Juliette De Soto
Picture your ideal guests.
What kind of guest is your space the perfect fit for? A large house at the beach or in the mountains will host a very different party than a basement apartment in the middle of a city. Your location, your space’s limitations, and even your own personality and preferences will guide your answer to this question. For my Airbnb in my home in Portland, I pictured an (artsy) couple visiting the city to get the full Portland experience. Hence, plush queen bed, record player with classic albums, good coffee, and built-in bookshelves crammed with great books. It was a perfect match.
Don’t neglect interior design.
This is crucial. No one wants to book a place that looks like a dingy college boy’s dorm room stuffed with Ikea furniture (and I’ve seen quite a few of these listings.) You want your pictures to be bright and Instagram-worthy and your space to be cohesive, stylish, and welcoming. You’ll need to pick a color scheme. You’ll need to create a vision in your head. You’ll need to start pinning like mad on your Pinterest board with the looks you’re going for. If you are a complete novice when it comes to interior design, do a little research online and talk to a few professionals. There are a few simple rules to learn before you get started. (More on this in another post.)
Offer personalized touches.
I always say that whatever my little basement apartment lacks in amenities, I make up for with thoughtful touches and good old-fashioned hospitality. When my guests first enter the apartment, in front of them are a bottle of wine, chocolate, and a personalized note welcoming them to my home and to the city. I leave them tea, coffee, and snacks, and two white robes hanging in the closet. These touches tell them they’re on vacation and it’s time to relax now. Even if you don’t want to spend the money or energy on these extra things, believe it or not, a hand-written note with the guest’s name is a warm welcome that goes a long way in making them feel cared for. And very often I get beautiful hand-written notes back!
Clean, clean, clean.
Especially in the COVID era, the perception of cleanliness does much in determining where a traveler books a stay. When I was in my mid-twenties, my best friend and I took an epic road trip across the country. We booked a motel in some Texas town, and I still remember the itchy blankets, the stained bathroom, and just the feeling (if not the reality) that there were tiny bugs everywhere that I couldn’t see. If you have white anything—white sheets, a white shower, a white bathroom floor—you’ve got to vacuum up every little hair or piece of lint. There is nothing that guests hate more than seeing an imperfection on a white surface! After you clean (or, if possible, after your cleaner cleans) walk through each room with a microscopic eye putting yourself in your guest’s shoes. Keep those cleaning ratings up!
Communicate well and graciously.
This goes back to old-fashioned hospitality. My Airbnb isn’t the fanciest in the city, but a friendly and responsive host goes a long way especially when guests are in an unfamiliar place. For my guests, I try to be the old friend they didn’t know they had in Portland, ready and eager to be helpful and anticipate any questions. Be thorough in your welcome email and instructions, and try not to let a lot of time pass when guests message you. This will be one of your best gifts to them.
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