dont-show-social,Uncategorized

21 Aug , 2013  

We have been BnB Hosts since many years and with every guest, meetup or brainstorm we learn and think of so many improvements and new ideas to be even better hosts and run a fun business. Because that’s what The BnB Life should be all about: having fun and explore while making money. We love to share all our hosting ideas, experiences and knowledge with you and are excited to hear yours.

Enjoy the BnB Life!

Your Business

Remote Hosting Tips for your BnB

8 Nov , 2013  

Remote Hosting Tips

Last week, an article on needwant.com about someone who bought an apartment specifically to rent out on Airbnb went viral. It’s very interesting and there are a lot of golden nuggets of knowledge for any bnb host. Basically, the blogger, Jon Wheatley bought an apartment last 2012 and documented how it all went. He was managing the room remotely so he had to find ways to make tasks easier and automated. Think about those possibilities! Whether you are a host who wants to manage your own accommodation hands on or do it remotely as well, here are some great takeaways most hosts should also find useful.

1. Get a reliable cleaner

Jon had to do things remotely and of course, cleaning and managing his place would be impossible if he did not hire a suitable property manager or cleaner. According to him, he found one on Craigslist and the payment per month was $200. It covered “unlimited” cleanings which sounds like a sweet deal. The problem here of course is finding someone on Craigslist that you can trust with your apartment keys. Apparently, this cleaner eventually took over the management of the entire listing and was tasked with communicating with the guests. Sounds too good to be true but it can be possible if you are lucky enough.

2. Buy more sets of linen, towels, etc than you think you would need

This makes the cleaning process less hectic and also the cleaner (or you) can do a large batch of washing at one time without having to worry about the replacements between guest check ins. Pretty simple but not a lot of hosts actually do this. There are some of those I know who only buy two to three sets! That can be quite tricky, especially in case of an accident. You will need to replace linen or towels right away.

3. Buy a Nest and a Lockitron

For those who do not know what a Nest is, it is sort of a programmable learning thermostat that has many features to help save you money from energy bills. You can turn your heating or cooling on and off remotely, but best of all, it has a feature called “auto away” that shuts off the air conditioning or heating if it senses that no one is inside the room for a certain amount of time. It’s brilliant and will save you a lot of money in the long run especially since some guests forget turning off heating and cooling. You can also use it remotely via your smartphone in order to determine whether your guest has already arrived in the house/room or not yet.

Remote hosting tips

A Lockitron on the other hand, is a device that lets you control your home lock remotely. It also has a nifty feature that lets your guests’ smartphone gain the ability to unlock your door for a specified period of time. Meaning you can leave the key inside the house and not have to do a key exchange anymore! Those times when guest flights get delayed will no longer be a logistical bedlam where you end up wasting hours and hours just to wait for the guest.

How to manage your room remotely

Your Business

All About Airbnb Fees For Cleaning

21 Oct , 2013  

All About Airbnb Cleaning Fees

Calculating Airbnb Cleaning Fees

If you are a host in Airbnb, you will want to have full knowledge of all Airbnb fees and also have full control for setting and editing your cleaning fees. This can be done if you go to the pricing settings. Just remember to take account of all the possible extra expenses you may need to pay for getting your space squeaky clean before your new guests arrive.

Set your cleaning fee

Also, be aware that cleaning fees are added automatically. They show right up to reservations. This is sometimes not the case for those other hosts, who want to give out special offers which are supposed to be all-inclusive (this is something you might want to do as well and will be discussed below). Generally speaking, the cleaning fee should be a part of the total for the reservation and will not be returned to the guest at the end of his or her reservation period. In short, you as a host will get it at the payout at the end of the reservation. Another thing you have to remember is that the cleaning fee should not be charged per night, it should be a one-time fee for the entirety of the guest’s stay. Also take note that when guest search through listings, they will see the cleaning fee reflect as inclusive in the entire rate.

Figure out the total price for your guests to see

The price that is visible to your Airbnb guest, how is it calculated? Simple: it is derived by dividing the declared cleaning fee by how many nights they stayed for the duration of their reservation. Then you add that number to your usual or declared nightly rate. To make it simple, here is a sample.

