How to Get More Airbnb Bookings This Spring and Summer Break


Wondering how to get more bookings on Airbnb as spring break and summer vacation inch closer? With some expert tips, you’ll be able to bring in more revenue and higher reviews during these peak travel times. From listing optimizations to algorithm-beating description tweaks and amenities that’ll make your short-term rental stand out, using any of these expert tips can help your single short-term rental or short-term rental portfolio see more bookings flow in!

We’ve already got a short-term rental expert on the show, Rob Abasolo. But one isn’t enough. Avery Carl is back to give her time-tested tips on boosting your Airbnb bookings during the spring break and summer vacation seasons. These two full-time vacation rental investors get into how to make more money with last-minute bookings, why you MUST change your pictures before it’s too late, the description tweaks that can lead to a full calendar, and the “low-hanging fruit” amenities that guests LOVE to see!

Plus, since it’s spring break, these experts give their best tips on how to avoid parties at your property and stop your short-term rental from becoming a spring break rager!

David:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 9, 2, 1. What’s going on everyone? This is David Green, your host of the BiggerPockets Real Estate podcast. Joined today by my good buddy, Rob Abba. Rob, have you been noticing the weather changing lately?

Rob:
You never know what you’re going to get in Houston, man. Sometimes it’s 80, sometimes it’s cold. Yesterday was 44 and today it’s like, I don’t know, 70. So I’m just like, I don’t know. Houston, pick one. Stay cold. It’s too hot here. I hate it all. I hate the Houston weather. How about you, David?

David:
It’s been warm. It’s been nice. It hasn’t been raining, which is crazy because California never rains, but this winter it’s been dumping rain on us, but I finally got a little bit of sun yesterday. Do you know what that means? What it means? It’s spring break and summer vacations are right around the corner. And this is the pregame or the get ready time for our short-term rental operators.

Rob:
And today we’re going to be talking about how to optimize your short-term rentals for spring break and summer vacations. We’re going to be bringing on Avery Carl, a beloved author of BiggerPockets who wrote the book on STR to have this discussion. So let’s get into it. Yeah,

David:
The Today Show is awesome. We give maybe more actionable advice than we’ve done on a podcast in years. So this is when you definitely want to listen to twice and take notes on. And if you love it, please go give us a good review. Wherever you listen to your podcast, make sure you listen all the way to the end because Rob has a very unique and individual pronunciation of a very popular Hawaiian destination and you don’t want to miss it. Avery. Carl, welcome back to the BiggerPockets podcast. Let’s get into this thing. Alright, tell me a little bit about what you see coming for peak season in the short-term rental space.

Avery:
So it’s a pretty general question, but what we see to be real about it is we’re going to see a lot of broken toilets, leaks, things that need to be fixed. So you really need to make sure that you have your boots on the ground and you vendors ready to go because you don’t really have time in short-term rental like you do in long-term rental. To fix things, they have to be done pretty immediately because otherwise your guests stay will be ruined. So that would be my general out of the gate advice is have all your vendors ready to go.

David:
That’s really good advice. Actually, Rob, let me ask you a question here. We talked about things heating up in the short-term rental game, but markets are local and cyclical. They don’t all heat up at the same time. What’s your thoughts on when the hot market is for the short-term rental space and if there is one?

Rob:
It kind of depends. I mean it really depends on how you’ve built out your portfolio architecture, right? Because you could have beach houses where May through September you’re on fire, but you’re kind of crickets for the rest of the year. And then you could have places that are ski towns that are on fire during the winter, but very slow for the rest of the year. So it kind of depends because we have some properties where our occupancy is 40%, which most people would look at that and be like, whoa, it’s a failing Airbnb. But that 40% of the year makes up 90% of the revenue. So I would say it probably depends. I’ve got a little bit of everything to where I’m particularly hurting on any season throughout the year. I will say though, with all that said, having a beach house is my least favorite type of short-term rental to have because you are pretty much hurting like nine months out of the year if you don’t save appropriately. Oh,

Avery:
That’s my favorite kind because you get a break in the off season. So I mean here in Florida, south Florida, like Miami area, their high season is in the wintertime, but it’s really, really extremely hot in the summer obviously. But up here in the panhandle, our season is the summer and we’re off in the winter. We’re may through the end of October and I enjoy the nice break on the beach houses that we get. That’s fair. Yeah. But I mean the mountain houses, they keep rolling. Their occupancy rate is higher, but our comparable beach houses do make more money over the course of the year than the mountain ones do.

