Tips for Short-Term Rental Hosts

Are you an Airbnb or other vacation rental host? Check out these easy and cheap tips for short-term rental hosts that go beyond the basics!

bedroom with window and folded towels

We’ve been hosts on Airbnb for over 2 years now, and don’t have plans to stop anytime soon.  (In fact, we’re building a cottage that we’ll rent out too).  Today I wanted to chat about some tips for short-term rental hosts that will make their listings/vacation experiences that much better.  I’m not talking about just having the basics, or providing crazy amenities that aren’t realistic for most stays.  I really want to discuss the small and easy things that make any short-term rental more enjoyable.  Feel free to chime in with your thoughts!

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With over 75 stays under our belts (and me as the main changeover/cleaning person), I’ve gathered a lot of insight into what people want/need.  Moreover, each time I stay somewhere new (whether through Airbnb, a hotel, etc.) I’m constantly on the lookout for things I can add to improve our space.  In the last 45 days, I’ve stayed in 10 different “homes” that weren’t my own (most of them in Greece), so this topic is definitely on the top of my mind :) 

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host?  Sign up using my referral link and reach out if you have any additional questions!

First off, there are a few necessary items that you need to have.  Things like toilet paper, blankets, pillows, etc.  Check out this list from Airbnb covering the essential items (and other amenities too).  But, as I mentioned, we’re not talking about the basics here.  If you host on Airbnb, there are a ton of resources available for different host topics.  (If you host elsewhere, a lot of these will still apply!). 

Either way, let’s get into some minor details that can a) make guests happier, b) avoid repeat questions and c) make your listing one to remember! 

bed with wood headboard

Provide Check-In Details Before Check-In Day

On my last big vacation, I was in charge of one of the bookings.  I missed one of the host messages during our travels and didn’t realize that I had to call ahead of time to let them know when we were coming in.  Luckily, the hosts were available within about 20 minutes, but it could have been avoided had they mentioned this a few days ahead.  This is especially true if people are travelling in a different country and may not have normal phone/internet access.  Or if guests are coming in late at night!

This Airbnb post on going above and beyond to welcome guests is also something to consider.  We always write “welcome” with our guests’ names using refrigerator magnets.  They also double as toys for kids (and adults, ha).

Another thing that sort of works in this category is transit/location details.  You should explain to guests exactly how to enter your space AND how to get around your neighbourhood.  Obviously, this will depend on your location, but if there is any sort of transit system, it’s handy to provide the schedule/location.

Info Written Down

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like to have paper sheets rather than receiving all the info via message/online.  For us, I printed (and laminated) some basic things people need.  Listing details, local restaurants/grocery stores, wifi/internet/security info, temperature control, etc.  I’ve also added a “checkout info” to the door because I found that people were always asking what to do when they left.

If you have info to share with guests, consider printing it rather than repeating it!  It’s much easier to find the info on clearly marked/titled pages, compared to scrolling through a long message or find an online guide.  Plus, it’s easier for people in a group to see the info, instead of just the person who booked (and may be less tech-savvy). 

This is especially true if you have something that might require instructions.  (Like a heater, fancy coffee maker, etc.)  You’ll save yourself a lot of questions if you provide the instructions.  (For context, we could not figure out the AC in one of our Athens apartments – I did message the hosts to come help, but it could have been avoided with some directions).  

door open into bedroom with crib and vinyl wood floors

Describe the Plumbing/Water Situation

In Greece, you aren’t supposed to flush any toilet paper.  We didn’t figure that out right away, not until our 3rd stay.  (In North Macedonia, one of the toilets had a notice “do not flush towels”.  Which I assumed meant regular towels).  If you have specific plumbing quirks, it’s best to let guests know ahead of time.  And no, you don’t have to visit a foreign city to have different plumbing/flushing requirements.  A lot of country stays have septic tanks, which may or may not require special care. 

And speaking of water… is the tap water drinkable!?  I admit, I forget to let people know this too, but it’s something easy to add to your info sheets.  If you don’t have potable water, it’s always best to provide a couple of bottles.

