Looking to make a buck in the sharing economy by renting a room or an apartment through Airbnb, VRBO or Flipkey? Since 2014, James Perrault and his partner Julie Van Der Lugt have been helping Toronto homeowners manage their short-term rentals through their company manageAir. We asked Perrault to give us a few pointers to ensure your guests have a positive experience—and you have a profitable one.
No. 1: Be honest. Be accurate
This is a great rule in general, but with your listings it’s essential. Is your ’hood a ghost town after 8 p.m.? Or can you hear traffic at all hours? “Let people know,” says James Perrault. Think of this as managing expectations. Be more accurate and you’ll be more likely to satisfy guests. “You’re really working to get reviews. Guests that love the space will be happy to give you a great write-up.”
No. 2: Take great pictures. Lots of them
No matter how well you describe your rental, people really just want to see it. If you can, book the Airbnb photographer. It’s free, though you might have to wait. “They take great pictures plus the photos are certified,” says Perrault. That means your pro pics get an Airbnb watermark, which is favoured by the site’s list ranking algorithm.
No. 3: Run your rental like a business
The Airbnb rankings also reward hosts who respond quickly to potential guests. That means being attentive to inquiries and accepting reservations in a timely manner. But there’s another reason to be prompt: Most would-be guests send out multiple requests, so the first to respond with good news often gets the booking.
No. 4: Set your boundaries
Nightmare stories are rare but Perrault still suggests verifying guests’ phone, email and social media identities before booking. If they don’t yet have reviews from other hosts, feel free to ask more questions, like their age and the purpose of the trip. Once you set your house rules—such as no outside guests or pets—stick to them.“If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, don’t take the booking.”
No. 5: Don’t hide the buffalo head
Got a quirky place? Leave it that way. “It’s good for the space to reflect the owner’s personality,” says Perrault. “People who want to stay at hotels will stay at hotels.” Airbnb guests, on the other hand, are looking for a more authentic experience. That said, you still need to declutter. The fridge door business-card gallery needs to go. Replace it with the Wi-Fi password.