Rob:
I think it also, this is obviously anecdotal, depends on when you buy the beach property. I tell people, look, you could probably get a pretty decent sale on a beach property in October, November, December, but just know that for six months after that it’s going to be crickets. So be prepared to pay that mortgage until those bookings start to roll in. Yeah,

Avery:
A hundred percent.

David:
Alright, so for today’s show we’re just going to be assuming spring break is the hot season because I think for the majority of markets in the country, that’s probably where things are going to be heating up. People don’t have kids in school. Weather’s starting to get better, they’re more likely to take vacation. So let’s start with that, Avery. Operationally, are there any tips to get more bookings for spring break and summer vacations specifically?

Avery:
Specifically I would say just pricing and revenue management, just general good healthy pricing and revenue management. So making sure that you’re looking at your calendar every week or every day even just to make sure that you generally don’t see, and Rob, you may have a different experience than me. We see people in our beach properties book a little further in advance than our mountain properties. They book those about five weeks ahead of time. So if you’re further than five weeks, I think it’s a little too soon to be messing around with your prices too much. I like to keep the prices a little bit higher for further out dates because people who are booking further out, they probably have a specific reason that they’re booking further out. And then as the time gets closer, drop and then if it’s like tomorrow I’ll raise that rate pretty high because if somebody needs to book tomorrow, again, kind of like the far out dates they need to do it so they’ll be willing to pay more. But in terms of those dates specifically, we like to make sure that our headlines state something about spring break 5, 6, 8 weeks before and make sure that we’re using our headline to utilize all the amenities that we offer, whether we’ve got a private pool or D two B access or Mountain View, things like that.

Rob:
Okay. So you said a couple of things here that definitely they pique my interest and this is actually something that Jamie Lane, SVP at Air DNA said when he was on the show to me and Tony, and it’s that when it’s like last minute you should raise your prices and actually be more expensive. And me and Tony were like, wait, hold on, we were way too scared because it’s a game of chicken, it feels like. It’s like is someone going to actually book at the higher price or do you want to just get someone in and out? So is that typically what you’re doing last second you drive up the price or does it depend on what season we’re actually in?

Avery:
Depends on the season. Just like anything depends on the time of year. Doing that in January at the beach is not going to get you anything,

Rob:
Right? Yeah, totally.

Avery:
If you’re in the middle of the summer end of June and maybe somebody cancels and you have a week next week that’s not booked, I’m shooting those prices up because everybody else is booked at that point. So anybody who wants to plan a last minute trip, they’re going to be willing to pay more. So I know that does sound scary, but I agree

Rob:
It does. Yeah, no, it’s fair. No, no, it’s a good theory too, especially if you have a quality listing and you are pretty comparable to the people around you. The other thing you mentioned that I actually think is a pretty good tip, I don’t want to glaze over this. You mentioned that when we’re starting to approach the spring break season, you kind of change your title to be spring break ish or in your headlines. Do you mean the actual title on Airbnb or VRBO where it says Beautiful chalet, 20 minutes from downtown? Yeah,

Avery:
Open for spring break. Spring break dates available and we kind of rotate our, every Monday we rotate our headlines to tickle that algorithm to, it tends to like when you mess with your listing. So we change those every week.

David:
I’ve noticed in general, the more passive we try to make things, the less algorithms it seems to be. When you change the pictures, you change the copy, you just tweak things a little bit. It sends a message to the way algorithms are designed right now that this is better, it’s being upgraded. And that’s just a good lesson for everybody who’s listening who thinks I’m going to buy real estate and I’m going to throw it up somewhere and I’m never going to work again and I’m just going to be sitting on the beach with my computer at home. No, you’re not going to be working the same, but you’re going to have to do something and that makes sense that you would just tweak it in little ways and get your way back to the top. Is there anything else that you find operators are doing to increase bookings as of late?

