Shaping First Impressions: 5 Ways To Make Your Airbnb Feel More Welcoming

When entering a new place for the first time, you form your first impression very quickly. Luckily for hosts, there’s five great ways to formulate a favorable first impression!

Step One: Open the Curtains or Blinds

Is it a beautiful day? Open up those window coverings! Is it warm? Throw open those windows, too! Unless you’re without screens and in an area where a high concentration of bugs will migrate indoors, let the light in and air out your place.

Conversely, if your guests are arriving late at night, draw those blinds closed! No one wants to feel spotlighted to those passing by, which brings me to the next tip:

Step Two: The Importance of Lighting

In the middle of the day, lighting is controlled by letting outside light in, but at night lighting can be used to create an intimate, cozy, and welcoming feel. The first step to utilize lighting well is to arrange for an outdoor light. Try to remember, your guests are unaccustomed to entering your place. Imagine you’re stuck outside an unfamiliar Airbnb and can’t see the door to try to enter the code on the keypad! Strongly consider an outdoor light, especially if you have any of the following: stairs to the front door, icy areas around your property during inclement weather, or a difficult key setup! (Are your guests frantically trying to push the right buttons on a Master Key Box with one hand, while holding their phone on Flashlight mode with the other?)

First impressions happen quickly, often while juggling luggage and squinting at their check-in instructions. If you don’t like the look of keeping a light on all night, think about investing in a motion sensor light with the ability to sense daylight.

When entering an unfamiliar home, a small table light in the living room, a light over the stove in the kitchen, or even the soft glow from the bedside tables in the master bedroom are all excellent welcoming touches. Soft lights can create an inviting feeling for guests arriving late in the evening.

Step Three: Pillows, Blankets + Linens

This may seem obvious, but are the pillows on your couch arranged nicely, all facing the same direction? Is that lap blanket draped attractively? Do you have duvet pillows on your bed, and if so, are they placed neatly? Are the comforters on your bed hanging off the side in a straight line? Take a look at the towels in your property. Are they fluffed? Folded nicely on the bed or desk? Hung beautifully off of the towel rack in the bathroom? These may not seem like a big deal, but all of the items in your house will add up to tell a story.

Step Four: What Does Your Place Smell Like?

This is an often overlooked aspect of first impressions, but important! Previous guests can leave all sorts of smells, including heavy perfume, smelly shoes, and the scent of every meal they made that week. It’s tempting to spray over everything with a heavy deodorizer, but I wouldn’t recommend it, for the same reasons I don’t recommend cleaning with harsh chemicals right before your guests arrive:

  • Medically compromised guests like asthmatics and those with strong allergies may react badly.
  • Heavy smells may irritate young children and babies.
  • That oh-so important first impression!

Strong chemicals smells are off-putting- not inviting. Instead, try these ideas to help rid your house of strong smells left by guests:

  • Open all the windows.
  • Wash all pillows, towels, and compromised window treatments.
  • If the smells come from cooking, make sure you get rid of all the oil splatters on the oven and from inside the microwave.
  • Sprinkle furniture and carpets with baking soda, let sit twenty minutes, then vacuum it up! Baking soda is an incredible odor neutralizer and will absorb many smells.
  • Clean everything thoroughly.
  • If needed, turn on the fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • I highly recommend an air purifier on hand, specifically for instances like this! Leave that bad boy near the location of the worst smells. If the smells don’t dissipate in time for the guests’ arrival, offer the continued use of the air purifier as an added amenity.

Step Five: What Does Your Place Feel Like When You Walk in the Door?

In 1908 a Japanese scientist discovered the fifth “taste”, Umami. In addition to salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, a fifth taste commonly referred to as “a fullness of flavor” was added to our repertoire of distinguishable tastes. It’s been described as “satisfying an urge you didn’t know you had, and leaving you craving for more.” Does your place satisfy an urge, be it relaxation, city lights, romance, or rustic country life? Does it embrace a flavor and leave your guest feeling satisfied?

Let’s look a little closer at the specifics:
When you walk into your house, what’s the first thing you notice? Is it crowded? Barren, or colorful? Do you have a design scheme, and if so, is anything in your house discordant from that theme? Look around carefully. Are there scuff marks on the walls, any paint peeling off the trim? Is the furniture laid out in a nice flow? Does each room look like it belongs? Does your house feel relaxing? Comfortable? We strive for a similar feel in our Airbnbs as you travel through the house, each room’s items and color schemes complementing one another.

