Today we’re diving into some surprising things Airbnb guests either totally love or hate. We’re not talking about the discernible basics like having a strong WiFi or a functioning heating system. If you are hosting an Airbnb there should already be a standard of comfort that includes basics like heat, clean linens, and stable WiFi. Those things will definitely matter to guests. What we’re talking about here is the stuff guests give extra points for. Airbnb guests have a very wide range of preferences but there are some general things I noticed and this piece goes into the deeper aspects of hosting.
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~ This is part of my Airbnb series. Check out part one or browse all my Airbnb content ~
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Airbnb Guests Love:
For reasons beyond me, guests LOVE separate entrances. What’s so good about a separate door to come in? A seasoned host is more than used to people coming in and out. We live on a separate floor and the only entrance is on the first floor which means we don’t and can’t track guests movements. Since we don’t track guests, we’re forced to build up trust over time. At the end of the day, Airbnb is really a trust game and so far trust is definitely winning.
TFG’s family lives in a townhouse which I think is the second to perfect option for an Airbnb. Those converted MIL suite/basements are probably the biggest money-maker though! If you have a sizable backyard and some funds, build a tiny house for Airbnb and watch the $ roll in.
Oooh, I think I just answered my own question! A lot of guests love separate entrances because of the privacy.
Local Menus and PAMPHLETS
Go hunting for take-out menus or go as far as dropping your guests a message to leave useful tourist information stuff behind.
My genius piggy brain told me to go menu hunting all over my neighborhood. I collected a bunch of take-out menus (for myself initially) from nearby and then I figured it would be a nice gesture for hungry, geographically confused guests to have them instead. That got the ball rolling. My guests saw the menus and contributed their own menus, activity pamphlets and tour maps from their own Seattle adventures. I now have 3 copies of “The History of Seattle” tour guide-book, in Chinese! My guests think I left all those useful things but it was mostly just the guests before them. Other people’s work for my credit, boo-yeah! ?
This is a big deal if you live in a large metropolitan city. A private parking spot is worth its weight in gold…OK, not really but it’s a neat amenity to have! Airbnb guests love driveway parking and they are willing to pay a higher price for it which means more green in the pocket.
We live car-free for the fringe benefit of essentially renting out our garage and driveway instead of housing a depreciating hunk of metal that runs on old dinosaurs bones. Roughly 15% of our guests leave rave reviews specifying having driveway parking out of all the other amenities (like ambiance, cleanliness, linen quality, mattress quality etc.) About 95% of those who raved about our driveway amenity leaves us a 5-star review.
Guests LOVE labels on things. It’s just a considerate gesture to tack on a dot sticker or a laminated label on things like light switches and dials. I held back for over a year because I didn’t want stickers on my own walls and light switches but the moment I put them up I got great responses immediately!
After a while, I became used to the labels I put up and I regretted not labeling sooner for the convenience of my guests. I didn’t even consider it until I was an Airbnb guest myself and I thought to myself “it would be nice if the host marked things. I don’t want to accidentally break anything.”
When I started Airbnb I did not include a full-length mirror in any of the rooms. It crossed my mind but I didn’t follow through. I thought it wasn’t that important because we had a giant mirror in the bathroom already. I opted-in for a light up vanity mirror instead. The feedback (all from female guests by the way) was to have a full-length mirror. I went on Craig’s List and purchased a second-hand full-length mirror for the room. I would recommend all hosts to buy at least one full-length mirror.
Baking homemade muffins, biscuits, cookies – pretty much anything homemade makes guests happy. I was surprised by the responses from guests. Chocolate is probably the most beloved flavor, if and when my husband decides to bake. Hubby’s a magnificent baker, unlike that wrenched wife who just eats! Just make sure you have a sanitized kitchen and a food prep license before doughing out the yum. You can also consider ordering baked goods from local bakeries in bulk – that’s what we do most of the time.
From 2016 to 2017, I saw a 15% price decline caused by local competition and an introduction of Airbnb’s Smart Pricing. I thought of experimenting with cost-cutting measures starting from the snack tray.
When I started I poured in $5-10 worth of treats (chips, cookies, candy bars, power bars) between every single new turnover. After awhile I notice some guest never touch it and some guests took the entire bowl. I left out 20 something packs of Larabars for a two-night stay with two ladies. The Larabars were all gone by the time they left. There were no wrappers so I’m assuming it was to-go. No offense to the Larabar makers but those gluten-free hipster bars taste miserable! I was more surprised anyone wanted to take them!