Avery:
Amenities always important. And then updating your pictures, so just changing your pictures around getting new ones. If you update any furniture, making sure you get new pictures. In mountain markets especially, I like to make sure we have pictures for each season. So in the fall the leaves are really, really pretty and crazy looking, so we like to rotate that In the summertime it’s really, really green, so we like to rotate that. And then of course if it ever snows, which isn’t often, we like to try and have some snow pictures as well. If we’re coming up on Christmas, which can be a high season in some markets, our beach markets know our mountain markets, yes, we’ll rotate the photos to have Christmas decor in there because a lot of the guests will ask, Hey, are you guys going to have a Christmas tree if we’re spending the holidays? Not everybody celebrates Christmas, but a lot of our guests do ask about

Rob:
That. Seasonal photos are really big for sure, and they’re always the worst photos in someone’s album because they typically take them on their cell phones and they don’t want to hire the photographer to come back out. But every Christmas tree photo I ever see in the Smokies is taken at 10:00 PM when it’s super dark. But I’m like, I think it really does work because the amount of guests that ask if the place is going to be decorated pretty high, and I think that’s really important. And I think that’s probably something just in the Smoky Mountains for example. You could probably start marketing that. What would you say October, November for the Christmas time? Yeah,

Avery:
I’d say October.

Rob:
Cool, cool. Yeah. So high

David:
Level overview. At what point are you mostly changing photos? Is it like several times during the year or are you thinking every month or two?

Avery:
If it’s seasonal photos, I would do it maybe a month or two out. If it’s just general listing maintenance, I might do it. I would check every other week and look at what your bookings look like and if you’re kind of slow, it might be time to change some things around. If not, just let it run.

David:
Rob, do you have a system of you regularly change photos at certain times of the year?

Rob:
I don’t. Well, if I have a seasonal photo, I don’t really have that many seasonal photos in a lot of my places, but when I do, I’ll move them around. But man, I spend so much time scrutinizing my top five on Airbnb that it’s not like I don’t just sit there and pick the order in two minutes. It’s kind of like I do it, I look on my phone, I look on my computer, I send it to friends, I’m like, what do you think? So it’s a really big thing, so it’s very stressful for me to change it out. But I will say from an algorithmic standpoint, there have been many times where I’ve uploaded new photos and immediately saw a boost in revenue. Now you can say the new photos helped me do that, or Airbnb notices whenever you’re going in and actually changing up your listing. So I definitely am an advocate of moving sort of like the back 90% of your photos around. I just spend so much time curating those top five that I don’t typically move those around unless I’ve got better photos to show off the space.

Avery:
And on that note, I would say don’t, especially what I see around here in the beach market is people’s front photo being a picture of the beach. I think that’s a complete waste of advertisement because everybody knows that’s going to book your place or book anywhere at the beach knows they’re booking at the beach, they don’t need to see a picture of the beach, they want to see a picture of your house. So if I’m scrolling, I’m not going to click on a picture of the beach, I know it’s there, I’m going to the

Rob:
Beach. Let me ask you this because I completely agree with that and they’re always like, I don’t know, just cheesy beach photos that are obviously from Google, but my thought is if you can see the beach from your house and there’s a view at your house, you should show that. What do you think about that?

Avery:
Yes, I want to be able to see something in the photo that lets me know that this is the view from the house. Maybe you can see a little bit of the railing in it or what I do like to see if we’re talking about beach photos is an aerial shot, like a drone photo with the house circled or a square of red or a star over the house or something showing you where the house is and a little line that shows you how to get to the beach and shows you that it’s really close. So that I do, but I don’t like just generic beach photos if you’re booking or really anywhere like generic view photos. If it’s not from the porch of the house, I think that’s a waste of the front picture

Rob:
And a little misleading too. I was actually just comping out, what was it? Well, Kiki in Hawaii and every listing showed all these photos of the beach and it’s like, oh man, that’s cool. And then you actually click around and it’s like in the middle of the building, no view, your view is of another building. And I was like, man, I’d be really mad if I booked this place. So yeah, you also want to make sure that you’re actually painting an accurate representation of what your place is.

