Vacation rentals have taken the travel world by storm. Millions of Airbnb hosts offer their rentals worldwide, as being a vacation rental host can have enormous perks! You will love getting to connect with people from all around the globe, and the extra income is a definite perk. On average, a vacation rental host makes just over $900 a month, but that number can increase dramatically if your rental is in a desirable area and if you do what you do well.
Vacation rentals do things differently as compared to hotels, and there’s no doubt that they have disrupted the global hotel market and changed the way people travel. But the challenge with a booming industry is that there isn’t a manual on how to be a great vacation rental host or a guide for turning that supplemental income into a growing business. This kind of checklist is an essential tool for beginner and experienced hosts alike.
Don’t worry, though! We’re here to help with a hosting checklist you can reference over and over again to help you better manage your vacation rental business. This Airbnb hosting checklist is for hosts like you to conduct all the necessary steps to become a 5-star Super Host; from welcoming clients, to hosting them, and checking them out. You’ll find both a comprehensive Airbnb inventory checklist, as well as a list of things you can do to better manage, streamline, and optimize your Airbnb operations.
Let’s get started!
Newbie Airbnb host: Things to consider
No Airbnb hosting checklist would be complete without a small disclaimer for those who aren’t yet Airbnb hosts. Becoming an Airbnb host can be a great way to meet new people and earn some extra cash. However, before signing up to host, consider these important elements of having a vacation rental. If you choose to list your property and think you would enjoy hosting guests during their vacation, then this Airbnb hosting checklist will act as a guide to ensure your Airbnb listing is as successful as it can be.
So, as a new vacation rental host, these are some important points you’ll want to consider:
- What kind of property space can you offer? Is it a whole apartment or house, a single room, a shared room?
- Are you in an attractive location for travelers? Are there fun things to see and do, and great places to eat?
- What amenities and services can you offer your guests?
- How many hours in a day can you commit as a host? You’ll need to clean, welcome, check out, and respond to queries during your guests’ stay. You’ll also spend time advertising, researching, optimizing your listing, and marketing your property.
These are all essential elements of being a successful Airbnb host, and potential hosts need to consider their answers to these questions before continuing through this Airbnb hosting checklist.
We should also point out that Airbnb is a great place to dip your toe into the world of short-term rentals. But don’t forget that there’s a huge ecosystem of similar services. For example, sites like Vrbo, Booking.com, HomeToGo, and others all have their own pool of loyal guests. Eventually, you should consider advertising your property on all these sites simultaneously and use a Property Management Platform (PMP) like the one Hostfully offers to help manage and maintain your property. Luckily, the lessons you learn from hosting with Airbnb will also be applicable to the other listing sites.
How to prepare your rental for Airbnb
As you prepare your property to become a vacation rental, there are several factors you’ll want to consider as you make the transition. First and foremost, you must ensure that the property is safe. Fix things like exposed wires, loose floorboards and steps, and other problematic items. Ensure that you have operable fire alarms and CO2 detectors. Consider replacing older appliances with new ones if they’ve been around for a while. It would be a nightmare if the fridge stops functioning when the guests are around. Also prepare a first aid kit for your Airbnb guests.
In terms of decorating your rental, remember that you want it to feel welcome to your guests. So be sure you declutter your rental, remove old furniture, and clean the house exceptionally well. Before you begin renting, consider having the property deep cleaned. Then, between guests, clean the house and prep it for the new arrivals. During this step, you should be sure to make beds with fresh sheets, fold towels neatly, and double-check the toilet paper supply. But what about some of the lesser-known tasks that new Airbnb hosts may miss?
Here are some items and tasks to consider when preparing your Airbnb property before a guest arrives.
- Does the guest have access to cleaning products? Many guests insist on cleaning before they check-out, and this is they ensure they get their own stellar rating in return.
- Do you have basic toiletries if your guest forgot something or has delayed luggage? These include toothpaste, toothbrush, and soap.
- Are you providing tissue boxes in strategic locations throughout your home?
