, and I’ve thought about that. But I don’t know; I prefer having a person.

Systems for the Win

MT: So you mentioned that you are listed on multiple vacation rental sites. Do you find that there’s another one that you tend to get booked on often or not so much?

EK: Well, thus far, the only other one that I’m on is booking.com. However, I have an onboarding lineup with Rentals United through Guesty and then through them, and get like VRBO … Home Away and all that stuff. That’s gonna be, I guess let’s call it “Phase Three.” “Phase One” was Airbnb, “Phase Two” was Booking.com. And Booking.com, each new channel, that’s a serious learning curve too and getting everything set up right.

It’s been really complex. I think the more you spread out to various sites, the more hurdles you have to cross. But once you get it dialed in, I hope, I don’t know, it’s all an experiment, that everything should kind of run itself.

MT: So you mentioned that part of your expansion and growth has involved a lot of systems, and we’re firm believers in systems at MaidThis What kind of systems have you set up for yourself that you feel like have been successful? Or have you had a system that you thought was going to work really well that failed?

EK: I think a lot of that came into play wherever I went over to Guesty. Even before that, just from researching and whatnot, learning that in order to scale the business, you have to have systems and automation, automation, automation. So with Guesty, the automation has been incredibly important. So I don’t have to reply to people, check-in instructions, check out instructions, the WiFi stuff.

It’s crazy how many messages you can get in one day about WiFi and how confusing it can be trying to find the right passwords and network names and whatever when you’ve got multiple things going on. So just having all that stuff automated is the number one thing. And the cleaning, to have that automated. And now I’m actually converting my housekeeper here in Dallas over to this system that I use with MaidThis

And now actually, I mean I wouldn’t really follow my example if I were anybody else, but I’m just now really getting on top of reports and accounting. I’m very lucky that I’ve been making money and staying afloat and everything that just intuitively, I’m like, okay, I’ll go get one in Marina del Rey because that sounds fun. And it’s all worked out so far, but now I’m just trying to really get down to like the accounting part of it. And how much am I really making per unit? Obviously, I’m covering all my expenses, but I want to be making as much as I can per unit.

So seeing in reports and deducting all the expenses. You know where it gets more complex, too. As I’ve been growing is just in the beginning, I was the cleaner, and I was making a lot more money. But obviously, I can’t clean all the units and scale the business, but now it’s like the more you grow, everybody kind of takes a piece of the pie.

Choosing Airbnb Rates

MT: Did you raise your rates at all or by a small percentage to help you cover those kinds of costs or have you maintained the same rate since you started, for the most part?

EK: Great question, and yes. Hopefully, I believe I got it set up correctly. On Guesty, I’m able to adjust the rates per booking channel. So for example, Airbnb takes three percent, and I didn’t include that because I’m just accustomed going to Airbnb rates, but booking.com charges 15 percent for any bookings that come through that.

MT: Have you been changing anything with the seasons? Obviously, LA is probably not a good example just because it is so new to you, but as far as Dallas is concerned, did you raise your rates for summer? Are you starting to lower them now that fall is coming?

EK: That’s another system that I have. I don’t know what you want to call it, but another app that I’ve integrated is BeyondPricing.

Get a FREE MONTH + a $30 credit with BeyondPricing!

 

In the beginning, and I would advise nobody to follow Airbnb’s suggested rates because they’re way off and usually way under. For me, knowing the areas and how nice my places are or whatever, I can kind of guess what the good rate wouldn’t be and Airbnb’s is way low. But BeyondPricing, now that I’ve integrated it, changes and handles all the pricing for all of my units. It has algorithms that like hotels use for rates and seasonality, or if there’s a concert in Dallas that would make it more popular, or weekends or whatever.

So I kind of follow what other people have done that are successful companies and hope for the best. So far, it seems to be okay. Based on the advice on their website, I also removed my weekly and monthly discounts, and it seems to be working out well. And another system, by the way, is I’ve also changed things to require a 2-night minimum stay.

MT: That’s been a wise decision, you think?

EK: Yeah, you know, I did that actually because with MaidThis, I need to be able to give 48 hours advanced notice to 100% confirm a cleaning. And I thought, you know, with that 2-night minimum, I’d always be able to give that advanced notice. Plus, with my housekeeper in Dallas and the people who are now working for her – if you do it all in one night and everyone checks out on Sunday, that’s a lot of cleaning going on… It’s just so tough to do that.

I think you just get more quality bookings when you have minimum amounts.

MT: As far as feedback goes, do you have a system or foolproof system for getting positive feedback for yourself? Do you tend to leave negative reviews for “bad” guests?

