Introduction: Airbnb Automation
Your Airbnb messages are too long. For 75% of you reading this, it is a true statement. Here is the ultimate “go to jail” card:
Do you send your guest a check-in message that is monstrously long? I’m talking 500+ words.
I have received these messages as a guest. They are way too much. Here is an example (I cut it off halfway through as you will get the point):
Like most things in life, every Airbnb reservation has a predictable pattern. After understanding this natural flow, I created and optimized a set of messages for nearly complete Airbnb automation (ie. automatically sent to the guest). This has given me back 80% of my time I would have used sending messages and answering common questions.
If you implement my strategy, the only questions you will respond to are the very specific ones only a handful of guests will ask.
Learn how to put 80% of your Airbnb on autopilot with this strategy. Click To Tweet
This is a teaser post.
Below I am going to share my guest message flow, but withhold the exact wording I use for each. Additionally, I am also going to share the tools I use to accomplish this strategy. If you want the exact wording, please show your support by purchasing the Airbnb Message Flow Strategy + Templates.
If you decide to build the messages on your own there is one thing to remember: keep them concise. Most of the messages I have created for this flow are below 50 words.
Part of creating a good experience for the guest is knowing what, when, and how to communicate with them.
Here is what NOT to do:
- Do not send any messages in excess of 100 words unless absolutely necessary
- Do not send check-out info at any time other than near or at check-out time
- If one out of 100 guests does something you do not like, do not create a rule and make the other 99 read it.
- Do not disrespect the guests time by making them read things they do not need to
- Don’t treat the guest like a child and repeat yourself unnecessarily
- Do not create lengthily ‘do not do’ lists 😀
Here is what you should do:
Communicate only necessary information to the guest in an effective manner and timely.
I have the following messages prepared and automatically send to my guests as part of my Airbnb automation strategy. These will make up 80%+ of the messages you will have to send. Below I comment on what information should be included with each messae.
- Initial booking inquiry
- Request to book message
- Booking confirmation
- Check-in information
- One day after check-in message
- Pre check-out message
- Post check-out message
- Review reminder
- Friends + Family discount offer
Tools you will need to accomplish this strategy:
- Smartbnb (or a PMS of your choice that allows for sending automated messages). You can read my Smartbnb review here..
- Hostfully electronic guidebook. You can read my Hostfully review here.
If a guest does not want to Instant Book (IB) or send a booking request (if IB is not activated), they can send an inquiry instead. An inquiry is just a message to the host without an intention to book.
In this case, I acknowledge receipt immediately and inform them I will address any questions shortly. This comes in handy if I am asleep. I let the guest know this is an automated message. It is a personal preference that has worked for me and I have received no negative feedback related to the decision.
The reason comes down to whether or not a guest asks a question within the inquiry. If they do, then a canned message ignoring the question seems extremely impersonal. About 40% of reservations are from first time guests who have been told Airbnb is more personal than a hotel from the actual accommodation to the communication with the host. I want to foster this idea.
Request To Book
You will receive a request to book inquiry (inquiry with an intention to book) if you:
- Do not have IB turned on or
- You have IB turned on but your limitations do now allow the guest to use this feature (either you require them to have a verified ID and they do not or you require at least one positive review from a prior host and they do not).
You will have to approve each of these reservations individually. It should be similar to your booking inquiry message.
If a guest is ready to book and the listing has IB activated or you accept a ‘Request to book’ message then the following message should be used to confirm the reservation and provide any immediate information.
In this message, I provide my location recommendations. Booking an Airbnb is exciting for the guest and they’re likely to want to research about things to do in your city. Help them and set yourself apart from other Airbnb hosts’ by providing local recommendations through your digital guidebook.
I also tell the guest to expect a check-in message with important info like how to acces the home, wifi, etc. three days before arrival. This is a magic number because I find Airbnb guests start to send messages around this day asking for more information. You can avoid this unnecessary message by sending one first.
Send your check-in message 4 days before arrival. I noticed that guests start sending messages asking for this info at this time. Click To Tweet
If the guest is booking same day or within three days, skip this message and directly send the ‘Check-in information’ message.
I use Smartbnb for my Airbnb automation.
I send a check-in message four days before arrival with relevant information. I have found that most questions start coming around two and three days to check-in so sending on the fourth day before check-in eliminates these extra messages.
In my booking confirmation message above, I promised to send this message three days before check-in, but I actually send it four days before check-in to avoid messages like this: “Hey! You said you would send check-in info by now, but I have not received it. Do you mind sending?” Due to time differences, this message is likely if you say three days and send it three days before check-in.
This message should be extremely short with no repeated information and a link to a guidebook. The only time I would repeat the information here is when it is of extreme importance (quiet hours, no smoking, and other generic house rules are not of extreme importance).
An example of extreme importance is if you rent out many rooms in one house, you will want to identify which bedroom the guest is to use here. Or if there are very important check-in instructions or anything else that will result in confusion and a bad check-in experience.
I use Hostfully as my digital guidebook.
At 11am the day after check-in, I have a message sent to the guest asking how they have settled in. This allows me to address any problems real-time to ensure a 5-star Airbnb review. It also allows the guest enough time to come up with any questions as they’ve likely used the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen in this time.
About 75% of the guests do not respond to this message.
Pre Check-Out Message
At 5pm the day before check-out, I will remind the guest of the check-out time and any important specifics they should be aware of.
This is a good opportunity to repeat yourself (remember, this info is already in the guidebook) as you are saving the guest the step of opening the guidebook and finding the check-out instructions.
I mention that I hope their stay was 5-star quality. I want my Airbnb guest to know I expect a 5-star review.
Post Check-Out Message
This is the most important message and the cause of the many 5-star reviews I have received. Three hours after their scheduled check-out time, I send the final message related to the actual reservation.
I thank them for leaving the place in good shape. This message goes out regardless of how the guest actually left the place. This is because regardless of how the guest left the space, I still want a 5-star review. I never try to charge the guest an extra cleaning fee except in the most egregious scenarios. With this message, I am setting the expectations that I am happy with the guest and they will be getting a 5-star review.
The message is sent before the guest can leave a review in the hope that if they were planning to leave a negative review, they feel bad as I have just told them I am sending them a positive review.
This goes out only if the guest has not already left a review. Smartbnb is smart enough to recognize this and not send the message in these cases.
About 72% of Airbnb guests leave reviews so this message mostly does not go out. Keep in mind that if the reservation was not positive, you will not want to pester the guest about leaving a review that might not be 5-stars.
5-stars is an A+, 4-stars is an F-.
On Airbnb, a 5-star review is an A and everything else is an F. Click To Tweet
Friends + Family Discount Offer
To increase occupancy during the Airbnb slow season, I extend an offer proactively to prior guests and their friends and family to stay at my listing for a discount. Just remember to turn this message off if the guest was not pleasant.
If your area does not have a clear busy vs slow season, then you may consider offering the discount for midweek stays or stays lasting a day or two longer than your average stay length. “Stay three nights and the 4th is free!”
Do you offer your prior Airbnb guests a friends + family discount? Click To Tweet
Airbnb Automation – Conclusion
First, create your digital guidebook.
Personally, following this strategy has cut down on my manual messages by 80-90%. You will still get questions from guests about things already covered in your listing, it is just part of the game.
Airbnb encourages guests to message numerous hosts each trip. If you have ever been a guest before (if you have not, do it immediately), it is exciting to see all these homes available for you to rent at prices way below what a hotel would cost.
Good luck and happy hosting!
Are there any messages you send out to your guests not covered in this blog post? Tell me in the comments.
About Danny Rusteen:
Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (1,000 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 33 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.