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How to be an excellent Airbnb ho-ho-host this holiday season

Posted by Rachel Devitt | Sharing Economy

The holiday season is a busy one for short-term rental hosts. Did you know that in 2009, a total of just 1,400 guests stayed in Airbnbs over New Year’s Eve? Last year, that number was 3 million.

No two families travel for the holidays the same way. For some, it involves a long-distance road trip from one province to another with kids watching Frozen in the back. Other families fly for the holidays, or enjoy a nice ski vacation.

But no matter how they do it, after hours of travel your guests will show up at your front door. They’re usually tired and quite possibly not in the best of moods. Fortunately, there are a lot of easy and inexpensive things that rental hosts can do to make their guests feel welcome and less stressed. This approach might even help you score yourself a 5-star rating at the same time!

Here are some top tips on how to be an amazingly excellent rental ho-ho-host this holiday season. And, we promise, that is the last time we will say ho-ho-host (maybe).

Make your guests feel at home and festive with some simple holiday decorations

Decorating your vacation rental inside and out for the holidays helps your guests get in the spirit of the season. Cheery white lights, a few decorative throw pillows in the living room, and a simple green wreath on the front door are a few of the thoughtful touches that can make your guests feel at home in your holiday rental.

Holiday vacation rentals in Canada attract families with different backgrounds from all parts of the world. So it’s a good idea to keep decorations neutral and kid-friendly, and without a religious theme.

Even though you might decorate differently for your own friends and family, as a rental host it’s important to make guests feel comfortable when they’re paying to stay in your holiday rental.

Extend the spirit of the season with food, friends, and family

The holiday season is the time to give your guests a little something extra. A holiday gift basket with seasonal treats and some local produce/specialities will put a smile on their face and help add another 5-star review to your host profile.

Purchasing small gifts for the entire family is another great way to make your guests feel at home for the holidays. The act of giving is a worldwide tradition and helps create connections with your guests that will have them coming back year after year. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. It’s the thought that counts.

Help guests reduce their holiday travel stress

Let’s face it, travelling over the holidays with the entire family can be stressful. Flight delays, uncooperative weather, road trips, and tired children can turn even the best of us into temporary grinches.

Fortunately, there are several easy things holiday rental hosts can do to reduce a guest’s holiday stress:

  • Make last-minute gift buying easy with a list of local stores and business hours
  • Provide a supply of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and gift bags for your guests’ last-minute gifts
  • Include a local map highlighting points of interest like tree farms, skating rinks, and places offering those must-have photo ops with Santa
  • Consider stocking your refrigerator with prepared meals from the local grocer for guests who are arriving late at night, because nobody – especially kids – want to go to bed hungry
  • Provide a guest book with a list of favourite family-friendly restaurants, things to do and see, and numbers to call in case of a problem or emergency

Remember that four-legged friends are part of the family, too

Travelling with animals in Canada over the holidays can also be a stressful and exhausting experience. In addition to making your place a family-friendly rental for the holidays, why not put out the welcome mat for furry, four-legged travellers too?

Offering a pet-friendly rental on platforms like Airbnb will help you to make more money as a host and attract happy guests. That’s because there aren’t that many pet-friendly holiday vacation rentals available. You’ll have less competition from other hosts and will almost guarantee yourself a piece of the pet-travelling market.

There are five easy ways to make your short-term holiday rental pet-friendly:

  • When nature calls make sure guests know where their pets can do their business and provide a supply of doggy waste bags to use
  • Pet-proof your holiday rental by putting delicate items out of reach and designating which furniture – if any – is OK for pets to sit on
  • Set boundaries by letting your guests know which rooms in your holiday rental are pet-friendly, and provide indoor gates (the same type that are used to keep toddlers away from doors and stairs)
  • Pet treats are always welcome – since you’re already providing a nice holiday gift basket for your human guests and family, be sure to leave some chew toys and delicious treats for Fido
  • Take precautions by preparing yourself for some occasional, minor damage from playful pets and making sure there’s a good supply of cleaning products if there’s ever an ‘accident’

While making a holiday rental pet-friendly isn’t for everyone, it is a great way to increase bookings and collect 5-star reviews.

Insurance and safety tips for renting out your place this holiday season

Offering your place as a holiday rental on Airbnb or other rental platforms definitely has its rewards. But there are also risks too. Here are some tips that will help keep you and your property safe and sound:

Choose your guests wisely

You’re letting strangers into your home, so before you agree to book be sure to check out the guest’s profile. Read what other hosts had to say about your potential guests.

Set your rules

After a guest books they’ll automatically receive your House Rules and House Manual. But don’t assume that your guest will read this. Always include a written copy of your Rules – along with a Guest Welcome Book – in a visible place.

Include a safety card manual

This should include items such as the location of fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and emergency phone numbers.

Get short-term rental insurance

While popular platforms like Airbnb do offer Host Protection Insurance and Host Guarantees, there are a lot of gaps and exclusions in this coverage you should really know about. That’s where duuo comes in. Duuo provides comprehensive, primary insurance for hosts to cover their short-term rental activities.

Another major benefit of Duuo is that you only pay for the nights you have guests. And at an average of just $8 per night, the cost of coverage is a small fraction of your revenue.

Just remember that when hosting over the holidays there are additional things that rental hosts need to consider—weary travellers, anxious children, last-minute shopping, and gift wrapping. Solving small problems for your guests and making them feel more welcome are the best ways to create happy (and returning) customers. Happy holidays!

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About the author

Rachel Devitt
As Duuo’s Brand & Communications Manager, Rachel manages Duuo’s content, events calendar, and PR initiatives. During Duuo team trivia games you’ll often find Rachel racking up points as a result of her pop-culture obsession.