EK: I know everyone is concerned with negative reviews, but it all kind of balances out. I have automatic reviews implemented through Guesty so I don’t have to worry about it. Because that’s a big pain to go through for each person. And every once in a while, when a guest is a nightmare – leaving the place super dirty or just was a major thorn in my side or threatening me with bad reviews to try and get a free stay, which is all once in a blue moon – I try to do that before the automation posts its review. But for the most part, I get good reviews.

If something happens, I often find myself giving some kind of monetary compensation just to make sure that people don’t get mad or give me a bad review. When you’re renting, there’s so much that’s out of your hands and in the hands of the maintenance department. So, you have to be prepared for that.

 

Thank you, again, Elizabeth, for sharing more about your business! We wish you the best as you continue growing and scaling your business.

 

 

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Should I Try Adding an Experience to my Airbnb Lineup?

add airbnb experience

 

In late 2016, Airbnb Experiences became all the rage in the host-guest world. By the following year, the company had expanded the offering to 200 cities worldwide and the rest, as they say, is history.

Airbnb Experiences are as popular as ever and the company expects great things to continue to come from their latest success story.

So, with all that said, you may have been asking yourself, Should I try adding an Airbnb Experience to my hosting lineup?

The Success of Airbnb Experiences

Earlier this year, Airbnb announced they expected the Experiences offering to be a profitable part of their business by late 2019. This is just 3 years after its inception and implementation. From a business standpoint, that’s pretty amazing.

At the start of 2018, Airbnb expected to have an average of 1 million Experience bookings per year – a number that they’ve surely met or nearly met by now. Based on that information alone, it’s safe to assume that offering a new Experience could be another strong potential for income, even as a side hustle.

As one of the initial “test cities” for the Experiences rollout, now that the program is officially up and running, LA is all but saturated with super-cool and unique opportunities for both travelers and locals alike to try their hand at something new. That being said, there’s still plenty of room for new Experiences to join their ranks and be the next “it” activity for travelers.

It Pays to Add an Experience

Aside from the fact that you are actually paid to set up and run your Airbnb Experience, adding it to your listing lineup can be a real boon. Here are a few reasons why:

 

  • If your accommodation listing isn’t booking during the slow season (or during any season, for that matter) the way you’d like, you have an automatic backup plan to help you make up for lost revenue.
  • Speaking of money to be made: depending on what Experience you offer, you could be raking in some serious dough.
  • Guests who stay with you that also see you have an Experience will be more likely to add the excursion to their trip, thus giving you an automatic “double whammy” booking.
  • Your Experience, depending on what it is and how you market it, could be enticing to not only LA visitors but locals as well. If residents like it, they’ll tell their friends, giving you an instant word-of-mouth referral business.
  • Unlike with traditional accommodation bookings where guests are more interested in maintaining their privacy, hosting an Airbnb Experience gives you an opportunity to get to know your guests and interact with them more (if you’re into that kind of thing).

 

Things to Think About

While the typical Airbnb fee is just 3% of a guest’s accommodation booking amount, Airbnb takes a bigger cut from Experiences – a whopping 20%. That’s something you’ll want to keep in mind when pricing your Experience and considering your take-home payout.

Marketing an Experience can also go a few ways – you’d be wise to utilize some tried and trusted tips. Marketing on social media – and on Instagram, in particular – is one of the most cost-effective and generally effective ways you can garner even more interest in your Experience.

 

Hosting guests in your vacation rental is rewarding in a number of ways, but hosting an Airbnb Experience can be equally rewarding, too. It’s definitely worthwhile to consider adding it to your Airbnb lineup. You may find it to be more than just a fun hobby – it could be the start to your next great side hustle.

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting International Guests

hosting international guests

Hosting international guests is exciting. It gives you a great opportunity to share the things you love about America with visitors from across the globe and, occasionally, learn a little something about your guests’ homeland in the process.

If you’ve never hosted international guests before, don’t fret. While there are certainly more challenges than with a domestic visitor, it’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Below, we’ve outlined a few quick tips for how you can connect with your guest and give them a great American experience – no matter where they’re from.

1. Adopt a zen-like attitude.

Things are likely to be a bit more challenging than what you’re used to with your other guests. Don’t let this worry you, though – rise to the challenge!

Patience is a virtue, as we know, and when you’re trying to overcome a language barrier and communicate effectively, it will come in handy.

If you’re not generally a very patient person, this may be a real exercise in composure and understanding. Your guests will most certainly be prepared to have a little difficulty communicating with you and navigating a foreign country, so do your best to show them the same courtesy.

2. Do your homework.

If you know where your guests call home, what can you do to show them that you respect their culture while also displaying some good ol’ American hospitality?

Knowing a little bit about their home will surprise them and make them appreciate you as a host even more. In addition, it may give you a few clues about differences in expectations or behaviors.