For a short while, I took away snacks completely just to experiment. What I learned: don’t take it away completely if you don’t have to. I’m not saying most guests even care but there is usually the “one” guest that will throw a tirade when there’s nothing to eat or drink upon their arrival. I end up feeling bad. And losing points over a few bucks of candy is silly so I brought it back (with a lesser degree of generosity.)
I think it’s pretty bad if another host does not offer snack or beverages. Most of the Airbnbs I and my husband stayed at had no snacks but none of them took it as seriously as I do or aimed for 100% occupancy like I do.
Snacks are not mandatory but I feel like it’s almost rude not to. Guests are very weary travelers, it’s inhumane if you don’t give them something to eat or drink!
Don’t get me wrong, I AM a jerk sometimes. 😉 I have a Santa shaped cookie jar. The cookie jar is seamless. To unknowing guests, it just looks like a charming ceramic Kriss Kringle. If guests read my listing before they booked (or after when I sent over the information with the door code), they would know the Santa head comes off and Santa’s belly is filled with really great snacks.
Everything inside is up for grabs, as is all the soda, juice and beer in the mini fridge…which I hide in the closet. ?
Cheers for headless Santa, cheers for delicious body cavity of Santa!
Airbnb Guests Hate:
Most of my guests are on some sort of a vacation and it’s hard to read when you’re on vacation since there are a million things going on. New place, new plans, travel fatigue, all kinds of stuff. Although I do really wish some guests would spend 2 minutes to read, it’s a miracle if more than 80% of them actually do.
I embed the door entry code of all three properties into the really important notes so my guests are forced to find it to learn the important things like how to lock the front door and how to find the fire extinguishers before gaining entry into our house. It’s for their safety & protection as well as my own.
A print out of the house manual on the bed of the Airbnb guest room works great too. I had another host do that for us when we were traveling. That’s a really smart idea since the first place guests usually go after arrival is the bed. Just make sure to laminate the pages. We used loose sheets of plain paper and they were crumbled and/or stained pretty fast.
I always wondered why guests kept unplugged the mini fridge in the rooms. My husband and I got into a fight one time (this was a while ago over something I can’t remember) but he was in the dog house. I made him sleep in the guest room that was empty at the time. He then told me he knew why people unplugged it: at night when all else was quiet it was like a motor jack hammer in the room! Ooooups!
Don’t cheap out on the mini fridge like we did! Get a high-quality fridge and pay attention to the reviews about motor noise. This is so overlooked. We ended up putting a towel on the table that the mini fridge sits on to cancel out the noise. It does OK that way.
We never showered in the downstairs bathroom before. We were unaware of the clog in the downstairs bathtub from years of build up. There were complaints about slow drainage from our guests. We purchased an auger from Home Depot and took out the gunk ourselves. We also brought the zip-it (also from Home Depot) to maintain the drains in-between.
Remember – if there’s any trace left from earlier guests, your current guests will not appreciate it. Any strands of hair left in the tub is a valid complaint in the eyes of guests. Guests are iffy about bathrooms (I would be too) so if you are low on time focus on the bedroom and bathroom. You can get away with the living room, the outdoor deck space and even the kitchen depending on the guest but not the bathroom.
Old Porcelain Throne
Continuing from my last point, the bathroom is super important. Having a clean toilet matters – that is not surprising. However, a lot of guests want the PERFECT toilet. It can’t just be polished and clean but there should be some sort of scented item nearby like scented reeds or air fresheners. It’s definitely better if the loo is modern in design. No one wants a toilet that looks like it has been the resting place of a thousand butts for 20 years.
After hosting for a few months and seeing not exactly complaints but more like “meh” reactions about our 17-year-old porcelain throne, we decided to splurge on fancy low-flow toilets. The feedback for the bathroom improved almost immediately even though there weren’t any issues with the toilet itself besides the age and design.
To a lot of foreign travelers and seasoned apartment dwellers, the common house spider is a big no-no. For homeowners like us, we know it’s best to not bother them if we see them. House spiders are beneficial, they can kill other insects.
We live in the evergreen state. There are a breathtaking amount of 100 ft evergreens surrounding everything. It’s just a part of living with nature. We’re submersed into a forest like neighborhood and you can bank that there’s a lot, a lot, a lot of spiders and insects around us. The annoyingly delightful birds that wake me up in the mornings have to eat right?
