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How to be a quality host: An Airbnb success story

Quality hosting isn’t just a choice — it’s the bedrock of the Airbnb platform and the entire sharing economy. Exceptional experiences forge trust, boost rave reviews, and elevate the reputation of Airbnb, hosts, and the short-term rental industry as a whole. 

According to Airbnb’s data, guests who rate a stay 4 or 5 stars and report a positive experience without any issues, are 56% more likely to use their platform to book a future trip. Great ratings reflect customer satisfaction that spans the entire guest experience, beginning with trip discovery and continuing through the booking process to the on-property experience. 

Airbnb listing quality

The quality and accuracy of all listings are top priorities for Airbnb since they have a direct impact on traveler search success, expectations, confidence, and ultimately, satisfaction from their experience. This is why Airbnb has begun to put greater emphasis on its ground rules for hosts, and recently made an effort to identify listings that fail to meet the expectations of the community. This initiative has resulted in over 12,000 listings being removed globally since April 2023. 

Let’s get into the essentials for creating quality listing content:

Listing accuracy

As mentioned above, the success of the Airbnb platform depends upon the integrity of its listings which enables travelers to trust and rely on the information being presented. Therefore, all of the content in the listing, including the photos, should set the right expectations and accurately reflect the property.

  • 16+ high-quality photos 

High-quality photos are an essential part of your listing and not something to be taken lightly. In fact, listings with 16 or more photos are more likely to be booked on Airbnb and are associated with higher overall ratings when compared to listings with fewer photos. Therefore, the number and presence of the photos is a significant booking factor. Additionally, photos that accurately portray the property are a major factor in setting realistic guest expectations and increasing guest satisfaction and positive reviews.  

  • Listing description 200+ words

Listings with thorough descriptions (at least 200 words) in the “About this space” section have a higher probability of booking conversion and positive guest reviews. Your description can be up to 500 words, so take advantage of the opportunity to get detailed and explain what makes your rental unique (this is a great opportunity to try out ChatGPT!).  Check out this article to learn more about how to create a top-notch listing. 

Check-in details

Listings that specify a clear check-in method tend to have higher booking conversion and more favorable guest review rates. This is especially true for listings that offer a self-check-in process. There are many options available for self-check-in and industry standards are leaning more and more toward smart locks that send automated codes to guests prior to their arrival. Here is a guide to learn more about the leading smart lock systems available on the market. Guesty users can also benefit from Guesty’s Locks Manager, which integrates with most smart locks to manage access to your property right from the Guesty dashboard. 

Including all of the check-in (and check-out) details in advance, allows guests to feel more prepared and reduces the risk of confusion or disappointment at arrival or departure time. Setting clear expectations, especially when this offers a solution that is convenient and hassle-free, is a win for you and your guests.   

Safety features

Travelers seek to book listings that include basic safety features including smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Installing at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area, as well as carbon monoxide detectors, are basic safety precautions that will not only help protect your guests and your home, but also bring in more bookings. Many travelers looking for a vacation rental will search for listings that include certain safety features so make sure that you have any safety or security amenities noted clearly in your listing. 

Top amenities

Guests often apply search filters to find properties with the amenities or features they want. To create a desirable listing, make sure you provide the amenities that attract your ideal guests and that you verify the accuracy of the amenities offered in your properties. Most importantly, make sure that all of your amenities are listed so you don’t miss out on opportunities!

The top searched-for amenities include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Heating
  • Kitchen
  • Pet-friendly space
  • Pool or hot tub
  • TV/ Cable
  • Wifi
  • Washer

Creating a quality guest experience

While the Airbnb listing is what attracts bookings and establishes appropriate guest expectations, the real quality test comes during the stay. Airbnb assesses the quality of the host and the actual property by the guest reviews, and has categorized the following as critical factors in guest satisfaction:

  • Cleanliness

Without question, the cleanliness of a short-term rental is essential to its success. This is an area where you never want to cut corners, so if you are not able to clean your listings sufficiently, make sure you hire a dependable professional to do so. There are many solutions out there for finding and managing cleaning services. Using a hospitality operations platform such as Guesty gives you the ability to manage cleaner communication and scheduling to optimize this process and ensure cleaning runs smoothly. 