David:
Do you know who else is going to be really mad? Everybody that lives in Hawaii that heard you say Waikiki instead of why Kiki? Is it possible you’ve gotten your whole life and never heard that word pronounced out loud?

Rob:
Well, first of all that you passed the test because the whole point of that was to see how knowledgeable you are about the area. And David, you’re officially the hero. This is me throwing you a softball in the BiggerPockets podcast, so you’re welcome actually,

David:
I appreciate that. My ego does need the random stroking where I get to come in and I get to mansplain how you’re supposed to say Waikiki. Thank you for that.

Rob:
Okay, so now we know how to pronounce Waikiki and how to get an edge on the algorithm, but what else can you do to maximize bookings? We’ll get into descriptions, amenities and more right after the break. Welcome back investors. We’re here with short-term rental expert, Avery Carl, and she’s breaking down exactly what to do to make the most money on your short-term rentals this vacation season. Let’s get back into it. All right,

David:
Avery, coming back to you. During peak seasons when everything is like there’s so much money to be made, are you adjusting your minimum and maximum stay requirements?

Avery:
Again, super dependent on the market. So in some areas where I own things, you’re looking at like a three to five night stay on average. And then again, back to the beach properties. I hate to make this whole thing about beach properties, but you really see in the high season more of a Saturday to Saturday booking time. So it just depends on the market and you have to adjust your minimum nights stay regardless. So if you, again, back to the tweaking of the listings, if you see that your bookings aren’t rolling in the way they have been and the season suggests that it should be faster than it is, I don’t like to hear people say, oh, it’s January 3rd and I’m not getting any bookings. Why? Well, it’s January 3rd, everybody was just on vacation. But if you’re in season and you’re looking slow, then it can help you to jump back up in the search results. If you lower your minimum nights, stay temporarily to one day, lower your price temporarily super low to jump back up and then you can readjust accordingly. So I think that it really just depends on the market. I don’t like to typically have less than a two night minimum night stay, but again, I’m not going to have that in Destin in the middle of the summer. It’s going to be more like a five night minimum.

Rob:
I’m with that too. And I think this actually applies to most of the markets that are vacation markets. I call them vacation destinations, so beach town, ski towns, mountain towns, all that stuff. But I do get little feel like it’s such a game, it’s a pricing levers game, especially for let’s say beaches or like a ski town where you might be going up in the mountains or whatever, where typically the way I’m setting up my prices is if someone is going to book my place 90 days in advance, typically those people are planners, they’re planning for an entire group of people. They’ve got the sort of the consent or the buy off of the group to go and make that decision and they will pay more for that property because they want to secure the best property. And so if you’re booking my place 90 days in advance, I have a five day minimum, but where it gets really hard in some of these kind of vacation destinations is lowering it to a two or three day minimum. And then if those people book, let’s say Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I always feel like I’m missing out on the people that would’ve booked Monday through Friday or something like that. So I think it really is market dependent, but typically I’m finding I’m not dropping my minimums until usually we’re entering the month of that specific property

Avery:
And around holidays too. So 4th of July, I want to see a higher, I’m not going to let somebody book two nights over the 4th of July because somebody will book that for more. I mean, and that has backfired on me before. If we want to be real, I have raise the price, waited for a longer booking at one of my houses and I ended up staying there myself because nobody happened to book it for 4th of July. So you can screw that up just so you guys know.

Rob:
Totally. It’s one of those things where pricing is perhaps the least automated aspect of any short-term rental. And I’m a big believer that pricing is something you should be jumping in a couple times a week to really deflect or to kind of move things around because you will lose sight of it and then you’ll be like, huh, why did someone book my place a year from now? And then you’re like, dang it, it’s south by Southwest Austin. What was I thinking? So that is something that I think most people drop the ball on, but that would be the tip. If you’re in a really seasonal market, make sure you’re in Price Labs wheelhouse wherever you’re at a couple times a week.

