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Booked Solid: What Every Airbnb Host Dreams Of

The Airbnb Ambassador & Super Host Coach, “A-Coach,” sat in his office when the phone rang. It was on the Airbnb business line, and he picked it up.

“Good morning, A-Coach here. How may I help you?”

“This is Juliana from your Facebook group. I am sorry to bother you. I hope I am not interrupting. You must be busy.”

“Hi Juliana, thank you for calling. No, I am not very busy. Over the years, I have applied best practices for my hosting business. Most of my hospitality activities are automated.”

“A-Coach, my question is how can I grow my occupancy rate to a higher level so that I can make enough money to take care of my family?”

“If you are just starting in the Airbnb hospitality business or have been at it for some time, we all want the same thing. To have enough reservations to make your time and investment worthwhile.

“Booked solid is not the same as 100% occupancy. Book solid is that magic number of guests, length of stay, returning guests, nightly rates, and satisfying guest experiences. Booked solid applies to both dedicated property and shared properties. What is inevitable in all these is that the guest experience is FAULTLESS.”

“How do I do that?”

Faultless Guest Experiences Start with Managing Moments of Truth

“Moments of Truth (MOT), first coined by Jan Carlzon in his book by the same name,[1] is any time a customer (i.e., Airbnb guest) comes into contact with anything associated with your Airbnb business (i.e., listing). Carlzon found that customers formed an impression of you and your business in the first 3-7 seconds.

“Any time a customer comes into contact with ANY aspect of your business, however remote, it is an opportunity to form an impression. Think of your own experience when staying at an Airbnb. Airbnb stays are your opportunity to learn what other hosts do – what they do well and not so well. “Barrow” from the best! It helps you to understand and improve. Continuous improvement is imperative in the competitive market of hospitality. And, you only have seconds to get it right.

Why value stream mapping is the key to excelling at moments of truth

“Value Stream Mapping (VSM) originated with the Toyota Motor Company to build value into every manufacturing step, eliminate waste and produce a defect-free product. What is valid for automobile manufacturing, or hospitality, the guest experience is everything.[2]

“Marrying the best practice of moments of truth in hospitality with the best tradition of value streams gives you the winning combination.

“Let me put this into context.

To create a winning formula, breakdown the guest experience from beginning to end

“The First Moment of Truth (FMOT): When a customer comes to your website to book a stay. In this FIRST 3-7 seconds, a guest will decide you are compelling enough to investigate further.

“You do not have to be an expert webpage builder. Airbnb does all the design for you so that all you need to do is take beautiful photos and create a compelling story to capture the imagination of your potential guest. Airbnb has many articles in their Resource Center on listing creation.[3]

“We have heard the saying so many times. A picture is worth a thousand words. Every article you read about creating an effective website recommends the same. Use great pictures. You quickly learn from Airbnb’s articles that it is more than the technical part of camera and lighting. Staging your rooms is the differentiator between a great first impression and an “I will think about it impression.”

“Hire a pro; it pays for itself. According to Airbnb (2016 study of 100,000 global listings with and without professional photos): With a professional photographer:

  • 40% increase in earnings
  • 24% more bookings
  • 26% higher nightly price

“Airbnb even has an article and page to match you with a local photographer who does professional staging and photography. A photo pro through Airbnb costs less than $100. You can make up the cost (a reasonable marketing expense) in a month!

“To complete your listing for that 3-to-7 second visit requires great scannable words to invoke positive action. Words describe your essential features (e.g., close to the airport, the beach, quiet neighborhood, walking distance to the famous gas lamp district, two blocks to the bus stop).

“The Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) is when a customer likes your listing pictures and words and clicks to investigate more. In this SECOND 3-7 seconds, a guest should see specific professional images of the rooms, price, and review ratings. When you have maintained Airbnb excellence in the eyes of your guests, you can display the SUPERHOST badge. Many Airbnb veteran travelers often set their default filter to display only show Superhost listings.

“The detailed listing page also shows a list of amenities that differentiate you from others, such as the free coffee/tea bar, High-speed WIFI, free washer/dryer, etc. A large map where they will stay and other critical words about your listing. If the guest is still impressed, you are on your way to making this visit a reality.

“Your UNIQUE competitive advantage is your past guests’ experiences

“The piece de resistance is your social proof, the hundreds of public reviews from YOUR guests’ telling others about their experiences lodging with you.

Shayla

Had an amazing stay at Jodi and Bart’s place!

Their home is centrally located to everywhere that I went, and close to downtown, the airport, and the beaches. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and grocery stores nearby. Everything was exceptionally clean and well labeled and organized. They are very COVID cautious and even brought me an extra box of tissue when my allergies flared up the first night. Jodi and Bart are some of the most hospitable hosts that I’ve ever met! It was so fun chatting with them about different hiking spots and fun things to do in San Diego. Jodi was super responsive to all the messages that I sent as well. They are so friendly, and their doggies are super sweet and adorable. The room was extremely comfortable, and I love how much drawer and closet space that there was. They provided extra pillows, blankets, and towels (even beach towels) and even offered to let me use additional items that weren’t in my room if I needed them. The bathroom was spotless. It is shared with another guest, but I never ran into any problems with that. The other guest was super friendly as well. Parking is super easy, and I was able to park right in front of their home for most of my trip. They also left space in the fridge for my food. All in all, I had a fabulous stay! I will definitely be requesting to stay at Jodi and Bart’s place on my next trip out to San Diego! Awesome spot!  

“Airbnb provides an interactive CONTACT HOST button where guests can ask specific questions before they book. And if that was not enough, there is a place to view more things about your listing, such as house rules, health & safety, and cancellation policy. And, most importantly, a booking button.

How you communicate with your guests is everything

“The Third Moment of Truth (TMOT) is communication between host and guest. Each touch is an opportunity to add to the guest experience.

  • Before booking, guests may still have questions about your place. This is your opportunity to help set expectations. Do this well, and they will book.
  • During booking, guests might have questions about adding a guest. You may have questions about why someone is booking if they live in the same town. Here is where your house rules come into play.
  • After booking, it is a good practice to ask guests when they expect to arrive so that you can provide a special personal greeting or manage your in-house pets.
  • During their stay, you have opportunities to ask if they enjoyed the concert, or the hike, or the restaurant and remind them of the FREE coffee/tea bar in the kitchen.
  • Before checking out, it is an opportunity to remind guests that checkout is at 11:00 AM, that you appreciate the chance to have them stay with you, and that you hope they leave you a 5.0 review.

“Juliana, the point is that there are many, many opportunities to communicate and moments of truth. Airbnb explicitly asks guests to review host communications. Respond QUICKLY, respond KINDLY, respond FREQUENTLY.

“Systematically managing guest experiences from beginning to end is how you build a great hospitality business and keep your place booked solid.”

“Thank you so much, coach. You make it sound so easy.”

“It is easy, and you will find the money to take care of your family follows.”


[1] Moments of Truth, Jan Carlzon, February 15, 1989

[2] The Toyota Way, Jeffery K. Liker, November 17, 2020

[3] https://www.airbnb.com/resources/hosting-homes/a/sprucing-up-your-listing-description-13

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