  • Communication

Airbnb puts a serious emphasis on guest communication. In fact, response time is a major factor in ranking and the criteria to become a SuperHost. Further, response time is a significant factor in getting bookings, as potential guests ready to book may just reserve elsewhere if they are waiting too long for responses. 

Setting up automated messages to guest queries is one way that hosts can improve response times, even when they are not actually available to respond in full.  An even more comprehensive option is to hire a service such as Guesty’s Guest Communication Services which provides a 24-hour, professional call center to enable you to respond to all guest inquiries, at any time of day. 

  • Value

Every traveler wants to know that they are getting good value out of their logistical decisions, so the question they want to know is whether your vacation rental is worth the price. Value is of course based on a number of factors including size, location, amenities, and overall quality of both the facilities and the experience.  In order to make sure that your pricing is reasonable, look around at similar listings in your area to see what they are asking. Rates may also depend on the time of year and the economic atmosphere, so this assessment should be done on a regular basis.  

Another way to ensure your pricing is competitive is to use a dynamic pricing tool (like Guesty’s Price Optimizer). These tools use AI to send daily price recommendations based on the market value of your listing.  

  • Location 

One way to stand out as a host is to be proactive about informing your guests about the location of your property including overall safety, transportation, points of interest, and special considerations like noise or other issues that might affect their stay. Putting this information into a welcome letter or guidebook can be a time-saving solution that can be quite impressive to guests. 

Now we are going to take a look at one vacation rental company that has figured out exactly how to excel at creating a quality experience for guests and obtaining top rankings on Airbnb. 

Case study – South Key Vacation Rentals

South Key Vacation Rentals is a premium vacation rental company in Savannah, Georgia. They have worked their way up to become a top performer on Airbnb, and they also use Guesty to manage their hospitality operations.  We spoke with founder and owner, Chase Stahl, to find out how he maintains such high standards of quality hosting, as well as such a high-quality score on Airbnb. His bottom line:

It all comes down to guest communication. 

In our conversation with Chase, he reflected that since setting up automated guest messaging through Guesty, there’s been a great impact on his reviews and ranking — in that a majority of their reviews mention exceptional communication and quick response times. 

South Key uses automated guest messaging to send out access codes and basic information such as wifi instructions, directions, and check-in details. With 50-60 properties being booked at a time, sending out this information manually just wouldn’t be possible. Using the automated messaging tool, they send out all information to guests a day in advance and reach out to ensure everyone is happy. They also have autoresponders set up for inquiries, ensuring a two-minute response time, which has a huge impact as well. As Chase says, these tools “give us that touch point to the guest more frequently than we normally would have.”

The importance of responsiveness

When it comes to responsiveness — Chase recognizes while his team is willing to “roll up their sleeves, be on the ball, and be available to respond at 10 o’clock pm” there are times that’s just not humanly possible. With the winning combo of auto messages, auto-responses, and an emergency line — these tools lessen their burden at night by filtering through urgent vs. non-urgent guest needs. It means he and his team won’t be answering wifi questions at midnight, but it maintains communication with their guests, allowing them to be answered at any time of day. This certainly has an impact on solid reviews! 

Great analytics

In addition to automation tools, South Key benefits from the use of Guesty’s analytics, to have a clear sense of their revenue and easily keep track of Airbnb reviews. With this tool, they are able to keep a constant eye on reviews on one single dashboard without needing to go into each listing individually. Plus, the integration with their cleaning management platform has impacted their positive guest experiences by automating and streamlining the turnover process to ensure easy and effective cleaning between guests. 

As a professional vacation rental management company, South Key has recognized that the key to success in the hospitality business lies in creating quality guest experiences and has successfully implemented the approach, the tools, and the strategies to achieve that. Every great host can do it too.

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