“We’ve found that if you offer a hair dryer," says Nathan Blecharczyk, speaking about AirBNB, "you can make on average $10 more a night." And Blecharczyk should know: he's one of the site's founders. “Per night, $10. Like, that’s how important a hairdryer is.”
Blecharczyk made the comment
recently while speaking at Quartz’s The Next Billion conference in San Francisco. It may have been a small and specific tidbit of advice from the Airbnb cofounder and chief technology officer, but it warrants further thought. If something as small as a hair dryer can make such a real and calculable difference, what else could be impacting your earning potential?
Blecharczyk didn’t give an extensive list beyond the humble hair dryer, but logic and anecdotal evidence are a good starting point when looking at what else to consider. Think of it this way: if you'd narrowed down your search to two very similar properties and were making a final choice between the two, what factors would nudge you into booking the slightly more expensive one? What conveniences or comforts would you be willing to spend extra dollars on?
To many people a hair dryer seems like an obvious must-have but, as we've already discovered above, they're more valued that you might expect. Blecharczyk was quick to point out that males in particular often overlook them because they don't use one themselves. “And so they just don’t think about it and they don’t supply it, but it’s a real pain in the butt for a traveler who wants one to have to haul it with them, and just better if they know it’s there."
The key point here is to go outside your own daily routine and try to imagine the needs of all types of people. You might not use an iron and ironing board regularly yourself, but your guests will appreciate them — especially if they're travelling for business and have shirts to press. Business customers, and indeed “digital nomads”, will also appreciate a laptop-friendly workspace. Because no-one wants to spend hours at a time hunched over a kitchen bench, even if your industrial-chic metal bar stools do look straight out of the pages of Wallpaper
magazine. A comfortable and practical workspace is so important to some people, in fact, that they're more than willing to shell out extra dollars on a property that has one.
Depending on your location and the season, heating or air conditioning could be another deal-breaker. Guests staying for longer periods of time value having access to a washer and/or dryer so here’s another tip: if you don't have one on your property but do have a good laundry service within easy distance, be sure to mention it in your text. At least potential guests will know there's another option.
Any time you list a property on AirBNB, do be sure to accurately tick as many amenities as you can. Potential guests can filter their results based on whether these things are available, so you don't want to cut yourself out of the running simply because you forget to tick the 'hair dryer' box on your listing.
It’s a situation some AirBNB guests will know too well: they land later than planned, their phone refuses to work, and all the details of where they need to go are stored safely in the recess of their inbox… which they can’t access. The hassle of arranging to meet hosts for check-ins is one of the few disadvantages of AirBNB over traditional hotels.
Odds are you don’t want to open up a 24-hour check-in desk (because, you know, you have a life) but offering as much flexibility as possible will be a comfort to potential guests. If you can install a key code or lock-box that negates the need for you to be there when they arrive, it can be easier for all involved (and you can still meet up with the guests to show them around once they’ve safely found their way). Flexible check-out is also a big plus for some guests who would rather sleep in and pack languidly than be booted out of a place while they’re practically still in their pyjamas. Offering to at least store their baggage after check-out can be a convenience some travellers will pay extra for if they’re not leaving the city until later in the day.
Hotels often charge (rather exorbitantly) for parking, so if you’re able to include parking in your listing you’ve already earned yourself kudos and potentially higher daily rates. Do some market research into what hotels in your area are charging and experiment with adjusting your fees. Travellers comparing your property with the hotels will see that, once parking is added into the mix, they’re still getting a better deal with you, even if you’ve bumped your rates by a few dollars. Just be careful to find the sweet spot on pricing, since not all of your guests will have cars.
A Nespresso machine on the bench crowned by a bowl of brightly coloured capsules is like a shining gift from heaven to the coffee addict who’s just woken up. A bottle of local wine, bread basket or selection of fresh fruits is manna for the just-arrived weary traveller. In an article
for the official AirBNB blog, hosts discussing their most popular amenities singled out these small but welcoming details, and in particular the thrill guests find in receiving local gifts that give a sense of the community they’re staying in. “I provide a small, regional gift for breakfast, depending on the season,” said one. “I provide local craft brews, flowers from my garden, lots of books on the city, local organic snack bars and the [local] newspaper arrives each day,” said another.
These personal touches don’t have to cost you, as a host, a lot of money, but they do lead to increased satisfaction, better reviews, and in turn, more bookings. Potential guests can see from your listing and from the comments that you’re a host who pays attention to detail and goes above and beyond — and when it comes to assuring a stranger they should spend their dollars with you, there are few things more convincing than that.