- Are the garbage and recycling bins empty and easily accessible?
- Do you have a safe storage location for valuables like passports and money?
- Are you leaving some of the basics like milk, eggs, condiments, butter, etc. in your fridge?
- Are there enough trash bags and dishwasher fluid for the guests’ stay?
- Do you have books, magazines, playing cards, and a pen and paper strategically placed throughout your home?
- Do you have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit that is easily accessible?
- Do you have hand sanitizer and face masks? Preparing a rental during the age of COVID is a little different than it once was.
- Is there a quiet workspace where the guest can get some work done?
As you prepare your rental, you’ll want to make sure you have several items on hand. Your guests will appreciate it if you go the extra mile and stock your property with these basic amenities to ensure a good experience:
- 2 bath towels per guest
- 2 washcloths per guest
- 2 hand towels per guest
- Toilet paper – more than you think you’ll need
- Feminine products – tampons, pads, and pantyliners
- Toiletries – include soap, shampoo, body wash, body lotion, toothpaste, disposable toothbrush
- Bed linen and pillows
- Reading light
- Hangers for clothing
- Alarm clock
- Wi-Fi access
- Bedside table – be sure to have plenty of outlets for devices
- Universal adaptor
- Safe for valuables
- Tea & coffee
- Tea kettle
- Coffee machine
- Salt and pepper
- Pots and pans
- Dishes and cups
- Cleaning supplies (all-purpose cleaner, dishwashing liquid, disinfectant, bleach, etc.)
- Pens and pencils
- Full-length mirror
- Books and magazines
- Board games
- Comfortable chairs
- Smart TV
If you want to go even more above and beyond, consider adding some of these special amenities.
PS: If you have any amenities that require instructions to use, remember to communicate them.
Write a great listing
Creating a beautiful space and snapping visually appealing photos is just the beginning. Perhaps one of the most important steps you will take as you prepare your listing is to create a well-written, informative listing. After all, the listing description and the photos are the tools you will use to market your rental property. An excellent listing has four elements: a catchy headline, a killer description, beautifully staged photos, and information about who you are as a host.
First, let’s consider the title. To create something awesome:
- Highlight your most unique selling point.
- Use understandable abbreviations where you can to save space.
- Don’t use all capital letters because this just makes it feel like you are yelling.
- Use all 50 of the characters to convey as much information about your rental as you can.
Remember to check listing titles of those nearby your area so you can write something even better.
When writing your description, think about your audience. To do this, think about these these questions:
- What kind of travelers will be attracted to your property?
- What does the property offer to these travelers?
- Why should they choose to stay with you?
Jot down your ideas. Trust us, going through this exercise will help you create an enticing listing. The next step is to take that information and write a brief and compelling description that sells the best parts of the property. The answers to the questions above will form the structure of your listing description. Describe the experience guests will enjoy while at your property and be sure to mention your house rules so that guests know what to expect. Remember, travelers look for experiences, so be descriptive about your location, the local culture, and attractions close by. But don’t write too many words that your potential guest looks at the description and feels overwhelmed.
One more tip: focus on hitting keywords you think your type of traveler will be interested in. Those keywords are important because they send a signal to Airbnb of what your property is all about. So when the site tries to match properties with a potential guest’s criteria, your property will have more chances of appearing first in Airbnb search results.
Lastly, be sure you complete your Airbnb profile with a little about you, your photo, and verify your identity. This small stuff means a lot to guests, and does a lot in terms of creating trust during the booking journey.
Take highquality photos
Another essential item on your Airbnb hosting checklist is the photographs you include on your listing. No one is going to rent your property if the photos are bad. Simple as that. For example, we don’t want this…
Ok, that might be on the extreme end of bad photos. But let’s look at this through the lens of an Airbnb photographer and discuss what doesn’t work here:
- The picture is dark: try bumping up the exposure.
- The room isn’t clean.
- The setting isn’t staged.
- The camera is pointing downwards: by angling toward the floor, the room looks smaller.
