In 2015-2016 I was a 5-star host on Airbnb, and this year I’ve lived in 25 Airbnb’s on 3 continents. Here’s what I want hosts to know:
1. You’ve Designed a Space for Small, Young, Able Bodies
Molded chairs and tiny barstools are stylish, and spindly chairs and fiber-board benches make outfitting your apartment affordable, but may not be the most appropriate for most guests. People with physical challenges often find very low or very high chairs difficult to get in of- and will quickly pass on any listing where that’s apparent from the photos. Similarly, as an individual in a larger body, I know at a glance which listings have chosen cheap, fast-fashion furniture that won’t be comfortable or potentially even safe for my body to rest in.
Over half of all humans have some physical challenges related to age, ability, or injury, and will apartment-shop to accommodate. Bear this in mind as you consider how bodies different from your own might experience the furniture you choose for your Airbnb.
When upgrading your home to accommodate more bodies- be sure and tell Airbnb! Settings designed to help people with physical disabilities find lodging are used by many not-disabled users to find more accommodating lodging. See the search filters via the widget below.
2. You’ve Sacrificed Style for Service
For the love of all that is good, please don’t make guests hump your bathroom sink to care for personal hygiene. If your only mirror is hung above a 22″ deep countertop, you can expect damage from folks leaning and sitting on the counter. Guests- especially folks who need to put in contacts, apply makeup, or shave – or do any of these things with less than perfect vision- need a mirror they can get very, very close to. Save your sink from unnecessary abuse and add a little luxury by installing a basic $25 shaving mirror like the one shown below, or by making sure that somewhere in the home there is a well-lit mirror that a person can stand very close to- ideally with a shelf nearby.
3. Your Essentials Don’t Include Essential Cleaning Supplies
If your Airbnb has basic cleaning supplies, I’m going to clean up after myself. If you’ve chosen to lock them up or keep them off-site, I’m not.
A basic broom, dustpan, paper towels (or rags marked as cleaning rags) go a long way in helping me care for your space. If I’ve just tracked mud in and there’s no mop, no paper towels, and no cleaning rags? I’m left choosing between tracking it into every crevice and corner, or using your hand towels to clean it up- and neither of us will be left feeling 5-star about either of those choices.
4. You Don’t Disclose Known Issues, Hoping they won’t be Noticed.
Free food/drinks cover a multitude of sins. If you are receiving guests during a period that you know things are broken/under construction in your unit, you can offset that disappointment by stocking the fridge with some drinks and snacks, or cheese and crackers* and still get that “wow” impression that builds 5-star reviews. A bottle of wine can also work, but make sure there’s also a non-alcoholic alternative.
(* make sure that any food you leave is accompanied with a welcome card or other indications that it’s meant to be eaten!)
5. Your Airbnb Lacks Style, or is Stylish but Generic
When people travel and book accommodations via Airbnb they often want to experience something of local hospitality and regional flavor. You can throw a stylish apartment together in a weekend with one or two trips to IKEA, but that apartment is likely to look identical to hundreds of other Airbnb’s in 100 other cities. Savvy travelers, if forced to pick between options that are otherwise equal, usually pick a space that is unique, creative, and regionally inspired.
Don’t neglect style. All amenities being equal, I will always, always choose a space thoughtfully put together over the room filled with spare furniture- even if the nightly rate is significantly more. If this isn’t your skill area, no big deal- create a Pinterest board of some ideas you like, ask a few friends to weigh in on how to create one of those looks in your space, and just replicate the layout and decor of the room you are most inspired by- don’t worry, yours will always turn out unique because of your unique space and the products you find, source, or build.