It can be a challenge to get bookings on Airbnb when you first start out as a host. But once you do, it’s important to wow your guests so that they’ll leave you a great review and help you book even more! Here is a list of thoughtful touches we use in our Airbnbs to get great reviews.
Kate and I have been running Airbnbs now for three years and they bring in $70,000 a year. After listing our basement and having lots of success, Airbnb became a huge part of our investment strategy.
1. Guest Guide and Welcome Note
When a guests enters your listing for the first time, they won’t know exactly what to expect. We like to show our guests that we prepared the space specifically for them by leaving a welcome note at the entrance.
We put their name in the note so they feel like the space was set up just for them.
First impressions can have a huge impact on the final review, and there’s no better way to make a first impression than making them feel right at home immediately. A personalized note or message can help with that first impression.
And a well thought out guest guide can also be a huge help. A guest guide should include:
- Wifi network name and password
- Instructions on how to work things (like how to use the coffee machine or how to play a movie in blu ray player)
- Maps or brochures outlining local attractions
- Contact information (so they can call or text you with questions)
- Any instructions for check out
Put the book in the most prominent place in the first room they enter. A coffee table, or a countertop, just wherever your eyes are immediately drawn to when you walk in.
So the first thing your guests experience is a personalized message and a book that should answer most of their immediate questions.
2. Restaurant Recommendations
In the first year we listed our basement we got one question more than anything else, “Where should we eat?” Our guests were coming into town and they wanted to go somewhere local and good without having to spend an hour searching online.
So Kate decided create some wall art that had a list of all the places we recommend.
It has high end restaurants, places to eat for lunch and sites to visit. We’ve gotten A LOT of positive responses about our list. And we love it too, because we don’t have to think of a place every time someone asks for help.
It’s a win-win.
3. Coffee & Tea Bar
Another feature that is absolutely a must have is a coffee bar. So many people these days drink coffee that many won’t even book a place without a coffee maker.
With some trial and error we’ve landed on putting a Keurig coffee maker in every one of our Airbnbs.
Other coffee makers we’ve tried have inevitably ended up in a huge mess from a guest using it improperly. The Keurigs are easy to use and pretty much the only way you end up with a huge mess is if you forget to put a coffee cup under the dispenser.
Beyond the coffee maker, you’ll also want to have all the other things coffee drinkers like:
- A few different blends or flavors
- To go cups
We’ve also created a sleeve for the to go cups that have our Airbnb brand on them. Not sure if it makes a huge difference, but I can say we have a lot of repeat guests…maybe the sleeves help?
We’ve been stocking breakfast food in our listings since the very beginning, and honestly, we’ve changed very little in this regard.
We put out fresh fruit, usually apples, oranges and bananas. We have some sort of baked good (muffins, scones, donuts, etc.). Then we have some non-perishable foods like oatmeal and granola bars.
We make sure that there is at least one entire meal’s worth of food for everyone. So if there are lots of guests staying then we need more food!
It can be a little extra burden to the preparation for each guests, and some guests never touch the food. But others really appreciate the meal and make a point to thank us for it.
5. Amenities for Families
It turns out that a lot of people have kids. I would say something like 10% of our guests have kids under the age of six.
Until I became a parent, I never realized how much stuff (I might call it “junk” sometimes) you have to haul around for your kids. I mean, my two year old daughter only stands 30 inches tall and weighs 25 pounds, but her luggage weighs more than mine and Kate’s combined.
It’s nice to know that a pack ‘n play is waiting for us at our Airbnb, it means easier travel for us. And if they have a high chair too? Well then I know I get to eat my dinner in relative peace.
Toys, books, games, noise machine and a baby monitor? I’m booking.
Parents will book a place and love you if you can ease their traveling load and make their lives easier. It’s well worth the $300 to buy all the family stuff. You’ll make it back fast and those supplies will get you more bookings forever.
6. Games, Books, Entertainment
Alright forget the kids, adults need entertainment too. When we first started out I put my old game consoles in our Airbnb. I had an N64, a PS2 and a SNES in our basement with a bunch of classic games (Ocarina of Time, Guitar Hero and Super Mario Bros. to name a few).
I remember hearing a group of guys down there playing Mario Kart and loving every minute of it. I was loving it, too. Well I was secretly listening to them through the floor vents (in a totally normally way) and smiling because my old games were making people happy. That’s one of those memories I think back on when we have the really difficult guests.
What I’m really trying to say is that your guests are usually on vacation. And sometimes a game of Monopoly, or a round of Guitar Hero, or some comic books can really enhance your guests’ vacation.
You’re not trying to reach everyone. You’re trying to give an amazing surprise to those few guests that stumble upon your well thought out entertainment.
…or you can just pay for a Netflix subscription and call it a day.
