thevrbeachblogger

How To Respond To A Negative Review

Let me just say, a bad review is not the end of the world. No matter how perfect of a host you are, there is always going to be that one guest that will never be satisfied. 

Now if you are repeatedly getting negative reviews, as a host you should do a self-assessment and ask yourself the following questions: 

1.Do you respond quickly to all communication? I like to say the golden window to respond is within 20 minutes. Anything more is too long. The longer it takes to respond just adds another log to the existing fire. Just imagine a guest that is having plumbing issues, like no running water. Every second it takes to respond to them feels a lot longer. The following are few tips to ensure you always respond in this golden window:

a. Ensure push notification in your Airbnb app enabled on your phone – this will alert you the moment a message or booking is received and allow real time communication because you are able to respond right away to the guest. 

b.Saved response templates – having response templates saves you time and luckily Airbnb has a feature that enables you to do this. 

2.Do you ever give a negative response? When responding to a guest never give a negative response. Even if you are unable to fulfill their request, give them a better alternative. 

3.Always ensure every aspect of your description is as accurate as possible. There is nothing worse than not meeting your guest expectations. For instance, if your listing has free coffee provided and there isn’t a coffee machine in the unit. Even if the guest prior broke the machine, let your guest know as soon as they arrive and be sure to let them know that you have already purchased a replacement that will be delivered with in 24 hours and if possible, provide them with free coupons to a nearby coffee shop. This kind gesture will go a long way. 

If you have done all the above and a guest still leaves that dreaded negative review there is still a way to turn this positive.  

How to Mitigate the Negative Effect of a Bad Review 

  1. Apologize even if you are right. There is nothing worse than a potential guest reading a host’s response implying that the guest was lying. The host will always look like the bad guy in this situation.  
  2. Say what you’ve done to correct the problem.
  3. Thank them for the feedback and the stay. Then let them know that you look forward to hosting them in the future. 

Here is an example of the coffee situation mentioned prior. 

       Hi Jane Doe, 

I am very sorry that there wasn’t a coffee machine in the unit as stated in the description. As I mentioned during check in, the machine had been broken by the previous guest that checked out that morning. I am happy that the coffee machine ordered was delivered to you with in 24 hours. I also, hope you liked the coffee shop I provided you the coupons for. It is a favorite in the community and their weekly jazz night is a great event to experience 😊. Thank you for the feedback and it was a pleasure hosting you. I look forward to hosting you in the future. 

This reply allowed for you to show your potential guest that you were quick to respond to that guest issue and allowed for you to advertise a local event in the area that might attract other poets or interests. 

At the end of the day, never take a negative review personal. Always respond thinking about how you can turn this negative into a positive by keeping your future potential guests in mind. If you have done everything you can as a host just let it go and remember the other reviews you have received praising you for a job well done! 

 

 

How to Choose a Great Name For Your Airbnb

You’ve completed setting up your Airbnb and now you are about to list your property…what do you name it?

Some may opt not to give it a name and just say something generic like “2bd/2bth close to downtown”, but if you have a long-term goal in mind, branding starts from day one!

You see giving your property a name gives it an identity. It’s no longer just a structure where people sleep but its a business that provides you with a source of income and you should treat it as such.

So, how do you choose a great name for your Airbnb?

Here are five must haves in a name:

1. Easy to pronounce – the name should be no more than two to three syllables and easy to spell. Avoid any sorts of characters. 

2. Must be scalabe – the name you select must be able to grow with your business.

3. Unique and relatable to the brand – if you think about the biggest brands out there Google, Amazon, Apple, these are all unique names. 

Selecting the wrong name could be detrimental to your Airbnb. Choosing a great name lays the foundation for branding your business. To put it into context, your logo, marketing material, everything you put out to the public will all be inspired or related to this name. So, be sure you choose the right name!

Create Your Own Logo

If you look at the picture above most likely you know every company the logos above represent.

Not only do you know it but they give you a feeling of trust.

After you have named your business. The next step should be creating your logo. 

Where do you start?

1.Find a few logos that you find interesting.

2.Think about your business name and find what image can relay or best represent your name and brand. Think about what colors best reflect your name or the area or climate your Airbnb is located.

3. Put these ideas on a board and start to play around with them using a logo design website. One of the most popular FREE and easy to use website is Canva.

You will most likely come out if this creative process with a few possibilities. Show them to friends, family members or even strangers on the street. It’s always best to get feedback. Let this assist in determining your final logo design but don’t let them make the final decision for you. Take that input coupled with what you want your rental’s identity to be and make that final decision yourself.

 Doing this process as the owner has a two fold effect. It makes you a lot more intimate with your brand and it unleashes a creative side you might have been unaware you had!

