Earlier this month I was traveling to New Orleans for work, and I was beyond excited because one of my favorite Airbnbs is located in this sparkling city. Since it was booked (of course!), I was not able to stay, but fun enough, I got to meet NOLA Happy Home Superhost, Leigh. We met for coffee at Rue de la Course Coffeehouse, a historic bank building transformed into a coffee shop. We sat for an informal chat and all the goodies that came up from it will surely help you on better managing your rental property.
Leigh’s story is charming. New Orleans is home for many of her favorite family childhood memories, and when the opportunity came, she didn’t think twice and moved to NOLA with her family. She was ready to provide her kids a childhood full of fun and loving memories, but she was also determined to share the beauty of New Orleans with others, so she set herself on a mission. After intense research, she found the perfect home for her short term rental and renovated it with the finest taste. Besides having not just one, but two beautifully designed Airbnb listings, it’s their great success that caught my attention, and let's not forget about her on point Instagram game. So I reached out and she agreed to join the fun and share her knowledge.
I will break down everything I learned from an Airbnb Plus Superhost, that can be of help to thriving hosts like you.
Protect yourself and your property – Make sure you have insurance, specific house rules, and follow your intuition. Some rental platforms provide insurance for owners who list stays through their site. Airbnb, for instance, offers $1 million liability coverage and $1 million in host protection. However, the experience with Airbnb’s claim process has not been so pleasant to most hosts. Airbnb will protect their guests, as they are their customers as well. Buying your own coverage will protect you from the gaps on Airbnb’s liability coverage, and will give you a peace of mind by knowing that, in case of an incident, the claiming process don’t need to be a huge pain.
Research the regulations – Regulations change regularly, and even more for an Airbnb business. You need to be up to date with all the changes and impacts any laws/regulations could have on your business. Make sure you are legal! I can’t stress this enough. As hosts, you can reach out to the local government to check for updated ordinances and policies, research online or contact industry experts. In addition, review any homeowners’ association or lease agreements for your property, and last but not least, tax requirements.
Know your target market – Let’s face reality, you can’t target everyone, and the truth is you shouldn’t. Targeting a niche market will make you more successful and will even give you the capability to compete with large companies. Are you focusing on a high-end luxurious couple, or an adventurous outdoorsy family? Do you want your guests to be cozy at home, cuddling by the fireplace, or do you want them to enjoy the outdoors? Once you identify your target audience, it is way easier to effectively price your rental and market it.
Market your property – A great way to market your rental property, besides using social media, is to collaborate with local businesses. NOLA Happy Home collaborated with West Elm in a very strategic move that works great for both businesses. As in many businesses, hosts you will face competition, and marketing what makes the rental property unique is a great opportunity to stand out from the competition. Collaboration with businesses you relate to will provide you with additional opportunity to reach out to prospective customers.
Screen your guests – You can request that your guests are verified on Airbnb. But please note that Airbnb won’t provide any personal information from your guests, other than what you see on their profile. So a good practice is to request a copy of their I.D. It is your home and you should be able to know who is staying, as an extra measure of protection. If they fail to provide it, follow your instincts and remember that a losing two nights may save you from the hassle of dealing with an inconvenience.
Be strategic with your goals as a STR host – Before you even start hosting a short-term rental, your goals should be clear. What are you trying to achieve? How will hosting a property help you reach that goal? And once you have the goal set, be strategic on how you will manage your earnings. Are you interested in paying off the mortgage first and then enjoy the revenue? Will you save money to buy another property? Set clear financial expectations and don’t forget to add to your equation all the expenses that come with owning a rental: mortgage, taxes, insurance, management, cleaning services, staging, etc.
All your eggs in one basket? – If you are shooting for more than one rental property, there are various aspects to consider. Experts have conflicting opinion about this, so we will share the pro’s and con’s. If you have several rentals on the same area, you can manage them all by yourself (if you are in the same location), or use the same management company for all. However, all the properties share the same risks: hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, flood, among others may affect all of your properties if an event occurs. On the other hand, if you have several rental properties scattered in different locations, you can reduce the risk of all being affected by an event, but the cost of managing the properties will increase. Your financial goals And capability will help you determine how many and where you should invest in.
Helpful tools – Some of the tools Leigh deemed helpful are Smartbnb, Beyond Pricing, and Timestamp app. Smartbnb will help you set up automated messages for your guests which will help you save time and make sure you don’t miss any reply that could affect your host’s status. One of the best features is the “Bad review” option for host, which will schedule the negative review 20 seconds before the review period is due. This way you avoid negative reviews and responses that could affect your host reputation. Beyond Pricing is a tool for automatic dynamic pricing for short-term rentals that sets the nightly price based on real-time market data. The site claims a 40% increase in revenue, and many hosts are pleased with the benefits of its dynamic pricing. Finally, the Timestamp app stamps the date and time of when a picture was taken. This app is very useful for turnovers, allowing cleaners to send real-time images of the rental.
Let’s give a big “Thank you” to Leigh for providing her knowledge as a Superhost and business woman. You can find more resources, tips and tricks on how to host your rental here.