3. Think about how you’re communicating with your guests.

Lengthy written instructions may not be the best way to guide your guests during their stay. If you’ve got a lot going on in your welcome packet, consider simplifying some things and adding a few internationally-recognized symbols.

For example, if you’ve left instructions on how to use a specific item in your home, like the washing machine, use pictures to help.

If you’re not sure how to do that, play around with a Google doc or if you want to get really fancy, try your hand at Canva. There’s a learning curve to this design platform but once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to design all your host-related materials there.

All that being said, it’s also smart to ensure your instructions are clear. If you’ve got specific rules that you insist not be bent, be sure you’ve made an effort to communicate those clearly. You might even go as far as using a translation tool to ensure your note is written in your guests’ first language.

4. Really, really over-deliver.

There’s something to be said about going above and beyond for guests. Not only do they appreciate it, but they’re more likely to leave stellar reviews. And honestly, let’s be real: Who doesn’t love it when someone does something extra special or nice for us?

This can easily tie hand-in-hand with our point above about doing your homework. Consider leaving a few of your favorite thoroughly-American snacks or drinks in the kitchen for your guests to try. Have a favorite local shop you like to frequent? Pick up one or two things to share with your guests that they might not otherwise know about or seek out.

This is a great opportunity for you to really show off a few local gems and elevate yourself as a helpful host.

 

Hosting international guests does, at times, have its challenges but it’s also an experience you will appreciate for years to come. Get excited, get ready, and get going! Your guests will appreciate the thought you put into their stay.

 

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Vacation Rental


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  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Surprising Things Guests Are Looking For

things airbnb guests are looking for

 

Every guest is looking for something different when they book a vacation rental. While “vacation time” is often the first reason folks will be scouring the depths of Airbnb and other sites, there are a few other instances when guests will be seeking a place to stay.

Are you ready to cater to guests who are looking for more than just a place to rest their heads at night? With the slower season coming up, it’s a good time to re-evaluate and see if you’ve set up your home to fulfill the needs and desires of what some may deem as “non-traditional guests.”

Here are two types of spaces potential guests are often searching for plus a bonus tip for securing bookings.

1. An Inviting, Dedicated Workspace

Let’s be honest: Sometimes, to actually get things done, we have to separate ourselves from our “normal” environments. When you’ve been working on a particular project for an extended period of time, things can get monotonous and it can be a challenge to concentrate, let alone finish the thing you’re working on.

To refocus your energy and wrap things up, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave that all-too-familiar environment and finish up somewhere new.

Entrepreneurs and business people do this all the time – they escape to a place where they can find some relaxation as well as a place that will cater to their work needs.

Set up a space that’s completely dedicated to work in your vacation rental – whether it be an actual desk or just a small table. Ensure you provide all the general “work” tools, like pens and pencils (and a pencil sharpener… those babies don’t stay sharp for long!), a stapler, a desk lamp, maybe a hole punch… Consider even tossing a basic printer and paper into the mix!

Whatever you would want in your dedicated workspace, offer it to your guests. If they’re working while they stay, they’ll be grateful.

2. Quiet Seclusion and a Relaxing Environment

Maybe your guests aren’t looking for a work escape; they’re just looking for an escape. You can provide that serenity in your vacation rental.

Quiet doesn’t just stem from the sounds in and around your home – it also stems from the things inside your home. If you’re attempting to create and provide a calming and secluded space, consider how you’ve decorated:

 

  • Are your walls painted any bright, dark, or otherwise vivid colors?
  • Do you have an excess of decorative items on the walls or on tables around your home?
  • Do you have many “statement” pieces of furniture or oversized decorative items?

 

While it’s true that having a unique design and feel in your place will help you set yourself apart, too much uniqueness may drive away potential guests.

Decide what you’re going for and who you’re interested in trying to attract, and go for it. But if you’re looking for folks who are hoping to escape the “noise” of life, you may need to rethink some of your decor choices.

Bonus: Write your description using complete honesty.

This, in some ways, seems obvious. You should always be upfront with your guests about your house rules and what to expect when they check in. However, if you know there are a few things that could come as a (not so happy) shock in your building, on your street, or in your neighborhood, you’re better off to acknowledge those things from the get-go than to leave them as surprises for your guests.

Here are a few examples:

 

  • You have a neighbor with an especially noisy dog.
  • The garbage truck comes at an ungodly hour and it makes a racket on Tuesday mornings.
  • Your downstairs neighbor has a tendency to play loud music.
  • There’s little or no parking near your house.

 

Whether there is an easy solution or not, people don’t like being surprised by annoyances. If they’re prepared for them, however, things tend to go a little more smoothly.

So, the moral of the story here is to make your guests aware, from the very beginning, of what might be irritating to them. Don’t leave them to be caught off guard or you face the chance of negative reviews with very specific mentions of those annoyances you could have been heading off earlier.

