You write too much. For 75% of you reading this, it is true. Here is the ultimate go to jail card:
Do you send your guest a check-in message that is monstrous? I’m talking 500+ words.
I have received this message as a guest. It is way too much. Here is an example (I cut it off halfway through as you will get the point):
Like most things in life, there is a predictable pattern to an Airbnb reservation. After understanding this natural flow, I created and optimized a set of messages for Airbnb automation (ie. automatically sent to my guest). This has given me back 80% of my time I would have used sending messages and answering questions. If you implement my strategy, the only questions you will respond to are the very specific ones only a handful of guests 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. I am also going to share the tools I use to accomplish this strategy. If you want the exact wording, please show your support of my blog 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
- Do not 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:
- 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). I prefer Smartbnb.
- Hostfully electronic guidebook (or Coral)
If a guest does not want to Instant Book 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 setup or
- You have IB setup 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 prior hosts and they do not).
You will have to approve each of these messages individually. It should be similar to your booking inquiry message.
If a guest is ready to book and the listing has IB activated, the following message will be sent to the guest upon booking confirmation:
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 from check-in so sending on the fourth day before check-in eliminates these extra messages.
In my booking confirmation message, 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 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 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 check-in to here.
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. 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 which might not be 5-stars. 5-stars is an A+, 4-stars is an F-.
Friends + Family Discount Offer
To increase occupancy during 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.
Do you offer your prior Airbnb guests a friends + family discount? Click To Tweet
Airbnb Automation – Conclusion
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.
Are there any messages you send out to your guests not covered in this blog post? Tell me in the comments.
Good luck and happy hosting!
Also published on Medium.