Say that your guest reserved your room for a total of 5 nights and your listing rate is 120 dollars per night. Also, lets assume that your cleaning fee is set at 30 dollars. The resulting equation would look like this:

30/5 + 120

Then multiply that again by the number of nights and you have:

630 dollars (note that this is before your service fee)
Airbnb fees for cleaning

So there you have it. That should give you a very good picture of the total price and how this will turn off or maybe turn on potential guests who search through the listings for cheaper rooms. Before they send in their official reservation for your room, your potential guests will see the cleaning fee listed separately only in the total breakdown.

This is very important and will definitely help you gauge your guest or client behavior. Hosts with brand spanking new listings will find that using this insight will be very important in determining not only how attractive your listing is for its value, but also whether your cleaning fee is worth it, too high, etc.

One last tip, those hosts who do not feel like putting in cleaning fees would do well to head Airbnb’s suggestion for a security deposit. After all, cleaning expenses can be expensive tedious and you never know what kind of mess a guest is capable of doing to your room and linen. Then you should add an explanation in your house rules that guests should keep the cleanliness by themselves.

Now that you know these tips, we hope you have great luck with your Airbnb fees calculating and hosting experience!

Your Guests

Dealing with Airbnb Guests with Children

16 Oct , 2013  

Airbnb Guests with Children

As a host, you will be thinking about what kind of guest you don’t want, will this include Airbnb guests with children? Perhaps the first thing a host would be afraid of are sociopaths, but second to that fear is the fear of children. Why, because children, depending on their age, could be a potential liability. This is not just to say that children can destroy or damage your property. That is certainly true, but that is not the entire story. The safety of children will also be an issue. Is your space prepared to take in tots or playful kids? A host must also imagine the legal brouhaha that would ensue if a guest’s child gets injured or, god forbid, worse. Then, there is also the issue of  noise and dirt. Babies cry. Some toddlers are not the yet masters at the potty. Some kids wet the bed. All of these hassles are things any new bnb host should consider.

Airbnb Family Travel – Are Minors Allowed?

Airbnb users, be it guests or hosts, will need to be older than 18 years old in order to sign up and create an account. But this does not mean that the answer is no. Of course there will obviously be users who will bring their children. Therefore, it is up to each host to determine whether their space and accommodation is suitable for children. Guest will see this once they look up the Amenities section and if you allow children, they should see the following sign:

Family friendly

What If Bed and Breakfast Guests Show Up With Children?

The fact is that guests should detail the exact amount of people who they will bring along into your accommodation. This should have been discussed clearly through the messaging system while making the reservation request. They should include in the details, whether they are with children and how many of them will be staying. This means that you, as a host, should also proactively seek out this information right away because some problematic guests might not include these details or might forget to do so. If you have these detailed, you will have proof for Airbnb if your guest does not follow your agreement.

How To Know If Your Place is Kid Friendly

Airbnb Guests with Children

If you are a parent, this will be much easier. But those with no experience with children will have to imagine having one. What dangerous things in your space could possibly be detrimental to kids or tots? The most common problems would be kitchen cleaning chemicals stored within reach of kids. In any case, if you intend to allow kids in your space, you have to be extra vigilant with safety. But you will also have to think about laundry and cleaning. Kids might make a mess so be sure to include these in your cleaning clause or fee. You might also want visitors to sign a contract stating that they should be responsible for their children and for damages to your accommodation: just to cover your basis.

These are just a few things you should consider if you are a host. Should you allow guests with children? Finally, that is all up to you. Kids can be both adorable and messy so just take that into consideration. You might also want to allow kids if you are thinking of building your business and widening your possible guests. Just make sure to be prepared especially for Airbnb guests with children.

