Are you afraid if you invest in an Airbnb no one will ever see or book your listing? Do you wonder how to select the right property? Are you worried about how to compete with the Airbnbs already succeeding in your market?
If so, you need to listen to Episode 2 of the Host Coach Airbnb Podcast where we share how to look for macro amenities in potential investments, the key concepts of designing with guests in mind, how design/decor can be used to increase guest engagement and bookings, and an often-overlooked $300 investment that is essential for your listing’s success on the Airbnb platform.
After listening to this episode you will be confident making purchase and decorating decisions, that lead to getting more bookings, charging higher rates, and increasing occupancy year-round!
Tune in to learn exactly how to select and decorate an Airbnb to get the most attention, money, and bookings from your guests
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Desirable property macro amenities
- What NOT to do when decorating your space
- How to make your listing POP (room by room)
- Simple design decisions that make a cohesive and desirable Airbnb experience
- Micro amenities to add to your listing to increase bookings and 5-star reviews
- The often-overlooked investment that is essential for your listing to succeed on the Airbnb platform
Host Coach Show Episode 3 Show Notes:
How do you pick the right Airbnb property? Are you worried about how to compete with the Airbnbs already succeeding in that market? Transforming a full-time residence or an outdated getaway place into an Airbnb guests are excited to stay in, can be incredibly overwhelming. In today's episode, we'll dive into how to select your ideal Airbnb property, along with the concept of designing with guests in mind and how that really helps you grab attention, stand out from the competition, and ensure a fully booked calendar.
So instead of stressing about listings and decor, you'll be confident making purchases and decorating decisions. These decisions lead to getting more bookings, charging higher rates, and increasing occupancy year round.
So let's do this. Last week we talked about the first pillar of Airbnb investing success: find your where. Now that you know where to look for an Airbnb property, how do you pick the right one to purchase?
Since we have a market picked out, the next thing is to really start thinking about the individual properties in that market. So for example, if you're in , a mountain environment, we obviously want the property to look like a cabin, right? So in our market it is cabin properties, and so I'm not going to explore an investment in, say, a townhouse or a colonial, right? So as you've got that market picked out and you're starting to look online for properties and starting to go see properties, let's pick a property that fits the amenities in that market. A beach house should look like a beach house, and a mountain house should look like a mountain house.
So the exterior of the property, is hard to change. We're gonna talk about making it stand out in terms of a design on the interior. The exterior amenity is fixed for the most part, once the property is purchased, we look for properties that have unbuildable amenities, right?
So if it's got a great view of the ocean or a great view over mountains, that's something that you can't build. We like say, you can't build a view. It's good to consider the properties in the vicinity of your property. Are they all on top of each other or is it a nice neighborhood?
We've looked at properties before where the property's been beautiful, but the neighborhood's been a little sketchy. And so those are things to avoid as well.
Guests want what they don't have at home. So they're looking for something unique and interesting, that just stands out.
Another thing to look at as you're looking at potential listings to purchase. Does it already have a deck? Does it have a screen porch? Those are things that may seem like most people have them. If you're an urban dweller, you don't. And so finding a listing even if you need to fix up the deck or the screen porch, that's an instant amenity that you can leverage into guests desiring to be there.
From the big picture of the property itself, we can then start to move into micro amenities. What can be added to the property easily? Can we add a hot tub? Can we add a hanging basket chair? How can we create visual interest and guest experience inside the home through micro amenities? Things like a fire pit in the backyard, easy to do. If you've got a boring backyard, you can inexpensively pick up a $30 metal fire ring and some chairs and stage a fire in the backyard.
Let's also talk about what not to put in or what to remove from a property. A lot of times getaway homes are sold with furnishings and decor.
What we want to avoid is overly stuffing the property. We want to remove clut clutter, we want to remove the hodge podgery. We want matching dishes. We don't want all the leftovers from Grandma's Lake house. If there's a sign in every room telling you what that room is, that's Culin's pet peeve, kitchen, laundry, bathroom - we all know what those things are. And actually, the best thing about uncluttering is that's one of the boxes that guests can check off on their review that a place was uncluttered.
Looking at your pictures, when you list your property on Airbnb, people are buying the dream. How they feel in that space when they see a completely clean, uncluttered living room. No one's real living room looks like that, but they get to spend a weekend or a couple days in this completely clear space. So that's what we're looking for. What we don't want to do is keep all of the, let's just call it "junk" that someone has left in their house. We'll talk a little bit later about what's to keep, what to throw away, but just clear out as much of the space as you can.