 

Every guest is looking for something different, it’s true – but they’re all looking to stay in a place that meets (if not exceeds) their initial expectations from the time they book. Remember to over-deliver and give your guests exactly what they need, be it a quiet workspace, a relaxing retreat, or a fun place to recharge.

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Here’s Why You Should Be Spying on Your Competition

spy on airbnb competition

 

In every business across every industry, scoping out the competition is a major part of a successful run. If you don’t know how your competitors are performing and have a good idea of the things they’re doing right (and, possibly, the things they’re doing “wrong”), chance are you’ll see a bigger payoff for yourself.

As a vacation rental host or Airbnb host, doesn’t it make sense to follow the same basic business tactics? We certainly think so.

Here are our arguments as to why you should be spying on your competition – plus what kind of nuggets you should be collecting from that information goldmine.

By comparing your listing, you’re being a smart host.

We’ve said it a dozen times: As a vacation rental host, you’re a small business owner. Much of your success or failure falls into your own hands. As a host, this translates into bookings.

If you want to be a successful host and not just a “mediocre” one, here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

 

 

  • Are you getting booked as often as you’d like?
    • How often are you opening availability and not getting booked, especially over weekends?
    • If you’re not happy with your booking consistency, what could you be doing differently to boost your occupancy rate?

 

 

  • Are you offering amenities that guests want and appreciate? What could you be doing better or offering that would improve their stay even more?

 

 

If you want to have solid information on what you could be doing differently, you’ve got to do a little digging. These answers won’t simply drop into your lap; they take some research.

Spying on the competition helps you better gauge how your listing is doing compared to others in your area.

Here’s a question for you: Are you using your platforms’ search tool to its capacity?

Airbnb has one of the most robust search engines for vacation rentals out there and while it’s great for guests trying to hunt down a fantastic place to stay, it’s a goldmine of details for hosts looking to get an edge.

Here’s how you can use Airbnb’s search tool to your advantage:

 

 

  • Narrow down other listings that compare to yours in size and guest numbers. It’s smart to know just how many other listings like yours are in your neighborhood or general vicinity. Make a list in a spreadsheet.

 

  • Check the specifics on your local competitors. You can get pretty specific with this, which we totally recommend. The more information you have, the more you can improve your own listing. Search for answers to questions, like:
    • How many views are they getting?
    • How booked up are they compared to availability?
    • What’s their average nightly rate?
    • What unique amenities do they offer, if any?

 

 

 

  • See how other listings compare to yours and what you could possibly improve to make it better. There’s almost always someone out there who can do things a little better than you. If such a host exists, what are they doing? How can you implement that into your own listing?

 

  • Learn about why their guests like them so much. Guests often leave specific comments in their reviews to detail what was so great about their hosts. Use this information to your advantage! Copy the cool kids – it’s totally okay.

 

 

The more you know, the more you can improve your own listing and, hopefully, your occupancy rate. Though it takes some time to peruse the stacks and pages of information, it pays to know what your competitors are doing – quite literally.

So the next time you’re thinking about how to improve your own listing, start by looking at the other guys’. You just might find your answer!

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Fill Vacancies through the Slow Season

slow season vacation rental vacancies

 

Busy season is coming to a close… Winter is coming!

Whether you spent the summer occasionally booked or filled to capacity, things are about to bottom out. Keeping your occupancy rate up is, for the next few months, going to require a little extra work on your part.

So how do you continue to rake in guests when things are quiet on the interwebs?

We have a few suggestions! Which one strikes a cord with you?

1. Create a package deal.

You don’t have to wait for a special event or a major holiday to offer your potential guests a great reason to stay with you. In fact, by offering a package deal that your competitors aren’t, you’re giving yourself an extra little edge.

Many hosts have the most trouble filling weeknight slots – weekends tend to stay fairly solidly booked. Offering special packages is a great way to fill some open spots during the week and entice guests to break away from their normal schedule for an unconventional rendezvous.

Whether you require your guests to stay multiple nights or not is up to you, but make their experience even more memorable by throwing in some pizzazz:

 

 

  • Design a “romantic getaway” for two: This may arguably be a bit overdone, but that’s only because it’s always a crowd pleaser. Throw in some traditional Valentine-esque additions to your guests’ stay, such as a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a lineup of rom-coms to watch so they can enjoy a few of nights of mid-week romance.

 

  • Create a retreat and respite from work: Sometimes, people just need a break from their jobs. Why not offer guests a place to unwind? This works well for folks who may live nearby and just need a break from their own home. Getting away from a stressful environment can be, for some, as easy as living somewhere else for a few days instead of going home to their own place.