That’s exactly what Hubby thinks spiders could do to him ^
Everyone has a difference tolerance to insects. As a host…well, there’s not much I can do. I also don’t believe in killing spiders. I let them on their way because (and this sounds corny) but spiders are living things. For the most part, they’re completely harmless. If they don’t have a problem with me – I don’t have a problem with them. That’s the same philosophy I used to survive high school.
Spiders are not a big deal. We did have a mud dauber invasion last summer, that was terrible. I have hosted guests from France, Sweden, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, China, Latin America, Australia…pretty much every continent on Earth…any way, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, mud daubers are DEADLY looking and that’s universal.
Related: DIY or Pro? How we solved common household problems.
Mud daubers are a type of wasp – less angry but just as ugly. They’re totally harmless if undisturbed but it scared the living daylights out of my guests (and me too) because they are gigantic and ugly as anything. We sought out a pest inspector who was useless and charged us $200 an hour for an inconclusive inspection totaling 20 minutes of work…great. The mud daubers eventually went away after 1 week or so on their own, great!
Have you been an Airbnb guest? Do you have anything to add? Have you been a host? What would you add to the list?
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Financial Muse says
Great post. We are not Air B&B hosts but rent them quite a bit. Lately at Virginian Beach and in Barcelona. Your likes and dislikes are spot on! One additional thing we always ask about is the closest supermarket so we can shop for basics like drinks.
Hi FM! Oh so true! I totally forgot about the location – I can’t believe I didn’t put that in. We get the “are you near a supermarket/grocer” question a lot! I need to add that to the list.
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
WOW another A-MA-ZING post in the Airbnb series! I loved you detailed you are with all the tips. These will definitely come in handy for a lot of Airbnb hosts. It might sounds like Mr. FAF and I are from the previous century, but we have never stayed at an Airbnb before.
You are tooo sweet for not killing spiders. Poor those little things. They usually don’t survive once I lay my eyes in them in our house. I’m really not into spider webs!!
Lol I once talked my friend out of killing a spider on the phone. I don’t want spiders touching me or being near me, but they’re OK little buggers :p
Mr. Freaky Frugal says
I’m a frequent AirBnB user and I wish every host followed your list. I have some unusual experiences with various hosts including:
1) The bathroom had clearly not been cleaned since the last guest.
2) The bathroom light did not work and wires were hanging out of the wall. They did provide 1 candle we could light which we burned through in a couple of hours.
3) A NeST Thermostat which had a mind of its own on what temperature the house should be.
4) A mystery switch that we had to figure out how to turn on so that we had hot water.
5) A host’s friend coming to collect and wash sheets from previous guests while we were in the room. We had to stay up until she brought the fresh sheets back.
6) Hosts still cleaning the room after check-in time.
7) Ceiling fans with about half an inch of dust on the edge of the blades.
Oh that sounds like a nightmare! Having no light in the bathroom is unacceptable! None of those things has happened at my AirBnB although the quality shifts a lot. What were the reviews of those? Never stay with AirBnBs less than 4 stars. Super hosts are super for a reason!
I admit I don’t put dust as a priority (I can’t reach most places) but I provide dusters for guests. The NEST thermostat can be remotely controlled so the host was probably messing with it on his/her phone.
Lance @ My Strategic Dollar says
Awesome post! I’m considering making my new build home a partial AriBnB so I’ve been loving the posts about your experiences. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Lance, I’ll reply to your email right now, sorry for the delay!
The Luxe Strategist says
Hey Lily, as a frequent Airbnb guest, I just came to file a complaint. 99% of places DO NOT stock hand soap for the bathroom. Ew. If any place I stay at does that, then they’re already winning in my book.
No way, really?! What were the ratings of those AirBnBs? We have foaming hand soap and the regular gel ones (and hand sanitizer next to that too!)
are you talking about a bar of soap?
If me and my wife stayed, she would love the labeling. We have a label maker and she is just a little bit obsessed with it from labeling all the spices to sections in the pantry and then my car washing stuff in the garage! 🙂
Haha thanks Mr. SMM! I’ve always wanted a label maker! My husband thinks they’re a waste of money since you can just stick a dot sticker. Hubby has no artistic vision :p
Thanks for sharing! Your Airbnb series are really helpful. It’s a great intro for people who are thinking about it. We can’t do Airbnb right now, but may try it out when we move into our duplex. Separate entrance, but no dedicated parking spot. We have good public transportation, though.
Thank you Joe and thanks for stopping by too!! A duplex is a GREAT idea! I wish I had gone with something like that before we brought our townhouse.