Remember branding your business starts at day one!

 

 

What’s Your Plan?

Before you start you must know where you’re going! 

If you’re just starting your Airbnb, your business plan does not have to be complex at day 1. It is something you work on through out the life of your rental business. The key is to just start. Create and write a general idea of where you see your rental business in the future.  So, whats you’re plan?

Here are three easy steps to make a beginners business plan:

1.Create a vision/mission – This should be the overarching goal of the company that encompasses the companies purpose and values. This sets the tone of the business.

2.Create a marketing plan – Figure out who your target market is and how you plan to attract them to your Airbnb. In this age of social media and email ensuring you reach you’re target market has become a lot easier. You see with each guest you have ensure they add you as a friend or follower to one of the following or even better all of the following; 1.Instagram, 2.Facebook, 3.Twitter.

Most likely their friends are your target group as well. The key to this is post frequently! This increases the chance for one of your posts to be shared. At minimum post once per day!

Another great marketing strategy is to send newsletters. Create an email list by retrieving each guests email address. Send out newsletters informing past guests of discounts, festivals or tournaments that will be held in your area, upgrades you have made to your property or additional property added to your portfolio. You’re email list is going to take time to grow. This requires the most time.

3.Create a budget – Figure out how much income you want to be making in years 1-5. Then figure out what will be the costs incurred. This will give you an idea of what you’re break even nightly rate would be, which is the minimum amount you can charge when starting your Airbnb. Depending how saturated you’re market is, you will find low pricing the first couple months of your business is what gets you your  first few bookings and in turn those needed reviews.

4.Service differentiation – This is what will set you’re rental apart from the others. Write a few things that you can do to make the customer experience an even better one. Whether its providing discounts for businesses in the area, putting blue tooth speakers in the rental etc. Figure out what you think your target group would appreciate the most.

You see you’re business plan does not have to be complex. The objective of a business plan is to connect your goals with how you plan to achieve them. Don’t over complicate it! In fact, here are two things you’re business plan does not have to be: 

1.More than one page- You’re business plan does not have to be formal and it doesn’t have to be 50 pages. In fact all you need is one sheet of paper and a pencil/pen.

2.Fixed – A business plan does not have to be fixed. In fact, it is meant to change as you grow in knowledge and experience. 

Never start a business with out knowing where you’re going. Always keep your plan short and simple. As you grow your business, your business plan can become all encompassing but for a beginner these four items are essential. 

3 Must Reads Before You Start Your Airbnb

You’ve been playing with the idea of starting your own rental for a while now and have finally made the decision to do it! What’s next?

Most hosts jump right into it and start preparing their property for listing. Wait! Before you list your property take some time out to read as much as you can on the industry and in particular your rental area.

Trust me, this will save you money and headaches by decreasing your learning curve and avoiding avoidable mistakes! 

Here are my top three sources of information:

1) Reading Books on Vacation Rental

There weren’t too many books available when I first started but the ones I managed to find were quite insightful. These books taught me how to start up this new business.  I learned everything from pricing, how to create contracts, home decor to the best listing sites to use. My favorite book so far and a more recent read has been  Optimize Your Bnb, this book hands down increased traffic to my listing by 30% over night by implementing the recommendations made in this book. 

But back to the blog 🙂 I was well equipped on how to start my business but I still lacked in the area of  communicating with guests or dealing with small issues. Some might think these are too insignificant to put in a book. This lead me to resorting to point 2.  

2) Reading Blogs and Posts in Vacation Rental Forums.

 I would spend hours reading posts made by hosts talking about their experiences, problems they encountered and how they overcame it. Still to this day every time I encounter an unusual situation, I search the topic in a forum. I always find multiple ways persons resolved this issue. For example, I was having an issue with persons removing their makeup with my plush white towels and leaving them soiled. Believe it or not there were multiple posts on this one topic. I found that some hosts placed dark colored towels that were labeled makeup(makeup towels), some hosts placed signs saying “do not use towels to wipe make up” or some provided makeup wipes

3) Reading Reviews Left by Guests on Listings in My Area

I consider this information the Holy Grail. You get real time information of what a guest really liked or did not like about their stay with your competitors. Although comments are not regarding your unit, this information is still market feedback relevant to you. In some cases it can lead you to avoiding mistakes made by competitors or enhance something they did well! 

As you can see from my 3 points, I continue to read to this day! This is a continuous process and can put you ahead of the class in your rental community. The fewer mistakes you make from day one, the more satisfied guests you have that are going to refer you to their friend, family member or co worker. Do Your Homework! 

How To Keep Your Airbnb Booked

be aware

Now you think you’ve mastered Airbnb; your rental is booked more than 50% each month and your making more money than you ever could renting your property on a long term lease.