 

- Carlos Cruz

Your Business

Similar Websites: Airbnb Alternatives

9 Oct , 2013  

Airbnb Alternatives

Websites Like Airbnb

The success of Airbnb is huge and this is why so many airbnb alternatives popped up out of the blue. It is considerably, a very young internet company and yet it has risen in ranks and is now worth billions. At the same time, it has become an industry disruptor since it has carved out a huge niche which does not seem to show signs of waning as it is estimated that almost a thousand new listings appear in Airbnb daily. And in the internet, we know that every enviable business will be copied. There are so many other websites that have sprung out as clones to Airbnb and many hosts like us would want to take advantage of them. But be warned, these clones might not be as satisfactory as the original. Here are some of these alternative sites like Airbnb.

Top Airbnb Clones

Airbnb Alternative

Wimdu

The thing about talking about Wimdu and many of the other clones of Airbnb is that they are so similar to the original that describing their similarities is almost useless. The website pretty much works the same: host your room or house, stay in private accommodations all over the world, etc. Wimdu is probably the best competitor of Airbnb and it is backed by the same German based businessmen who create clones for various other internet businesses such as Groupon, etc. It has over 235,000 + properties in over 100 countries and 100,000 + registered users. This is of course, still a far second to Airbnb’s numbers.

9flats

9Flats

This is another blatant Airbnb clone, 9Flats was started by another German internet businessman Stephan Uhrenbacher. Even the design, look, and feel, are the same as Airbnb. 9Flats ranks as the third biggest space sharing website, below Airbnb and Wimdu. To date, there are around 50,000 members and 30,000 hosts in 100 countries all over the globe.

 

roomorama-logo

Roomorama

Roomorama has slightly different color themes. It functions the same way and has 70,000 registered properties but no info on the number of active guests around the world. It got its funding from PROFounders, Thrive Capital, Lerer Media, and Jose Marin. They also bought one of their competitors Lofty at the start of their roll.

What most hosts say about these competitors?
It may seem unethical to copy business models, but that issue is moot. We can argue over it endlessly. The fact is that so many businesses are created by way of copying an already proven formula. That does not mean that these other companies are not trustworthy. The truth is that as hosts, we probably want to take advantage of all of these platforms so that our vacation rentals could have the most business possible. But the problem is the amount of effort to be put in setting up and maintaining listings in other sites. Is it worth the time and effort? For example, I know many people who have tried the biggest competitor, Wimdu, and their feedback is that it is way inferior to Airbnb in terms of the number of requests they receive. Also, Wimdu tends to push you to accept all bookings, I’ve heard instances of aggressive email replies and threaten hosts who do not want to accept bookings (even from guests they don’t trust). They’ll imply that not accepting and replying to bookings will mean less visibility and even account deactivation. This is most likely because they need to get their community up and running faster.

There are plenty more clones out there, but the consensus is that the original is the best. However, Wimdu has a more German and Euro centric market which means if those are your locales, they might also be good choices. Getting the most of all these free airbnb alternatives is great, just make sure you are your effort’s worth.

BnB News

Airbnb is Not Illegal in NYC: No Fine for Nigel Warren

1 Oct , 2013  

Airbnb is Not Illegal

Last June, Airbnb was rocked by a controversial lawsuit in New York, and now it has finally been resolved and truly, Airbnb is not illegal . Nigel Warren is an Airbnb host in New York who was fined thousands of dollars by a NYC judge just because he rented out his apartment for a few days. This decision was met by opposition by the Airbnb community. Airbnb publicly stated that they felt the decision was wrong in legal terms and would also be a step back for New York. Airbnb supported Nigel in their appeal for this ruling. Finally, this past Sept 28, the Environmental Control Board of New York has official heard the appeal and agreed with the arguments of Airbnb. The thousands of dollars fined to Nigel are now reversed. This is a very emotional victory not just for Nigel but for all the hosts in New York trying to make a decent living through Airbnb.

Many of us Hosts are truly thankful for this Victory. It would not have been possible without the community’s strong support for Nigel. This support is not only felt by Nigel, it is felt by every host. This is truly a cause for cheers and celebration as more hosts will now have confidence our endeavors. But of course, there are still some things we have to pay attention to. New York law is notoriously difficult to follow. Hosts everywhere should not forget to be mindful of the regulations for their space or apartment. Hosts should be aware of all laws and rules before going into the bnb business since Airbnb won’t be knowledgeable of all these local rules.