 

  • Let the guests focus on food: Give your guests the opportunity to get culinary! Consider subscribing to a meal kit and giving your guests the option to prepare meals for themselves via ingredients delivered to you or to their vacation rental door. This will require some major attention to detail and communication on your end, so be sure you’re well prepared to play chef-host.

 

 

  • Be creative!: The best part of creating package deals is that the sky is the limit! There’s no wrong way to build a unique stay experience for your guests. Go with your gut and plan something you would enjoy. Chances are, you’ll find guests who will love your ideas, too.

 

2. Reach out to previous guests and cut them a deal they can’t pass up.

Every host has a few “favorite guests” they’ve had stay and chances are, the list is fairly short. It never hurts to reach out to folks you’ve hosted before and invite them back for another fantastic stay with a twist.

Offer them the opportunity to stay with you and consider sweetening the invite with one of your fancy package deals or simply at a slightly discounted nightly rate.

This will likely work better if your guests don’t live terribly far away and won’t always work out but it’s worth a try every once in a while. Be sure not to constantly be hitting up your previous guests – that’s a good way to turn fans into enemies.

3. Lower your nightly rate.

If all else fails, drop your nightly rate in the middle of the week. This is a wise thing to do anyway, to a point.

You’re far less likely to stay consistently booked if you stick with your summer rates through the fall and winter. Drop slightly across the board – this may take a little trial and error – and if you spot vacancies a week or two ahead, start dropping the rate on those nights only little by little until you either get booked or time runs out.

Remember, as you make changes to the costs for your guests be sure you’re not messing with your fees to ensure you cover yourself for cleaning costs and other expenses.

 

Pulling in bookings during the slow season isn’t impossible, but it will take a little elbow grease. No matter how you go about pulling in guests, don’t forget that even if you find yourself spending a little more to bring in guests, don’t lose sight of the reality: Some money is better than no money!

Testimonials

Blog

How One Airbnb Host Grew Her Business to 9 Airbnb Properties

davida horn airbnb host interview

Recently, we at MaidThis! cleaning had a wonderful opportunity to chat with and interview Davida Horn, an LA-based Airbnb and vacation rental host. Davida manages a whopping 9 properties throughout the Los Angeles area and has tons of wisdom to offer other hosts and hosts-to-be. (If you’re a new host, she’s got some great advice!)

Check out our interview with Davida and learn more about the systems she uses to keep herself organized and sane, what systems she uses to communicate with her guests, and her “hands-off” method for earning dozens of 5-star reviews.

 

 

 

 

***************

 

 

MaidThis!: It’s so nice to chat with you, Davida! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Davida Horn: It’s nice to talk with you, too. Thank you for the invitation.

MT: Of course! Well, to start us off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

DH: Well, I have two businesses. My main business is that I’m a bookkeeper: I pay people’s bills for a living. It just happens that several of my clients have other properties and as Airbnb and VRBO became popular, they decided to rent them as vacation rentals instead of just “regular” rentals. Through our years of working together, they asked me to manage them.

I don’t actually own any of the properties that I manage – I’m what Airbnb calls a “co-host.” Airbnb has a special system, though it’s changing, for co-hosts that allows the co-host to see everything that the host sees. VRBO does not have the same setup at all.

But I’ve been managing rentals for 5 years.

MT: Okay, interesting. So, how many rentals do you manage?

DH: Currently, I’m managing 9.

MT: Nine! Wow, that’s a lot!

DH: It is a lot!

Staying Organized

MT: Because that’s a lot, how do you typically try to keep things organized? What kind of systems do you use to help you manage so many properties?

DH: I’ll just be honest: It’s challenging! In several of my listings, I have different situations – they’re not all the same. One is owner-occupied and is rented a couple of months out of the year when she goes away. Another one is two bedrooms in a house, so the owner lives there and we kind of co-work together.

For the ones that are regular, full-time, 100% vacation rentals, it’s just become my job. I do less bookkeeping and I do Airbnb management. Every day, I check each calendar and when there’s a booking, I schedule the cleaning – everyone has a different cleaning situation. I have to communicate with [the cleaners and sometimes the owners] and set up a schedule for the month.

I mean, it really varies. I do use a service called HomeOn to help me keep things a little more organized. Obviously, one of the benefits to HomeOn is that it’s linked to the Airbnb calendar, and it instantly creates a cleaning schedule which takes a ton of work and pressure and thinking out of managing things.

There’s no brilliant system that I’ve discovered other than paying attention every day to every one – you know, going in every day and looking at the calendar and the bookings for each one.

MT: Gotcha. About how long do you think you spend every day doing that?

DH: I would say it absolutely varies between 5-10 minutes to a couple of hours because sometimes, you know, a guest has an issue and that’s what can be time-consuming.

MT: That makes complete sense. So, it can take quite a bit of time. Are any of your properties also listed on multiple vacation rental sites?