Provide More Lights + Plugs

When in doubt, more lights and plugs won’t hurt.  Yes, I know houses built a while ago didn’t have as many outlets.  Or maybe, your outlets are in a hard-to-reach area like behind the bed or sofa.  Invest in a couple of power bars if needed, and place them where guests are most likely to use them.  (Think: nightstands or kitchen counters).  Speaking of nightstands, you should have at least one bedside lamp per bed, and one on each side if it’s a larger bed.  We definitely need to up our lamp count at the apartment, I realized how much I rely on a light by the bed when I was away from home!

Another thing to consider is adding USB outlets/plugs in addition to the standard ones (or having wall adapters available). 

And what about helping guests get around at night?  A few dim night lights or motion-activated plug-ins are great for hallways and/or bathrooms.  Consider labelling the light switches if you have a lot too.  No one likes to play the “guess which light switch controls what” game, especially in the middle of the night. 

Change Things Up!

I recently did a little furniture swap in the bedrooms at our apartment, and it’s given everything a fresh look.  If you have the space, changing the layout and updating the photos help keep your listing current.  Plus, if you have repeat guests, it’s a way to show that you are trying new things, and always improving.  Even changing out decor, or amenities/drawer layouts are subtle ways to update your space.  

Other random changes I’ve made: folding the towels differently, adding labels to the more used areas, increasing the amenities we offer, swapping out old kitchen utensils and updating how they’re stored, etc. 

One thing you can do is really listen to guests and their reviews.  For example, if someone comments that your wifi is slow, it could have just been a bad day.  But if another guest mentions the same thing, it may be time for an upgrade.  For us, guests kept saying that our basement was cold in the summer.  Adding a wall heater in the bedrooms (that they can control) will hopefully mitigate this!

rock shaped towel hook and white towel

Avoiding Pet-Peeves

This next list will be a quick rundown of some of the things that I personally enjoy/like having.

Snacks + Juice:  If you saw my note on water, then you know to provide a couple of bottles if you need to.  Something that is not a large cost but goes the extra mile for guests: juice.  Almost all of our stays in Greece provided juice, and it was kind of a bummer when they didn’t (we got used to the perk!).  Snacks like granola bars or crackers also go a long way and are often a saving grace when people are travelling and not settled in yet.

Towel Hooks: Like lights and plugs, you can’t have too many hooks.  If you don’t want guests throwing wet towels on the ground, at least 2 hooks should be provided in the bathroom.  Other places to add hooks: bedrooms, entrances, even a simple over-the-door hook can work!  Bonus points if your hooks are fun (like the rock hooks, pictured above).

Face Cloths: This is honestly something that not many people provide, and it’s annoying.  Sometimes I remember to bring one from home, but I’ve also lost/left my facecloths.  Basically, a small towel that people can use to wipe up their face (or kids’ dirty hands) that isn’t a huge hand or bath towel.  In an ideal world, you’d provide both face cloths for the bathroom AND small dishcloths in the kitchen for wiping things down. 

More Mirrors: Mirrors are your friend!  Not only do they provide function, but they can also be used as decoration, or to bounce light/add perceived space to a room.  At a minimum, there should be a mirror in every bathroom AND one full-length mirror somewhere.  Bonus points for providing a mirror in each bedroom.  Only have one big room?  Estimate to have one mirror per guest.  This was something we really needed while getting ready for the wedding (or doing normal prep for 3 ladies).    I’ll say it for the people in the back – moreeee mirrrorrsss.  And, don’t skip what I wrote about the full-length mirrors, they are necessary!

Extra Tips for Short-Term Rental Hosts

I did a poll in my Instagram stories on some things that people liked to have in a short-term rental.  Here are the answers that can apply to most listings:

  • A list of the host’s favourite places to visit/eat/drink
  • Kitchen stocked with essentials like oils, salt/pepper or other spices
  • Coffee stuff
  • First aid kit
  • Extra linens
  • TV with Roku/Netflix
  • Toys/board games

I’m happy to say that we have each of those!  Although, I do have a list of all the places to eat, and not necessarily only my favourite ones, ha.  

door opening into bedroom with red headboard

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips for short-term rental hosts!  Whether you are already a host (or thinking of becoming one), I’m sure that I’ve provided some valuable insights.  As I mentioned, these are simple (and cheap) ways to upgrade any listing, no matter how high-end or basic.

Not planning on hosting anytime soon?  If you’re a regular short-term vacationer, feel free to let me know if there’s anything I missed!  Oh, and if you do want to host on Airbnb, please use my referral link!

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