By MORRIS ARON
If you are an airbnb host like we are, the biggest nightmare that keeps us all awake is not getting clients for days on end.
This means that bills will be pilling up and there’s no income. You have rent to pay if you don’t own the unit, you have your cleaners and security, water, electricity, Wi-Fi and Netflix charges that are recurrent whether clients check in or not.
We hosts know the peak seasons and maximize on them. If you don’t know peak seasons by now they are Weekends, public & international holiday eves and the months of December and April (around Easter). There are also events such as the Safari Rally, or during major concerts and conferences and with this year, election and campaign gatherings.
The traditional low season many dread is JANUARY when everyone is focused on getting their finances together after heavy spending during festivities.
We are just starting January. So what to do?
Here are a few tips to keep clients flowing
- • Price competitively- Adopt a smart pricing policy where you vary the amounts you charge clients. You can do this by listening to the client budget and adjusting to fit the same. Also have rates for weekdays and weekends, check in for a few hours vs long stays. Offer discounts and promotions regularly.
- • Have a flexible cancelation policy-In most cases, cancelations are not refunded. However, to grow your loyal client base, have an understanding ear when say an individual cancels at the last minute due to some reason. This will develop trust between you the host and the clients. This will make clients to talk good of you and trust you
- • Boost your reviews and positive feedback and make them visible for other clients to see-When new clients see that there are other clients who are happy to have been hosted by you and talk good of you, they will want to have the same experience. Encourage your clients to give you feedback and display those prominently even in the airbnb unit itself, on your website and social media
- • Automate booking/check in responses: When you automate responses, it means efficiency in responding to an enquiry. It means the client will get the information they need even if you are not reachable and no what to do. Check in information on price, house rules, check in time, location etc. go a long way in tying the client to you and them not mobbing to the next host because of a delay in response when they make an enquiry on your unit.
- • Emphasize the uniqueness of your unit and why the experience is worth it. Have a catchy write up about your unit. Something enticing and refreshing about your unit as opposed to the other units.
- • For one to be able to do all the above, the units has to be known to exist to as many people and target clients as possible. The BOTTOM LINE HERE BEING THAT YOU NEED TO ADVERTISE YOUR UNIT EXTENSIVELY. A lot of hosts take it that once they have stated that their unit is available on agent circles once in the morning and late in the evening that that will do the trick. NO. Also, listing your unit on bookings.com, airbnb and other booking sites is enough. Imagine it is not. WhatsApp has many messages and often your message disappears as soon as you post it as others also share what they have or their experiences. Ensure your unit is in at least 4 high traffic affordable sites which clients check regularly. MAKE YOUR UITS KNOWN OVER AND ABOVE THE BOOKING SITES. Not everyone who needs accommodation has a smart phone or an airbnb app. You can for example have a social media strategy where you build a social media presence on social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, instagram high school, work, professional and social whatsapp groups. And it is not just enough to post once in a while that the unit is available, it is important to build a community of followers to say your Facebook/Instagram page. You need to have many followers to make an impact and to have the word spread. This means you need to have discussions or be part of discussions around airbnb, accommodation regularly.
- • Make you daily experiences and that of being a host fun and enjoy the journey
Aron has over 15 years in matters real estate. He is a director at Property & Discounts, Kenya’s top real estate firm specializing in hosting, managing airbnbs and buying & selling distress property.
Property & Discounts offers other hosts a platform to advertise their units at a fee of Sh1, 000 a property a month. For this the firm will list and advertise an airbnb unit on their website www.propertydiscounts.co.ke and social media pages and prioritize enquiries referrals to the listed members at 10% commission. The firm is also developing a local airbnb app which will be launched soon. The firm also offers airbnb management services for those hosts who have a full time job and are not there every time to handle enquiries. Currently they host and manage and advertise a combined portfolio of 45 airbnbs spread out across the country.