David:
Alright, that was about pictures. Now let’s move into descriptions briefly, each of you, Avery, what are some things that you like to make sure you add in descriptions to help increase bookings and revenue? I

Avery:
Like to see some white space in a description. So what I mean by that is not a full paragraph with no spaces, we call ’em boom booms, really their bullet points. I want to see some bullet points of exactly how far you are from the destinations, whether it’s attractions, the beach, the mountains, national park, whatever that is. I want to see just all the details of the main things that a guest would want to know right there in it. I want to see a very descriptive headline. I think that it’s everybody names their properties. We all do. It makes it easier to, when you have multiple to know which properties you’re talking about when you say like, oh, crazy train instead of 1, 2, 3 main street. So I don’t want to see the name in the headline because you’re wasting good real estate where you can be descriptive. The guest wants to know about amenities and location. They don’t really care about what the cute name of the property is.

David:
That’s a great point. And it’s easy to get caught up in your own head and like, well, we love this property. This is our crazy train, our blood, sweat and tears went into, it’s our baby. So everyone else is going to love it as much as we do. But the guests, like you said, doesn’t care about that at all. They’re just comparing this to all their other options and they’re wondering, what’s the best bang I can get for my buck? Rob, what? Say you. I’m

Rob:
Not a fan. Unless there’s just a true brand behind your property to put the name of your property in the actual description. I think that’s the most precious real estate on your listing. But as far as descriptions, I’m with you, Avery. I really hate paragraphs. I think every paragraph on Airbnb, vrbo, booking.com, whatever you choose, should be two, three sentences max and break it up. And especially in that very first section, it’s like the first general section. You really only have, I want to say 500 characters. That should never be a paragraph. That should only be the bullet points of the 10, 15 best things around your property. And then the next section is what we call about the space section. And that’s where we get into these two to three sentence paragraphs. And really what I’m trying to do is if they could close their eyes and you could read this to ’em, you’re kind of taking ’em through the house so they can imagine what the property is like, what the layout is like, and that’s where I get more descriptive.
But even then, I don’t want a whole book in there. I would rather have a listing be overwritten than underwritten. Oftentimes people are like, Hey, I’m not booking something’s happening with my listing, what’s going on? I pop into their description and see that they have two sentences total. That is the worst thing you can do for your listing. So I definitely think you want to spend some time really crafting the story of your place. And if you’re not a good writer, that’s okay. I actually have used chat GPT to start it out and add some more color to it and everything like that. So I think there are a lot of tools out there and services that can help you fill it out. But definitely try to use bullet points for that introductory section of copy.

Avery:
And another thing that I would add to that, and maybe I’m a little oversensitive to this as David might be too, being real estate agents is getting too crazy with using too many adjectives to try and sound like you’re the best writer in the world. You want it to be good and tell a story. But I mean, I can’t look at listings sometimes because sometimes real estate agents, they will capitalize every single word or do something or have way too many adjectives.

Rob:
Location, location, location, run, don’t walk.

David:
This quaint, charming cottage located in the highly desirable district of whatever, boasts boats of four spacious bedrooms,

Rob:
A nice airy open concept.

David:
So let’s try this. I’d like to get an example of a well-written listing description and a poor one.

Avery:
Oh goodness.

Rob:
So here, let’s just read the best Airbnb description ever. Okay, so it says, welcome to the pink Pickle. Austin’s most iconic girls trip home. Every space has been thoughtfully curated to ensure selfies can be taken, mimosas can be had, and brides can be celebrated. Whether your group is looking to throw a bachelorette party or you’re just wanting to take a girl’s trip to get away from the male population. We’ve got you covered highlights about this home, 15 minutes from downtown, get ready, vanity station, pickleball, court, pool and deck. And then the last bullet point is literally everything is pink unseen.

David:
Alright, how about you? Do you have an example of a listing description you think sounds good that our listeners can hear from?

Avery:
Yeah, so this one is from a mountain property and it kind of goes straight into the bullet points of everything that you would need about the property. So this again, mountain market, so one acre lot so people know they have privacy, high-speed wifi, which is a big consideration in mountain markets. Sometimes the wifi is not good. Three miles to the city center, hot tub view, multi K games, all of these are organized really, really nicely into bullet points. So if I have kids, I can see, oh, cool, multi K games, two king beds super important. Nobody that is more disappointed than me when I show up to queen beds. My husband is six five, I’m five seven, we don’t have room for that. We got to have king. And this property has more views on Airbnb than any other two bedroom in the county. That’s a little establishing a little cred there.
And one other thing that I think is cool about this one is it says, note there is construction in the area, in the neighborhood, which will likely continue for the duration of the summer. So I think it’s really important to make sure that if there are things that a guest could be negatively surprised by that you want to make sure they know that upfront because that will be reflected in your reviews and you want to make sure they have the best time possible. So if you’ve got anything like that, make sure to call it out upfront in the public facing listing.