What Exactly Happened In the New York Appeal?

Airbnb and Nigel gave the following argument: under the New York law, if a permanent resident is present during the guest’s stay, this should not be in violation of the short term rental regulations of NY. Many parts of the law is confusing, especially with provisions that pertain to specific buildings but does not apply to others. However, the provisions regarding shared space is not ambiguous or hard to understand. Airbnb got involved with the case since first court decision on the case was indeed wrong. And now, it is truly a pleasure to hear that the Board has heard this argument and has agreed to it.

Of course this is not the end of the show for the Sharing Economy

There are still many fights to be fought. New York law is certainly hard to work with and sometimes, hard to clarify. This is why Airbnb has promised to keep on their work and support of both the hosts and the city officials of New York so that ordinary New Yorkers who want to share their space can keep on doing so in the safest way possible.

In any case, this victory is something that will elevate the status of the sharing economy and surely, so many New Yorkers will be happy with the new decision. Truly, Airbnb and the sharing economy is proving itself to be sustainable industry and be sure that Airbnb is not illegal in the city of New York.

Perfect Host

Being Considerate To Your Airbnb Neighbors

25 Sep , 2013  

Airbnb Neighbors

The problem with Airbnb neighbors in New York is that people in a building or apartment community want to be protected from random strangers coming in and out of their supposedly exclusive neighborhoods. As much as possible, neighbors want access to their neighborhood to be kept safe from other people who they know nothing about. Hearing that strangers come in to their buildings, some neighbors might flip their lids. Having access to an apartment complex for example, could give rise to theft and other possible complications. But that is not the only problem. Exclusivity is not just about safety. It is also part of what divides social classes. Let’s talk about a preconceived stereo type as an example: rich people are afraid of letting in poor people because they are afraid of being robbed. As simplistic as that may sound, there is reason behind that fear. Even though sometimes, this fear of your neighbor, fear of other people who are different from you, gives rise to prejudice. Sometimes, these fear take too much of people’s lives and keep them from adventures, new friends and experiences, new opportunities, etc. It also gives rise to disconnection. And Airbnb is all about making connections.

So for the interest of your Airbnb neighbors:

what are the things that you could do or should keep in order for them to not be too afraid? You may feel sometimes that your neighborhood is different, more understanding. You may feel that you don’t really need to arouse their suspicion by actually telling them that you are letting in people to your home and letting them stay a while. But in the long run, talking to your neighbors might actually be simpler and more beneficial to you and your business. Here is are a couple of things you might want to clarify with them or consider:

Regulations in Your New York Building

These are different from your own house rules but you will want to inform your guests about this as well. Simple things like these can go unnoticed. But you have to know your building rules and you might want to notify your neighbors that you will be having guests. But if you remind your guest of building rules and tell them to avoid bothering your neighbors, you might avert headaches in the future. Some guests might think socializing or asking for neighbors to buzz them in is alright, but this might bother your neighbors unnecessarily. Some buildings might actually ban smoking in certain areas. Or you yourself might ban it in your room, thus driving guests to smoke in places that your neighbors might smell. Plan ahead in these scenarios and write up big signs and designated areas for smoking. Inform your guests promptly. Parking rules for example are some of the most clearest things you have to inform your guests who have cars. Most buildings have prescribed guest parking spaces.

Minimizing Guest Noise

Other things that might bother your neighbor is noise. Some guests make a lot of noise. No surprise there. They are, after all, in a vacation. But you have to be diligent and remind them that they are not in a hotel, they are in another neighborhood. There must be a limit and small rules about making noise. Partying is something prohibited by some hosts but you don’t always have to go that far. You might also have to be selective about your guests. Those with toddlers or pets will be an issue. Not only will children and pets likely make noise, they might also make a mess. So it all depends on the kind of space and neighborhood that you have. Take them into consideration. If there is a pet hotel nearby, you might want to use that for guests with pets.

