Good Airbnbs Make Good Neighbours: Top Tips for Smart Hosting

As Airbnb is a community built on reviews, you won’t get far if you don’t maintain certain standards as a host. Successful (and lucrative) hosting involves creating the right conditions for responsible guests, and as a host, acting responsibly should any issues arise. That responsibility extends to the wider community, and you will not be long hearing about it if disruptive guests disrupt your neighbours. Here’s some tips to avoid any Airbnb nightmares!

Vet Your Guests:
Irresponsible guests are not commonplace, but hosting ones that are is in nobody’s interest. They bother your neighbours, they wreak havoc on your property and they generally cost more money and create more hassle than they’re worth. Airsorted avoid these type of guests at all costs by taking full advantage of the vetting options available on Airbnb.

If guests do not have previous good reviews, you should ask them to complete the verification steps on their profile (which includes uploading a government ID). Also, does their story check out? Don’t be afraid to ask them for a bit more detail about their trip. And remember the golden rule: If there is any doubt as to their intentions or their authenticity, then just kindly decline the booking.

Write and Read Reviews:
Guest and host reviews are the most important indicator of whether you are going to have a positive or negative experience on Airbnb. It is your prerogative as a host to both read a guest’s reviews before you accept a booking request, and then to write reviews for your guests when they leave. The more reviews that are in circulation, the easier it will be to build a responsible Airbnb community. (Note: Guests will also review you as a host.)

Rules + Minimum Bookings:
Home rules can be written into your listing, and a guest must agree to these rules before they complete their booking. There are some standard rules that Airbnb suggest such as No Parties; No Smoking; No Pets, but then you also have the opportunity to add more bespoke advice. Please don’t congregate in the foyer, or Loud music after 8pm keeps our young neighbours awake, provide helpful advice for visiting guests. You can also leave signs or notes at the property as a gentle reminder.

Deposits, Host Guarantee + Insurance:
Even with the most respectable guests, accidents can happen. The best tip is to try to avoid leaving anything of significant monetary or sentimental value at the property. To prevent against any losses, you can then write a security deposit into your listing. Airbnb’s own Host Guarantee also covers losses up to €800,000. However, it is important to make claims quickly as Airbnb generally won’t uphold that claim once the next guest has checked in or once two weeks have passed.

A word of caution: the host guarantee doesn’t extend to third party bookings made for personal travel, even if made by a family member or friend. And it can be prudent to take out additional insurance designed especially for the sharing economy. GUARDHOG is our provider of choice.

Maintenance + Emergency Contacts
Being prepared is the best way to stay calm and react quickly should any issues arise. Make a list of contractors or building maintenance companies that you can call on should you need any quick fixes for your guests. It can be useful to contact them in advance to get an idea of their general availability and pricing (including seasonal / weekend / late night pricing). Leave helpful instructions for guests. Make sure your boiler is serviced and your radiators bled before Autumn. And provide reliable contact information for guests should anything arise, including alternative emergency contact information if you are going to be out of town.

Talk to Your Neighbours!
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, it can certainly be worth mentioning to them that you are opening your home to visiting guests. Show them your listing and explain to them the steps you are taking to be a responsible host. Reassure them that you do not want your Airbnb to cause disruption to them, check in with them every now and again, and welcome their ongoing feedback. Make sure that they have a contact number for you too, or an emergency contact if you are going to be out of town.

Has Airbnb banned in-person check-ins?

Well…not quite, but they have made it essential that guests are able to arrive via self check-in in order for a listing to be classed as “Business Travel Ready”.

Now, we’re not ones to say “I-told-you-so”, but…at Airsorted, we’ve been perfecting the art of the self check-in since day one, so we know a thing or two about its benefits.

Why are self check-ins so critical?
As most hosts can attest, the logistics of getting two people to meet – with all of the delays that can occur along the way – is actually very tricky. Something as simple as a flight delay or a phone on low battery can make for a rather stressful experience for the guest. Business travellers are also usually in town for…well, business. At the end of a transatlantic red-eye flight, they don’t necessarily want a whistle-stop tour of the area. Instead, they just want clear instructions on how to get into the property, and 24/7 support when – and only when – they choose to use it.

How important is this for getting bookings?
Short answer – very! Business travel is an enormous focus area for Airbnb. Business travel on Airbnb has been increasing organically since Airbnb’s first global roll out, but it now has its very own platform. Quality assurance is incredibly important for business travel bookers, and this move to automate the check-in process is a step towards meeting the needs of companies around the world, whose share of the global travel market is substantial.