DH: Yes, 4 of them are listed on both Airbnb and VRBO.

MT: Got it. So how do you reconcile that? Have you ever had an issue with a double-booking coming in – one from both sites?

DH: So, Airbnb and VRBO do have linking calendars so that once a booking happens on Airbnb, it updates pretty quickly on VRBO. I can’t say it’s 100% foolproof, but I, personally, have never had any issues. I’ve heard of other people having issues but it’s very rare.

MT: That must be a relief! A little less for you to worry about.

DH: It’s a pretty good system.

MT: How often do you visit your properties?

DH: I try to go every couple of weeks but, the better the cleaner, the less I have to go. That’s a big deal to me, is to have people that I can rely on so that I don’t have to go since they’re already there. I don’t want to have to go. Since they show up, one to two to three times a week. Ideally, like twice a month but sometimes, more often.

Working with Guests

MT: And how often do you end up communicating with guests?

DH: I send them an automated welcome message 3 to 5 days before arrival. A lot of times when they arrive, I won’t even hear from them. It’s self-check-in so a lot of times, I’ll either check-in with them later that day or in the morning and just make sure everything went smoothly.

And then I tend to leave them alone mostly and maybe check in every 3-ish days, depending on how long the booking is. The booking can be anywhere from 3 days on. So, usually, if the guest has an issue, they’ll usually contact you. They welcome a “Hey, how’s everything going?” once in a while, but they don’t want to hear from you every day just like when I’m on vacation – I don’t want to hear someone – you know, it’s nice to say “How are you doing?” but I don’t need them to do that every other day.

I’d say every few days and if they’re there for a couple weeks, you know, I’ll go for a week without reaching out to them unless there’s something we need to talk about.

MT: Do you typically only communicate with guests through the listing portal or do you have an external email system or something else that you use?

DH: They tend to text me privately. I leave them my phone number so they can reach me directly. But yes, I do use the Airbnb and VRBO apps a lot. I love the Airbnb app – everything happens on my phone, text messages, everything happens on my phone. It’s one of the perks for working with Airbnb, that you can work from anywhere.

MT: Your guests have left a lot of great feedback. What have you found to be the best way to get guests to leave reviews for you? Where are they leaving said reviews?

DH: You know, that’s interesting you ask that! That’s been a recent topic of discussion in one of the Facebook support groups I’m in – about leaving reviews. I was asking people, “What’s your system for asking people to leave reviews?” because I don’t have one – I don’t ever ask anybody to leave a review. I don’t know. It’s weird – if I was checking out and somebody said, “Don’t forget to leave me a 5-star review!”, for some reason that would just irritate me or rub me wrong. I don’t know.

So, I have not. A lot of people do find an eloquent way to ask. Airbnb frowns upon anything that’s under 5 stars, so it’s actually imperative for [hosts] to get 5 stars, but I just focus on having the space be as nice and clean and perfectly matching the representation as it is online.

You can’t please everybody, but I try. I’m an instant responder, so if anybody ever messages me, they’re getting a message back within minutes. So I try to just be really available and have the space be stocked and clean.

You know, I have some properties that are a block from the beach, so that just helps – having a good space and a good location. It’s not downtown LA, and in the middle of Skid Row. So, you know, it helps.

But still, there’s always somebody that doesn’t like one thing… It just happens.

Anyways, to answer your question, I don’t specifically ask for reviews. I just leave it to, you know, what it is. (Laughs)

Words of Hosting Wisdom

MT: Sure! That’s really interesting. So, what advice would you give to struggling hosts or hosts just getting started?

DH: Oh, goodness! Well, one of the things I’ve found most useful is playing with the prices – weekly. You know, the weekends are usually booked, depending on the location and usually, there’s the stragglers in the middle of the week that are left empty.

If it’s empty within a week of the current date, I’ll drop the prices because some money is better than no money! And if you drop them low enough, you can usually always get a booking. So, it just really depends on what your situation is.

But, you know, if your normal rate is $150 a night, it’s better to get $99 or $89 than nothing. So, be willing to play with those prices in the middle of the week on the current, upcoming week or two.

I’d say beware of the travelers who have not been verified… if they don’t have previous reviews. Although they can be outstanding, they’re also the most likely to be difficult and scam you because you cannot see reviews from prior hosts stating whether they were great or not. So, that is a very tricky area because it can be totally fine or it can be totally disastrous.

I’m learning from my newest account that sometimes, there are people out there that are scamming new hosts! They’re people with accounts that don’t have reviews. Maybe they’ve set up an account through a friend or something like that and there are no reviews. So they’ll go in there and start complaining about things to try and get a free stay… And they tend to look for new, inexperienced hosts that don’t have a lot of business. So, I think that is a thing – I’m not 100% sure but that seems to be the consensus.

