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Next-Level Hospitality: How to Meet the Unique Needs of Airbnb Guests

O'Shaughnessy (2021) dug into traveler preferences in his article “Airbnb’s Impact on the Hotel Industry: Insights From 1000 Travelers Who Use Both.” For a guest who has booked stays at hotels and with Airbnb, 60% stated a preference for Airbnb when planning a vacation. He wrote, “Airbnb’s competitive advantage seems to stem from its ability to provide experiences that traditional hotel chains cannot, while simultaneously offering competitive rates. Airbnb travelers get to feel like they're actually living in their destination city or town for a few days, with all of the household accommodations we've become accustomed to in our own day-to-day lives.”

At a hotel, still the frontrunner for business travel, guests expect professionalism, efficiency and good communication. At an Airbnb, preferred by leisure travelers looking for local flair, the expectation is for professionalism that feels authentic, efficiency that feels welcoming, and communication that provides a sense of trust and security.

As an Airbnb host, what can you do to meet these high guest expectations? The study “Why do guests stay at Airbnb versus hotels? An empirical analysis of necessary and sufficient conditions,” authors Sanchez-Franco and Aramendia-Munetab (2023) demonstrate through analysis of user-generated content that Airbnb hosts offering highly personalized interactions with guests that include quality local recommendations and services, “such as arranging a private city tour or a cooking class with a local chef,” have a competitive advantage. Even better, they concluded that “promoting high-quality service and personalized experiences can help to enhance guest satisfaction and revisit intention, which can lead to positive reviews and an increased reputation.” That’s the goal, isn’t it?

Professional and personal; efficient and authentic?

The bar is high for vacation rental hosts, but you’ve got this. Here are a few tips to make sure guests skip over the nearby hotel and the Airbnb next door—and choose you to host their next getaway.

  • Prompt communication is vital, but keep it friendly and personable. Allow your guests to experience your unique personality and authentic hospitality. Even if your messages are automated (keep it efficient!), write them in your own voice.

  • Create a property that stands out from the (generic) crowd by incorporating personal touches such as local art and unexpected amenities.

  • Offer recreational add-ons that complement your property, such as e-bikes or kayaks. These extras are sure to create memories—and Instagram posts!

  • Create a Mount Mini-Marketplace with your curated list of local activities, a personalized approach that’s easy to scale. Replace a guidebook full of links with an attractive, branded, easy to navigate webpage to share with your guests.

As an Airbnb host, aiming for professionalism while infusing your unique personality into guest interactions is your secret sauce. As B. Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore assert in The Experience Economy, “ are about time well saved, while experiences are about time well spent.” So, rise to the challenge, embrace your role as a host, and provide your guests with unforgettable stays that keep them coming back for more.

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