How will Airsorted get my listing Business Travel Ready?
Getting Business Travel Ready is easy and we can show you how.  When we visit your home we will consult on what steps to take so that you can start reaping the rewards of business tourism .  Get started now!

 

How Airsorted built the World’s largest Airbnb Management Business

We’re looking for a data-driven, passionate Product Owner to continue our mission of delivering hassle free Airbnb to customers all over the world. If this sounds like you, read our story – gritty details included – and get in touch!

Airsorted turns two this week.

From humble beginnings in my flat, we are proud to have become the world’s largest Airbnb Management Business. Passing our second birthday and now in our fifth office (!), it seems a good time to reflect on where we came from, what we have learned along the way and what challenges lie ahead.

The Early Days

We started small, and lean.  In 27 minutes on Boxing Day 2014, I created a landing page promising ‘Hassle-free Airbnb’ and paid £50 for a Facebook advert to push people to our site.

By early March 2015, I had signed up a few clients and incorporated as Airsorted Limited. I had also hired an intern, Herman, and persuaded a developer friend to join the project. We now had to figure out how to do cleaning, laundry and key exchange, as well as the guest communications. I was an Airbnb host myself, so I had a pretty good idea of what was required, but no practical experience of delivering that for more than one property.  I invited Daniel (COO), and Tom (Head of Growth) to co-found the project, build out the operation and help meet the market demand that had become very evident.

The team at Second Home, our first office (June 2015)

The Key to Cleaning

We experimented with cleaners from various platforms (Hassle, Handy) but soon discovered that a regular clean and an Airbnb clean are more different than you would think. And that the quality of cleaners on those platforms was hugely variable, despite favourable ratings from other users.

We knew that the quality of cleaning would be key to our success (or failure), so we tested, tested, tested. And you build what you measure, right?

We sent text messages to every guest asking them to rate the latest clean, and promised cleaners a bonus per hour for any clean rated 5*, and an equivalent reduction for cleans rated 4 or below, with unrated cleans at the standard rate.

Tiered payment worked – or so we thought. Cleaning quality improved, and though we were investing our limited funds in subsidising quality cleans, we felt it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, the cleaners didn’t feel the same. For the cleaners, even the really good ones, the cost of being paid less for a poorly rated clean outweighed the benefit of being paid more for a highly rated clean.

When we asked the cleaners what they wanted, they were almost unanimously in favour of a flat hourly rate, despite the fact that they had been earning slightly more on average through the tiered system.

We realised that it hadn’t been the tiered system that improved cleaning quality; it was the fact that we were using the feedback provided by guests to engage with cleaners individually on particular issues. Working directly with cleaners, was improving their performance.

Traction & Growing Pains

With help from the Pi Labs Accelerator programme and a commitment to growth, by the end of 2015, we reached our target milestone of 150 managed homes and closed a round of funding just before Christmas.

We set ourselves a new target of reaching 750 homes by the end of the following year, which would be a tall order. Taking churn into account, it would mean signing just shy of 100 homes per month.

In the spring of 2016, I took the bold (some said deranged) step of buying up poster space on the London Underground, at considerable expense.
Attracting people to our website wasn’t a problem. We had hundreds of leads per month. Converting those visitors into Airsorted clients was much harder.

At the same time, we were fortunate to take part in the 500 Startups Growth ‘Dojo’ – a month long workshop / hack to supercharge our sales funnel. The guys at 500 taught us the value of creating mini experiments and extracting learnings as quickly as possible, before iterating on the funnel and re-testing. We understood this intuitively; it was just a question of being faithful and committed to this mantra and executing quickly.

Our sales funnel improved immeasurably, with conversion almost tripling in a couple of months. By summer, and following a second tube campaign, we had increased our monthly signs from approximately 20 per month in February to almost 180 in July.

Growing can hurt. Using NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys, we were learning from our clients all the time. At times this was painful, as our service hadn’t always kept pace with our growing customer base. But it allowed us to identify the most important problems and pain points faced by our customers, and to take action. Our billing was confusing and our customer service was unresponsive. We put a lot of effort into putting these right, and slowly but surely, customer satisfaction improved.