Rob:
Yeah, that’s pretty good.

David:
All right, Rob, what’s an example of a terrible listing description?

Rob:
I’m going to say terrible, but we talked about the bullet points. This listing description is literally just bullet points. It says kitchen, rice, cooker, microwave, cooking utensils, coffee maker, kettle knives, toaster bedroom, king size bed, brand new ac C entry, door room amenities, fresh linen, brand new Mitsubishi AC mini split hairdryer. That’s it. It’s literally just lists every single possible amenity but doesn’t actually talk about anything. Yeah,

David:
They’ve just described a house as what they did, windows drywall.

Rob:
Yeah, that’s literally what they did. This is an area where you can sleep, but I mean I guess you would know what you’re getting. You wouldn’t be like, does this have this amenity? You could probably just look very quickly. Okay,

David:
Moving on here. Are you guys noticing that guests are expecting different amenities or things than they were in previous years?

Rob:
Yeah, so back in the day, I will say this, I do miss the old days. I was actually just telling someone that I am the least harsh judge of Airbnbs, which I know is probably surprising, but I would say 90% of the Airbnbs I’d stay at are awful. And I don’t ever say, I mean I’ll let the host know in private feedback, but I’m always just like, whatever, it’s cheap, it’s whatever. It fits the purpose. And I actually kind of remember back in the day Airbnb sort of was like that, where it’s like you booked the place and you were meeting the host and it was all friendly. And I feel like over the years we’ve come to have this expectation of being the w very luxury experience and everything like that. So I do feel like nowadays in the Airbnb space, so many people complain about the world of hotels versus Airbnb and how Airbnb is more expensive now. So to really kind of ease the general population, I do think you sort of need to overcompensate with an Airbnb as to not upset people that are mad that Airbnbs are more expensive than hotels when in all actuality they should be. But I feel like there is a higher expectation these days.

David:
Awesome. Avery, what are you noticing? Yeah,

Avery:
I definitely agree with that. Whereas it used to be more of a personal thing, it’s now more of a professionalized. People want to feel like they’re staying in a professionalized business or dealing with a professionalized business and not just like Aunt Betty renting out her beach house when she’s not there and the pictures are terrible and she’s like, oh, don’t open that one cabinet. That’s my liquor cabinet. I did stay in an Airbnb last year where there was a drawer in the refrigerator of all of their condiments that you are not supposed to touch. It just felt really weird. I don’t want to feel like people have been there before even,

Rob:
Hey, this house is yours. Listen me casa sue casa. But one quick thing, if you touch my ketchup, I will end you.

David:
All right, time for one last quick break, but stay with us because Avery’s tips on how short-term rental operators can set themselves apart and avoid damage from parties is coming up right after this.

Rob:
Welcome back everyone. We’re here with short-term rental owner and expert and friend Avery. Carl, let’s pick up where we left off.

David:
What tips do you have for operators who are really trying to set themselves apart? We say things all the time like amenities, but maybe could we be more specific? What are some low hanging fruit than an operator can add in a property that’s an amenity. It used to be the hot tub. Well, do we still get the same ROI in a hot tub or is a hot tub expected and now you got to go a little overboard with something else? What are some pro chips you two can share?

