The biggest between good hosts and great hosts is how you make your guests feel. In addition to a clean place, engaging with your guests on a human level can make a huge contribution to their overall feeling about their stay, and in turn, leave you good reviews.
(Check this article on how to get great reviews and this on how to respond to reviews)
In this article, we deal with practical, actionable things you can do easily to make your guests feel welcome.
It is one thing to become a host and it is another to become a great one who attracts a lot of guests. More concretely, as most people know, Airbnb has a system of hosts and super hosts in an attempt to show prospective guests which are the ‘must stay’ properties.
Becoming a super host provides your guests with an implicit guarantee that you are a host that can be trusted and that offers a very enjoyable stay. Hence, (despite my misgivings about the whole Airbnb system) this status is absolutely something to aim for, especially if you’re using Airbnb as your predominant marketing platform.
So, the first step in becoming a super-host is welcoming your guests in a memorable, professional way:
Preparation: Reach Out To Your Guests Before They Arrive
First and foremost, properly welcoming your guests starts as soon as they make their booking. If you want to build trust with your Airbnb guests, ensure there is an acknowledgment of their initial booking, which then gives them a roadmap of communication and explains the process prior to their arrival (succinctly).
It is important that guests have the opportunity to ask any questions they might have about their trip (automate this if possible with your own website or with information on the Airbnb platform) to build rapport, trust and confidence. Remember: the more professional, streamlined, and organized you are prior to their stay, the more you will be rewarded later with reviews.
It is also of course, very important that people feel safe staying with you, and the more trust and confidence you build pre-stay, the safer guests will feel. This is particularly important if you have just recently started out and you have a low number of reviews. (Less than 50 is low).
Remember the Names of Your Guests & add Personal Touches
Another way to make your guests feel welcome that does not take a lot of effort at all is by making sure that you remember their names correctly in communication with them, and in any welcome note, you may leave.
This might sound like a very negligible gesture on your part, but it can do wonders as regards making your guests feel special.
I leave a personalized printed welcome letter directing guests to my website. By doing this you implicitly show that you are welcoming them.
It’s also a fact that Airbnb is a very international platform. Lots of people of non-native nationality will probably stay with you and therefore respect cultural norms, and even finding out how people are addressed (for example) in different countries would be a nice touch. For example: In some European countries it might be perfectly OK to say “Hi Tony” or “Dear Tony” however if I were a Japanese guest (I know this from dealing with Japanese clients in my other work) it would absolutely be “Dear Mr Russell”. Using their first name would cause offense.
Provide Your Guests With Clear Instructions
Whether you want to welcome your guests in person or you want to work with self-check-in, provide ultra-clear guidance regarding their stay. This would include (in my case) downloadable videos (keep in mind people who will be roaming on their phones) about how to:
- Find your Airbnb (be ultra-detailed – it will save you having to find them!)
- Obtain their keys
- Use your place: Including appliances (especially important ones like heating, A/C, etc) and safety-related information
- How they should leave your place (Don’t phrase it like this, phrase it as “how to check out” but you have the opportunity to include ‘where the vacuum cleaner is’,’what happens in the case of a spill’, ‘where to report breakages’, where to put the trash (etc). A friend of mine also leaves a quite amusing note in the kitchen which says “leave me as you find me” (i.e. clean!).
This is a perfect way to make your guests feel like they are in very capable hands, and at the same time, you can set expectations for them.
Leave a (Local) Gift For Your Guests
If you really want to show your guests that they are welcome at your Airbnb, it is always a great idea to leave a little gift for them. This does not have to be the biggest gift ever, a small present already goes a long way to show your guests that you care. If you need some inspiration in this department you could provide some drinks, or snacks or even flowers, if you want!
However: I don’t leave welcome baskets. This is for the simple reason that when I have done, probably 75% of the time, the baskets (or goods contained within) are still there, unused when the guests’ checkout. Welcome baskets are expensive, and not necessary. What guests want is information.
Further, while any welcome gift is great, if you truly want to go the extra mile, something local is a nice touch.
A Phone call goes a (very) long way.
Yes, it’s important to have a streamlined email sequence showing your guests along the way (and include videos as previously mentioned), but actually taking the time to pick up the phone, say ‘hi’ check if they’ve understood the basic arrival information, etc, will be very much appreciated and will build instant rapport.
I have literally never called a guest to welcome them and had a bad call. They always appreciate it.
Ensure That You Are Available For Any Questions
Along with phoning your guests to welcome them, ensure you are available enough in case of any questions. Now, this doesn’t mean being on call for them 24/7. You’re not running a hotel, and to manage expectations, you have to signpost how you like to communicate, but ultimately you have to be available (in case of serious problems).
Here are some tips:
- State in your welcome email that you should email (or Airbnb message) for any daily questions, and for any ’emergency’ type situations 123-456-789 is the number to call.
- The more you contact your guests, the more they will contact you. See this article about whether you should reach out to the guest mid-stay.
- Ideally, really, your guests should be reassured that you are there in the background should they need you, but similarly, you won’t be overbearing, and you’ll let them enjoy their trip undisturbed.
Immediately Give Your Guests Tips on What To Do in the Neighborhood
Furthermore, if you simultaneously want to welcome your guests and make them more acquainted with the area, you should give them tips on what to do in the neighborhood.
For instance, you could leave a small book of recommendations and information or you could explain to your guests that they can contact you if they want to learn more about the neighborhood.
Accordingly, if your guests want to know where the best restaurants, bars, monuments, and tourist attractions are, they will know that they can count on you and that is always something to strive for.
Important points to note:
- Your Personal Recommendations – are much more powerful than Tripadvisor as your recommendations demonstrate personal knowledge
- Put this on a guest website – this makes your life easier, and in 2022 should be the norm. There is information about building your own website here.
Provide a Guest Book
Next up, this tip is another very small gesture that can really make guests feel welcome when they come to your Airbnb, and this should be a paper-based book and not a website (so they can pick it up and read it).
You should leave a guest book in a prominent area of your Airbnb. This way, whenever guests leave, they have the opportunity to write something small about their stay or host in that book. If you do your best to be welcoming and to be a great host in general, you can be guaranteed that you will only receive positive remarks.
And the best part about all of this is that new guests will be able to read the guest book when they arrive at your Airbnb. Hence, they will immediately feel more welcome if they are able to read all the positive things that other guests have written about you.
In other words, leaving a guest book will make guests feel welcome without you having to make a lot of effort! All you have to do is be hospitable and you will be completely fine.
Be On Time and Available When Guests Arrive or use a Key Box
Another tip to be very welcoming to your Airbnb guests is to certainly be on time when your guests arrive at your place. Even when something happens and you cannot make it on time, at least make sure that you are available so they can reach you, but ideally automate with a key box so know-one has to wait.
Most Importantly: Be Open and Friendly
All in all, the most important thing that you should remember is that you should always be open and friendly when you are welcoming new guests to your Airbnb.
Start with introducing yourself confidently, and perhaps find common ground by asking about what is promoting their stay (without being intrusive).
In particular, small talk with your guests is a great way to make your guests feel at ease. Even more so, you should talk with your guests as if you were talking to your friends. This way, you will guarantee that your guests will not hesitate to come to you if they ever need anything.
In general, being friendly, spontaneous, and open will ensure that you get off on the right food and that is exactly what should be your main goal!