So how do you take great photos? Follow these quick hacks:
- Put everything away, even if that’s not how the property always looks. For example, trash cans and bathmats don’t need to be in your property photos.
- Cameras have a weird way of distorting perspectives. Move furniture closer or further from where you’re taking the photo. Adjust furniture based on how the picture looks and not what’s in front of you.
- Try to take pictures perpendicular to the walls.
- Make sure the space looks comfortable through the eyes of the camera. It should feel welcoming and “lived in.”
- Add your best photos first to really draw in your potential guests.
Taking great Airbnb pics is crucial in the Airbnb host’s checklist. They are the first impression you make on guests. But there’s also the issue of bridging the unknown. With hotels, travelers generally know what they’re getting. On Airbnb, however, each property is unique – which is excellent! But it also comes with uncertainty for the guest. So hosts need to capture the uniqueness of their property in high-quality, descriptive photos so that travelers know what they’re getting. Your pictures need to inform and reassure.
For the less artistic hosts
You might feel like you have the artistic or creative touch required to take great Airbnb photos. And that’s ok! You have options. Either hire someone or tap a good photographer friend to come by your place and take professional photos. If that’s not an option, consider getting help from the pros at Overlooked 2 Overbooked. They offer an excellent service for hosts who struggle with pictures. Essentially, in a live video call, they show you how to photograph your property by going through the process with you.
It is almost always best practice to have someone personally welcome your guests when they arrive to show them the basics of the property and provide a familiar face should any questions arise.
This will also give you a chance to share the house rules, local tips and attractions, and to ultimately make the guest feel like they’re visiting local friends. Don’t overcomplicate the personal welcome; after extensive travel, many people aren’t in the mood for a long visit that is heavy on information. Make it light and personable, reassuring guests that you are accessible via phone, text, or email throughout their stay.
You need to have that information accessible somewhere else, whether in a welcome email, a digital guidebook, or printout, to keep it light on details. Have something that guests can fall back on for commonly asked questions.
However, if a self check-in option is more your speed, there are ways to make that extra special as well. For example, including a welcome basket with items guests can enjoy during their stay would make your guests feel right at home. If you choose to go the self-check-in route, make sure you provide that digital guidebook loaded with helpful information.
We have a comprehensive Airbnb check-in guide that may be of use to you, so make sure to check it out.
PS: How can you take the check-in even one step further? Add a welcome gift. A basket of colorful fruits or some flowers on the desk does the job 😉
Communicating with guests
Always be accessible. There is nothing more frustrating for your guests than not reaching you. If you cannot answer the phone, be sure to text or return the call promptly.
You can set reminders at predetermined times during a guests’ stay to communicate with them via text to make sure they don’t have any questions or require any local recommendations. A text is a lighter touch than a call, as many travelers don’t like being bothered by a host during their vacation.
Automating your communication
Keeping guests in the loop and answering questions is an essential part of being a quality host. However, the process can feel daunting and time-consuming. Thankfully, there are ways you can automate this process.
Hostfully’s Property Management Platform offers automated messaging that will send your guests emails and even SMS messages based on certain events and triggers that you set. There are templates that you can customize and the platform even allows for multiple languages!
Another way you can communicate important information to your guests is through a digital guidebook. Hostfully’s powerful digital guidebook platform allows you to share important information about checking in and checking out, where certain amenities can be found, as well as where they can get the best pint in town.
No Airbnb host checklist would be complete without some tips on how to send off your travelers in a classy and thoughtful manner.
It is always helpful to send a text or email to your guests the day of their check-out so ask them if they need any assistance or have questions. This includes informing them of where to leave keys and transportation instructions to wherever the guests are heading.
Most importantly, thank your guests for being wonderful during their stay, and provide immediate positive feedback, where appropriate, through the Airbnb rating system. This will prompt the guests to give you your well-earned rating.
