Shampoo and Booze Episode 41: An ex-Airbnb Employee Tells Us How to Improve Our Listings

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We recently met Daniel Rusteen in San Francisco. He used to work at Airbnb before he left to start his own business called that helps hosts show up higher in the search ranking and get more bookings.

Though he didn't have any secrets to share, he was able to tell us some smart best practices when it comes to presenting your place on Airbnb. Some of the advice was common sense (or should be), but he also had good insights on what guests (and thus the Airbnb search engine) look for. We especially were paying attention to his thoughts on the three most important sections of your Airbnb listing.

Daniel was a great resource and a super nice guy. We love how smart he is. Check out his regularly updated blog for plenty of free info:

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 40: Running Our Airbnb From The Road

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Every year we take two long trips for about a month each time. We're usually doing some work on these trips, but we also love traveling because it keeps us feeling fresh and motivated when we get back home. When you work for yourself, burnout is the biggest pitfall. Travel is the great burnout antidote.

For the next couple weeks, we'll be in Ireland. Several years ago when we were renovating our farmhouse, we dreamed of having our future Airbnb rental pay for our travel. Fast forward to the present and we can say this actually happening now!

We've rented a car and will be driving around Ireland with really no plan. We're staying in little houses every two or three nights that we find on Airbnb. The money we spend on lodging is being paid for by the people renting our Airbnb back home where we have a friend acting as our manager. We're actually making money because we're staying in smaller, more inexpensive places. It's a dream come true.

While we're on this Irish adventure, we're also busy planning our renovation for the river house. As soon as we get back, the big project begins. Contractors will be hired. Building material will be bought. Money will be spent (and spent and spent). Pressure will build. Stress will happen. So any planning, schedules, and cost predictions we do now will at least give us the illusion that we're on top of this big project. We just keep reminding ourselves that all the time and investment will be worth it when we get this second place rented and making money.

Our October rental schedule is almost full booked as people come to our area to enjoy the cool weather and watch the leaves turn. But winter is coming so we know slow times are coming. Hope things are good with you.

Here are link we discussed on the podcast:
  • Airbnb has a simple tool to give you an idea of how much your place is worth if you rented it. We find it to be showing you top market value.
  • Airbnb announced their anti-discrimination policy after there was evidence that some hosts were racial profiling.

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze VIDEO: Driveway Celebration at The River House

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After many months of construction and lots of crazy weather delays, the driveway is done. It feels glorious and triumphant to be able to drive up directly to the house, rather than climb 40 stairs to get there. We are so excited, we had to make a video to show it off!

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 39: Airbnb Seasonal Cycles

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As summer comes to a close, we're going to miss our back-to-back bookings. We'll do well in the Fall as people come to hike in the cool weather and enjoy the changing leaves. Winter will be slow except for the holidays and occasional weekend. Spring will open back up with people wanting to get into nature after the long cold. Then it's back to Summer again. It's important we get to know the patterns.

We had a huge week as our driveway to the River House was completed. It felt like it would never get finished...until it was. We've put in our building application to do the house renovations which is becoming more and more ambitious. That's the next big job. Our goal is to finish by the Spring so we can get it rented, but we also know that it's going to take the time it's going to take, so timelines can and will get amended.

Hope your rentals are going well!

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 38: How We Learn To Be Good Airbnb Hosts By Being Guests

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We're going to Ireland next month where we will be staying for about three weeks. Our plan is to rent a car and stay with Airbnb hosts around the country. We've already rented our first stay in Dublin.

We rented places on Airbnb long before we were hosts. It's a great experience to go through the process of choosing a place, seeing the reality of the listing and the host's hospitality. Both good and bad experiences have taught us how to run our own rental.

If you are an Airbnb host in Ireland. Email us! We'd love to check out your place and learn about your area.

We have a almost full booked August with 27 of 31 nights booked. And our Fall is starting to get filled up too.  This is the link we mentioned about the study that shows that 30% of Airbnb listings in London are run by "professional landlords". This is the same argument in urban areas around the world. Hope you guys are having a good month!

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

P.S. Check out some of our driveway progress--

Shampoo and Booze Episode 37: Buying a Vacation Home for Personal Use AND Extra Income

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Rhobin and Billy live/work in Manhattan and wanted to buy a vacation spot in the Hudson Valley since it's an easy trip upstate for fun weekends. But why not also rent the house out on Airbnb when they can't enjoy the place themselves? Sounds easy, right?

In this conversation, Rhobin walks us through their process of buying a house that they loved, but that would also work well as a rental for guests. How do you design a space for your own life, but practical enough to fit any guests needs? Luckily Rhobin is a professional interior designer, so he was able to turn a tired suburban home into a fun, stylish get away.

Since they had never rented on Airbnb before, Rhobin also shares their learning curve remodeling, finding local help, and figuring out how they would rent when they live two hours away. Making local relationships was really key. They just got their first reservation this week! Hopefully we can revisit with Rhobin in six months and see how it all turned out.

You can checkout their photos for their rental called Bluestone Escape on Airbnb and Instagram. Also, we posted a few below (so swanky!).

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 36: We Hired A Cleaner!

