Up Your Game To Be An Airbnb Pro

Up Your Game To Be An Airbnb Pro

Listing your home on Airbnb in this day in age is easier than ever.  With forum after forum, and other hosts likely struggling/thriving in the same areas as you, there is no lack of support from the internet.   

Travelers have every home they could ever rent at their fingertips, so you have to be sure and list your home in a way that gets you noticed, and in a way you can still cover your costs.

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what to do and more importantly about what not to do when it comes to listing your home on Airbnb.   Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway are extremely intuitive and straightforward. They hold your hand as you walk through the steps, but keep in mind these sights are very “guest-centric” so if you under-list your home they often won’t recommend raising your rates (as one example…)


It’s key that you have professional-level photos of your home because image is everything!  You could own the most beautiful vacation rental on Planet Earth, but without captivating photographs that display such beauty, you might as well own a cave…

Not only is it important for your photos to be high quality, but they need to accurately represent how the home looks and what it includes.  Guests will treat photographs like legal contracts, and they should! So be sure to update your photography as often as necessary.

Accurate and Honest Fees

There’s nothing worse than hidden fees…and Airbnb and Homeaway take pride in protecting their guests from such.  To avoid stirring the pot, be honest and upfront with your guests about any and all fees they might have to pay. It’s better to spell out the details in the beginning, rather than fighting a battle after the fact.

*Another helpful tip:  Ensure all of your fees are active before actually listing your home.  For example, if you forget to set the amount for a damage deposit, or neglect to include any kind of cleaning fee whatsoever, and go ahead and click “publish”…don’t expect to circle-back and charge guests a damage deposit and/or cleaning fee after they’ve booked.  

*Also, be sure to list all amenities accurately, as guests have the right to complain about listed amenities that are not actually included in the home.  If you’re planning on adding additional items to the home, but haven’t yet, make sure your listing reflects the current status.

Clear Communication

There is certainly such-a-thing as over-communication but when people have paid a lot of money to travel to a stranger’s home…it’s safe to say folks would rather have their inboxes slightly over-loaded than completely empty. When your guests book, be clear and set the expectation for how often they will be communicated with prior to arrival.

For example:

Thanks for booking!  I’ll send more details about arrival, and entry as we get closer, but generally, you expect to receive a series of 3 emails/texts from me.

1) Booking Confirmed – within the next day or so
2) Arrival Instructions – 1 week before your trip
3) Entry Codes – 1 day before your trip (email and text)

Feel free to send any questions you have my way.

Guests will typically expect a response to both booking inquiries, and for general questions within 10-15 minutes.  Airbnb requires a response within 1 hour to maintain a positive response rate.  For example, most travelers will put the feelers out on multiple properties in a given area, and more often than not they end up booking the home with the speediest reply.  You can beat out other Airbnb users by simply answering the inquiry faster than others.

If you employ a property management company like Book By Owner, the guest communication piece is completely handled, and when your travelers have questions our team is on-call 24/7, 365 to answer their questions.

Practices like this, in terms of communication, will greatly impact your reputation as a host, and will also offer peace-of-mind and comfort for your guests.

We can’t reiterate enough, just how user-friendly sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have become.  Don’t be intimidated, but at the same time don’t be afraid to seek help! These travel-site giants have hundreds of people working day and night to make your travel experience is the best it can possibly be, and they’re committed to both travelers and homeowners.

When in doubt, reach out the massive community of folks already hosting; odds are, someone has already encountered the same issue you’re coming across, and it’s likely someone has already figured it out.  On the off-chance, you’re the one to come up with a solution, help your fellow hosts and post the answer!

There are plenty of pro’s that can come into play here if you’re overwhelmed.  A very special shout-out to our #1 booking partner in all the land: Evolve Vacation Rental Network!  These folks increase the number of bookings, utilize professional photography, and recommend competitive market rates (in addition to hours of start-up support) for a mere 10% fee.  It’s a no-brainer!

These are just a couple of examples of what we specialize in at Book By Owner. Let us help you achieve ultimate success in your vacation rental endeavors.