Beth, leading customer service improvements at our fourth office (March 2016)

Fulfilling the Mission

By the second half of 2016, we had demonstrated the elusive ‘product-market fit’ that everybody talks about, and closed another round of fundraising, led by Concentric, to continue in our mission ‘to build a global platform that makes it easy to share your home’.

Unlike our competitors, Airsorted was never designed to be a hospitality company that dabbles in technology. We are a technology company that delivers hospitality, at scale.

We want to create a uniquely powerful backend that removes the hassles of being a host, and an intuitive front end that makes hosts feel comfortable and in control. We’re lucky to have assembled a world-class technology team to get us there. We now need to validate some of our most important assumptions, namely that:

holidaymakers will be more willing to share their home with strangers when the principal hassles of hosting are removed
customers will be prepared to pay for this service around the world

Hope you enjoyed reading.

How can you help?

Please help us find our first Product Manager by sharing this article!

James

Airbnb – Safeguarding Irish Tourism

dublin-top-ten-hapenny-bridge-bg

Dublin has a desperate shortage of hotel rooms, according to an industry report published by Jones Lang LaSalle in late 2015. The report titled “No Vacancies: Dublin Needs 3,000 Hotel Rooms Today highlights the pricey predicament facing tourists and business travellers who choose Dublin as a destination.

The report explains that the severe shortage in hotel accommodation is a result of the building sector stagnating in the wake of the crisis, coupled with a significant influx in the number of people visiting Dublin. By 2015, occupancy levels in hotels had risen to 84%. This year, Tourism Ireland reported the best ever month of August and the best ever January – August period for Irish tourism.

While it may seem wonderful that the hotel industry is doing so well, the fact that demand will very soon outstrip supply is a huge inhibitor for growth of the tourism sector. It also means that hotel prices are rising and Ireland is fast becoming a very expensive destination for overseas visitors.

In 2015, the average cost of a hotel room in Dublin City Centre was reported to be €127. That is an increase of almost 20% on 2014 prices. This is particularly important when we consider that 47% of tourists in 2015 were from Great Britain, and they will become increasingly price sensitive as the pound continues to weaken in the wake of Brexit.

The report recognises that Airbnb can and has alleviated some of the strain on room supply. However, the fact that the company continues to face backlash in Ireland means that there is little joined-up thinking about the huge potential for Airbnb to support one of Ireland’s biggest sectors – tourism – which brought in €4.2bn or 4%+ of Irish GNP in 2015. And tourism is not just holidaymakers – in fact, business tourism is now worth €669 to the Irish economy, and is growing by an average of 7% year on year.

Business tourism will be on the minds of many people this week as the Web Summit kicks off in its new home in Lisbon, and the Irish hospitality industry in particular will mourn the huge loss. A homegrown affair that quickly became the biggest and best tech conference in the world, this year it will welcome 50,000 attendees, an increase of over 40% on last year. Lisbon’s gain is certainly Ireland’s loss. According to the organisers, one of the deciding factors to relocate the conference were the exceptionally high hotel prices in Dublin (averaging €190/night with 95% occupancy).

It is important for the authorities to recognise that there is a very real and imminent threat to the growth of tourism is Dublin if measures aren’t put in place to increase the number of rooms available. We need to be very careful not to become complacent and think that people will continue to flock to Ireland, rain or shine. Ireland needs to offer value and a range of price options in order to remain a competitive choice for tourists.

Airbnb therefore should not be dismissed as a passing fad but instead recognised as a genuine sign of the times and a significant opportunity to grow the Irish economy. Not only does it allow individuals to repay exorbitant mortgages recklessly granted during the boomtime years, it also reinforces the long Irish tradition of hospitable hosts welcoming weary travellers into their homes.

Much of the concerns voiced about Airbnb relate to rowdy guests, ill prepared properties, lack of quality standards. However, this is also an outdated argument. Airbnb managers Airsorted have recently relocated to Dublin and offer reassurance to guests, hosts, neighbours and authorities. They ensure properties are prepared to hotel standard for every guest and that guests are fully vetted.

Ireland cannot claim to be a centre of excellence for tech and innovation if authorities do not take seriously the fruits of the companies that take up residence in Silicon Docks. Similar to the Web Summit, these companies will be quick to move on if Ireland can’t grow tourism and no longer remains competitive. Either we embrace Airbnb, we start building hotels at a very rapid rate, or we prepare for tourists to go elsewhere.