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After listening to everyone's advice, we finally found a reliable cleaner. We interviewed three people with the third one being the one we went with. After cleaning the house together one time, she's now cleaned the house three times herself in the past week. She charges $75 a cleaning. It takes her about two hours to clean with an assistant. We couldn't be more pleased. It's given us more time to work on our other business.

Why do we like her?
  • She gave us a price when we asked. Strangely, the other two people we interviewed kept asking how much we would pay. After we gave each a tour of the house, we just said to call us and let us know how much they wanted. Never heard back either of them. 
  • Cleaning is her business and she acts like a professional. 
  • She listens and is willing to learn. We assume she already knew how to clean, but it's important to us that she learns how we like the house to look. Arrangement is important to us. 
  • She communicates by text message. This is probably the biggest plus for us. Instead of having to talk on the phone and leave each other voicemails, we just use SMS. It's quick and easy. We're hoping to move her over to What's App since it's free (no SMS fees).
We noticed that Airbnb rolled out "Smart Pricing". I guess this is how hotels price their rooms by dynamically changes the prices day to day based on certain criteria. Has anyone used it? Do you like it?

We want to thank a listener, April, for pointing us to "Transaction History" . I had seen this link before on our Airbnb dashboard, but didn't know we could dig so deep into our past rental history, costs, and profits. Certainly useful when doing taxes.

Michael sent us this funny listing for a rental that promotes the fact it's right above a Pokestop. I guess this could be a big draw to someone playing Pokemon Go? Anything to get ahead!

July has been our best month ever with 27 nights booked and a gross profit of $5,747. It's not like this every month for us, but it's great to see our busy months be especially busy. August is almost equally as booked.

Hope you guys are doing well!

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 35: How To Get Good Reviews on Airbnb

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We all know that getting good reviews is important. And to get good reviews, you ultimately must provide a quality experience. Easy, right? Let's dig in a little deeper.

Good reviews are broken up into two parts. The star rating and the actual text a guest writes.
The star ranking is obviously important for Airbnb search ranking. Low stars will get you pushed down. Many guests will be suspect if your place is anything other than five stars. Airbnb judges whether you're a "Super Host" based on your stars.

But even if a listing is all five stars, often guests write valuable notes about the properties. We always read the notes. They'll tell future guests if expectations they had weren't met. Maybe the listing said it was secluded, but it turned out to be a guest house with the owner in full view the entire time. Maybe a guest says it's impossible to cook a full meal because the kitchen had very few utensils. Maybe the water has bad pressure and didn't get hot enough. Maybe the apartment is too far away from important landmarks when the listing said it was convenient. Or, most important to us, the wifi was spotty and unreliable. Once these reviews are written, they start branding your listing.

How do we make sure we get good reviews?
  • We set proper expectations. We'd rather alert a future guest to a possible issue so they aren't disappointed. The road to our house is a dusty gravel road. It's never been a problem because guests always expect it. We, ourselves, have rented bare bones apartments at great prices; and it was fine because the owner made sure we knew we weren't going to stay in luxury. Expectations were set properly.
  • It's always strange to us when owners cease communication as soon as we check out. When our guests leave and we inspect our rental, we always send the guest a message the same day. We thank them for coming and for leaving the place clean. Even if the house is a bit messy, we thank them. Why get angry unless we plan to take their deposit? This private message also gives them the opportunity to tell us if there was a problem. We want to work out issues privately instead of reading about it publicly in their review and then having to respond publicly.
  • And most importantly, we always telegraph that we'll leave them a good review. So when the guest gets that note from Airbnb that says "Jay and Ryanne left you a review; please write them a review within 14 days to read it", then the guest knows we're friends.
We're by no means experts, but this method has served us well over the past eighteen months. All 68 of our reviews have been five stars. We deliver what we promise and treat guests with respect. Hospitality is definitely a different beast than just being a landlord.

Hope you guys are having a good summer with rentals. 

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 34: How Hotels are Changing to Compete with Airbnb

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As more and more of us are renting out rooms, cabins and homes on Airbnb and other services, smart hotels are adapting. In our town, the big fancy hotel has expanded to add a bunch of "cottages" to give their guests a more personal experience. They still have the regular hotel experience, but now you can rent a little place by the pool like you're at a resort. Younger travelers especially want this kind of experience that includes a little kitchen and living room. I know we do.

We're having a great July. Lots of reservations and good experiences with guests. Summer is our high time so we're trying to book as many of our free days as possible. We're still on the hunt for a reliable cleaner, but in the meantime cleaning is keeping us busy.

The driveway to our second rental is happening. Our excavator has cleared off the entire lot. We now have plenty of firewood for next year after he cut down several trees. Now to start carving out the actual driveway.

Hope you guys are having a good month of rentals.

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

Shampoo and Booze Episode 33: Interview w/ Tricia, Fallbrook CA (and we talk Weddings)

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In the past we have been hesitant to rent little trailers on people's land on Airbnb. But take a look at Tricia's super cute and comfy retro style camper named Trixie. Situated on 4 acres in southern California outside of San Diego, complete with working farm and animals you can hang out with. Tricia and her husband both have full time jobs- she's a professional wedding photographer, and was looking for some supplemental income and eventual more passive retirement career. So far so good, she's been booked with visitors from all over. We also delve into a conversation about potentially making our farmhouse into a small wedding venue, with the help of Tricia's wedding experience of course. Thanks for talking to us, Tricia!

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!