This is amazing!! We just came back from a 3 week trip in which we stayed half time in Airbnbs and half time camping. I can definitely tell you that, as a guest, snacks are huge! 90% of the places we stayed in did not offer ANY snacks or drinks, so we expect that and don’t throw a fit (we usually have our own snacks and drinks, duh).
However, the one place that did offer us free candy… yes!!! We were starving and it was so nice to splurge with some Kit Kats – and yes, that’s a splurge when you’re on vacation 🙂
My parents do Airbnb with one of their homes, so I’m going to encourage them to incorporate some of these tips!
Also – if there are no tissues, I am a sad Airbnb’er. And one of the Airbnbs we stayed at had a mouse friend, as we referred to it. Mouse poop everywhere. It was a delight (not).
Oh my gosh that sounds terrible!! It can be a mix bag with AirBnB if they’re not superhosts – I hope you left them a justified review, that’s so gross!
I suspected most hosts don’t offer snacks and but I thought hosts would have something basic like tissues at least! We always keep boxes around.
Yeah, tissues seem really basic, right? It’s like… you can get them for pennies at Costco or on Amazon. I know, because I have Subscribe and Save for tissues (I have allergies!) 🙂
Yeah, that family was a superhost (the one with the mouse droppings). It was a small town with very few Airbnbs available, so… I guess that’s the best? It’s a shame, because it’s actually not that small of a town and it hosts a ton of tourist-related events. Very weird! Great opportunity when I move there and start an Airbnb empire though! Haha! 🙂
Adriana @MoneyJourney says
I’ve never had a problem with spiders. I’ve actually played with them when I was little 😀 hahah! Wasps, on the other hand, yikes!
Unfortunately, these little details could lead to a less than perfect review. I’ve seen people complain on AirBnb about the host not having enough pots and pans. I can’t even imagine what bugs could do to guests who are scared of them. Yikes again!
Mustard Seed Money says
Wow you are killing it on AirBnB. I can see why people would love to stay with you. You are taking this serious and very businesslike. I’m surprised that hotels aren’t doing worse with considerate hosts like you 🙂 Love reading these posts!!!
Thank you Mr. MSM 🙂 I think most of the lobbyist with money against AirBnB are hotel giants actually, sneaky!
I think you’re doing it the right way. Vacationers really want that personable experience with an AirBnB that they can’t get with a hotel but also want their privacy as well if they don’t want to deal with the hosts. I think it’s a fine line between the two and will really depend on the guests you have in tow. For me, it’s key to have a separate entrance and living quarters when I’m renting else I’m not really interested.
Thanks TITM :)!!
David @ Zero Day Finance says
Wow, you are killing it with AirBnB. It sounds like you are a great host and it shows that you are almost always booked. Never thought about getting a food prep license to make baked goods. Good point if I ever decide to ride the train, I love baking but wouldn’t want to get sued because somebody thinks that chocolate chip cookies they ate got them sick.
Thanks David :)! I try haha.
Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash says
Lily, you’re a pro I can tell. You know your customers and your business well!
Thanks Tim but it’s pretty small fish compare to what you do!! 🙂
WOW, now I can see why your occupancy is so high. I’m an avid Air BnBer and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a host leave out snacks! We’re honestly not picky [leaving coffee out is much appreciated]. And you have freshly baked goods!? I feel like I would never leave!
Also totally bookmarking this post for when Mr. NA and I start our own AirBnB empire
Haha thankies! I’m really surprised that I’m in the minority here. Snacks just seem like a polite given…
Millennial Boss says
I’m seriously considering running an Airbnb. I need to acquire the property first while I’m working and then I want to do it full-time while growing my blog. Ugh, can’t find a good property though or the guts to actually do it. Kudos to you for being a badass host.
I wish I tested the waters before hosting, because that would have changed my mind/taste in the house I would have purchased. Have you hosted on AirBnB before once?
Jennifer Beadles says
Thank you for these tips!! Super helpful!
We’re actually planning on building a tiny house or two and placing them in unused yard space at some of our long term rentals to be rented on Airbnb.
I’m loving your airbnb series! Hubby and I recently bought a over/under duplex. Right now we have a renter upstairs, but I would love to convert that space to a b&b space when they move out. You have some great info! Thanks for sharing.