 

Yvonne Pearse (@YPearse)

Airbnb Host Tip of the Week – Recharge Station

We live in an age of technology, and there are no longer many people in the world who go a significant period of time without tuning in. The average smartphone user checks their phone over 200 times per day, and when we travel, the period of time spent without our normal connection to the online world can feel unsettling.

2fffb9df17948ed1992f2a94708cbf9d

That’s why one of the first things we do when we arrive at our destination is plug our phones in and get connected. A weary traveller may become frustrated if there isn’t easy access to a power socket, so it’s important to have one readily available and conveniently located.

Why not go above and beyond by providing a convenient ‘recharge’ station? With international adapters, sections to store different devices and the most popular charging cables, your charging station could provide the ultimate sigh of relief for a traveller keen to reconnect as soon as possible.

Do you have any of your own host tips and tricks? Get in touch in the comments below.

Featured Host Stories – Paul and Amy Move to Bristol

Instagram: _airsorted

                                                 Instagram: _airsorted

Every Airsorted host comes to us with a different story – some long to travel, and others seek a major life change.

This Featured Host Story comes from Paul, a freelancer who sought a life away from the hustle and bustle of London. With experience renting one spare room on Airbnb, Paul knew he would need some assistance renting the entire property – and that’s where Airsorted came in.

What’s your story?

“My wife and I decided to rent our property through Airbnb as we wanted to get out of London and see what living in a new city would be like. We had been letting out our spare room in the property through Airbnb and liked the ease and flexibility it offered.”  

What dream did you follow?

“We both work freelance in creative industries so, while London is a great place to be, we both wanted to spend time in a city that has an artistic sensibility but less of a hectic lifestyle. So we decided to move to Bristol and work within and from that city.”

Why did you choose Airsorted?

“Airsorted seemed like the best option for us as it afforded the most flexibility and least amount of hassle. We were less inclined to take on longer term tenants through an estate agency because we knew there would be occasions whereby we needed the flat back for visits back to London. From a financial viewpoint we also realised that renting through Airbnb would be beneficial.”

What do you enjoy about the service?

With Airsorted we can relax as we know the team there will take control of all dealings with guests and Airbnb. All linen and cleaning is taken care of so we need not worry about change overs. Bar a few initial teething problems communication with myself and the team is always excellent. Any concerns or complaints I may have are dealt with immediately”

Tell us more about your property! What is its best feature? 

Paul and Amy's terrace with a view

        Paul and Amy’s terrace with a view

“I think the best feature of the property would have to be the terrace. It’s incredibly big for somewhere in London yet feels private and homely. The design throughout the property is also very stylishly done, my wife being a designer helps. From a practical point the flat gets a lot of natural light and as a result the apartment stays surprisingly warm throughout the winter.” 

What about the area?

“Deptford is a great area of London. It has a lovely combination of cultures from around the world offering many types of cuisine. Over the last few years more ‘Hipsters’ have arrived and as a result better bars and coffee shops have sprung up, nevertheless the area still feels really well balanced and harmonised. It’s an exciting time to be there. The transport options are terrific too, the overground and DLR are very useful for getting into central London.”

Whether you want to travel somewhere new or relocate entirely, Airsorted can guarantee to make Airbnb hassle free for you. To find out exactly how our services can meet your needs, visit our website.

Airbnb Host Tip of the Week – Sample Jar

Source: Pinterest (/airbnb)

If you’re a traveller yourself, you will be all too familiar with the tiny sample bottles of health and beauty products provided in hotels, airports and shopping centres. Often excellent quality but forgettably small, these samples often end up lost in a drawer somewhere, or saved for ‘someday’.

Instead of letting sample products go to waste, why not use them as a finishing touch to your Airbnb guest room? Collect the samples into a jar and display them in the bedroom or guest bathroom – perhaps add a note so the guest knows they’re free to dig in!

It’s often the smallest details that transform your guest’s experience. That moisturiser sample you forgot you had might be exactly what your guest forgot to pack – so everyone’s happy!

Featured Host Stories – Sarah and Ed Cycle to Sicily

We’ve all dreamed of leaving behind the daily grind and setting off on a grand adventure.  At Airsorted we take pride in enabling those dreams.

Today we hear from Sarah, who chose Airsorted to manage her London Airbnb property while she and her husband cycled through Europe. With the income raised from her vacant property, Sarah and Ed were able to take a sabbatical and go on the adventure of a lifetime:

 

What’s your story?

