Responding to your Airbnb Guests
Apart from cleaning and preparing your home for your next guests, responding to guest queries is one of the most important yet time-consuming tasks as an Airbnb host. Pre-check in, post-checkout and communication during stays can make a world of difference in terms of guest experience for travellers even if things go wrong, so nailing your guest communication is crucial.
Here are some simple ways to manage your communication with guests.
Minimise the need for queries.
It’s simple to delight guests by sending them cute messages; recommending the best croissants in town or teaching them how to operate the washing machine. But the reality is most of us hold jobs outside of being an Airbnb host, and being glued to your phone is not the most optimal way to do either job. Ultimately, the number one rule to being better at responding to quest queries is to eliminate the need for it to happen.
By providing an informative and concise listing, you indefinitely eliminate half the amount of queries sent to you. Just think about all those times someone enquired about the parking options. If you had just written “There is a garage for your use,” on the listing, how many times would that have saved you from that question?
Start by listing down all the common questions you get asked frequently and add them to your listing, (being mindful of all the sensitive information of course). Airbnb has a few different sections on their listings, so we’ve compiled some of the most essential pieces of information you should include based on these different parts.
As the elevator pitch to the rest of your listing, this section should be both informative and concise to grab a guest’s attention. Since there is a 500 character word limit, avoid using fluffy descriptors to describe how effortlessly fantastic the view from the expansive and newly renovated tiled balcony is. Instead, stick to the most critical information, and the property will sell itself.
Things to include are:
- How many rooms and people can it occupy
- What type of building your home is
- Parking availability
- Common amenities such as air conditioning, Wifi and kitchens
- Transport options
- And if you have a little bit of space, how awesome the view is from the balcony.
This is the largest section for you to freestyle how amazing it is to stay at your property. It’s also a great place to clarify the nitty-gritty. Start by highlighting what they can find in the house, beginning with the living room and going through each space that the guests will encounter. Wrap up by including what extra amenities guests have access to, like the pool or gym on level 3, or BBQ area that’s only open on Tuesdays. By providing this additional information not only are you communicating to your guests better and eliminating the need for common queries, but you are also creating a better listing optimised for Airbnb’s search algorithm.
Make sure you don’t forget to include:
- Whether or not the kitchen is fully stocked
- What kitchen appliances you have available
- If the laundry is tucked away behind a cupboard
- If they’re allowed to play at the tennis court in the building
Anything that guests won’t be able to see from the photos
This section is self-explanatory; however, it is possibly the most misinterpreted section of all. Make sure you are specific and include all the spaces they have access to, because a simple “you have access to all” may not suffice to some guests. This is extremely important in instances where you are listing a shared home or private rooms where the boundaries can be blurred, or even an entire apartment with shared amenities.
Other things to note
Here you can add additional rules or random bits of information that doesn’t fit anywhere else. This can include bin days or the fact that your neighbours are 80-year-olds that appreciate their Saturday nights.
Interaction with guests
Set expectations from the get-go. If you’re not available to chat 24/7 during their stay, state it. If you’re not going to compromise your Saturday night to deliver the keys, say it. Communicating with guests is just as important as communicating with your partner, except there’s more headaches and less heartache (well, sometimes).
The neighbourhood and Getting around
These sections are more opportunities to sell, especially if your property is located in a highly convenient area. Being specific in how convenient it is, is critical. Mention the routes that can get you into the city the fastest, or the free shuttle bus that comes every minute. Remember that you should cater to all guests and provide the appropriate information for each.
Create a house manual. Always.
Leaving a house manual for your Airbnb guests isn’t only a way to reduce those late night calls from your guests, but it’s also a bit of insurance to ensure that your property stays intact and respected. House manuals can be created in one of two ways: Manually and digitally.
Whether or not you decide to go old school or digital, the key information that you need to include for both stays the same:
- House basics: e.g. wifi, tv, bin nights, washing machine etc.
- House map: this is optional unless you’re listing a castle.
- House rules: e.g. Don’t wear shoes in the house
- Emergency lists: Some guests are international, and unless they researched everything there is to know about flood-prone areas, you need to be thorough
Sending this information off before they arrive will be a fantastic way to communicate with your guests, as well as ensure a seamless check-in and booking experience.
Automate. Automate. Automate.
If there’s something that can be automated, automate it. Setting up automated emails about check-in instructions upon booking confirmation, and another to remind them to write a review when they check-out, helps cut down your communication work immensely. This is particularly easy for people who are already using Channel Managers with built-in guest communication functions, but for those mum and dad businesses, you’re most likely doing this old school.
In this case, where automation is not an option, make sure you keep on hand the answers for some of your most commonly asked questions so that you can simply copy and paste. This is a great way to avoid spending the time writing up a polite email to respond to the same question you were asked yesterday. One of the advantages of this copy and paste method in comparison to your automated responses is that the message can be tailored and personalised to the guest. There’s nothing worse than being sent “Hey You1234, thank you for your message,” with none of your questions answered.
If you have a minute to respond, do it.
By now, if you’re able to afford an investment, you should also have learnt that problems do not disappear if you run away from them. Whether you’re pressed for time or not in the mood, a simple 15 seconds and a few taps or clicks to say “Hey, I’m unable to respond at the moment but will give you an answer in about an hour,” will save you a lot of headaches, and a lot of angry messages later on. Managing these communication expectations earlier on as stated, will help ease these issues. Everyone understands that life gets in the way; you just need to let them know.
Put yourself in their shoes
Once you switch the switch between host to guest, communicating will guests will feel less of a chore, and more of an act of love for your neighbour. You’ll be able to understand your guest’s needs so much better, allowing you to help them with the crux of their issue and be the host that really tends to their needs. You merely need to listen.
For example, a guest messages you 9 pm on a Thursday, while you’re interstate on a business trip. It reads: “I have two kids that can easily get injured by your broken chair. Fix it now.”
If you place yourself in the guest’s position, what they really mean is: “Please let me know that you actually care for my well being. Even if you can’t fix it now, I just need to know that you will do something about it soon.”
In this scenario, even if you’re unable to physically help, letting them know that you understand their concerns and that you’re going to do something will help alleviate the stress. Giving them instructions about where to discard the broken chair will fix the issue of their children’s safety.
Although some guests aren’t as genuine, the same concept applies to each case. Being a good listener is being a good host, and letting them know that you are doing the most that you can to provide an excellent experience is what matters most.
At the end of the day, communication is at the crux of all our issues and is also the sole saviour for every problem. Nailing guest communications on the head not only manages guest expectations but ensures a happy guest, stellar reviews, a booked out property and a happy investor and their family.