I’m a frequent airbnb guest as I travel around 3 weeks out of each month for work. Snacks, a full-length mirror (but I know I’m in the minority here as a lady), a separate entry, and having to read aren’t a big deal to me, but dust, towels with mildew, and insects are because I have serious allergies to them. My sister recently stayed at an airbnb in Toronto that had a truly disgusting bathtub in a shared bathroom – it doesn’t even look as good as your old toilet – but she put up a stiff upper lip until the host cleaned it. The review she later wrote definitely wasn’t the best though.
I think that one of the HATES that I didn’t see listed is- Don’t have strong plug -in scented things and other strong scents. Also, please no moth ball smells!
Oooh yeah, good one! I leave optional sprays but only next to the toilet for….you know ;p
Good point about how hosts shouldn’t have strong plu in scents. Too overwhelming and some make me cough. I’ve found that an electric air diffuser works nicely. Just water and 3 drops of an essential oil (lavender is awesome). I turn it off after about 1 or 2 hours and take it away before guests arrive. It leaves a very subtle scent that makes the atmosphere feel relaxed. TJ Maxx has a bunch of them at different prices.
diane caruso says
As an avid Airbnb traveler (I stay in about 4 – 5 Airbnb’s a month) my HATE is NO ICE when I get done with a 5 – ^ hour drive and my case of water is piping hot from my car I always have to ask hosts for ice even if they have a freezer.. Crazy ! We also run an Airbnb I leave a nice big bottle of Artisan Water and an Ice bucket full of ice with more in the freezer for whatever my guests bring to drink.
Candy Venni says
Number one is coat hooks – number 2 is a phone charger, 3 is bedside lamp (for reading and not having to get out of bed for the main light switch) Little extras I’ve added beyond everyone’s extra suggestions above (and your own excellent list)
– sewing repair kit, games, hot water bottle (winter is coming) and plants 🙂
We are expecting our 2nd ever booking for our private suite in Hamilton Ontario tomorrow night 🙂 🙂
I’m getting my 2nd ever booking too in mid-November…thanks for the phone charger tip!
Hi Lily …Great Ideas, My husband and I are sold on the Air BnB idea of becoming hosts. We are in the process of renovating a bedroom and bath by
putting in a private entrance with keyless entry. We are partitioning off the hallway so the guests are completely private from us. Private entrances were rare and
hard to find in our travels. I have 2 suggestions if I may add: Post the physical address on back of door or in room in case of 911 emergency. I also will have an open house before I go live with: local Police Dept., Fire Dept and Real estate agencies. Keep up the good work.
I really like your post Lily ! I have been hesitant in running an airbnb for years! However, Im so inspired to go for it, here in Swaziland, Africa. I don’t have a website, yet.
Chris Peterson says
Just an excellent post! Thank you. My husband and I are almost empty-nesters. We have five bedrooms and two bathrooms plus an additional laundry room in our basement. I loved all the ideas you have! SO inspiring. I would love to learn more from you!
I realise this post was written 2 years ago, but as I’ve just returned from another airbnb adventure I wanted to find out if there was any feedback online about the things that guests miss or things that make a 5 star experience drop to a 4 star… and you said it above about a CLEAN bathroom. My last 2 airbnb’s had issues with backed up drains, my recent one still had hair around the drain itself… while my host was super responsive about what I found to be a non-clean bathroom (toothpaste in the sink, hair in the shower, towels hanging therefore were uncertain if clean or not so I washed them… after using google translate to use the washer since there was no simple explanation or labels on the appliance) . My last host was super apologetic and even sent her mum around to give me cash for the cleaning fee, my host before that never responded to the drain issue (and that was the 2nd time we had stayed there). Drainage issues are really YUCK even in your own home. Guests don’t want to deal with this when they are traveling.
What I often miss when I travel: a toaster and a coffee machine (even a french press would do). I live in Europe so I certainly don’t expect A/C but a fan is nice. Also in Europe ice is not a thing, so I hope that those traveling to other continents can understand it’s not always exactly like ‘at home’ (hence why I don’t complain about a toaster 😉 ).
All fantastic ideas and posts, I just started with Airbnb around the middle of May and I have done so much reading on all subject Airbnb that so far am fully booked to the end of September. We are in the process of putting in keyless entry, but we live on the property so always here to greet our guests. I have renewed a suite completely and all the things mentioned that we should have, I do. I supply items for their first breakfast, fruit, yogurt, muffins, etc as well as teas, coffee and candy, chips etc. Wondering if I might make some money with all things supplied and only charging 68.00 a night. Appreciate any feedback on this post. Thankyou. Debbie BC canada