We are expecting our best season yet on Airbnb. Montana is a happening place and we are hosting a lot of first time visitors this winter. Aside from this, the competition is harder than ever to put our properties above the rest to attract quality bookings and get the highest occupancy rate possible. One of the ways we look to outpace other listings is through a seasonal makeover. Did you update your listing for the upcoming season? Our professional interior decorator Amy would love to get your Airbnb up to snuff for the ski season! We recommend utilizing 10-20% of your holiday bookings to budget for a winter refresh.
Taking a Yellowstone winter tour gives you the chance to experience the raw power of Mother Nature. This place can be brutal, beautiful, and captivating all in one; a place where super-heated water erupts into arctic air and where wildlife pushes snow in a constant struggle to survive. Yellowstone in winter is a place where silence and solitude dominate the Parks interior. In my opinion, you have never really seen Yellowstone until you’ve been there in the winter.
Travel is at the core of Headwaters Hosting. We encourage our team-members to get out of their nest as much as possible, to gain new perspectives and bring back fresh energy to our team. A refreshed mindset allows us to do more creative work. Exploring new places allows us to put ourselves in our guests shoes as we discover completely foreign environments.
Four proven strategies for making your listing stand out
I attended Olga Mizrahi’s host educator class at the Airbnb Open in 2016. She is a Superhost who opens her three-bedroom ski lodge in California to travelers from around the world. She’s also a design and marketing expert whose work has been featured in magazines such as Forbes, Inc., and Fast Company. Olga shared with me four proven strategies for making your listing stand out:
Focus on what makes your space unique: Airbnb offers more than two million listings. To help you convey why guests should choose yours above the others, Olga suggests creating a “unique value proposition.” Take a few minutes to think about the appealing, one-of-a-kind assets that make your listing special: Can you say you’ll supply extra soft sheets? A gorgeous view? A short walk to a major attraction? Consider modifying your listing description and title to really focus on these advantages. You can attract more attention and more bookings if you highlight your listing’s strengths.
Use your reviews: Olga recommends looking at your reviews to find details to include in your listing description. What, exactly, is it about your hospitality and listing that attracts your best guest ratings? Taking account of real opinions from real travelers is the most reliable way to find out.
Think like a guest: By using precise and accurate language to describe what your space offers, you can boost your listing’s appeal to travelers looking for particular amenities. Olga’s listing in Mammoth Lakes emphasizes its convenient parking, for instance, because she knows from experience that skiers love it when they can haul their ski gear into the listing easily. She also makes sure to point out that her home has a wood-burning fireplace because she knows skiers love to unwind in front of the fire after a day on the slopes.
Stay with a local host: About 60% of hosts have never traveled with Airbnb as a guest. Olga advises every host to try a one-night “staycation” at a fellow host’s home near you. During the visit, pay close attention to your interactions with the host, the check-in and check-out process, and the overnight experience. The visit will help you come up with ideas about how to elevate the hospitality you provide.
Managing Partner I Headwaters Hosting
Please share any questions or ideas on what you have found to be the most successful way to get your listing more clicks in the comment section below.
Airbnb hosts have a little more to think about when considering home improvement projects. Investing time and money into your space may increase your property value, and also better serve your guests—hopefully boosting your ratings too.
So how do you plan home improvements with hosting in mind? We’ve gathered a few tips and stories from hosts about which projects they’re planning and why.
Home improvement doesn’t always have to involve knocking down walls or tearing up flooring. Consider starting small with painting projects, reupholstering, or simple decor changes. Guests come to Airbnb looking for something unique and home-like, so don’t be afraid to add some personal flair to your space, such as displaying objects from your travels, stocking books you recommend, or painting an accent wall in your absolute favorite color.
Adding personality to a space can be tricky, (What is my personality? Am I exciting enough?) so don’t overthink it. Go with what you like and incorporate elements from across your life, such as your work, hobbies, family history, or anything at all.
There is always painting to do (of furniture as well as walls) but I am also planning on going wallpaper crazy. I LOVE statement wallpapers and because of the set designing I do as part of my job, I have a stack of lovely ones sitting around.
Be your own guest
Experiencing your space as a guest can help you identify worthwhile areas of improvement. Sleep in your guest beds, take a shower and try out the bathroom towels. If a space is dedicated exclusively to guests, try cooking a meal in the kitchen to make sure everything works and that you have all the right tools. Taking your space for a trial run, or having a friend or family member do it for you, can help you find potential fixes you might not otherwise see as a host.
Guest feedback is also a great source of info. Your guests may have stayed in a lot of other listings and can provide objective feedback to help identify needed repairs or worthwhile investments.
What I would like to do this year, taking into consideration also some of my guests feedback, is to spend some time and money redesigning and remaking the bathrooms of my Acropolis house. Since it is a neoclassical property (it’s been there since the ‘20s) I will need to get a special permit from the Ministry of Culture, but it is certainly worth it.