Ever thought about how your competitor is doing?

Well, if you didn’t, your like me.

When I first started I really didn’t care about what my competitors were doing until I noticed the number of inquirers starting to slow down.

I started to wonder if everyone in my area was having the same issue, so I checked their calendars on Airbnb. It turned out two had fewer bookings than me but two of them had more!  I quickly read through their listings to see what they were offering that I wasn’t. Here’s what I found: 

  1. Lower Rental Prices – I found that one person had dropped their prices exactly $10 less than my own nightly prices. You might think just a coincidence but it is highly impossible. You see I have seasonal prices. He used the same seasons and was exactly $10 less for each season. I was by no means going to drop my prices and start a price war with this guy. Plus I knew my rental’s worth. You should never sell yourself short. 

  1. Amenities and Photographs– Now the second person was a lot more interesting. This place looked like a page out of a home décor magazine! Not only that but they were $25 more per night than I was. It doesn’t stop there. They offered a lot more “help not sell”. The rental came equipped with  beach towels, kids toys and DVD’s. I came to the realization that I was now dethroned and hadn’t even realized it. Lol.

But seriously, the most important thing I learned from this exercise was that you have to think of ways to improve your listings appeal to guests. 

Pricing was not an option for me but I found the “help not sell” idea perfect. 

So, how are ways you can use the “help not sell” strategy?

  1. Personalize the guest experience. How would you do this? Lets say a guest has advised they are coming for a honeymoon or birthday. You would personalize the experience by putting a few balloons in the unit or a bouquet of flowers or a few cupcakes or using your relationships gained to get a free dinner for two at a local restaurant etc. Nothing too costly but it lets your guest know you appreciate them and creates a great first impression. 

  1. Provide additional items in the unit. Examples of this would be sewing kits, car seats, beach equipment(if your property is located near a beach), video games etc. Believe it or not I have even seen some property owners have a car to use included as an amenity.

  1. Team up with businesses in your area. Start building relationships with various businesses in your area. Reach out to them and explain to them the potential business you can bring their way and how you would like to partner with them. Through this partnership negotiate discounts and added bonus incentives for your guests.

Now that you have done all this hard work you must get your potential, past and current guests informed about the added benefits of booking with you. 

How do you let guests know about these additional benefits that come with booking your property?

Here are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Include these benefits in your description 
  2. In your listing photos create one dedicated to promoting these benefits
  3. In your listing’s title include a benefit that you know would be highly valued 
  4. Email newsletters to all past guests informing them of these new benefits

Guests will greatly appreciate this added touch. As it saves them money and time which equals more time to enjoy their trip and gets you as the host better reviews! 

Always think of ways to improve your guest experience and don’t be afraid to watch your competition. At the end of the day this is a business and that’s what competition is all about. Adding value for guests by “helping not selling” and then making your guests aware is a strategy that will keep your unit booked!

 

Guide|Decorating Your Airbnb

When I first decided to start my vacation rental business I was torn as to what theme I would go with when decorating my rental. 

An avid HGTV watcher, I had somehow convinced myself I was a professional decorator. I considered myself a mixture between Chip and Joanna’s rustic style coupled with Property Brothers modern flair.

 One thing I learned from watching these shows was that you must design and decorate the property to compliment the environment it is in and the emotions of its potential owners/renters. 

Here are a few tips to guide you when decorating your Airbnb:

1. Color Scheme: My first step in decorating is coming up with a color scheme for each room. This sets the mold for everything. Think about which colors will photograph best and what colors compliment your outside environment e.g. I find the most popular colors for beach destinations to be teal, yellow, orange, green and nautical blue. These colors pop out at you in photos unlike dark colors such as dark brown or black. Stay away from dark brown and black!!

2. Floor Plan: Find a free floor plan software or draw it out on on a piece of paper. If you go the paper route just ensure you measure the max space for each furniture piece and if possible tape an outline on the floor to give you a feel. This doesn’t have to be sophisticated but you want to make sure you utilize the rental space available as best as possible without crowding the space.

3. Budget: Finding reasonably priced furniture that are both durable and stylish is almost impossible. I have one word for you, IKEA! This place sells it all, from pot sets to bedroom sets. There is one caveat, these are ready to assemble furniture so you must be good with reading instructions and using an island key. You can also find good buys at local thrift stores, HomeGoods or even Amazon. Its going to take time but the finds will be worth it.

4. Accent Pieces: Puts the icing on your rental! I love faux plants, large statement wall paintings, accent walls and a definite must haves are accent pillows. I call these the “instagrammable” items. These items give your rental character and sets it even more apart from your competitors.