Renting out your investment property to short-term tenants can be a great way to earn some extra income.
These days, more travellers than ever are choosing short-term rentals over stuffy hotels.
Unfortunately, this means the market for hosts has become increasingly competitive – with over 115,000 Australian properties listed on Airbnb alone, you have to compete with a long list of other property owners.
So what can you as a host do to gain a leading edge?
Well, for starters, you need to make sure your reviews reflect you in a positive light. Most potential guests will check out your reviews as a quick and easy way to learn about your past guests’ experiences.
The more positive reviews you have in your profile, the more credibility you will gain as a host and the more booking inquiries you will receive.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways you can ensure you make a good impression on your guests so that you receive heaps of great reviews and glowing testimonials.
Let’s get into it!
1. Set clear expectations
From your very first point of contact, it’s important to be honest and transparent about what guests can expect if they choose to stay in your short-term rental.
That means successfully managing their expectations. If your place is less than spacious, don’t tell them it’s a commodious mansion! Be honest, and say that it’s small but cosy.
Similarly, if your space isn’t extravagantly furnished or elegantly decorated, simply say, ‘It’s a basic, clean and functional space for people who are looking for a nice place to sleep after exploring the city/town.’
The more transparent and specific your descriptions are, the more likely guests are to trust you and think it’s unlikely they’re going to be hoodwinked.
Even if it seems obvious, there’s no harm in including useful information about stairs, parking access, pets, neighbours or furniture.
As a host, it’s your task to paint a compelling picture of what it will be like to stay on your property and how people might expect to pass time in your neighbourhood.
Make sure you let your guests know how much you will or won’t be available to them in advance. Trust us, they’ll appreciate having an idea of how much you’ll be at home, and how frequently they can expect to hear from you if you’re away while they’re renting your place.
Similarly, if there are any specific house rules, communicate them clearly before your guests arrive. No one likes being caught off guard after committing to a short-term stay. One of the biggest mistakes that hosts can make is forgetting to mention small details so be diligent about doing so.
It can make all the difference between getting you a middling review and a brilliant one.
2. Take guests on a guided tour
Ensure your guests start their stay off on the right foot by taking them on a small tour of either the property or the local neighbourhood if you possibly can!
It will give you an opportunity to reinforce any house rules and show them that you’re a person they can relate to as well as their host.
For many travelers, simply knowing where to go is one of the biggest hurdles they face, so by taking half an hour of your day to walk your guests around your neighbourhood and point out any hole-in-the-wall bars or trendy cafes, you’ll make them feel right at home.
Even if you can’t physically be there to meet and greet them, make an effort to send an email with a few local pointers or leave them a hand-drawn map with areas of interest circled.
This might include things that seem obvious to you but won’t be to someone new to the area, such as brunch spots, bus stops, tourist centres, historical landmarks and leafy parks.
You can also supply guests with a list of websites to check out for local tips, history or transport details.
Always write your wifi network name and password down on a piece of paper and leave it in a prominent position so that they don’t have to look through their emails from you every time they want to get online.
Include your email address or a phone number so that they know you’re just a quick swipe of their smartphone away.
3. Stock up on your amenities
Ask most people what their favourite part of staying in a hotel is, and they’ll probably say the free toiletries. They might rhapsodise about the fresh towels, the crisp linen, the ultra comfy bedding. But what all of this amounts to is the luxury of having creature comforts provided.
Do a bit of crystal-ball gazing and anticipate in advance what your guests might like. Things like soap, sponges, paper towels and hand wash are obvious, but what about shampoo and conditioner, body wash, a hairdryer and an iron?
In today’s foodie culture, you’ll score brownie points for having some decent pots and pans available, as well as shortbread or yo-yo biscuits to dunk into coffee. Speaking of which, always supply tea or coffee. Even if you don’t drink it, your guests might. And remember a bowl of sugar also!
Salt and pepper are smart kitchen basics to stock, and olive oil is crucial. Leave a couple of power adaptors lying around as well as a bottle opener or corkscrew.
It may seem like a lot to think about, but a common gripe in negative reviews is poorly stocked kitchens so a well-stocked one will really help you stand out from the pack.
Use your imagination and your initiative. No one ever said no to a couple of free gourmet snacks or a discount coupon for the local cinema!
When it comes to the bathroom and bedroom, think outside of the box there too. Neither should ever look sparse. Put out a couple of fluffy towels, not just one, and come to the rescue of forgetful guests who pack hastily by offering toothbrushes and disposable razors.
4. Read previous reviews they’ve written
There’s no better way to know what guests like and what kind of experience they rate higher than by reading other reviews they’ve left online.
Try to find out:
- How often they travel
- Which industry they work in
- How often they leave reviews online
- How critical or effusive they are
- What stood out to them most at other places they rented
- What really grinds their gears
By doing a bit of research before you host them, you’ll be one step closer to offering guests a perfectly customised experience.
Here is an example of a positive review from Stayz that highlights a very specific thing this guest was unhappy about:
If potential guests have left a trail of poor reviews for other hosts, with seemingly no real reason for complaint, you may want to consider passing on their patronage.
5. Treat it as a business
Another way of looking at this one is to not take anything too personally.
If your guest(s) don’t want to chat when they arrive, don’t assume that’s because you’ve got off to a bad start. They’re probably just exhausted and stressed from travel!
One key thing to remember is that renting out your property may not come with the freedom that you expect. Even though it’s easy on paper, it’s a hustle in reality. You have to stay on top of things. You have to respond to all your inquiries.
In other words, you have to run it like a business.
Never assume that renting your property out will be just like subletting it to a few friends.
This is a financial transaction in which guests are able to rate and review you (and therefore affect your future income). There are always costs to doing business, and in this context, they may come in the form of having to put up with a few minor inconveniences or forking out for a few gratuitous amenities.
Strive to be a good businessperson. Don’t inconvenience your guests and if you need them to check out early for some unforeseen reason, offer them a fairly reasonable refund.
If your property is constantly in demand, it’s also sensible to be aware of your own personal tolerance for hospitality.
When it comes to renting out your investment property to short-term tenants to earn some extra cash, it’s important to remember that satisfaction for both parties is based on the perceived value of the transaction.
If guests aren’t leaving you positive reviews, that means they don’t think it’s a good deal. Consider lowering your prices or looking at what you’re offering from an outsider’s perspective.
You may think you’re doing enough, but as a host, your reputation is formed primarily by the experience of guests. So your goal should always be to go above and beyond.
It will be its own reward if you play it right.
By being communicative, considerate and well-prepared, you’ll greatly increase your ratings and keep your rooms rented year-round.