How to Make your Short Term Rental Like a Hotel...But Better

hotel vs. airbnb Feb 19, 2020

It's safe to say that you're aiming for success with your short term rental business. In this increasingly competitive marketplace, it's so super important to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

While of course I'll argue that design is one of the best ways to make your rental stand out from the crowd to grab not only more but better bookings, there are other things to consider besides just design. 

Turns out your competition is not only other Short Term Rental properties, but also all of the reliable hotels in and around your area. 

This article from Fast Company proves that although the vacation rental business is growing, there is still a large majority of people who prefer to stay in hotels when they travel. 

(above image: The Refinery Boutique Hotel)  

What Hotels Do Well (that you should do too)

Your goal should be to make your rental like a hotel in as many ways as you can, but then also make it even better by going above and beyond

Predictability is a primary motivation for travelers to choose hotels. There are just no surprises when it comes to certain things like the following: 

  1. Comfortable Quality Furniture - Sometimes the love seat in your hotel room is a bit stiff, sure. But you can be fairly certain that it won't have springs poking into your back because it was a super cheap purchase that shouldn't be in a high traffic hospitality spot. Same for the mattress. It may not be the softest bed, but it certainly won't be like my sleeping experience mentioned in this post
  2. Lamps - I'm just going to say it. You can't have too many lamps. One per bedroom is a minimum, and for a living space go for 2 or 3. Nothing screams sterile hospital like harsh too-cool overhead lighting. To make guests feel at home, do like all hotels everywhere and offer lamps with warm ambient light at eye level. 
  3. Blackout curtains - You've never ever ever stayed in a hotel without blackout curtains because they don't exist. Hotels know how important this is. It's HUGE for guest happiness, and the uncertainty of good shades in an Airbnb bedroom is a deal breaker for some people. 
  4. Basic Amenities Coffee, Tea, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, body soap, towels, wash clothes, toilet paper, bath mats, iron, ironing board, and hair dryer.. Some hotels will go above and beyond this list, but these are the basics. So have these! We'll talk about some useful additions to this list in the next section. 
  5. On-call Staff - Okay so you don't have a front desk with overnight staff for your Airbnb. But having a back up plan for emergencies, and a solid and easy way to reach you as a host, will put your guests at ease. Be sure to leave a House Manual with loads of good info, and be sure to respond as quickly as possible to all guests and potential guests. 
  6. Streamlined Cleanliness - 17% of people surveyed said they would be concerned about cleanliness of Airbnb properties. Hotels have a streamlined approach to cleaning and a high set of standards, and you should too. Check out my cleaning checklist for more. 
  7. Emphasis on Green - Increasingly hotels are recognizing that we need to be kind to our planet with less linen washing, greener cleaning products and less waste. It's important to show that you also care about the future of our world and that you're doing your part as a BnB owner to lessen your carbon footprint. Here's a post worth reading by Mamma Mode that talks about how you can make your Airbnb Greener!
  8. Excellent Customer Service - High quality hotel chains know that customer service is a high standard they must achieve. It's important that you think of yourself as a professional business owner and strive to offer your guests the very same level of care. Check out what Marie Forleo has to say about a top airline's customer service.

And Now For the BETTER

Okay, we've got our baseline, now let's talk about the best way to EXCEED your guests expectations by offering things that hotels don't.

This is the good stuff. The stuff your guests will gush about in your reviews, which will grab the attention of other potential guests. 

  • All Things LOCAL - You'll never hear me preach to put too much on-the-nose local art into your place. Frame a cool vintage map of the city? Sure! Yes. But take a look at Airbnb's in Nashville and 8 out of 10 of them have reclaimed wood sign-art above the living room sofa that says "Nashville". It's not different. It's not creative. It's not unique. And you want different, creative, and unique to make your spot stand out from the rest. Let's talk about the good ways to do local. 
    • LOCAL GOODIES - Find a local bakery or in your area that makes yummy treats and figure out if you can offer these consistently. As Genevieve and Peter teach us in Stay Here, this can be a way to build a brand and stand out. 
    • LOCAL ART - Go with different, unique, truly vintage instead of cookie cutter. Don't strive to be like every other Airbnb in your area, even the cute ones. Strive to be a little bit outside the lines, in the best of ways. 
    • LOCAL DISCOUNTS - Are there any small businesses in your area that may benefit from your guests frequently buying from their store/shop/salon? Ask the owner if they'd offer your guests a 10% discount if they bring in a business card that you leave in the house. This can become a win win all around. 
  • PLANTS - Hotels don't have these fabulous leafy green accents that are a designers best friend! Worried about killing a plant? Don't be. Part of owning plants is killing a few. Here's a blog post about the easiest ones to care for in your rental space and how to do it. 

  • SNACKS - Free snacks to start your vacay off on the right foot, especially if you're traveling with kids, is a really big deal to some guests. Offer something for free, even if it's just a few granola bars and a package of your favorite crackers. 

  • A GOOD HAIR DRYER - Not a cheap one but a good one. Also, while you're at it, throw in a couple of hair towels and maybe even a curling iron!? What kind of guests are you hoping to attract for your rental? What would knock their socks off to see when they showed up? THAT. Offer them that. For me, it's a great hair dryer, hair towels, and maybe even a bottle of nice hair spray I've never tried before. And a curling iron would make me weep tears of joy.  
  • SHARP KNIVES - How many times have you seen crapy cheap dull knives as the only option in a rental? No! Do things better! You have the ability to change the world, one quality kitchen knife at a time. 
  • CHARITY - If this speaks to you, you could consider donating a portion of your profit to the charity of your guests choice. My husband and I owned an Airbnb and we always gave our guests the ability to choose from 4 well known Charities to which we'd then donate a certain % of the profit in their name. 


Happy Hosting!! XXX 

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