And outside of that, expect that there’s no “off” switch. To be available at all times. You need to be a very fast responder to inquiries and other things. If you don’t respond fast enough, they will go somewhere else because there’s a ton of competition, the market’s saturated – it’s different than it was a year or two ago where you were kind of the only one doing it.

Now, in the winter, it really slows down or it can really slow down and you might have to lower your prices more than you would have in the past because there’s so much competition.

MT: Right. So, when you start to look at lowering your prices – whether it be for a seasonal change or whether it be, like you said, you have some openings the following week – what do you typically do for that? Do you set at a certain percentage point or do you guess?…

DH: I just make a guess based on past experience. My experience is that my 1-bedroom at the beach that, in the summer, easily goes for $165, I will have a hard time getting even $125 in the winter. It seems that not until I drop it down to between $99 to $95 to $89 can I for sure get booked. It’s just what I’ve experienced.

So, I just start high and gradually go low until I get a booking so that I don’t get nothing for that day. I just keep testing.

MT: Do you ever look at similar properties in the same area to see what they’re doing?

DH: You know what, I don’t. I just try to get a booking. It almost doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing if mine is still empty.

Balancing Guests for Full-Time Live-In Hosts

MT: So, you said earlier that you have one property where the host lives full-time in the house and rents out two rooms. Is that also on the beach or in the city?

DH: No, actually, it’s in the inner city in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood above downtown LA. I’d say that although his house is very nice on the top of a hilltop, it’s not a high-end neighborhood by any means.

He still booked a lot. It’s a lower rate, but it’s full and it makes him great money at a nightly rate. He basically works during the day and he doesn’t have time to respond to inquiries. I book the cleaner and respond to things.

MT: Does he have any specific house rules that guests are expected to follow in the kitchen or anything like that?

DH: You know, he’s very easygoing. There’s only one shower even though there’s two bathrooms and he just states in his listing that he uses it before work from 7-8 on weekdays. So, it’s just understood that it’s going to be off-limits for an hour 5 days a week. Never had any issues – he’s a very social guy.

He has about 70 reviews in a year. The reason I decided to take his property on (because it’s not necessarily what I would normally do) was because his reviews were so great! Everybody was like, “This guy is the greatest guy!” “He’s so nice” “He’s so friendly!” And I was like, “Okay, sure! I’ll help you out and respond to a few emails.” And he’s been awesome.

MT: So, in LA, there’s a lot more potential hosts out there like your client – that could afford to rent out a room in their apartment or their house than there are hosts who can afford to purchase a whole other property.

DH: I think you really have to be the kind of person that’s into that. You really have to be a social person that’s comfortable with the ins and outs of people’s different ways. You’re not just getting used to one roommate, you’re getting used to a lot of coming and going.

I just think it’s not for everybody and it obviously really depends on the space.

The other thing to consider, though, is that it’s usually going to be at a lower price point than if you were renting out the entire space. Therefore, you’re going to be charging a lower cleaning fee. A lot of people that are renting in their own home are doing the cleaning themselves, and that’s fine, but it’s also a lot of work.

So, if you want to outsource it, it can be a process to find something that will work. We went through a bit of a process to find somebody on Craigslist that would be so local, that would be willing to just come for an hour to an hour and a half, here and there, for under $40…

So, that’s the biggest consideration. If they’re willing to clean themselves or if they have someone who can help them at a price point that’s worth it to the person and that they’ll be consistent and reliable – which is the most difficult part of the business! Finding a good cleaner that presents well, that will show up on time every time and have it done. That is the biggest challenge.

Thoughts for New Hosts and Managers

MT: Do you have any specific advice for people interested in becoming property managers like yourself or just getting started with hosting their own places?

DH: I don’t have fabulous words of wisdom, to be honest, because it is harder now than it’s ever been. Again, the market’s saturated. So for me, as a co-host, it’s been harder to find properties to take on – it’s been months in the making just to get one. There are so many people doing what I’m doing and there are so many companies popping up and doing what I’m doing, that it’s no longer just people. So, now you’re competing with companies…

As far as getting started yourself, that’s the best bet: That’s the best thing you can do is to have a profile, have professional photography done (it makes all the difference in the world), and have a desirable space and a desireable location. Period. That’s all I can say.

And then you’re just going to be competing with everybody else in terms of your amenities, your decor, and your location.

MT: Do you have any final advice for hosts or maybe a good story you can share with us?

DH: Let’s see… A good story. (Laughs) Well, trust your gut.

When people are pushy before they – just do a little investigation into people. My worst story is that somebody contacted me and wanted to arrive same-day. We hadn’t scheduled cleaner because we weren’t expecting same-day guests and I said, “Hey, it’s not clean,” and they said, “No worries, we’ll clean it.”