Rob:
Yeah, I think the ROI is still the same. I was actually just talking to Ry right before this, telling her about that tree house deck hot tub situation that I built at my property out in Sevierville Gatlinburg basically. And I think that that property is going to do 15 to $20,000 more in revenue as a result. So I definitely think at the bare minimum you need to, in my opinion, I think you need to at least check the boxes that your surrounding comps are checking if you want to make as much as the right, if you’re down to settle and make a little less, you don’t have to spend $8,000 on a hot tub. But I do think it is one of the lower hanging fruits, although I understand that’s a really expensive amenity that you can just, that’s not really feasible for everybody. But I think going the basics could be welcome baskets, it could be board games, it could be TVs in every room. It could also be, I mean I think the greatest investment you can make in any of your properties is professional photography, and that’s not necessarily amenity related. It just showcases your property the best. I would say those are all pretty low hanging fruit. What do you think, Avery, the

Avery:
Easiest and lowest hanging fruit of all to improve your reviews, which is also something that providing something that people have come to expect is good customer service. I think a lot of people who want to get into short-term rentals, the ones who have experience, if you even just waited tables in college for six months, you are going to have an easier time giving good customer service than somebody who is, no offense to my engineer friends out there who has been an engineer for 20 years. The customer service is really an easy and free thing to do that will really elevate the experience for your guests that will show up in your reviews. And also your guests have been, they’ve saved up all year to go on this vacation. They deserve to have a good time and to get good customer service from you. So I think that’s the easiest one. Yeah,

Rob:
That’s pretty good.

David:
What about something like a mural wall or what Rob often refers to as these Instagramable spaces? Are you guys seeing that that’s gimmicky or is that actually working?

Avery:
It depends on the guests and it depends on the market. So what I’ve seen, I have listed on the real estate sales side, a few properties that have murals and the people who have said, when I’ve asked for feedback, Hey, why aren’t you buying this? And they’re like, well, I just want it to be nice and upscale and the mural is kind of not that. And I’m like, well, you can paint it. So it depends on who you’re targeting as your guests. If you’re targeting, let’s say bachelorette parties like Rob, yes, a hundred percent, absolutely. If you’re targeting here on 30, a lot of times it’s affluent or wanting to be affluent people from the southeast, they don’t want the mural thing. They want it to feel very, very expensive and nice and luxury, which luxury is such a subjective term anyway. I hate to use it, but it just depends on who you’re targeting as your guest. In terms of the mural walls,

Rob:
Yeah, I think there’s a really fine line between cool mural and horrible mural, and I think most murals tend to be more on the bad side than the good side. I was actually just talking to, so I just had a mural painted at one of my properties in College Station and I was talking to the muralist, I was doing it. Her name’s Bella, very, very good. She’s been actually painting a lot of murals for me. And basically what we sort of agreed on was that murals are really cool, but if you’re just throwing a mural in a house and you haven’t really designed the experience or you haven’t really curated kind of like a vibe, if you will, David, my favorite word then a mural’s kind of like, eh, if I threw a mural in my Gatlinburg property, it would be kind of like, okay, there’s a wall with Gatlinburg words on there, I guess, but it doesn’t really add anything to the experience. Whereas if you have an outdoor, a backyard with a pickleball cord and a pool table and a ping pong table and it’s a cowboy tub and it actually is a really photographic photographic space, I can do this, then I think that’s when a mural makes sense. But I just think a lot of people say, oh, I’m going to spend $2,000 on a mural in my living room and I should make more money. And it’s like, it’s kind of cheesy if you don’t go all out most of the time is my thought.

David:
What about the dreaded Airbnb party? Many an aspiring investor has seen their investment tanked due to crazy parties that destroy the property. Angry neighbors. This is the new broken toilet of the short-term rental industry.

Rob:
It’s way worse.

David:
Yeah. What can SST R operators do to protect themselves from the crazy summer vacation or spring break party?

Rob:
How many parties have you had, Avery, have you had bad luck in that world?

Avery:
In nine years of investing in short-term rentals and eight properties, I have never had one single party.

Rob:
Nice. That’s pretty good. I have not had any bad parties. I mean, I’ve had maybe two times that a cleaner has been like, wow, they really roughed it up in here. But nothing like Project X. I think that’s the name of the movie, right? Yeah. I’ve never had any catastrophic parties. I have some pretty scary rules in my property description. They’re ridiculous. They’re like, if you don’t take off your shoes, I charge $10 per stain on my carpet and if you lose my key, I’ll charge you $200. And none of it of which is enforceable. But I do think it tends to scare away that crowd. Why do you think you’ve been so successful or lucky in that world? So