Creating a welcoming space for your guest is the key to becoming a profitable and happy Airbnb host. Finding the right balance of expressing your tastes, creating an inviting atmosphere, fulfilling guest needs, and taking care of first impressions along the way will ensure that all of your guests leave rave reviews and tell their friends about you!

How do you make your Airbnb feel welcoming? Let me know in the comments below!



The Welcome Note: Superhost Series


The first installment of the Superhost Series- A series designed to help you advance from Host to Superhost!

Picture it: You’ve just spent the last eight hours traveling. It was sweltering outside when you left, freezing on the plane, and there was some sort of mechanical trouble and you missed your connection. You haven’t eaten since breakfast, and you’ve been running non-stop all day.

When you arrive at your destination you’re tired, you’re hungry, and it’s raining outside. You just want to drop your bags off, wash your face, and get something to eat, but you don’t know where the nearest restaurant is and you can’t remember which bag you packed your raincoat in. After finally typing in the correct key code on the front door in your bleary state, you shoulder your bags through the door and scan your lodgings for your trip.

Something catches your eye- a white envelope on the table, with your name on it.

Opening it, you realize it’s a welcome note. And not just any generic welcome note; it mentions the estimated late time of your arrival and recommends an excellent restaurant nearby that serves hot food late at night. It lets you know about a great event all the locals are going to this weekend, and ends with a tip of where the umbrellas are stored so you can stay dry tonight.

All of a sudden your night just become a whole lot easier, and you start your trip with a real appreciation of your host!

Unfortunately air travel seems to be more stressful than not, and a lot of our guests these days are tired, hungry, and frazzled when they arrive at their destinations. We’ve all been there! It’s easy to be overwhelmed in a situation like that, but we as hosts can change their day for the better with just a small effort on our part; less than five minutes per guest changeover on our end, and we can positively impact the start of your guest’s stay!

Your welcome note or card doesn’t have to be fancy. I routinely pick up great cards when they’re on sale at Target or Barnes + Noble. I will usually choose blank ones, or occasionally ones that say Hello! But some clean stationary and an envelope would do just fine.

To get ahead in a busy season, I will frequently take some time at the beginning of the week and pre-address the cards, starting the notes but leaving the endings blank so I can add something the day of their arrival.

Some great ideas to include in your welcome note:

  • Mention of the reason why they’re staying with you. Is it a work event, anniversary or bucket list trip? Let them know you paid attention to their messages to you!
  • Are there any good restaurants nearby? A grocery store within walking distance? The absolute best ice cream they’ve ever had? Share a quick line about your favorite thing to do in your neighborhood.
  • Are there interesting functions happening in your city that weekend? An event culturally unique to your location? Are there fun street fairs or farmers markets to browse?
  • Include information relevant to their stay: For work stays, where the iron and ironing board are located. For families with children, where the crayons and coloring books are, and what apps are installed on the television (Pro-tip: Pre-install the Disney app for any families you may have coming in!).
  • Let them know if anything unusual is going on: construction shutting off access to the driveway, current plowing hours due to recent snowfall, etc.
  • An expression of gratitude that the guest is staying with you.
  • An invitation to contact you if anything is needed.

It’s not hard to feel negative after the stress of travel, and our job as Superhosts is to ensure our guests have such a great stay that they visit again, and again. Almost 20% of reservations at our own Airbnbs come from repeat guests, who are secure in the knowledge that we will go the extra step each time to ensure that they have a memorable stay.
There are many areas where hospitality is shown that can make a huge difference in our star ratings. The little gestures we offer to our guest can add up, and give you that bump from a 4 to a 5 star rating.

A Superhost is more than someone responding to messages in a timely manner or never cancelling a booking. To get that extra oomph from Host to Superhost, you really have to care about the guest’s experience. By approaching your listing from the view of the guest, it’s easier to see where you might put a little extra of your time to make a big impact!

Keep in mind: People won’t necessarily remember what you did, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel!

Have you ever been welcomed with a personalized note? How did it make you feel? Is there anything you would add to your welcome note?

Let me know in the comments below!