And they were pushy and I went against my better judgment. I even googled their email and there were some unfavorable things that came up but I didn’t want to be discriminatory… Two days later, my client called me and was like, “Why is the SWAT team at the house and the whole block is shut down?!”

So, if they’re a little bit pushy or too aggressive or too eager to get in or willing to take it without it being cleaned or don’t have any reviews… don’t take the chance because it’s not worth it.

I will say this: In 5 years, that’s my worst story and I have 3 other maybe “bad” stories that just amount to difficult guests, just difficult people. But I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories and in 5 years, with multiple properties, I’ve had almost none. It’s been really great most of the time. It’s very lucrative and that’s why everybody’s doing it now. It’s just a great business.

I mean, there’s some really great guests! I had one girl that had never used Airbnb before and she was so nervous and asking me a million questions. I had to prompt her to get her ID verified and put a photo up. And I was a little concerned – like, “Who is this girl?” She was asking a lot of questions – she was asking if there were security cameras inside which made me go, “Well, why are you asking that?” She was so nervous. But long story short is this girl left a $50 tip. I’ve never had anybody leave a tip in 5 years. Her nightly rate was only like $75 a night, it wasn’t a high-end place, it was just a decent space and she left a $50 tip. It was just really nice – people don’t do that. So that’s one of my best stories.

 

It was a pleasure speaking with and interviewing Davida! She has some great nuggets of advice for other hosts and managers. No matter where you are in your hosting journey, it’s always helpful to hear from others in your shoes.

 

Ready for your next turnover cleaning? Schedule for your check-outs now!

 

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How Much You Should Charge for the Security Deposit (And Other Fees)

airbnb deposit fees for hosts

As a vacation rental host (especially if you’re just getting started), you might ask yourself, “What should I charge for all these random Airbnb hosting fees and deposit?!”

Deciding what to charge can be a little stressful for some hosts; finding that “sweet spot” of “not too high, not too low” may seem like a challenge for even the most seasoned hosts.

Don’t fret, though! We’ve got some suggestions for how to decide on whether or not charging the optional fees is right for you and how much you should require if you do.

The Differences Between Fees

There are a few different fees that Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms always charge, like the flat 3% service charge, as well as a few that are up to you as the host.

Here’s a breakdown:

Security Deposits

Contrary to how it may sound, a security deposit isn’t paid by your guests before they check in. Instead, this is an amount you can charge to help cover damage or cleanup (if your place is left excessively messy) costs. As a host, though the deposit is outlined for guests when they book, you can only invoke and request a security deposit after a troublesome guest has checked out.

Deposits aren’t required by most vacation rental sites; this is entirely left up to you. Deposit amounts are calculated based on a percentage – from 10-50% of the rental agreement. If you’re not worried about the cost of replacing damaged things in your home, you can easily forego the deposit and not worry your guests. However, it would also be acceptable to request a low deposit just to be safe.

On the other hand, if you have nice things in your place such as expensive furnishings, irreplaceable items, or art, you should consider requiring a heftier deposit, somewhere around the 50% mark. As guests aren’t required to pay this amount up front, it shouldn’t be a deterrent to your occupancy goals.

Airbnb Cleaning Fee

Cleaning fees are a one-time fee that guests pay upon completing their reservation. These are set by you (the host), are optional, and are much easier to figure out.

What’s the best way to determine what you should charge for a cleaning fee? For starters, ensure that you’re charging enough to cover your turnover cleaning costs. If you’re not sure what that amount might be, factor in these things:

  • How many bedrooms does your place have? How many bathrooms?
  • How long will your guests be staying? Do you plan to offer any additional, “light” maid service to them during a longer stay?
  • How many loads of laundry will you need to do to ensure all the linens are ready for your next guests?
  • Will other areas of your vacation rental need to be cleaned?
  • How much time, overall, would it take you to clean the entire place yourself?
  • Can you bake in amenities reimbursement into this (toilet paper, shampoo, etc)?

 

Skip the headache and let MaidThis! handle your turnover cleanings. We’ll let you know what the cost will be, and you can incorporate that into your fee.

It’s also wise to charge a tad extra here just in case you’re ever in a pinch and need to do some extra cleaning after a particularly messy guest. Hold on to that extra little revenue until you need it; those little fees will add up quickly and can help you better manage your seasonal cleaning, too.

 

There’s no reason to fuss over setting fees. Guests understand that there will be some additional monetary requests made of them to stay anywhere, even a hotel; vacation rental sites are simply more open about showing them where their entire payment goes.

So when it comes time to set or adjust your fees, do so without worry! Use the guidelines above and we’re sure you’ll find a solution that best fits your vacation rental and your guests.

 

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At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
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I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
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