Automate & Streamline

One thing you’ll want to do with your Airbnb listing is reducing the amount of time and work you have to put into it.  This is our list handy tips to make your life easier, arranged from amateur to professional level!

Automate and simplify your hosting

Tip #1: USE SHORTCUTS

You will find that you’re frequently saying the same things to guests.  Whether it’s some check-in instructions, a thank-you after they’ve left, posting a review of a guest, or answering common questions, you’re going to find yourself typing the same things over and over.  So you’ll want to set up shortcuts.  Here’s how:

iPhone

Go into Settings – General – Keyboard – Text Replacement

In the Phrase field, type the phrase you want to use.  It’s sometimes easier to type this out elsewhere (like in the Notes app) and then copy and paste it here, as there isn’t much space for viewing and editing the phrase in this field.  This can be as long as you want (I have all my check-in instructions typed out in one, for example)

In the Shortcut field, type the snippet of letter you want to trigger that phrase.  I recommend using a common prefix sequence so you can remember them easier (I use “qa” for my Airbnb snippets, followed by the first letter of which snippet it is).

Android

Go to Settings (or System) – Languages & Input – Personal Dictionary.  Click the “+” icon, type the phrase you want, and then enter the shortcut in the Shortcut field.

Examples

Again, I recommend using a common prefix to denote your Airbnb-related shortcuts (I like “qa” since you never normally type that, but even “ab” can work).  The key is to just pick something you’ll remember.  Then use a letter that relates to the phrase.  So my snippets include:

qar for my “Review” snippet

qac for my “Check-in” snippet

qat for my “Thanks” snippet

Here’s a few examples of shortcuts I’ve created for myself:

qar: ” group were great guests. Excellent communication, friendly, easy-going, respectful, quiet, and left the room nice and clean. Definitely recommended and welcome back anytime!”

(for this one I will type the guests name with an apostrophe-s followed by the shortcut, so for example “Randy’s qar ” will type out the review text.

qat: “Well thanks for staying with us!  We enjoyed hosting you!  Best wishes and safe travels!”

and so on.  This is a HUGE time-saver.

Tip #2: SMART LOCKS

Physical keys are a pain in the butt for a few reasons.  They’re easily lost, they’re not very secure (easily duplicated), and they have to be physically handed to the guest or risk being stolen.  For that reason we recommend using a smart lock if at all possible.  Which one you pick will depend a lot on the type of space you have, how accessible it is to the general public, etc.  Here’s a few recommendations:

For a full house with a deadbolt, we really like the Schlage smart locks.  The Encode is a great choice if you don’t have any home automation in place already.  All it needs is Wifi and you can set and change the access code right from your phone.  We invite our guests to let us know what code they’d like to use, and then simply pre-set it for them before check-in.

For an interior door, the SoHoMill keypad lock is a great affordable lock.  It doesn’t let you change the code remotely but you can set up to 8 user codes and change them manually, and it’s a great alternative to a keyed inside lock.

Some spaces work well with garage-door entry.  For those, consider a keypad on the outside of the garage.  Either find one for your specific model of garage door opener, or you can find wired systems like this one.

Tip #3: CAMERAS

While cameras are a definite no-no inside the actual space (creepy AND illegal), we definitely recommend using them outside your space if possible.  This can help you remotely determine if a guest has arrived or left, for example, by seeing if their car is there.  There’s a lot of variables that go into how to pick the right camera (power outlet availability, indoor/outdoor, wireless reception, fixed vs pan/tilt/zoom, etc).  We’ve used Foscam cameras for years…they have a good blend of good prices with good performance, and appear to be a company with some staying power.  Here’s a nice Foscam outdoor bullet camera for less than $50 with great resolution, motion detection, and much more. Another good choice if you need a battery-powered outdoor camera is this one.

Tip #4: SMART THERMOSTATS

There’s nothing worse than a guest leaving your AC blasting after they’ve checked out, so we recommend getting a smart thermostat, which allows you to remotely monitor and even control the thermostat.  We’ve had good results with the Honeywell RTH6580WF which offers the ability to view and adjust the schedules and status remotely through their app.

Tip 5: SMART WATER MAIN VALVES

We were able to get a pretty substantial discount on our insurance policy by buying and installing a smart water main device.  Water damage from burst pipes is actually one of the most common insurance damage claims.  These devices are typically installed right near your main water shutoff valve, and connect via Wi-Fi and monitor the water usage in the space.  If they detect an unusually high flow rate, or an unusually long water usage period (which is often indicative of a stuck toilet valve, or worse, a burst pipe), they can alert you and even shut off the water for you remotely.  We use and have liked the Flo by Moen device, but several others exist.  You get regular water usage reports, and can review current status (flow rate, temperature, water pressure) in the app, and even turn the water off remotely from the app.

Tip #6: HOME AUTOMATION

Setting up a full-blown home automation system is not for the faint of heart, but there are lots of advantages if you’re able to do it.  We personally use a Z-Wave home automation setup, which uses a laptop as a server (this is easy enough when you live in house as well).  With this type of setup you purchase z-wave compatible devices like switches, door locks, thermostats, lights, etc.  The amount of control and flexibility you get is much greater, but again it’s a much more involved setup.  For example I have my z-wave thermostat in our Airbnb guesthouse set so that if the guest turns the AC below 70 degrees, it will wait 3 minutes and then turn it back up to 70 degrees (I’m sorry but you don’t need it to be 65 degrees in the house!).  Guests can use a remote control to program the AC to turn off for a set period of time (like 4 hours) if they’re going to be out for the day and then automatically turn back on, so the house is still nice and cool when they arrive back, but it hasn’t been having to run all day while they’re out.  We’ve been able to open and close the garage remotely, turn on and off hot tubs and pool lights, have motion sensors turn on a sequence of lights for arriving guests, etc.  The possibilities are endless.  If you’re technically inclined, we recommend looking into these types of systems.  We personally use Indigo which is a Macintosh-based controller, but there are several others out there.