An Airbnb Host With 4,300 5-Star Reviews Shares Common Mistakes – Business Insider

An Airbnb Host With 4,300 5-Star Reviews Shares Common Mistakes – Business Insider

In 2014, Jacquie Mosher listed her Colorado Springs basement on Airbnb to earn some extra money while she launched a shop selling homemade chocolates.
Charging around $120 a night, she found early success renting to athletes visiting the nearby Olympic training center. After seeing her listing on the front page of Airbnb search results, other hosts in the area reached out for advice. She offered to manage their homes, and slowly amassed a portfolio of eight other properties.
By 2019, she decided to go into full-time property management.
“I wanted to focus on one business and not two,” Mosher, 36, told Insider.
Now, she runs an operation with six assistants that oversees 60 properties nationwide, from condos in Myrtle Beach to fishing cabins in Colorado. Her rentals range from a 200-square-foot tiny home to a “Family Paradise” that sleeps 12.
She’s landed listings on the front page of Airbnb’s website and in the past year has hosted over 18,000 guests, racked up over 4,300 five-star reviews, and generated over $3.6 million in revenue.
During the pandemic, new hosts rushed to Airbnb, in part thanks to relatively low mortgage rates for investment properties or to earn additional income on the side. But new hosts make rookie errors.
Mosher shared her four biggest tips for running a successful Airbnb with Insider.
Mosher’s first recommendation for other hosts is to not stuff in as many beds as possible. She’s seen new hosts try to squeeze space and attract the largest group possible, attempting to command high nightly rates.
“I have clients putting bunk beds in walk-in closets, and they’re throwing pull-out couches everywhere,” she told Insider.
This strategy will only ultimately frustrate guests, Mosher said.
“If it doesn’t seat 12 in the kitchen or living room, it doesn’t sleep 12,” she said.
In addition to bad reviews, hosts with an over-capacity space are increasing liability for their space and the wear and tear on their furniture.
Instead, focus on maximizing amenities that will improve the guest experience. In her original basement unit, Mosher has a small closet outfitted with a vintage record player and collection of vinyl records.
Small touches like the record player turn into five-star reviews that will keep you booked, Mosher said.
New hosts furnishing a home might forget the vacation aspect of the rental, Mosher said. Guests are willing to overlook underwhelming interior design — and pay more — if the outdoor space sparkles.
“You could have a completely outdated interior of a home. But if you have the string lights and the hot tub and you really invest in making your outdoor spaces beautiful, your nightly rates will skyrocket,” she told Insider.
String lights are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but Mosher said investing in a fire pit or barrel-wood sauna can make a rental worth the nightly rate for guests.
She also recommended pursuing other listings in your area to see what amenities other hosts are offering. If barely any listings have a hot tub, for example, becoming the listing with a hot tub will make you stand out.
Every host dreams of landing on the front page, and Mosher believes she’s cracked the code.
First, make sure the listing form that hosts fill out to advertise is filled out as much as possible. Choose every filter that applies to your home and stuff in as many keywords as possible. List off every detail and amenity your space has to offer, even down to “spa-quality shampoo.”
Then, ditch the iPhone and get a professional photographer. Send them examples of other listings you admire and have them shoot the doorways.
“Show the transitions between each room, so that the person feels like they’re walking through the home and they have a good idea of layout,” Mosher said.
When uploading the images, choose a lead image that shows a unique or exciting feature of your home. It could be an inviting fire pit or a unique design feature of the house. One of Mosher’s listings is a historic carriage house and her lead image is the detailing on the front door.
It’s also helpful to know your competition and try to pick images that buck trends. Mosher said that a search for Myrtle Beach listings will return a sea of teal and white, so she never uses a lead photo with those colors.
“I absolutely choose a different color, because it’s going to make you pop out amongst the other listings in the feed,” she said.
Mosher said an absolute necessity for hosts and managers is “automating” the messages they send guests before, during, and after their stays.
“For a busy owner, you have people check out every day, you know. And you’re seeing the same things every day,” she told Insider.
Any kind of message that is routine with each stay should be a click away so that you don’t waste your time, Mosher said.
Mosher has developed a system, where responses belong to one of five categories.
Category one is for daily greetings. Category two is for questions around pets. Category three is for questions about early check-ins or late checkouts. Category four is for common booking questions and local recommendations.
Category five is for more listing-specific questions. For example, one rental has vintage bikes and longboards, so this category has information about rental inquiries.
A key to crafting these messages is to not sound robotic, but friendly, Mosher said. She will add in warm phrases and brainstorm ways to make the guest feel comfortable.
For example, instead of “Thanks for your message,” Mosher sends guests: “Thank you for the fantastic communication, safe travels and happy adventures.”
Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.
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