What to do is our second pillar of Airbnb investing success, which is make your listing pop. This means creating a beautiful, comfortable space that guests will enjoy without breaking the bank. What I like to do is big picture to small picture, look at the outside.
A little bit of paint can go a very long way. If it's a cabin with just all wood, but the door is painted brown. Paint that door an interesting color. I have something I call the yellow door effect, where we had had a cabin for a number of years and it was ready for a spruce up and I decided that we should paint it dark blue with a bright yellow door and Culin was a little concerned. But, I was like, it's a door. If you don't like the yellow, we can paint it a different color. It's just the door, not the whole house. And what happened was when the pictures were taken, the first thing you see is this cute little cabin nestled in the woods and bang - a yellow door!
So when a couple is at home or one of them's been at work looking at listings, they can be like, Hey, I wanna show you this one. With the yellow door. It grabs attention, and it's easy for people to recall and come back to. So from terms of cost, painting, a door is a very inexpensive way to make your listing pop.
You can take risks that you might not take in your own house because you don't have to live with them. Exactly. So you don't have that judgment of your friends and family coming over and being like, oh, this is your house. Most likely you will never meet your guests. So you can be brave. You can get outside of your personal design box and . Disclosure. I am not a professional designer. My bachelor's is in Biology, which I think is pretty much as far from interior design as humanly possible. But, through building our portfolio and helping our coaching clients, I've been able to really embrace this, make it pop sensation.
So on the outside we've picked a place. It's in a good location. It's got those unbuildable views. We've spruced up and we've experimented with the exterior paint colors moving inside. How would you recommend kind of going room by room and making decisions?
So what I do is I go room by room and look at what has to go and get rid of it first. First, what goes? Just get rid of it, donate it, do whatever you can, just so you can see more of the space. And then room by room. What can I keep, what can I repurpose? The easiest way for me to design a house mentally is to pick a color palette of neutral colors and one accent color.
And the great thing is you don't have to run around with paint chips and try to reinvent the wheel. There are designers that are paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to create color combinations that work well together. Those are in those nice little booklets at wherever you're buying paints. If I go to Home Depot, I can pick up a swatch and it's going to show me three or four colors that all go together.
It's not like one of the long strips. There's a booklet that will show you different rooms in a house and a whole palette of colors. So pick two. Neutral colors. I tend to go towards grays and then one accent color, because again, we're trying to make it pop. Do not paint the entire inside of your house electric blue! One wall could be great.
If you end up with a house that's all wood inside, that's when you use couches to make it pop. I'm known for the signature bright blue or more recently emerald green velvet couches because that's something people don't have in their homes. It's visually interesting and it jumps off the page when you're looking at different listings.
Starting with bedrooms, if you can fit a king bed in. Fit a king bed in. That is an amenity that guests are looking for. Culin and I are not big people, so we had no idea about the draw in our first couple cabins. And then, as we were talking with clients, as we were looking on the Airbnb and learning king beds are a huge amenities. So if you can fit it, even if you have to put tiny little nightstand or only one nightstand, put a king bed in one room.
In your other room to maximize occupancy. We do high-end bunk beds with a queen on the bottom and a full or. Twin on the top and in this room we style it out. So it could be, not necessarily a kid's room, but a kid or teen friendly room. So adults could sleep in there and there's not baby bears everywhere that are off-putting. But, it's a space that if you do have children, they would be excited to stay there.
Adding little micro amenities that our guests experiences that bring joy. Putting a teepee in the corner of a room makes it whimsical. If you're an adult, it's cute. If you're a child, it's what you do the entire time you stay there, and if you're a parent, your child has something to play with and you're incredibly excited and you have a better stay. The other thing that we like to do in that second bedroom, particularly post-Covid, is put some sort of dedicated workspace.
Often we'll use a standing wall desk and dedicate a little light to it and dedicate an office chair to it. That way if someone on the trip needs to, you know, do work quietly or take a phone call, they can do it in that space behind a closed door.
Moving on to the bathroom. If it's dated, swap out your vanity. It's an inexpensive upgrade. If your bathroom isn't great, but you don't have the budget to renovate it, don't do it. Just be honest with your photos. Have the shower curtain open if your shower tiles are turquoise or just not as, as new and fresh as you would like guests will rent imperfect properties all the time, as long as they know what they're getting and it's priced accordingly.