Avery:
We don’t have rules to that extent, but we are very clear on the public facing listing in our first few messages when a guest wants to book that we do not allow parties of any kind. We don’t allow extra people that typically kind of tips it in that direction too of like, Hey, we don’t allow extra people. I mean, if they show up with a couple extra people, who cares? But if you tell ’em that, then they think twice about it and they’re like, oh, you know what? This guy’s paying attention. I don’t really want to go down this road, so I’m just going to book something else. So I think that we do a good job of deterring that by, like you said, scary rules. A

Rob:
Couple other little tips that I do here, it’s kind funny because I am a little overboard, but it has worked for the most part. And it’s funny because people will send a message and they’ll say, Hey, it’s my dad’s birthday and we’re booking this to hang out at your house for his birthday. Is that okay? I know you said no parties. I’m like, yeah, that’s totally fine. I mean more like college parties. But for instant book on Airbnb specifically, people have to have a government issued ID on profile and they have to have a previous recommendation from a short-term rental host. Those are the only ways that you can book my place instantly. And I have found that that’s actually been pretty helpful too. Now, I can’t vet every single guest to that extent, but typically whenever we get some of those non instant book inquiries, we also look at the reviews.
And typically, if it’s not a five star review, it’s like a 4.5 oftentimes. And so I’ll go in and read the reviews and see if they have a 4.5, that means they got a three or a four previously. And I’ll just go and read all the recent reviews and see if any host has used the secret code language. Like Avery was a decent guest. I hadn’t met her and she didn’t leave it the way I had hoped, but I’m sure she’s a nice person. It’s always worded like that from other hosts that I’m like, okay, that’s code for this person partied in my house. I’m not going to let them ever stay at my property again. And so I’ll decline those pretty often.

Avery:
Luke doesn’t use code when he reviews guests. He just says, I do not recommend this guest.

Rob:
Yeah, honestly, I think hosts could be a little bit more probably forward about it, but I also hate when guests do it when they’re unreasonable on the other end. So I try to be diplomatic.

David:
Last question, did either of you have to remove any cameras with the new Airbnb policies in place?

Rob:
Oh no. I had a reel that I released on this topic a couple of days ago, but no. Did you

David:
Really?

Rob:
I did. Did you Avery?

Avery:
Yeah. I had to take all those shower cameras out. That was unfortunate. I know

Rob:
Those were expensive,

David:
Especially the waterproof ones. Yeah.

Avery:
Yeah. I can’t believe that that was something that happened enough times that it had to become a rule. Who does that?

Rob:
I genuinely didn’t think. I didn’t think it was a rule. I had a student that was like, Hey, I’ve got a camera in my hallway, should I let them know? And I’m like, you can’t have that in there. And he’s like, no, no, you can. And I was like, no, you can’t, dude. It’s inside of a house. That’s weird. He’s like, trust me. And he looked it up in front of me and I was like, okay, well take it out. It’s weird. You should never have indoor cameras. And

Avery:
What’s worse is the people who are commenting on social media about why you should be able to have it. So I commented on BiggerPockets Instagram post about it and I was like, man, that’s crazy. I didn’t even know this had to be a thing. And I got so much heat from people who were like, it is their property and they need to protect it, and that is why they need cameras inside the house. And I’m like, okay guys, I’m going to let you win this one. I’m just not going.

Rob:
Yeah, I know it’s fun to read the comments, but I’m just like, guys, come on. It is weird. There is no argument for how it could be the other way around.

Avery:
You guys don’t need to be investing in real estate If you need a camera inside the house,

Rob:
I don’t even check the doorbell cameras. So that just causes enough problems if you were checking your ring every single day.

David:
Alright, thanks both of you for joining me. The short-term rental space is fascinating as we are seeing real estate investing moving further and further away from being passive and more and more into being an active business, which if you want to stay ahead of the game, you want to stay ahead of the curve and you want to stay competitive, you got to embrace it. And we are here for you at BiggerPockets to bring you all of the latest trends, techniques, tips, and strategies to do just that. If you want to know more about Avery, Rob or I, you can find our information in the show notes. And don’t forget to leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcast. They help us a ton. Thanks to both of you. This is David Green for Rob Waikiki Abba signing off.

Rob:
Oh boy. I was just kidding everybody. It was a joke.

 

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.


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