Landlording & Rental Properties

5 Ways to Earn Rave Reviews on Airbnb (& Maximize Your Income!)

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Couple walking in front door of vacation rental with suitcases

Let’s face it: If you’re an Airbnb host, you likely face stiff competition that is only getting worse. There are almost thousands of listings in Denver alone.

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As the sharing economy grows, so do the number of short-term-rental listings nationwide. Case in point: hosting isn’t getting any easier, and if you rest on your laurels, your business will slowly profit less and less as more supply hits the market.  

That is unless you stay on top of your game and do everything you can to differentiate yourself from the competition. Better reviews equals more bookings equals more money. Your Airbnb property is not your average rental. It is a hospitality business that requires thought and careful attention to detail.

It isn’t rocket science, but most people overlook key aspects of hosting. This results in leaving money on the table. And no one wants that.

Here are some tips and suggestions that will help you earn five-star guest reviews and more money. We use these strategies every day while managing our properties, and in my opinion, they work!   

5 Ways to Earn Rave Reviews on Airbnb and Maximize Your Income

1. Be Responsive

This may be the most important thing you can do to improve your revenue and attract more bookings. Many guests don’t look solely at your listing, they shop around and send out multiple inquiries at a time. These guests are looking for instant gratification. They aren’t willing to wait hours or days for a response.

Aim to reply in five minutes or less. Guests will thank you for your quick reply!  

Response time is factored into your listing’s SEO.

2. Be Proactive (Not Reactive)

Thinking ahead is paramount to running a short-term rental business, even if you only have one property in your portfolio. If you are reactive and not proactive, you’ll quickly find that you end up spending hours running around town fulfilling guest requests. Plan ahead, and you’ll prevent emergencies before they happen.  

In general, I’ve found that most guests don’t want to interact with the host. They don’t want to meet you to get the key, text you for more toilet paper, or have you drop by to say hello. Make sure to stock your home with all guest consumables, batteries, spare keys, (etc.) so that you never have to make a mid-stay visit because you forgot something.

Which brings me to my next point…

3. Go the Extra Mile (Running Over Pots and Pans on Christmas)

Sometimes you can’t plan for everything. Recently, on Christmas Eve, a guest messaged me at 7 p.m. to say that all of the pots and pans were broken inside the house, rendering them unable to cook a family meal that night. We had no idea this had happened. Honestly, we thought the kitchen was fully stocked.

Instead of apologizing and offering a discount (losing money), I ran to Target and hand delivered them a brand new set of pots, pans, and kitchen utensils. One of the rare cases when I like to personally visit the property is when guest issues arise. There was little we could have done to have avoided this issue in advance, but the extra effort truly wowed the guest and made their stay.

More importantly, it helped us avoid a bad review and cleared the way for more bookings in the future!

Related: The Top 10 Dos and Don’ts for Airbnb Short-Stay Landlords

Total cost = $3

4. Give Guests Free Stuff! (Hair Dryer, Iron, Water, Snacks, COFFEE)

Most Airbnbs I stay in offer your standard towels and sheets, maybe a coffee maker or water, but very few hosts provide extra amenities. There are so many things you can offer that cost almost nothing and add huge value to your place, bettering your guests’ experiences.

Some of my favorites are:

  • Granola bars
  • Bags of chips
  • Crackers
  • Bottled water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Q-tips
  • Makeup removing pads

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s cofounder and chief technology officer, has found that offering a hair dryer earns hosts on average $10 more per night.  

My entire “guest freebies” package costs me less than $10 per stay (which I bake into the cleaning fee) and truly wows most guests.  

Related: How I’m earning an 8% Cap Rate on My Vacation Rental

Bathrooms need to be 100% spotless. A bright and inviting bathroom is a great way to earn a five-star review! Total cost = $4

5. Focus on Cleaning

If your Airbnb property has one good quality, let it be cleanliness. Guests scrutinize cleanliness heavily and having a less-than-spotless home is the quickest way to get dinged.

Carefully train and hire your cleaning crew to pay extra attention to the kitchens and bathrooms to make sure they are 100 percent free of dirt and hair. Remember to check things like microwaves and refrigerators that can often contain hidden messes or unexpected food items.

And don’t forget to dust! This is often overlooked but is a very important aspect of a clean Airbnb rental.  

What tips do you have for getting great Airbnb reviews?

Share them below!

Tyler hails from Washington, D.C. and got into real estate investing when he converted his primary residence into an Airbnb rental to boost his monthly income. He manages short term rentals in Den...
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    Jason Johnson Flipper/Rehabber from Lehi, UT
    Replied over 2 years ago
    As an owner of a vacation rental, I believe having the place clean is the most important job of management. The bad reviews I see from other places always includes something that wasn’t clean. Sometimes things break, or maybe the WiFi doesn’t work, but usually these don’t lead to lower star ratings. It’s if they find something not clean. I really like the idea of the snack option for guests. When I stayed in Maui the host had some local chips and chocolate. I was ready to give her 5 stars when I walked in. Great idea to price that in the cleaning fee!!!
    Tyler Work Rental Property Investor from Denver, CO
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thanks Jason! I totally agree. There are really a lot of things you can offer guests that cost nearly nothing – plus you can build it into your cleaning fee so it is no extra $$ to you. Thanks for reading my post!
    Michael Baum from Olympia, Washington
    Replied over 2 years ago
    My son and I are building little crates to hold the snacks and such that will have our logo on it and they can take with them. They cost almost nothing to make and it is a fun reminder of their vacation! We also provide a variety of coffee pods for the Keurig in addition to providing a drip system.
    Yvonne Sanusi
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Michael, Love your gift idea, would you share pics?
    Craig Curelop Real Estate Agent from Denver, CO
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Nice article, Tyler! A lot of good takeaways. I think the biggest one for me is offering the snack packs!
    Julian Gonda Rental Property Investor from San Francisco, CA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Such a great read. As solely a guest alone, I do enjoy Airbnb stays and these are definitely things I’m attentive to. Although I don’t have rental properties under my belt yet, I’m excited to practice habits of a good (super)host such as the ones on this list in the near future!
    Josh Stevenson Property Manager from Portland Seattle, Bellevue
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great Post!! :) Most people do not know that when AIRBNB first started out in the Mid 2000's that it was typical that you had some sort of Breakfast item with the guest's stay. I owned 3 Vacation rentals and an actual Bed&Breakfast in Seattle. So in all of the Vacation rentals since, (not a B&B) I have always added the First Mornings Breakfast for the Guests. Simple things Like Danish, Croissants, Greek Yogurt, Oatmeal, Fruit, Juice, Coffee and always Bottled Water! Plus I let them know that in an email I sent 2 days prior to their stay. I also had a stocked Pantry of other things such as Sugar, Flour, S&P, and other spices and things like Waffle and pancake mix. I bought a custom made soaps from a friend that owned a Bath and body company and had the soaps prepackaged with their family name on the Soap. 5 Star Reviews!!! I too built this into the Cleaning Fee which was $125 a night, including insurance. The other thing that I did was offer complimentary mid-week cleanings on any of the Homes where a Group rental would stay 4+ That way I could *sneak a peek* a what the condition was and what I could expect and if I needed more then 1 housekeeper to come in to do the turn.