Guest Post: The Pros and Cons of Converting Your Property to an Airbnb PLUS Listing

(All images in this post are from this Historic Sandstone on Airbnb Plus. Scroll to the bottom of the article for more info on this beautiful home.)

Hi, Valerie here! I'm thrilled to introduce authors Symon He and James Svetec, the creators of LearnBNB.com and BNBMasteryProgram.com.

Symon and James together recently published Airbnb for Dummies (1st Edition), and they're here to share what I think is the most interesting section of the book from a design perspective to help demystify the elusive Airbnb Plus Program for my readers. 

Wondering if Airbnb Plus is something you should be aiming for with your property?  Read on to find out! 


The Airbnb PLUS  program, launched in 2018 to only 13 cities, is now widely available in most cities in an attempt by the platform to attract higher income and low price sensitivity travelers with a more premium experience offering. 

As an Airbnb host, you may be wondering what it’s all about.  Would it help your listing earn more booking revenue? What does it take to earn the PLUS designation for your listing? This feature isn’t right for everyone, but if your listing provides guests with a special stay, then it may be right for you. 

Potential Benefits of Airbnb PLUS

The program is still fairly new, so few statistics or hard data are available, and what is available comes from a relatively biased party because Airbnb wants people to sign up for the program. Nevertheless, Airbnb anticipates that Airbnb PLUS hosts will experience some of these benefits: 

  • A potential earnings increase: Airbnb expects PLUS hosts to receive approximately 22 percent more in earnings.  If true, that would be HUGE for essentially offering the same property on the same platform. 
  • A verified PLUS badge on your listing: Over time, that badge is likely to grow more meaningful as the Airbnb PLUS brand gains value. The more guests who know about it, experience it, and understand what Airbnb PLUS means, the more people who will trust and book with listings with this badge. 
  • A modern design for your listing page: This allows your listing to stand out on Airbnb. If you go on Airbnb, you'll notice right away that PLUS listings have an entirely different aesthetic for their listings compared to the normal listings.  

The benefits of Airbnb PLUS will vary from host to host. Given the newness of the program, established statistics aren’t known. In the near future, after the PLUS program has been around long enough and in more cities, third party research companies like AirDNA can conduct proper analyses and release objective, third-party statistics to show the differences in performance between regular hosts and hosts who are listed on Airbnb PLUS. 

 

Potential Drawbacks to Airbnb Plus

Because PLUS is still in its infancy, hosts who qualify for the program are still trying to figure it out. We've spoken to a dozen hosts who went from regular to Airbnb PLUS status and while no one saw any negative impact to performance, only about a third said they saw immediate and noticeable jump in revenue. 

 

From what is known, here are a couple potential drawback to being a PLUS host:

  • Platform Exclusivity: You can’t host your PLUS listing on other sites, such as HomeAway, VRBO, booking.com, or anywhere else if you want to be a PLUS host. It’s difficult to decide whether the benefits of Airbnb PLUS outweigh the potential drawbacks of this requirement. If a good portion of your income comes through different home rental websites, then figuring out whether Airbnb PLUS is worth it for you can be even more challenging. So while you may experience a 22 percent increase in Airbnb revenue as a PLUS host, the gains may not be enough to offset your potential losses from the other platforms.
  • Higher guest expectations: Although these guests are willing to pay more for your property, they’re also going to expect to get what they pay for. So, as a host, you need to be prepared to deliver on that expectation at a high level, all the time, even when it may be inconvenient for you. 


What's the difference between Airbnb PLUS vs being an Airbnb Superhost?

Although the basic requirements for Airbnb PLUS look awfully similar to the requirements for becoming a Superhost, there are a number of reasons why a property owner may not qualify for Airbnb PLUS despite being a Superhost. Being a Superhost is entirely up to you as a host and how you perform. On the other hand, Airbnb PLUS also depends on your specific listing, which is why shared spaces like a pullout couch in the living room can’t be listed as part of Airbnb PLUS. 

Here are some other important differences:

  • Airbnb PLUS requires a 24/7 check-in window. That means an automated check-in, a lockbox, or an app. Virtually any host can do that. However, some Superhosts prefer to do in-person check-ins and are thus not eligible for the PLUS program. (Note: In the post pandemic world, EVERYONE should offer touchless remote check-in and check-outs!)
  • Airbnb PLUS listings must offer certain amenities. This includes beverages, which includes bottled or filtered water, coffee filters and a coffee maker, and tea with a kettle and sugar. Those are the basics. You also need a full-size fridge in a full-size kitchen or a mini fridge in a kitchenette. You need a stovetop with two burners in a full kitchen, or a microwave and a stovetop with a hot plate in a kitchenette. 
  • Airbnb PLUS must have no cancelled reservations.  Over the past year, host can have zero cancelled reservations  unless from extenuating circumstances. As a Superhost, you can have a 1 percent cancellation rate. For Airbnb PLUS there’s no safety margin. 

 

Do you meet the requirements for Airbnb Plus?

In order to be an Airbnb PLUS host, you first must figure out if you meet the requirements. Airbnb looks at a variety of factors for PLUS eligibility. The application process has some subjective aspects while also requiring specific features and amenities. 

The bottom line: Airbnb wants to ensure that all PLUS listings unify and standardize the Airbnb experience. 

But before you apply to be a PLUS host, you need to meet certain requirements because Airbnb has created this platform for consistency. Here are the important basic requirements:

 

  • You have an average rating of 4.8 stars with no cancelled reservations and a 95 percent acceptance rate for booking reservations for the past year. This is in addition to having no cancelled reservations. If you’ve never listed your place on Airbnb, you’re still eligible to join. However, after you’re accepted into PLUS, you must maintain this standard. 
  • Your listing meets the hospitality standards for the PLUS platform. According to Airbnb’s website, hosts must “genuinely care by welcoming guests warmly and delighting them with details that let them know they’ve thought of everything” and “provide outstanding service by being kind, responsive, and committed to making things right.”
  • Your space is an entire place or a private room with a private bathroom. This means that at a bare minimum, your listing must be for a private bedroom in your home with its own private bathroom. No shared spaces like a pullout couch in the living room and no private bedrooms that share a bathroom with someone else. 

 

In addition, Airbnb says your space must be “well-designed in a way that shows the host’s unique style and personality” and “fully equipped with amenities like Wi-Fi, coffee, and quality linens” as well as “spotlessly maintained, extra clean, and clutter-free. For a more comprehensive (and lengthy) list for eligibility requirements directly from Airbnb, go here.

 

 

Make sure that Airbnb PLUS is available in your location. In mid 2019, PLUS was only available in approximately 400 cities worldwide. If you’re interested, conduct the research up front and see if you meet the criteria. If you are eligible, you can apply and pay the $149 application fee. 

Airbnb PLUS began as an invite-only program but eventually started to allow hosts with eligible listings to "request to invite" directly from their listing management page. The option is not available for hosts without at least one eligible listing.    


The contents of this article are excerpted from Airbnb for Dummies (1st Edition) by co-authors Symon He and James Svetec, the creators of LearnBNB.com and BNBMasteryProgram.com.

 

More about this Featured Home

All of the images from this post are from a well designed Airbnb Plus Property in Fairlight Australia, owned and decorated by Superhost JayJay and her husband. 

This property is immediately captivating, not only because of the show stopping architectural features like the wood and glass spiral staircase and original sandstone walls, but also it is quite clearly a labor of love, layered with collected original artwork and vintage objects full of soul. This home, originally a workers' cottage built in the 1860's, is infused with character and has been officially added to my Short Term Rental Bucket List. 

Click here to book or see more of this beautiful home

Happy Hosting! 

 

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