A lot of websites out there offer advice to Airbnb hosts. But here at Airbnb, we know the truth: The real experts on hosting—those with the best tips for giving guests a great experience, navigating our site, and enjoying the process—are hosts themselves. Seventy-eight percent of the people who share their homes, apartments, cabins, and cabanas on Airbnb have an average rating of 4.5 stars or higher. There’s a lot we can learn from each other, so we’ve rounded up five of our favorite tips from top Airbnb hosts, designed to help you reach that 5-star mark, every time.
1. Upgrade your listing
So much of being a good host is about empathy—putting yourself in potential guests’ shoes. When travelers search for a place to stay on Airbnb, they rely on the descriptions and photos you provide in your listing to help them decide if your space is a good fit for their needs. Include all the relevant details, and remember that after their stay, guests can rate the accuracy of the information you provide.
“It’s important to be absolutely frank in the listing,” says Tim, a Superhost who shares a rural apartment near his home. “It’s advertised as a rustic retreat, and that’s the kind of guests I get. If anything, I exaggerate the hardships of the place so that people aren’t surprised when they get here. And as a result, I get people who are looking for an experience that’s out of the ordinary.”
Joy, who shares her studio apartment, agrees: “What’s probably most convenient about my space is that it’s the core of the city, but if maybe you’re not someone who wants the noise or the hustle and bustle of the city, it may not be the space for you.”
2. Make your space shine
Greeting travelers with a clean and tidy space helps them feel welcome—and it’s something they expect when they travel on Airbnb. Cleanliness can boost your ratings and bookings, too.
“We would want it to be clean if we walked into a place,” says Suzie, “so it’s important for us, every time, to give the same amount of effort and make it look exactly as good as it did the last time.”
“When I’m not here to clean,” says Joy, “I have a third-party cleaning service come, and I also add a cleaning-fee to my listing. You just say in detail what you want cleaned. They’ll change the sheets, make sure the flooring is cleaned, the windows, especially the shower, and then put new towels out.”
3. Communicate early and often
There’s nothing worse than waiting by the phone or constantly refreshing your inbox to check for an email response. The golden rule of hosting bears repeating: Treat your guests just as you’d wish to be treated. Respond to booking requests quickly and help make their arrival easy. If your response rate gets too low, your listing’s search place could be impacted and you may even face penalties.
Gregg sends his guests clear directions to his listing before their trip. “You imagine, I’ve just been on an airplane for 9 hours, right? So what I try to do is, I have a Word document that I literally cut and paste so that I can tell them this is what you need to do,” he says. “I spell it all out.”
“One of my first rules of thumb is to reply as soon as I can because everyone’s trying to book travel,” says Abhay. “Some of them do it with short notice, and you want to be responsive. I try to give them the experience that I would want if I was traveling. In terms of communicating, I try to reply immediately, I address the questions they’re asking, I stay really honest.”
4. Create memories
Hosting on Airbnb is your chance to share the best of where you live. You can point your guests to City Guidebooks, which are filled with suggestions from other Airbnb hosts in your area, or you can point guests to your own favorite neighborhood cafes, shops, and restaurants. Some hosts even provide local treats like coffee or tea. Thoughtful extras like these can go a long way toward helping your guests experience all your city has to offer.
“I recommend places where we go to eat breakfast, places to walk, places to take pictures, or tell them historical anecdotes,” says Natasha. “It’s nice to see people get a different perspective on life. It’s a very enriching experience.”
“When I was staying at an Airbnb in Portland,” says Joy, “it was so wonderful to see all these local treats. It got me thinking to do the same at my Airbnb. I have a few friends who own local businesses here, so sometimes I get to throw in their treats, too.”
5. Stay inspired
People start hosting on Airbnb for all kinds of reasons—some to pay bills, others on a whim. But many hosts tell us that what motivates them to continue and to provide great hospitality is the new people they meet and the connections they form. Every guest you welcome, every trip you host is a new opportunity to celebrate your hometown, expand your circle of acquaintances, and discover the joy in hosting.
“I think what’s surprised me is learning that there are so many great people,” says Beverlee, who hosts with her partner, Suzie. “And you can interact as lightly or deeply as you want to go with them. It’s just enriched both of our lives.”
“It adds income, which is important,” says Tim, “but there’s an additional benefit. Airbnb has brought the world to me. We sit around on my patio, and [guests] describe their lives.”
“When I was growing up, we were the only Asian family in my neighborhood,” says Joy. “My parents would cook Asian foods for kids who didn’t really know what it was. So for me to be able to host in that sense and to be able to share myself, my culture, it’s delightful. It’s really personal for me.”
Want more? Check out Host Toolkits, an interactive series of tips, checklists, and interviews with top hosts.