– Panos & Mary,
When considering fix-it projects for your space, keep these guest-focused principles in mind:
Are practical items conveniently placed? For example, are towel racks within easy reach of the shower? Is the showerhead high enough for tall guests? Do you have an area near the front door to leave things like keys, handbags, or jackets?
Are basic resources accessible, such as power outlets for charging mobile devices? (Without having to crawl under a table or heave aside a couch, for example?) Are light switches easily found?
Are standard features like doors and windows functional and easy to use? Quirks like having to jiggle a door key for the lock to work or having to use a nearby object to prop open a window can diminish a guest’s experience, and it can knock a star off your host review.
Use hosting as leverage for home improvement
For some hosts, the potential income can be a strong motivator for planning improvements. Been dreaming about building a backyard gazebo but can’t quite justify the effort yet? Or maybe you know you need to upgrade your plumbing but want to save up money first. Hosting on Airbnb may help fund your next home improvement effort.
I would really like to do a soundproofing and design project to convert my detached garage to a music room/studio to house my guitars and drum set. As it is, I hate to play my instruments in the house for fear of disturbing my guests so it will provide a nice getaway room for me without disturbing others!
Aside from practical considerations of cost and time, any projects you take on should improve the way you feel about your own space. If it’s making your dreams come true, it’s probably worth it. If you do embark on a home improvement project, don’t forget to take pictures and update your listing!
Now get those off-season projects done, the busy season is coming!
Stepping off the traditional path of staying at a hotel can be scary at first but well worth the stories and memories created when traveling. It’s actually the perfect time to venture off the beaten path and right into the heart of the community you’re visiting. Here are our best tips for finding the cheapest and most memorable Airbnbs
1. The Map Tool Is Your New Best Friend
Airbnb has a great map feature that lets you explore your destination before you even set foot in the city. Like with google maps, all you do is click and drag the map to move it around — wherever you stop, the available listings and prices will appear. If you’re traveling soon, look for listings with the lightning-bolt symbol, which means they’re available for instant booking so you won’t have to wait for your host to approve the request at the other end.
2. Know Your Price Range
You’re in control here. The map can get cluttered, especially in big cities that have tens of thousands of listings. Figure out what you’re willing to pay so you don’t have to sort through every listing by hand. If you have any other requirements, like a private room or multiple beds, now is the time to add those filters as well. All of these preferences can be easily plugged into the search bar on Airbnb
3. Figure out Which Part of the City You Want to Stay In
This is a great excuse to start planning the rest of your vacation. I like to first know what my activities will be during my trip and plan my accommodations accordingly. When visiting some place new I enjoy being within walking distance of all things that day to day locals utilize. Waking up in a neighborhood a block from a highly rated coffee shop, boutique food market, or yoga studio I can drop into is my favorite way to get immersed in a new location.
4. Read the Reviews and Rules Carefully
Reviews will give you a good foundation for what people thought about the place you are interested in booking. It is a credible source as these are people just like you. The more reviews a listing has the more experienced the homeowner is at hosting and thus the more likely you are to have a pleasurable stay.
Likewise, reading the rules and other information thoroughly is important. It will often spell out the imperfections of the property, perhaps you can hear the neighbors through your wall or the property is difficult to find. This happened to me recently while traveling to a luxury hideout in Banamichi, a small village in the middle of nowhere Mexico. If I would have read the instructions well, I would have known the detailed directions to reaching the property instead of following the not always so reliable google maps that missed a turn costing me an hour of back tracking.
5. Keep an Eye out for Unique Listings
It’s easy to pick the first room with a bed that meets your needs, but if you keep looking, you might find something really special. I always like returning to office Monday morning with a “you’re not going to believe where I stayed this weekend.”
Don’t shy away from the opportunity to integrate into the local community. The greatest benefit Airbnb offers over a hotel is that your hosts double as personal guides to a new city. Utilize their suggestions when you’re deciding what to eat, where to go and how to get around. They’ll clue you in to the hidden gems of their hometown that
The decision to outsource your vacation rental property management is driven by the desire for more freedom. But, with more freedom comes less control. Will a professional firm be able to maintain the same meticulous level maintenance and quality? Every host understands that it only takes one miserable review to sink their fledgling Airbnb enterprise. The control freak in us can make us hold onto managing the day to day operation of vacation rental long after the excitement of hosting fellow travelers subsides. Although the majority of Airbnb hosts have never worked in hospitality, they know what good service looks like. Trusting that a third party service provider won’t drop the ball on their 5-star reputation isn’t easy.
There is no doubt that the service quality expectations of Airbnb guests are on the rise too. The days of supplying a blowup mattress and a bowl of Cheerios and calling that hospitality is long gone. Most guests are now expecting a pleasant smile to meet them at the door, impeccably clean bathrooms, pressed linens, and something fresh to nibble on in the fridge. Achieving a consistent level of service around the year can be a difficult task for even the most dedicated host.
If the idea of making your short-term rental more passive is interesting to you, feel free to reach out and see if Headwaters Hosting is a good fit for you. Big Sky is a mecca for the outdoors and having the time to enjoy them is one of our greatest priorities for our homeowners.