AirBnB has no central AC, summer heat. Advice on upselling?

31 Replies

My units have no central AC. I clearly mark there is no AC as an amenity. There's been some heat waves in the area, two weeks ago hitting > 100, this past week hitting 85. 

Guests have been complaining about the heat, about it being unsafe. We provide a tower fan, but no portable AC unit.

We're thinking about buying portable AC units, but are looking for tips on how to monetize it correctly. Does anybody have any ideas?

Some include telling guests that they can rent an AC unit from us. But we can only have those units that have a hose out the window, installation on every turnover will be a pain.

Of course the other idea is the less painful thing: include it as an amenity and charge more. But AC isn't really needed in our area except for a couple days out of the year. That's one of the major hesitations to buy AC units.

Looking for some ideas!

Here's how I look at it: you monetize them by KEEPING your clients. It's not an option to "monetize".  You have a problem that you need to address. 

Been there done that: bought portable A/Cs and installed in each BR, because of this year's excessive heat. I bought and installed them on the day I had the first complaint last July (and actually shared the story here). Problem solved since then.

@Andrew Wong These heat waves are over at this point here in NorCal and in general it was a record breaking year for temps around here.  A tower fan is likely not good enough though and you should really just load up on some oscillating fans if you do not end up going the portable AC route.  I like your idea to monetize it however! ;) 

 I have similar issues with my cabin in Tahoe, they always go to the Nest and try and turn on AC...and I have to let them know that AC is just not something most homes in that area come with.

Good luck on your decision, like I said, I don't think you will need to worry much about it after this week though...at least for 10 more months.  :) 

Cheers!

~Jon  

Jon Crosby, Clik2Flip, Inc. | [email protected] | http://www.clik2flip.com

Just include it and monetize it by including it on your Air bnb listing. More people will likely book. My wife and I are going to Grand Canary in November and Hawaii in February, and we didn't even consider booking any of the places that don't have AC.

Medium bliss light blueLuc Boiron MBA, JD, Bliss Realty Inc.

@Kevin Lefeuvre , did you end up increasing your prices? Why isn't this something that you think I can try to upsell? How does this differ than say, offering periodic cleaning services as an upsell?

@Jon Crosby , yup... it's going to cool down in the next few days for the rest of the year. However, I figure I should just buy my current guests that is complaining the unit because who knows if 75 degrees is still too hot for them.

@Luc Boiron , yup that's definitely the easiest way, and already a consideration. Am just looking for any creative things people have done.

Those portable A/C units are a huge energy drain. You might want to look into mini split systems. Yes, the upfront cost is significant, but the energy savings versus portable systems will be worth it in the long run. And there are some that you can program and manage temps remotely when you don't have renters in place.

Andrew : because your pricing determination is not based on your cost but on your market. 

Maybe by adding those portable A/Cs which allowed me to check the a/c box on airbnb and vrbo, my average occupation rate changed from 87 to 90. There's no way to know it. How many guests you lost because you didn't have a/c on your listing. My point is that after my July incident I learned that it doesn't matter if we have warned the guests or not; and it's right that the heat wave is not our fault but it's not their fault either. If at the end of the trip their experience is not good, that is definitely a problem WE need to fix. Unlike a TV or an outdoor  Grill or a hot tub,  A/C during heat wave is not an option. IMO. 

Sandra you're right but it depends on your location. If you only need a/c during 3 months a year, it may not be worth the more expensive equipment or installation. 

@Kevin Lefeuvre , cant one make the argument that the market rate for units with AC is greater than the market rate for units without AC?

Some things I would wonder is: Are you getting bad reviews because of no A/C? If so, those might hurt your appeal to an online shopper and could hurt your ability to consistently fill the unit(s). I would look at the potential opportunity cost lost due to vacancy as a result of not having A/C. For only a few hot days out of the year it may not be a big deal though. I agree with @Luc Boiron my wife and I usually avoid places that show no A/C. 

Is it possible to just get window A/C units in each bedroom? That can get a little pricey of course. However, another less expensive alternative, in terms of initial cost and electric usage, might be portable swamp coolers/evaporative coolers. They might not get as cold as A/C, but can certainly lower the temps as much as 20 to 30 degrees, usually portable, and may avoid complaints without a huge investment. Check them out here.

I think whatever you do I would just keep in mind that you want to make your customer/tenant happy and make sure they have the best experience as possible. This reflects well on you and they are more likely to tell their family/friends/acquaintances to stay in your place(s) as well. 

Best of luck!

@Andrew Wong I don't think so. Again, it's an opinion: if it were an "option" your right, but it's not an "option" when you can't sleep at night because it's 85 F in the room.