Think of your neighbors. That is not just something they teach at school or church. In the long run, this will protect your business’ sustainability. Hope this article helps you with that and with your Airbnb neighbors, whether in New York any other City.

Perfect Host

What are your Airbnb Host Responsibilities?

20 Sep , 2013  

Airbnb Host Responsibilities

Being a “good” Airbnb host is not just something people assume since they do not understand airbnb host responsibilities. Yes it is obviously a good way to do business and a way to make sure you get good reviews and more bookings in the future. But the fact is, being a good Airbnb host is a requirement as well. It is your obligation as Airbnb attests. And that’s not just some idealistic moral lesson. Your guests can actually report you or get their money back if you are not a “good” host. So what are your responsibilities or obligations as an Airbnb host?

Airbnb Host Responsibilities

All rentals in Airbnb have to meet what is called the “minimum quality standards” in terms of cleanliness, safety, and also accessibility. They should also not be falsely advertised in your listing. Thus everything you say in your listing should be consistent with the actual rental room or space. You can find this in the Airbnb page as well, but here we have spelled things out more so that it would be much easier to understand. Here are the criteria a host has to be sure to take care of:

-        Make sure that your space is thoroughly clean even before your guest comes over. Also, fresh and clean sheets and towels should be provided. What does that mean? No stains, no smells, no dead vermin, no trash, etc.

-        The appliances as well as all amenities that are listed should not be broken and should be present. These could include things such as TV, hair dryers, internet connection, fans, etc.

-        The same thing goes for whatever utilities you have listed in your Airbnb ad. They should be fully functioning. Therefore, all your listed electricity, temperature control, plumbing, bathroom shower, sinks, faucets, etc should be in good working condition.

-        This one is obvious but has to be stated as some hosts might feel it is irrelevant: All your space’s windows, doors, and most especially all the locks, should all be working.

-        You must provide pictures of your space that are true to life and current. Of course a photo taken years ago would show a new, fresher space, and therefore would be misleading.

-        The presence of anything that might disturb guests, such as noises, pets, etc. as well as any other major issue, should be clearly communicated. This means you should most likely add them to the description or at least message your host if something new comes up.

-        There should be nothing in the space that would pose as a safety or health threat. This could include faulty wiring, pests, etc.  A safety threat is something obvious but others may not be obvious to you so you might want to consult a professional if you feel you need to.

-        There should be adequate lighting present. Also, lighting should be safe, meaning gas lamps placed near palm fronds or something of that nature is a no-no.

-        You as a host, or someone who represents you should be available at all times for the guests needs within a 24 hour time period which starts the moment your guest comes to check in.

-        Finally, and most important of all, your space should have all the legal issues properly taken care of. This would be further discussed in our other articles.

The Same Responsibilities as Hotels and Travel Lodgings

So there you have it. What is a good host really? If you can simply answer that fully and with enough common sense, common decency, and really, a dose of empathy, you probably wouldn’t even need this list to check on whether you are being a responsible host for Airbnb.

BnB News

The First Airbnb Video Commercial for TV

16 Sep , 2013  

Airbnb Video Commercial

The Airbnb video commercial project planners has just recently released their commercial ad for television. For people who are used to the usual TV commercial with the hired impeccably dressed actor explaining to you why you should buy into the brand, this commercial will be utterly unfamiliar. Before you get into the video, it would be useful to explain just how the video was created.

The video is a crowd sourced video compilation. Some time ago, Airbnb tapped Vine’s six second movie app and announced that it would be creating the first Vine film using footage people will send to them. They then sent out very curious tweeted instructions to people from all over the world. Tweets like “take a shot of a paper plane flying through a grassy field”. You get the picture. They then collated all the films, handpicked, and edited the whole thing. The result is the following, gorgeously artful 4 minute film that is a step ahead of the garden variety, boring TV commercials we are so used to seeing.

Airbnb Video Commercial

So there you have it. The film, we think is really very effective and it would also be useful for us to understand why.