Looking at your space, you've picked two neutral colors, one accent color. I like to pick one metal, whether it's silver, whether it's black, whether it's gold, whatever your thing is. One metal pulls through on your faucets, on your cabinet handles, on the legs of tables. I'm known for spray painting anything that doesn't match, so if I find the perfect end table at Home Goods that doesn't match my metal...it's fine! I just spray paint it black or spray paint it silver depending on what I'm doing.
So having the visual of one kind of wood being pulled through one kind of metal and a set color palette that also comes into your couches, your bedspreads, your accent furniture, and even your artwork, that streamline of color connects all your rooms and makes your place feel like a miniature boutique hotel, which is sort of how we view our properties.
That's what guests are looking for. None of our homes are perfect. Not everyone had the idea or money to have a perfectly curated set of metals when they first started out in their apartment. So by adding these really basic structures, it helps you find things that will automatically match and create a more interesting visual within your home.
Kitchens: If you can't afford to redo the cabinets, don't. I don't think we've actually ever redone the cabinets at any of our places. Oh, once. This place had a washing machine in the kitchen with a little cabinet shelf built over it for the toaster, which was just waiting for someone to electrocute themselves.
And you know what? We rented it that way until we were able to redo it. So again, people will rent imperfect things. I do tend to paint cabinets if they aren't wood and they don't go with your schema. Don't tear them out. It's actually my Aunt Lori's systematic steps to creating beautiful painted cabinets that last. I change the handles and it immediately gives the kitchen a facelift.
So a little bit of segue there. The kitchen gets me thinking about all the things that need to go into the kitchen, right? So we haven't talked about the budget. You know, we're outfitting an entire house here, right? Unlike a long-term rental. You know, we're, we're just painting and leaving the basics. In a short-term rental, we are needing to invest in couches, beds, linens, silverware, kitchen items, and, and that's a cost.
So as you're evaluating the profitability of this property you really need to budget in. And it depends a lot on the actual property. Sometimes the properties are very turnkey and you just need to put some couches in there. And sometimes there's a renovation budget to be had. That tends to run for us in the $10,000 to $20,000 per property range.
So just keep that in mind in, your analysis numbers. And if that number's scary to you either buy a place that's less expensive so you have that room to wiggle, or you can customer fund until you're done. And that goes back to this whole people will rent imperfect properties. We had our initial Airbnb and then Culin was looking at another one.
And through weird twist of fate, we ended up getting three at the same time. And we did not have the budget to outfit all three. And so we went in and did what we could. Painted walls, neutral colors, added accent colored furniture, kept the floors. In one of the cabins, there was three different kinds of flooring, and it was what it was.
Let your rental generate the income to pay for that renovation. And Culin's really careful about how long renovations take. He wants to make sure that we don't take more than a week off the booking calendar, because when you're not renting, you're not cash flowing.
Let's talk about some of our ideas around designing on a budget. Buying art on Etsy, using Facebook marketplace for a few pieces. Ikea for a few pieces. You don't have to go out and buy everything from Crate & Barrel. We had a client that was looking at art and they were looking like a couple hundred dollars for each of these pictures. Thousands of dollars for art. So my big hack for large pieces of art, which is great when you have a big blank wall, do not clutter it up with 16 little things, either one big mirror or one large piece of art.
I shop for Airbnb art on Etsy. And I particularly like modern watercolors. You can choose whatever you like in your color palette, and I look for downloadable prints. They typically ranged from $2 to $15. I then have them printed wide format to poster size at Staples, and put it in a frame that I get at either AC Moore or any kind of craft store.
Again, if I don't like the color, I spray paint the frame, and there you have it. For under $40 you have wide-format art that's customized to your colors and people are forever commenting on it in our cabins.
What do you do if you haver zero design skills? One, go to Airbnb in your market or even in other markets, and look at the listings that are doing well. Look at the listings that are on the first page. You'll get design inspiration, right? You'll see the amenities that they have.
We had a client when we told them about fire pits, they added a s'mores station to it. Adding game rooms and gaming devices. Another client went all in on a deluxe coffee cart set up. I'd never thought about doing a coffee cart, but you can get inspiration from other Airbnbs and borrow those ideas and put your own spin on them even if you aren't the kind of person to do a ground up design. The other thing you could do, as a KW agent, is ask somebody in your office, ask a friend, a spouse, a family member or just somebody that you know that has a good design.
Another really easy thing to do to make your listing stand out is to put up show stopper light fixtures. Culin hates to install them because they're usually big and we have to stack cardboard boxes to hold the weight while I hold one piece and he rewires everything!
