Over a year ago I dipped my toe into the Air BnB rental market on top of running our bedding and home decor line, and had great time running our farmhouse cottage as a full time rental property. During that time I gained real world insight into this world. I'll try to share our listing photos at a later date but for now here's just a few things I learned while decorating our Air BnB. If you are a fellow Air BnB or VRBO host please send me your ideas to share with our readers or better yet, send photos including or products in your rentals. I'd love to share them with our community and give you credit!
1. Less Is More
When it comes to decorating an Air BnB less is always more in terms of decor. I found many of my guest all ages included appreciate the minimal updated farmhouse aesthetic. We offer a true escape from the outside world on our private farm. The 1930s farmhouse cottage had been completely restored down to the original wood floors and original ship lathe walls. A beautiful gourmet kitchen had been added while maintaining an historic yet clean aesthetic. We offered a "doily free environment" --- I hesitate to even type that but I kept the accessories minimal, surfaces clutter free and highlighted a few statement decor pieces that I thought our guests would appreciate but let the authentic farmhouse vibe shine through in each selection.
2. Don't Skimp On Amenities
Go through your required check list of items and advertised amenities. My guests always thanked me for the extra coffee, simple spices and olive oil and bathroom amenities. A few things I would leave for guests that were commented on but not required and added to the theme of our farmhouse getaway were: awesome DVDs, a cozy throw and pillows, a beautiful designer candle, extra towels, firewood during inclement weather periods. I think when you are setting the tone for your rental use the environment, setting to dictate some of the extra amenities. As always do unto others and you would have them do unto you. Think about what extra items you'd appreciate as a renter and go from there. A few thoughtful items go a very long way.
3. Organize and Make Things Obvious
Don't assume that guests will know exactly where things will be stored or how to operate a specific item. Add basic instructions in your online guest guide and include a simple binder with simple instructions out in the open. Coffee and spices and a nice kitchen towel and dish soap were always displayed where they'd be used on the counter. The TV remote, and guest information binder were always on the coffee table and in clear sight of the front door right where a guest would see them upon entering.
4. Have Two Sets of Linens & Towels
We offered same day bookings and would turnaround our rental within a same day window for guests. This meant we had a very small window to get the rental ready for the next guest. I had a full set of linens, duvet, quilt and towels at the ready for quick swap outs. These items were locked away from guests but readily available to me to make quick swap outs. This lessened the stress level and meant I could take advantage of same day booking settings and kept my occupancy rate up. I cannot tell you how many times the linens nearly took up to 3 loads for a 1 bedroom farmhouse with typically two guests occupying the space. If you are rushing between guests your money is well spent on getting an extra duvet cover and pair of decorative shams for the bed.....trust me, you'll want to make sure these are pristine for each guest.
5. Lessen the Load
Don't skimp on bath towels and bedding, but do take into consideration that your guests will most likely use everything that is left for them in terms of bedding and towels, consider this when you are planning on how much access to give guests to your linen closet. It's always nice to leave extras but keep in mind that you'll be laundering every single piece you have with each guest. Even if it was an overnight booking, I'd always leave 2 full sized bath towels per booked guest a nice hand towel per bathroom and 1 wash cloth per guest and a new bath mat. I would also change our washable shower curtain and liner and have an extra at the ready to make sure the bathroom was in tip top shape. When it came to bedding the sheet set a queen duvet and shams typically fit in one load of laundry. While I keep the pillows and decorative accents to a minimum, plan on at least one full load of laundry per bedroom and an extra load for all the towels.
6. Clean Like Your Life Depends On It
If you do not consider yourself a clean freak, consider outsourcing your cleaning to a trustworthy expert. While it is hard to recoup the cleaning fees charged it is well worth the money spent to make sure your customer raves about how clean your place was. Someone with a detailed eye can make the difference between an amazing guest experience or a ho-hum review. Despite our farmhouse being nearly 90 years old we made the difference in our guest experience by making everything feel super tidy, clean, and well appointed with tasteful updates and amenities which I think any guest appreciates no matter the space.
Takeaway: My experience with Air BnB has been very positive but lots of hard work. It is definitely not passive income. It is truly a hands on endeavor unless you outsource every aspect of the customer experience and management of your property. There are great hacks all over the internet to ready your space for guests but ultimately it requires a hands on approach, time and effort. Create an amazing space in a great location and treat your guests like gold.