Why The New Airbnb Travel Film Is So Effective

The medium is the message. This must already be apparent most people who have seen the video. What better way to send your message about how the spirit of the sharing community and travelling than to have crowd sourced film created from home made videos by people from all over the world. That is probably one of the most powerful aspects of the film. The fact that people from continents and oceans away have sent these bits and pieces to create a whole that has a message about the sharing community, makes a very important statement and also evokes the kind of sentiment, the Airbnb brand has been going for, differentiating it against all other brands.

Short Films – Why Vines are The Thing

The video takes you to a journey as well. Starting from the office (as Airbnb wants to appeal to people who are sick of the humdrum office life), a piece of paper is then sent flying off and sees the open fields. Eventually even falling in love with an envelope and eventually being dumped into a trashcan and then recycled. It is all cleverly played out along with beautiful yet simple music accompaniment that is a sure fire way to tug at lonely heartstrings of those who long to travel and who long to find that kind of fulfillment only travelling gives a person.

The film then ends with the plane paper being an inspiration for other office paper to take flight and travel. And this cleverly summarizes what Airbnb is all about. The ending is both a great completing statement. Yet the ending does not feel that closed off since it starts of another wave of travel (something which Airbnb, of course, wants people to keep doing.) Kudos to the Airbnb Video Commercial for creating a clever ad that does not look at all like an ad, but in the end, delivers all the right marketing statements that the brand really aims to wear.

Promotion

How Do I Promote My Rental?

13 Sep , 2013  

How to promote a rental

How To Promote A Rental

So you want to know how to promote a rental? Are you having trouble getting bookings or are you looking for other ideas on how to promote your vacation home? Read on through this list of ways to help you do just that. We’ll also briefly discuss each method for you.

Vacation Property Owners and Paid Websites for Rental Listing

This is the obvious choice for many vacation rental owners. And it will also be very effective since many hosts get around more than half of their bookings through paid listing sources such as VRBO and HomeAway.com. It’s a relatively easy method but it will cost you money. Of course, you will get what you paid for in return so its money well spent.

Free Listings and Classifieds For Vacation Rental People

You don’t have to use print media classifieds, you can always use free sites like Craigslist or Backpage. These usually get mixed results and you will have to deal with all the spam. The best way to use Craigslist is to funnel it to your Facebook page or website. There are also many up and coming rental listing sites that will let you put in your listing for free since they are still building their database. They are not usually very effective but of course they are free to use.

Set Up Your Own Website
This question has probably popped up in your head before. The question is: will it be worth putting in the time and money to have your own website built for your rental? A lot of rental owners overlook this method because it seems too difficult and expensive. However, there are more affordable methods to have a website built for your property at more or less 9 dollars a year for the domain name. If you have a really profitable vacation rental or if you have more than one, then this might be a very good choice for you. Having your own website lends a professional feel to your business and this will translate to more bookings.

Get A Facebook Account

If you don’t plan on getting your own website, then this option is the next best thing. In fact, if you put in a lot of effort into maintaining your Facebook page, it might even be more effective than your website. Facebook lets people who your fans are and if they have nice posts on your page, then this will be very attractive to potential guests. Of course if you get bad comments, you will also have to manage them manually. Remember that having a profile page is different from a creating a separate fan page. What’s more important is to create a fan page for your rental. This will also let you take advantage of Facebook’s paid advertising alternatives if you so choose.

Advertising Your Listing: Business Cards

Having a business card is something that people also overlook in this day and age of virtual information. But if you meet possible guests frequently, giving them your card will be a powerful tool. You can also list your website or facebook page here so that they will have a second chance to look you up and convert.

Using Airbnb

We are a big fan of Airbnb. They have a community of listings and profiles where you can read reviews on both guests and hosts alike. Airbnb also handles the payment of guests, making the transaction both easier and safer. It’s free to list but it’s not exactly a free listing site since Airbnb will charge your guest a small percentage from the total payment. If your already on Airbnb and need help getting your rental or room promoted, check out our article on how to be more visible on Airbnb.

 

Good luck with your marketing techniques. Remember, these are just some of the ways on how to promote a rental and there are lots of others to discover.