#067: 8 Lessons from 4 years of Hosting a “Multi-Unit Airbnb Portfolio”

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Airbnb is an influencer in the real estate industry.

Future of Housing  

It’s also an example of how software technology is automating tedious tasks landlords have to deal with. How you can reach people around the word and share an experience.

In the future DIY landlords will sign leases, receive payments, and block calendars through apps like Airbnb.

After over 4 years of consulting construction design and managing a multi-unit portfolio of California houses and apartments...here are 8 lessons I learned.

They might seem simple, and it is. Like a college friend coming over, you’re serving access to your city.  

  1. Keep a 3 month reserve. 
    Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. You got into it for cash flow, so manage your cash flow.

    You never know when you need to dip into reserves. When times get slow, bed bugs hit, plumbing causes ceiling to collapse and you still need to pay that mortgage payment or lease. Have to feed the beast.

  2. Customer Obsession: Feel as if you are the guest.

    A guest is planning for a trip. It’s an event. You are hosting the event. Focus on why guest books dates for their “stay-event”.


    Remember, after location, guests book based on reviews and photos.

    Guest reviews your listing based on cleanliness on first impression. Followed by did the experience match what they saw in the reviews and photos? Imagine your property on first impression. Is there adequate lighting at night during check-in? Is the check-in process as simple as possible. What does it smell like on first impression? 

  3. Increase Guest Certainty:

    Make the place look like the photos. Don’t surpise them. Keep photos updated.

    Increase your guests internal satisfaction by giving them what they expected. They will feel they made the right decision...by experiencing exactly what they sew in the photos. 

  4. Treat your landlords like gold.
    This key relationship helped you get the opportunity.

    Get back to them immediately anytime they call. Pay a few days early so they see you as an asset. If you know the right people and have have cash flow, do some of the minor maintenance and send them a photo of receipts. Don’t go overboard.

    Demonstrate value. You’re saving them time. Giving them solutions to problems they normally deal with.

  5. Treat your neighbors like gold.
    If they ever complain, never argue with them. Don’t ignore them or hide.

    Ask them, what happened? How it make you feel? What do you suggest? This way they feel heard, and you might pickup nuggets along the way.

    Tip:  Provide gift cards on special holidays as a token of 'appreciation for looking out for you’ and give them your number. 

  6. Work from problems first. Ask why.?

    If you hear the same issues over and over again, you might not be going deep enough into the problem.

    They may say your lockbox is not easy to access or your kitchen is not equipped. It could be something deeper. Maybe there’s no light at night when they pickup the lockbox, or the kitchen has a weird smell.  This information will lead you to a solution that will give value to guests in the future.

    Idea for kitchen: Get unique geometric pattered dinnerware. Or remove old microwaves and toasters and put in stainless steel. People want to feel they are experiencing something better or unique compared to what they have at home. But it doesn’t have to be luxury. Just nicely put together. With character. 

  7. Checklists, checklists, checklists. 

    Always use checklists for:

    1. Cleaning. 

    2. Finding Checklist: Acquiring criteria for new property (ex. distance to nearest attraction? Bottom floor? Stairs? 1 assigned parking spot? Street parking free? etc.)

    3. Unit Items Checklist: A checklist for all the items in your listing.

  8.  Hire reliable cleaners: they will be the reason why you are able to provide service to your guests. They are your team and represent your listing. Give them cleaning assignments 7 days upfront so they can plan. Keep them updated and you’ll do great.

    ONE MORE...: Be upfront. 

    You’d be surprised how guests respond when you’re transparent. Just like you, they don’t like to be surprised. If the home is in front of a busy road, say that.

    Keep in mind, many hotels are located on busy roads. If street parking is not easy after 5 pm, let them know that it’s easiest to find parking between 10 am - 4 pm but we have 1 assigned parking spot.


Effectiveness

I hope you find these lessons useful. Now is a good time to build a solid platform (housing, attractive listings, checklists) and great communication skills (landlord, cleaner, guest). Your system will serve your guests during peak times.

If you’re thinking about hosting and live near Orange County, California…. join our Host Therapy group or drop by our monthly meetup. We’ve almost reached 100+ members from nearby Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

Swat

Airbnb@helloswat