7. Soap and Shampoo Dispensers
This is actually one we haven’t tried yet, but we have a good friend who does an Airbnb and he’s had great experience with soap and shampoo dispensers.
When you go to a hotel they always have those miniature soaps and shampoos, and that just feels wasteful. But you still want to make sure your guests have what they need to bathe.
Kate and I have mostly just put out shampoo and body wash bottles, but our friend actually got these professional looking dispensers. Then he can just refill them from time (easy for him) and guests still have a sanitary experience.
8. Check-in Backup Plan
Since we have several Airbnbs, we don’t want to have to be present anytime a guest is checking in. So we put deadbolt locks on the front door that have a coded entry. We just give our guests their code and they punch the code in when they arrive to let themselves in.
Guests love this too, because they can check in whenever they like. We’ve had guests check in at 2am while we’re asleep and everybody’s happy.
But sometimes there’s a problem.
We change codes on the locks and occasionally we give our guest the wrong code. Sometimes the guest can’t figure out how to work the lock. And sometimes the batteries ran out and the lock won’t respond to the correct code.
This has caused some real problems, because at that point the only way in is to bring a physical key to the house. And if we have to bring a key, then the guest is waiting for us, locked outside the house.
That’s not a good experience.
After about a dozen of these situations I decided we needed a plan B. So I installed lock boxes outside each house with a house key. That way if a guest gets locked out, all they have to do is call and we’ll tell them how to get the physical key.
I’ve been able to save myself a trip and save my guests a bad experience several times because they only had to call me and have a 2 minute conversation to get in the house.
9. Phone Chargers
I don’t think we actually have any phone chargers sitting out inside our listings, but we do have outlets with a USB plug in.
And honestly it’s probably a good idea to have a few popular chargers available in case a guest forgets. We haven’t actually tried this, so I’m not sure if they would end up getting stolen, but it’s probably worth a trial run.
You could seriously improve a guest’s experience if they forgot a phone charger.
Either way, the USB outlets are a good investment. We’ve never had one stolen and it’s a great utility for anyone with a phone charger that doesn’t plug into the outlet.
10. Makeup Wipes
One of the early lessons we learned is that makeup wearers will wipe off their makeup on whatever they find in the bathroom. We’ve had lots of white hand towels get ruined from makeup.
So we tried two different things.
First we put some disposable makeup wipes in the bathroom. That actually worked. After that it was rare for anyone to use the white hand towels to wipe off their makeup.
But we weren’t loving the disposable nature of the wipes. So we decided to just buy some darker hand towels and label them specifically for cleaning off makeup.
That worked just as well as the wipes, and we can wash and reuse them!
11. Extras of Everything
There are a lot of no-brainers when you’re putting your Airbnb together. You need toilet paper and paper towels or napkins. You need trash bags, bath towels, sheets, pillows and blankets.
But you can’t always correctly guess how much of those things will end up being used. You’d be surprised how many groups of two end up using five or six bath towels. And sometimes a guest will make several bags of trash.
Have extras of EVERYTHING.
We always have extra toilet paper in the bathrooms, even if the guest is only staying for one night. We have extra trash bags at the bottom of the trash cans.
And you can be sure that we have LOTS of extra coffee pods for the Keurig. Some people go through several cups of coffee each day.
We don’t want to drive over there to replace their trash bags or toilet paper. And they don’t want to have to ask for more coffee.
Providing extras may seem like a minor thing, but sometimes its those thoughtful touches that your guests never even think about that make the biggest difference.
12. Other Thoughtful Touches
There are so many ways you can wow your guests. Many of the things on this list of Airbnb thoughtful touches are must-haves for Kate and I, but that doesn’t mean that you need everything in your bed and breakfast.
The whole point is to think about what your guests are experiencing and try to make their stay more enjoyable (and eliminate any inconveniences).
You’ll see patterns in what your guests are asking or requesting. It’s your job to recognize those things and do something to solve their problem.
Here are some other things that can solve your guests problems, or give them a better overall experience:
- Hair dryer in the bathroom
- Box fan (lots of our guests have requested this)
- Hand lotion
- First Aid kit
- Ironing board with an iron (some of our guests are in town for a job interview)
- Cotton balls and Q-tips
- Bath mats
- Hot tub (our friend has one and his guests love it!)
- Washer and dryer
You can also just check the list of amenities under your listing on Airbnb. Guests can filter by amenity so having these can also help you get bookings.
And above all else, just pay attention and try to think about how you can improve your guests’ experience.
Thoughtful touches in your Airbnb can help you wow your guests, and they can also make their stay much smoother.
Board games, a charcoal grill, a welcome note or a hot tub can really make your guests to feel like they’re vacationing in luxury.
And a coffee bar, guest guide, restaurant recommendations and extras of everything can ensure that your guests have a smooth stay without minor inconveniences.