Most guests don't think how bad it can be without A/C. They don't even think of checking those things. They kinda trust us, the hosts, to deliver a generally "good experience".
I totally agree that generally speaking, in coastal California, A/C can be considered as a luxury option if the outdoor temp is , let's say in the low 80s, mid 70s inside. When it burns at 110 F like 2 weeks ago, it's no longer a "luxury option". (BTW we could see flames of the brush fire from my place for several days and temp was around 110). 

Andrew,

Any property that does not have A.C. should say so in bold letters at the top of hour description of the property. At least in the summer months. To only list that you don't have A.C. in the amenities section is kind of hiding the fact and many people don't go through your list of amenities. This way they will at least know for sure.

I agree with what everyone else is saying you should just get some portable units for the summer months. It's not worth risking a bad review over.

Is AC something you want to add All the time or do you have an option to add only during heat spells? I would not add window AC routinely if it means you can't open the windows and you don't need it all the time, not all areas require A.C. to be comfortable. Does all your competition have A.C.? Also consider if want the cost added all the time. If it hasn't hurt you to date maybe you add complementary Window units when you get a heat spell. If you state no A.C. you won't get people who routinely expect it and crank it down but you have it available if needed. I believe you stated you could only use portable units.

@Andrew Wong I would not book an AirBNB without AC for the summer if I saw any reviews complaining about temperature. I wouldn't pay extra for AC, but I would pay more for a unit with AC. My point is seeing it as an extra charge would be annoying. Even if people agree to it, they will just complain about the added charge in their review.

I don't think the portable units cost much. Just pick up a couple and raise your summer rates a few dollars to offset the cost.

The better portable units cost more then window A.C., cheap ones can be noisy and the condensation hose can leak on your floor. Depending on the floor covering this can be an issue. I am in the minority in that I look for A.C. only when I think the location warrants it, like the south and southwest, that said in a significant heat wave you would be very appreciated if you made bedroom units. available.

@Andrew Wong , I think you're jumping over dollars to save nickels. Buy the AC. I wouldn't stay in a place without it, and putting it in the listing that you don't have any AC units is hurting your business.

85 may not be hot to you, but it could be very hot to others.

They are renting the place from you, I wouldn't nickel and dime them about ac units. The really aren't that expensive.

Medium fbprofileMindy Jensen, BiggerPockets | [email protected] | https://www.biggerpockets.com | CO Agent # FA100049656 | Podcast Guest on Show #129

@Mindy Jensen fair enough. AC is important, and STRs are all about customer satisfaction.

I gotta ask though, what WOULD you "nickel and dime" for? What would you consider something worth upselling? Or would you consider upselling things in general putting petty charges on minor services?

@Andrew Wong It's in your best interest to avoid trying to upsell things in this market, unless it's for a real reason. If you're not doing more work for it you really shouldn't try to charge for it. Some things you can get away with are: daily housekeeping services, additional guests or beds, airport rides, catering, they need to be things over and above what people will expect. A/C is not a luxury to people. When it comes to researching where to stay people want to see everything they are going to get in the price they see on Airbnb, if you start adding things after that you will suffer. Some things are the cost of doing business.

Thanks all! Definitely will just be buying AC and increasing the price of my units accordingly to the market rate of the other units that have AC. There is a bit of a disparity between units w/o AC and units w/ AC in my area.

To me, AC is a luxury. I havent had it in any of the places I've lived in. However, the main thing I learned out of here is that it's all about the customer's comfort.

I had the expectation that guests who book my place, given that AC isnt listed as an amenity, will be okay without AC. AirBnB actually took my side about my guest wanting to cancel due to there not being AC because my listing was posted accurately.

Now the question is, do I get AC units across my whole fleet, or just wait until the next hot season since it's fall now...

@Andrew Wong - a/c window unit cost $300 max. Just buy one it's a small cost to appease your customers.

@Andrew Wong , I've got the opposite approach - I look for ways to provide more value than expected, rather than charge for every little thing. Maybe you make an additional $20 that night or that rental, but if they leave a negative review, you just shot yourself in the foot for $20.

I've stayed at AirBnB's that were meh, and AirBnB's that knocked my socks off. The places that knock my socks off get steller reviews with lots of exclamation marks and a very excited tone. 

The other ones get very bland reviews, and they sound bland when they are read. 

Aim to knock people's socks off. I'd rather make $10 less per night and be 100% full than $10 more and be vacant half the time.

Medium fbprofileMindy Jensen, BiggerPockets | [email protected] | https://www.biggerpockets.com | CO Agent # FA100049656 | Podcast Guest on Show #129

@Mindy Jensen , do your higher more excited reviews command a higher $/night than your competition?