Airbnb hosting checklist: Final tips
Just in case we missed any valuable information that you need to include in your Airbnb hosting checklist, we’ve canvassed some of our top hosts on Hostfully to get their advice on things every Airbnb host should consider. Here we go!
- Be upfront: let guests know the property’s drawbacks, such as proximity to a train station, so they’re not surprised when they arrive.
- Check local laws: ensure you comply with local regulations regarding short-term rental housing
- Adopt a business mindset: Running a vacation rental is a business, so ensure that you’re thinking realistically about expenses and profitability.
- Keep it clean: no one wants to rent a dirty apartment!
- Live like a local: provide non-touristy local attractions, restaurants, and activities tips.
- Manage expectations: make it clear where guests can park, what time they need to check out, how they can reach you.
- Personalize the room: add posters, decorations, a coffee table, and other elements to make the area stand out.
- Be flexible: adapt to delays travelers might have with flights or other travel experiences.
- Stock the fridge: ask for food preferences, and add some of the guests’ favorite foods to the house so they have something to eat after traveling.
- Explain the electronics: this is a simple fix that will help guests feel right at home.
- Greet guests: be there to greet guests and answer any questions upon arrival.
Bonus tips to achieve Superhost status
Getting Airbnb’s Superhost status doesn’t have to take years of trial and error. In fact, there are a few ways to fast track your way to the top. Here are some tips our friends at optimizemybnb.com wanted to share:
This is your chance to get creative and foster a positive first impression (along with the check-in process you’ve simplified for your guest), below are some examples and what I provide:
- Pre-loaded public transit cards
- City memorabilia
If a guest needs to buy souvenirs for friends/family back home, this could save them some time
- Something local and unique (brainstorm!)
Airbnb created a local guidebook for San Francisco. I give this to my guests upon arrival
- Fruit bowl
- Airport pickup or discounted airport pickup from a local company
This is important! Anyway you can smooth the process from the airport to the front door will bode very well for your review.
- Local or freshly baked goods
- Map of the city
Put some thought into this! You can do better than a generic tourist map that hotels give out. In Helsinki, my host ran into a hotel and grabbed their map. It was a nice gesture but seemed like an afterthought. The map wasn’t all that useful, either.
- Subscriptions to Netflix and Spotify. These come in handy, especially on rainy days in.
A checklist for growth & improving business efficiency
Success in the short term rental space doesn’t happen overnight. After you get the initials down, you’ll realize you need to handle many processes simultaneously. You can then start looking to enhance your business efficiency and streamline your hosting tasks.
- Automate your routine tasks with vacation rental software: your list of daily to-dos including replying to messages, managing booking flows, updating calendars, sending out reviews, invoicing, generating financial reports, and whatnot can be all managed in one platform, saving you plenty of time and money.
- Use a dynamic pricing tool to optimize your pricing and maximize bookings. Dynamic pricing tools such as Pricelabs and DPGO adjust your nightly pricing based on big data, once again saving you plenty of time and reducing lost opportunities. Hostfully integrates with these pricing tools and more for your benefit.
- Set up self check-in: choose between lockboxes, electronic and smart locks, and key exchange services. You can run your property from thousands of miles away.
- Outsource cleaning and property maintenance: as a host, you know this takes time. So why not outsource it if you have the budget for it? Build a network of reliable subcontractors for the cleaning and maintenance of your rental. Vacation rental management software also allows you to auto-assign these tasks and track them to ensure all cleaning and repairs are carried out on time.
- Keep up to date with trends: Business intelligence tools such as AirDNA & Alltherooms, allows you to take a deep dive into vacation rental data and monitor your competitors so you know what to do.
Once you subscribe to a vacation rental software that allows you to automate these tasks, your role as a host becomes a breeze.
Final thoughts on Airbnb hosting
With this Airbnb hosting checklist as a guide, you’re sure to do an excellent job providing a 5-star hospitality experience to travelers. From setting up your property to welcoming guests and providing a smooth check-out process, it’s incumbent on you to ensure every aspect of your supply chain is refined. Good luck!