What goes through the minds of travelers as they browse places to stay on their next trip? What sets one home apart from another and eventually leads to a booking? More importantly—what leads to a happy booking?
Other than lots of beautiful photos, it’s hard for hosts to know just what to include in listings to attract guests and ensure they get the experience they’re looking for. Approaching it from the viewpoint of the traveler is invaluable, but even so it’s nearly impossible to list all of the things you might want on a trip, much less a perfect stranger from the opposite side of the planet.
What are the key things that guests really want that aren’t always covered in Airbnb listings? To help answer this question, we asked a few thousand travelers who had just completed a trip on Airbnb: What do you wish you had known before your stay? From the responses, six key factors stood out:
Location, location, location
Maintaining a host’s privacy is essential, but location is a critical factor when deciding where to stay. Travelers don’t need to know an exact address right away, but they need to know what the address means to their trip.
Is the area walkable to restaurants, nightlife, markets—or are they in for a very long walk to public transportation? Is your street quiet, pleasantly bustling, or directly under a clattering train line? Is a late-night stroll is perfectly normal in your neighborhood, or should guests use caution?
Travelers coming into town will often be arriving by car. If you have a parking space available, this is a big plus, particularly in big cities, so be sure to include this in your listing. If there’s only street parking, is it free? Easy? (And if you say easy, do you mean easy by New York standards or actually easy?)
The type of parking space is also important: will it fit a 35 ft RV, or is it better suited for a Mini? The difference between uncovered and covered parking can mean having a car or having a very large block of snow with a car inside. Guests like to know these things.
Sounds you never notice may not be what guests expect. Guests should know that garbage trucks come at 5am or that the upstairs neighbor has hardwood floors and kids that wear clogs. Your rural farmhouse might provide the ultimate in peace and quiet…until the roosters start crowing at the break of dawn.
Being up-front about the noises in and around your home also gives you a chance to say what you’ve done to solve the problem—new windows, ear plugs, chicken dinners.
Help with confusing utilities & electronics
Not all countries have the same heating system or hot water system. If someone is coming from overseas, they may need to know that hot water takes a full hour to heat up after you flip a switch. A fan may be enough for you, but others may long for air conditioning.
If you have more than one remote control for your TV, DVD player, amplifier, etc., you’re lucky if even you know how to use them all. Your shared library of classic movies won’t provide a moment of entertainment to a guest if they can’t turn on the TV.
It’s easy to gloss over things you live with every day, but guests want to know exactly what to expect. If a listing says it has a washer and dryer, but neglects to mention that it’s shared with 20 other apartments, a traveler might feel disappointed. If you have WiFi that works everywhere except in the guest room, a simple “WiFi” in your listing doesn’t suffice.
You may not allow pets in your place but stating that you have one yourself is important—we’re not all cat friendly, and pet allergies are serious business. Getting into specifics makes the world of difference for a guest and prevents potentially disappointing experiences.
A sense of space size & layout
Photos can be deceiving. Using a wide-angle lens is quite useful to capture more of a room in one photo, but it can also make a space appear to be much larger than it is in real life. If the house is small just say it. Choosing words carefully to describe the size of a place sets better expectations before arrival, so no one enters a tiny studio expecting a spacious flat.
A series of photos can’t always convey the layout of a space, which can be highly important to guests. There’s a big difference between a bedroom with attached private bath, and a bedroom with a bathroom two flights down and across the alley into the adjacent building.
When it comes down to it, guests really want one thing: details, and lots of them. Details help set expectations appropriately, and a guest whose expectations are met—or better yet, exceeded—is a happy guest.