“Home for us is in Suffolk, where we have lived for the last 10 years, but we need to be in London during the week – I’m a freelance marketing consultant and most of my work is in London, and my husband Ed is studying part time for a geology degree at Birkbeck.   

We’re lucky enough to have a small flat in London and a cottage in Suffolk, but don’t both work full time – so we had been looking for a flexible letting solution for our London flat that would allow us to be in London when we needed to be, either for work or college, and which would generate income for us when we weren’t there to help us pay the bills!”

 

What dream did you follow?

“For several years we had wanted to take a sabbatical, and from a career perspective this year felt like our last opportunity for a while.  We wanted to do something meaningful with our time and decided on a cycle tour – a good way to blow the cobwebs away, store up memories for years to come and get fit in the process!  I’m not sure how we came up with Gothenburg to Sicily (Mount Etna, more specifically), but somehow the idea was born and given Ed’s geology degree it felt fitting to have a volcano as our final destination!

The journey was amazing – now we are back it almost feels like we were living a parallel life for 3 months.  And cycling and camping our way through Europe feels very poignant in retrospect, at a time when the UK had voted to say goodbye to it… Some real highs and of course real lows – we approached each day with an ‘adventure is out there’ type attitude, and it certainly was – from being chased by wild dogs to foraged picnics of wild figs, almonds and cherries all gathered road-side.  Crossing the Dolomites was a definite highlight as the scenery was breathtaking and there were perfect cappuccinos waiting for us at every tiny coffee stop en route.

 

Why did you choose Airsorted?

“We hadn’t thought it possible to rent our own flat out, as we couldn’t see our way through the logistical challenges – how would we hand keys over given we’re not always in London?  How would we manage the cleaning?  Would we need to stay up all night to answer guest
mails? But a friend recommended Airsorted as a way around these problems so we got in touch, and it has been a hugely positive experience.”


Did you enjoy the service?

“There are lots of things about the Airsorted service which are brilliant.  Having people on hand to ‘sort stuff’ when guests have problems; managing all the communication with guests, which we just wouldn’t have time to do – and it’s always a relief to be able to come back to a lovely clean flat. Having a dedicated account manager is also much appreciated – it feels very fitting as Airbnb is about the personal and individual too, but this kind of service is now quite rare in the service industry.”
Have you been dreaming of taking flight? Are you keen to make a passive income from your home while you’re gone? Find out what your property could be worth on Airbnb by visiting www.airsorted.uk

Airbnb Host Tip of the Week – Welcome Baskets

It’s true what they say: first impressions count, and the first night of a guest’s stay is arguably the most crucial. As a host, you have one opportunity to make a great first impression with each guest, and there are many simple ways to go above and beyond.

A welcome basket like the example below is the perfect way to delight any guest, and with the right items it can help your guest settle in more easily. Include savoury snacks for the weary traveller who is too tired to cook, a printed local guidebook to browse, and a short welcome note. Items can be arranged in a reusable wicker bag and placed at the end of the bed or near the entrance to the property.

Via: minted.com

Via: minted.com

The project is incredibly low-cost, easy to arrange and may be the difference between a happy guest and a delighted one!

‘Bizcations’ set to hit London this Autumn

London is one of Europe’s most visited cities.  With its history and popular tourist attractions, the city is commonly thought of as a classic ‘city break’ destination for holidaymakers. Now, there is a new type traveller – the ‘Bizcationer’.

A Bizcation occurs when a business traveller extends their trip over the weekend so that they can make the most of the destination they are in.

Because London has both a thriving tourist industry and a high volume of business traffic, it’s become one of the most popular Bizcation destinations in the world.

Business travellers that use Airbnb are found to stay twice as long as as business travellers that use more traditional accommodations.  Because we see a surge in business tourism during the Autumn months, it is set to be the biggest Bization season to date.

More and more business travellers are opting to use Airbnb.  With the Global Business Travel Association predicting business travel spend to advance 5.8 per cent over the next five years, London’s traffic from the growing Bizcation trend is set to increase.

Via: eventegg.com

Via: eventegg.com

Hosts can benefit hugely from this trend by ensuring that their Airbnb property is ‘Business Travel Ready’. To take the hassle out of creating the perfect business stay, hosts may consider an Airbnb management service – find out more here.