Call now! (970) 305-3166 or email info@bookbyowner.com


Interested in a Vacation Business Franchise

Book by Owner offers local franchises where you get to live in a beautiful destination city like Aspen and enjoy a great lifestyle business. Benefit from the proven tools and processes of the Book by Owner system, and add a personal touch to make your BBO franchise all your own. You serve the local rental property owners while enjoying the corporate support that helps ensure your success.

For franchising information and answers to many popular questions about the Book by Owner business opportunity, including possible locations and financing options, visit our franchising page or call (970) 305-3166. We would be glad to arrange a consultation at your earliest convenience.

Smart Home Technology: Worth the Investment?

Smart home technology is convenient and undeniably cool – but is it worth the investment?

While for some, futuristic homes conjure images of George Jetson, for others integrating smart technology into the home just makes sense in light of current trends.

For owners of rental and/or resort properties, smart home technology offers some unique benefits. By and large, most property owners live an inconvenient distance away from their property location. Therefore, the ability to maintain hands-on control of access and other features make smart technology extremely attractive.  

Pros and Cons of Smart Home Technology

Home automation and smart technology contribute mightily to a home’s convenience, security, and comfort. Here are some positive and negative aspects of home automation and smart technology:


  • Save Money – Smart homes on average are 30% cheaper to operate than conventional homes. This is realized savings due to better water, temperature, and lighting management.
  • Easy to Use – Smart technology is designed with the end-user in mind. Systems are simple to understand and use. No special training or manuals are required.
  • Convenience – Self-managing appliances, automated lighting, and integrated sound help make life easy. Time saved from small things adds up and allows more time for more valuable pursuits or added relaxation.
  • Security – Door sensors can immediately inform you if a door is opened while no one is home. Keyless entry systems allow for greater security when properties are placed with vacation rental management companies. Some systems can alert you to visitors at the door and you can even speak with them remotely.


  • Expense – Smart technology is more expensive than conventional options, from replacement parts to installation costs.
  • Reliability – Electronic signals can sometimes confuse your smart home systems. Hardwired systems are more reliable, but they are very costly.
  • Online vulnerability –  Smart home technology is vulnerable to cyber attacks. Systems can be hacked, passwords stolen, and control lost.

What are the Costs of Smart Home Technology?

Most home automation experts estimate the cost of smart home technology to fall between 1-5% of the total price of the home. Obviously, systems can cost substantially more or quite less, depending on the options chosen. No two smart homes are alike. Different property owners have different needs and preferences.

While most homeowners and property owners can install plug-in systems, professional installations, as in the case of hard-wired systems, average $85 per hour. Hard-wired systems are more difficult to hack and are more reliable, but require a battery backup.Wireless systems are cheaper and easy to install, but if you lose network service, access is lost.

Here are some common costs associated with smart technology installation:

  • Lighting or door lock controls – $40-$500
  • Wireless network systems – $300-$500
  • Cloud automation – $150-$300
  • Monthly service fees – $35-$75 per month
  • Activation fees – $200-$500 (including equipment)
  • Hard-wired installation – $3000-$15,000 (depending on equipment)

Smart Home Technology and Property Management

For resort property owners, protecting your rental property with smart technology can be a wise investment. Existing properties can be upgraded with smart technology to add security and added amenities while new properties can feature smart systems integrated throughout. As with any investment, the benefits must be considered in light of the cost.  

Here are some suggested areas of focus to benefit rental properties:

  1. Smart Lighting – This is a more easily installed option, even on older properties, and provides added security and energy savings. Settings can be controlled wirelessly or by motion sensor, or a combination of both. Estimated cost: $50-$300.
  2. Smart Thermostats – Increase energy savings and comfort by keeping temperatures at an optimal, reasonable temperature, both when the property is occupied or unoccupied. Estimated cost: $50-$250.
  3. Smart Security Systems –  These systems can include everything from security cameras that can be viewed remotely to automated lighting, automated secure entry, and alarms. Some property management companies require a keyless entry system for each property they manage. It is seen as one of the biggest returns on investment based on your time and money. Estimated cost: $200-$600.
  4. Smart Tech – Smart TVs and integrated sound may not save money but the added amenities can help earn some. Also, smart appliances can save on water and electricity as well as adjust power levels to usage patterns or owner programming. Estimated cost: $500-$5000 (depending on appliance choices).