Whether you talk Airbnb, Booking.com, Lekkeslaap or any of the plethora of online portals for short-term rentals, one aspect that should never be compromised is the minimum standards of hosting, accommodation and amenities.
This needs to be the starting point for anyone considering short-term letting and particularly if you intend to build up a track record of repeat bookings and top score reviews and ratings. Many people who list their properties are not even aware of the standards expected from the likes of Airbnb and seek purely to earn an income for the least amount of effort and expense. They are also not aware of the importance of the rating/review system and the potential impact thereof.
Serious hosts will ensure that everything from their responsiveness, communications and pre-arrival actions are impeccable and that the entire guest experience from arrival to departure is one which the guests will remember and recommend to future guests. Many ‘super’ hosts in the Overstrand can proudly boast regular repeat bookings, whilst in many cases with ‘occasional’ hosts it will be a once-off booking. In trying to reach out to international tourists, these standards need to be right up there with their expectations from previous global travel experiences.
Whilst each online booking website has its own recommended standards, these are based on a wide range of factors such as price, value for money, cleanliness, communication, quality of furnishings, amenities and many more. So it’s not just a case of putting your accommodation online without having taken a serious look at why you are doing this and what efforts may be needed to attract guests to it.
Accommodation should, at a minimum, be clean, uncluttered and attractive, with tasteful and comfortable furnishings. It need not be a hugely expensive exercise to meet these minimum requirements and the more attractive and comfortable the décor, the better the response will be over time. Amenities are a key factor in attracting guests and if the basics are not in place it could be detrimental to future bookings. Toilet paper, soap, sheets, and at least one towel and pillow per booked guest are a minimum; free Wi-Fi is a given, next to amenities like a private entrance, cable TV (DSTV) and in warmer climates, air-conditioning or a fan.
Sea or mountain views are a major drawcard and if it is self-catering accommodation, fully-functioning and clean cooking facilities are a must; in all cases, the basics like a ‘coffee station’ should be in place. The list is endless, but it is ultimately up to the host to decide what extras to include in order to obtain the best reviews possible. Some hosts personalise the experience to such a degree that guests receive ‘starter kits’ to meet their refreshment needs upon arrival.
One thing is certain – hosting guests booking via online websites is more than just a key-exchange and property run-through. Some people have become totally passionate about their role as hosts and as a result constantly get good reviews, repeat bookings and an income stream that warrants all the little extras that make an impression. These are hosts who see themselves as active in the tourism and hospitality industry and are geared towards providing a superb level of service.
The personal touch cannot be underestimated and if you are in the slightest doubt as to whether your listed accommodation and amenities are up to scratch then you need to seek advice on how to take full advantage of the potential that exists. Remember, what a host deems acceptable and stylish is not necessarily what guests expect and that can lead to disappointment and inconsistent bookings.