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Top Mistakes New Short Term Rental Hosts Should Avoid

Cover Image for Top Mistakes New Short Term Rental Hosts Should Avoid
Cherif Y.
Cherif Y.

Becoming a new host on platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and for short term rentals can be highly rewarding but also challenging if not approached properly. Avoid critical errors by steering clear of these common pitfalls as a beginner host.

Inaccurate Pricing Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes new short term rental hosts make is inaccurate daily or monthly pricing for their property. Setting rates too high can mean vacancies, lost income, and lack of bookings. But pricing too low leaves significant money on the table. Thoroughly research comparable local listings on rental platforms using a data analytics tool like STRProfitMap. Factor in property size, location, amenities, seasonal demand, events, and more. Price competitively based on hard data.

Offering Too Little Listing Information

Providing ample details about your rental upfront is crucial for attracting guests and building trust. Include full descriptions of all amenities, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, interior and exterior spaces details, house rules, cancellation policies, check-in/out processes, WiFi info, and local recommendations for dining, entertainment, and things to do. Photograph every room professionally from multiple angles. Do not hold back any relevant information so potential guests know exactly what to expect.

Having Unrealistic Expectations

Many new hosts underestimate the effort involved. They expect to earn huge profits immediately with minimal work. In reality, hosting involves extensive preparation, day-to-day work communicating with prospects, fielding booking inquiries, coordinating check-ins, managing cleaning, and resolving any issues. Research average local earnings using a data analytics service like STRProfitMap to set realistic income goals. Expect to put in significant time, at least initially.

Insufficient Listing Preparation

Guests expect a clean, comfortable and fully prepared rental upon arrival. Be sure to thoroughly deep clean every room, restock all toiletries, outfit the rental with fresh linens, towels, hangers, charging stations, WiFi logins, and other essentials. Perform routine maintenance for appliances, HVAC systems, electronics, plumbing, and amenities. Having an inspection checklist helps ensure a move-in ready space.

Subpar Communication Skills

Respond to all guest inquiries promptly and keep prospects continually updated. Use a friendly and welcoming tone when messaging and providing instructions. Being highly responsive and personable encourages bookings, 5-star reviews, and repeat customers. Enable instant booking on platforms when possible to maximize convenience for guests.

Lacking Proper Insurance

Protect yourself with the right insurance coverage in case unexpected incidents happen. Standard homeowners or renters policies often don’t sufficiently cover short term rental stays. Invest in specialty short term rental host insurance to fully cover damages, liability claims by guests, and reimburse lost income from vacancies. Don’t take chances.

Inflexible Cancellation Policies

Having overly rigid cancellation and change policies can deter prospective guests from booking in the first place. Consider having stricter policies for peak travel dates, but build in flexibility for guests by allowing penalty-free cancellations during slower periods. Be open to reasonable date change requests to accommodate guests' shifting plans when possible.

Trying to Save on Cleaning

In between each guest stay, a thorough deep cleaning of every bedroom, bathroom, living space, and outdoor area is essential. Never expect guests to fully clean up after themselves. Consider hiring a professional cleaning crew if you cannot properly handle the work yourself. Proper cleaning ensures positive reviews and comfortable stays.

Having No Direct Booking Strategy

Rather than only relying on major rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, savvy hosts have a strategy for attracting direct bookings through their own websites and marketing efforts. Offer incentives like discounted rates, extra amenities, or promotions to encourage direct bookings. You avoid paying platform commission fees, while guests get the best rates. Use data tools like STRProfitMap to inform pricing and identify peak travel dates to promote for direct bookings. Just ensure your direct booking policies and terms align with rental platform agreements.

Starting out as a short term rental host has a learning curve. But avoiding these common mistakes will set you up for success and smooth operations. Lean on data tools like STRProfitMap and leverage platform best practices to maximize bookings and income.

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