A traveller’s perspective on how to be the best host
Now that we’ve stayed in over 20 units, apartments, houses, farms, caves and shacks, we think we’ve really got the knack of how to get the best out of Airbnb (and other accommodation platforms). Now we’ve started thinking about it from the hosts perspective, ‘If I was the host I would …’
So rather than rant to each other about how we could be the best Airbnb host, we thought we’d share our experiences in the hopes that some hosts out there might read it and take note.
If I was the host I would…
… List all my facilities and amenities accurately
We use filters like they’re going out of fashion. If you don’t have wi-fi, we won’t find you. If you are out of our price range, we won’t find you.
If you want more people to find your property, make sure you have listed all the facilities you have. And the more facilities you have, the more people will find you. Wi-fi is a non-negotiable for us as we work while travelling. Please also make sure it is usable. In some cases we’ve found it actually comes from a restaurant across the road, or it needs resetting every ten minutes. This does not count as having wi-fi.
… Not worry about instant book
Some people believe that offering ‘Instant book’ is going to get more travellers applying. We don’t care either way if you offer it or not. What we do care about is that you accept/deny our booking within 24 hours so we have plenty of time to find an alternative.
(Traveller tip – Airbnb actually offers a discount on other properties if your booking gets denied. We have had some of our best accommodation this way.)
… Be the host with the most
Some hosts let you in the door, then walk away. That’s fine. No problem. But if you really want a 5 star rating every time, a few small touches can make a difference. Here’s some examples of what people have done for us to go that extra step:
- Fresh flowers on the table on arrival
- Providing tea and coffee
- Leaving some milk in the fridge
- Giving excellent recommendations of local restaurants (we always ask hosts this, but we like it when they volunteer the information)
- Provide brochures on fun things to do in the region, or talk through some suggestions
- Have a first aid kit
- Leave a ‘guide to the house and region’ in a few languages
- Send directions and other information in an email or message a day or two before arrival
- Have a book swap
- Fresh towels
- Have a well equipped kitchen – more on this below
- A bottle of local wine
… Make check in simple
We’ve been left waiting over an hour by a host. We’ve had a host give us the wrong key and then it broke when it didn’t turn and he hit it with a brick. (Actually they were both the same host). We were then locked out (with our luggage locked in) for two hours on a Sunday night while we waited for a locksmith. The moral of the story is, check in should be relatively easy.
We’ve had self-check in with automated doors, where you push a button on the message you received from your host and combination locks where the key is inside a cubby hole. Whatever the method of handing over keys, the important thing is that the host is not late to meet the guests, two sets of keys is excellent, and please be available from the time listed on your Airbnb listing. We always aim to arrive at the listed check in time, so being available at that time is important.
… Provide some simple basics
We’re surprised how many places don’t have these simple items, if you want to be a great host, make sure you have each of them:
- Free, good quality wi-fi
- A washing machine (especially if travelling families are coming your way)
- At least one good sharp knife
- A decent sized saucepan
- A colander/strainer
- A frypan
- A cutting board
- Dishwashing detergent
- Salt, pepper and oil
- Enough plates & cutlery for the number of guests you may have
- Working bedside lights
- Enough pillows (a few more than the number of guests is best)
- Enough toilet paper for the stay
… Be a decent human being
We’ve had some excellent relationships with our hosts. We love to chat to locals and the host is the best place to start. These conversations have led to us finding local treasures, we’ve been given local delicacies, garden produce, given discounts at a surf school and had some very rich conversations. We would never expect any of that, and it comes equally from our hosts being decent human beings, and us being interested in people’s lives.
Some hosts do not behave like decent human beings and we’ve had a handful of unfortunate experiences. Thankfully this is the exception rather than the rule.
But also, if I was the host, I would NOT…
… Allow anyone to enter your property while guests are staying there
We stayed at one place where the host stored the linen for his other properties. A staff member came in each morning to collect the linen. We felt like it invaded our privacy and we told our host that it did. Our host didn’t respond to our complaint.
… List amenities and facilities that I don’t have
We choose our places very specifically based on amenities and facilities. If you don’t have something and you say you do, we will be disappointed and more likely to give you a poor review.
… Ignore requests for things to be fixed
We had one place where the lights and the roller shutter in the bedroom didn’t work, so there was no light in that room for the entire day or night. After contacting our host, nothing was done about it and we had missed the Airbnb refund deadline. If your guest wants something fixed, fix it.
… Have appliances that don’t work
At one place, the washing machine flooded the laundry every time it was used. Our clothes came out bleached, and ruined half our wardrobe. We’ve experienced dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers, lights and plenty more that haven’t worked. Check that all your appliances work before your guests arrive.
… Arrange deliveries to arrive while guests are staying
Ironically, as I write this, the doorbell has just rung and we have something being delivered in our apartment. Our host has arrived with the delivery to let us know, but we would have liked a bit of warning.
Ultimately we’ve mostly had wonderful hosts, but we are very picky about where we choose to stay. I’m sure hosts have just as much to say about travellers as we have to say about hosts.
If you’ve had any experiences as a host or a guest, we’d love you to share them in the comments section below.