Well, what do you mean by showstopper Light fixture. A statement piece, not a chandelier, not something tacky, something big and interesting. Typically, I'm doing a lot of black metal right now, so black metal that's open with multiple lights.
Something that you would see in a hotel or a really cool restaurant, and you can find these on Wayfair. You can even find them at Lowe's. Something I do not recommend is having a lot of glass in case there's insects that die, dust, cobwebs, et cetera. Having. Open air showstopper, light fixtures sets your listing apart. It makes it different. It's something people want and it's also something that guests really can't break, so it doesn't get the wear that some of the other things in a house does.
I've noticed that you haven't mentioned your all-time. Favorite amenity. The hanging basket chair is an amenity that we have watched percentage wise change and increase the number of bookings that we get at each of our places. I've got them free on our listserve because it was terrible in Turquoise and shockingly, I spray painted it and it matches all of our cushions in a screened porch. So you can check out Wayfair or walmart.com. Look for hanging basket chairs on Facebook Marketplace.
People want to sit in that chair because it's cool. It's interesting they don't have one. I will caution you about indoor basket chairs unless you have a huge large beam like in a cabin. Do not hang a hanging basket chair into your drywall ceiling , because someone will sit in it and pull it out of the ceiling. And now you have a broken basket chair and a hole in your ceiling.
Here's another design tip that really return on investment. A hot tub in our market, if we can add it to a cabin, adds about a thousand dollars a month compared to a similar property in the same neighborhood. They're a little bit of pain to maintain. They're an upfront investment. But, if you're in that type of market, consider a hot tub.
And we've had good experience recently with indoor saunas. One was a built-in sauna that came with the house and we were, didn't add a hot tub because the sauna filled that need. And we recently added a sauna from Wayfair for, uh, you know, $2,000, $2,500 to a cabin.
They're easy to build and filled that same desire for things you don't have in your regulare home. The desire to relax in the evening in hot in a sauna. And the great thing about saunas is they don't break. They don't get dirty. They don't have to be maintained the way a hot tub does, so they fill the bucket of aspirational. Trust us, we have several, we know.
Another outdoor amenity to add is a hammock. If you have two trees or even put up two posts to hang a hammock, that is a literally a checkbox to click off as an amenity in your listing on Airbnb.
So, wrapping this up a little bit, we've picked this great house. We've taken care of the outside decor, the inside decor. We've created an experience for the guests. Let's not miss the final part, which is we have to capture all of this in photography. Pleaseavoid the temptation to take your own photos.
Professional HDR real estate photography is going to be the biggest return on investment that you can spend. It's a little bit like online dating. If you're online dating, you're not gonna put up a picture of yourself in your pajamas with no makeup on and your hair crazy. You are going to do your best job on your hair and makeup, put on something nice, have nice lighting, and put your best self forward.
Airbnb is like a dating app for finding a place to stay. The real estate photography becomes even more important in short-term rental versus say selling a house, right? When you're selling a house and you're taking professional photographs, those photos are just to get a potential buyer to come visit the house, as opposed to the short-term rental.
The photos are all the visual information that the guest gets in making the purchase decision. So it really has to tell the story from that perspective. And also the HDR photography, it tends to jump off your screen when you're looking at 20 Airbnb listings. That high resolution photography draws you to click on it.
Even if your listing is outside their budget, even if it's not towards their taste, viewers will click on it, which is a benefit to your listing. It's getting more clicks. The algorithm is seeing that it's gaining interest and people are clicking and viewing and spending time on it. So there's a benefit even if they don't book your property to jumping off the page and being clicked on.
And that's what we want. Guests want to see amazing photos leap off the screen. We want them to see your photos and be like, I wanna stay there. I wanna spend the money I've saved to go on our anniversary trip or your birthday, or a proposal. Those are the people that are willing to pay more than the average guest to stay in your listing because it's special. We're not making cookie cutter places, we're making places that are special, that are inviting, that allow guests to have an experience because that's truly what they're looking for. So there you have it. The steps to pinpointing your ideal Airbnb and our second pillar of Airbnb investing success.
Make your listing pop. Look for properties and locations that attract weekend visitors. Then design with your guests in mind. Add amenities they lack in their homes. Use a set color palette. Keep your space uncluttered. Don't be afraid to step outside your design comfort zone and invest in professional HDR photos of your listing.
All of these strategies will help you maximize your listing's, desirability, command, higher nightly rates, and keep your calendar full, which we all know means cash flow. If you wanna be financially free, then learning from the Airbnb experts like us is the easiest way to fast track generating cash flow through Airbnb investing.