Want to AirBnb? Tips for Standing Out & Getting Great Reviews

A furnished rental can be a good investment, but it has to be desirable and well reviewed. AirBnb competition is stiff, so you better stand out and make guests happy to be successful. Good news is, making it cool and functional doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Starting out is scary but here’s a few things that I learned on my way to AirBnb super host that will hopefully help you.

Have ‘Location’ Specific Style

In most cases, AirBnb-ers want to feel like they are experiencing a destination, not staying in a generic hotel that could be anywhere. Be sure to fill your space with local culture and flavor. You can do this by incorporating photographs of local sites. If your locale is known for a particular food, highlight it. Have local flavors in the spice rack or in the fridge. I always have a local snack and the most recent events/city guide magazine waiting for my guests.

Make your style fit the property type. Unless you’re really a decorating master and can pull off what I like to call ‘power-clashing,’ don’t try to make a industrial minimalist concept work in an old Victorian house. Furnishings should be appropriate for the style and scale of the place, as well. Don’t have overstuffed furniture in a small room, or have a large room feel cavernous with too little furniture.

You want to pick a style that furnishings will stand up to lots of people coming and going. A patterned throw rug will hide a stain easier than a solid. A leather couch allows spill to be wiped off easily. Chic gray towels will hold up longer than white. Pro-tip, if your style is somewhat ‘eclectic’, ‘boho chic’, or possibly ‘vintage’, you can up-cycle used items. If something is pre-dinged or scratched, you can say its just part of the aesthetic!

Looking for inspiration? I did a lot of Pinterest browsing and got lots of great ideas. Look at other AirBnb listings in your area….you might see a lot of ‘what not to do’ there, actually. Leverage a friend who has good style, lube them up with a glass of wine, and do some brainstorming. I ultimately found inspiration by going thrift shopping. The inexpensive round mirror in an interesting frame that I found was the driving force behind all other design decisions.

Make your AirBnb Stand Out with One of a Kind Touches

You can make bespoke, one of a kind touches that will make your place stand out from the crowd.

When I was renovating my triplex, I always envisioned someday AirBnbing the unit I was going to occupy. I knew that I wanted it to be very visually appealing, but didn’t have the budget to buy a bunch of expensive furnishings. With a lot of elbow grease, and help from friends, I built a couple of bespoke things that really make it stand out. You just need to be creative!

I had a particularly ugly element to deal with, a boarded up door that had previously connected my unit to another. I decided to turn it into a ‘feature’ by covering it with a wooden plank mural. All it took was about $40 worth of wood planks, left over paint, a bit of wood stain, and a table saw. The table saw you can check out of your local tool lending library, if you aren’t a hard-core do it yourself-er and don’t have one. And viola! Its now a focal point that draws lots of compliments.

Fugly turned into standout ‘Feature’

Another favorite ‘cheap trick’ is to get a coffee table book from a used store. I take out the pictures and mod podge them onto a canvas or even a piece of wood. You can make an abstract mural, or focus on a single image. I’ve even just color printed images, such as of a local attraction, and done it. You can get a large canvas at Hobby Lobby with their 40% discount for under $30. You can really fill up a wall with a one of kind art work for not much money.

Know your Audience

Who is likely to want to rent your place? You need to know that you have an audience that will like your rental and will be happy to pay what you will be asking for it. Know your area, what events and activities do people come for? Is it a lot of families with children, younger adults with ironic t-shirts, or older opera-going folk? You need to make sure your space, your price point, your amenities are in-line with the likely audience.

Avoid things that might alienate people. For example, don’t make things overly feminine or masculine. Don’t have a wall of crosses, or a political campaign poster. Okay, those are pretty over the top obvious things. Look around with a critical eye, and make sure there is nothing that would be off-putting. You want a wide variety of people to feel comfortable spending time in your place.

Above all else, Make it Functional!

Looking good is important, but not at the expense of functionality.

Keep Longevity in Mind

One of the best cost-savings measure is to make sure things are sturdy and will last a long time, even with frequent use. As mentioned above, you can choose a style that will lend itself to be more long lasting. Everything in the place should be washable…rugs, curtains, etc. Spring for the more expensive, washable wall paint. At every point, consider…’what is it going to take to clean this?’

Keep Safety in Mind

Nothing can ruin your furnished rental enterprise like someone getting injured. Make sure that you have non-slip things where they need to be. Don’t have things that could be a trip hazard. Have a nightlight in the hallway, for when someone is stumbling to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Secure things that could possibly fall on someone, etc. Also, have good insurance!

Don’t Be Stingy

I hate going to a corporate run furnished rental or hotel room, and they leave you exactly two tea bags and a smidge of dish soap. Stinginess is very in-hospitable, in my opinion. I think it actually inspires people to look around for what they can use up or take advantage of. Most normal people, on the other hand, will actually be very respectful, and not overuse things. In my experience, more often than not, guests end up leaving something behind that can be used by the next guest.

Live in it!

The best way to tell how functional your place is, is to actually stay in it yourself! Move in for a bit, and see what its really like to try and make yourself your home there. See if you feel comfortable, but also somewhere kinda special.

Do you have somewhere convenient to plug in your cell phone at night? Where do your dirty clothes go? Are you able to cook everything that your heart might desire? Can you veg out on the couch and watch TV? Maybe a throw blanket would help? If you aren’t able to be comfortable, if nothing seems to be convenient, you need to fix it. Again, get creative! There’s a million ways to solve a problem. Or if you can’t, make sure its clearly expressed in the property description, so that there are no surprises for renters. Last thing you want is an unhappy guest.

The Reviews

It is very satisfying to get a good review. I had one guest say that she wished she could copy my style…it made me beam with pleasure. Another said that ‘I had thought of everything,’ which validated all my hard work. Equally as important, one guest simply left a review stating, ‘Bed was comfortable and the shower had plenty of hot water.’ Gotta nail the basics, right?

Sometimes you have to read what is between the lines in the reviews. I have found that people are generally very, very hesitant to leave anything negative in an AirBnb review. If you aren’t getting much actual feedback in your reviews, it might be time to step back and critically go through your place again. If you can, do more to solicit feedback outside of the official forum. Ask guests soon after check-in if there is anything they are missing or that would make their stay more comfortable. Don’t wait for them to ask, or leave it in the review.

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