I am (finally) a host on Airbnb

In July, I finally put my apartment on Airbnb.  I’ve been working in and researching the sharing economy for almost three years, so it’s about time I tried hosting. My wife and I were going to be away for two weeks, so I figured it was as good a time as any to start my Airbnb host career.

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Since I don’t have the time to manage the bookings or expertise to optimize my listing, I reached out to my friend Matt, who runs a short-term rental concierge service called MetroButler, to hold my hand through the process.  Sure, I could have tried to do it all by myself, but the amount of stress that MetroButler saved me is remarkable.  Matt and his partner Brandon helped me in five main ways:

  • Created my account and set my listing up for success.  I could have handled the setup part, but they did a great job “building my profile” and establishing a great foundation for future bookings.  They make sure every little detail is right.  For example, they added a long list of house rules and personal tips in the listing.

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  • Continuously optimized my listing.  They changed wording, edited the headline, altered pricing and adjusted minimum stay thresholds, all to get as much occupancy as possible.  They even came to the apartment and took professional quality photos and touched them up.

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  • Interfaced with all potential guests.  Literally every inquiry goes to their inbox, not mine.  This is a huge time saver.  Once a guest is booked, MetroButler handles the key exchange and any questions during the stay.  Secondly, being attentive to guests is the best way to build your reputation on the platform.  2 of my 4 guests booked during my two week vacation.  It would have stressed me out during my trip if I had to constantly be communicating with guests at the risk of losing response rate status.  With MetroButler, I have top ratings, and the best response rates and times on the platform:

Reviews

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  • Trusted, professional advice put my mind at ease throughout the entire process.  Two quick stories.  First: my first inquiry came in from a group of 5 college students from overseas.  Brandon didn’t think I wanted to have a group of students staying at my apartment.  He’d been watching the market and felt that I would fill my vacancies, even though I was only a few days away from leaving town.  He emailed me and advised me to pass.  Had I been managing the booking myself, I definitely would have panicked taken the offer because time was running out.  MetroButler gets paid on commission, so he didn’t need to screen out that customer.  Second: Brandon knew that I was landing at JFK at 9am on a Friday after a redeye.  My last vacancy should have been listed as Wednesday night.  I had tenants in through Wednesday morning, so it would have been difficult to find a single night occupant.  He adjusted my schedule to allow inquiries for Wednesday only or Wednesday+Thursday, hoping to get someone with an early checkout on Friday morning.  After receiving an inquiry, Brandon ran it by me and I agreed to let them stay.  After picking up checked bags and taking the train from JFK, we actually only had 4 hours to kill before the cleaners were done.  Had I been managing the listing myself, I never would have thought to open up Thursday night, and I definitely wouldn’t have gone through the hassle/email/admin burden of threading the needle between an early checkout and getting a cleaning service in ASAP.  Had I been managing the booking, I would have said, “It’s not worth it. Let’s just get home after the redeye and go to sleep”.  Instead, we pocketed $425.

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  • Other great little touches.  MetroButler provides sheets, towels and travel-size soap and shampoo bottles for all guests.  In between bookings, they arrange for a cleaning service to turn around the apartment and change the sheets and towels.  I pay for the cleaning service, but MetroButler gets a better discounted rate than I could as an individual user.  All of these little touches lead to better ratings, which lead to more leverage on pricing for next time I list.

We’re definitely going to keep using Airbnb and managing our listings through MetroButler when we leave town.

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