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Ep.22 Jacquie’s STR tried to kill Tracie



Short Summary


We are all about making sure our Airbnb guests have the best stay possible so today we are sharing our own hilarious stories and pointing out some common mistakes hosts make when and before they list their properties. From missing items to potential hazards, we'll dive into the importance of envisioning the guest experience and staying in your own space before opening it up to guests.



In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Envision your guest experience

  • Create clear check-in instructions

  • Discover how to use signage to address quirks or issues in the space

  • Address issues before guests check in

Enhance guest experience

Envisioning the guest's experience can significantly enhance the quality of an Airbnb stay. This provides hosts with a unique insight into their properties, allowing them to understand their guests' needs, preferences, and potential issues more intimately. It’s a proactive approach that goes beyond mere functionality, focusing on creating a unique and memorable experience for all visitors.

Identify and rectify issues

Spending time in the rental property is an effective way to identify and resolve potential issues before guests arrive. This lessens the risk of guests experiencing problems during their stay, which could influence their overall satisfaction and reviews. From faulty household items to safety concerns, such issues, once identified, can then be promptly rectified, ensuring a safer, smoother, and hassle-free stay for all guests.

Pay attention to details

The smallest details can often make the most significant difference in improving a guest's stay. Be it the availability of a bottle opener, clear labeling of light switches, or specific amenities suited to the property's location, such attention to detail can greatly elevate the guest experience. It shows a host’s thoughtfulness and effort in creating a pleasant, personalized, and comfortable environment, setting the property apart from generic short-term rentals.


Action steps mentioned in this episode are:

  • Enhance the guest experience by envisioning every step of their stay, creating a memorable and enjoyable environment.

  • Identify and rectify missing items or issues in your new Airbnb setup to ensure a seamless experience for your guests.

  • Pay attention to small details that make a big difference in the guest experience, leaving them feeling pampered and well taken care of.

  • Immerse yourself in the space to thoroughly identify any overlooked items or issues before your guests arrive, ensuring a stress-free stay for both parties.

  • Prioritize safety and address potential hazards in your rental properties, giving your guests peace of mind and a worry-free experience.


Link and Resources


Subscribe for free episode bonus materials: https://www.thestrinsiders.com


Join the conversation with Tracie on Facebook: https://www.fb.com/groups/strcentral


Follow Jacquie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/5starbnb/



Transcription

00:04

Tracie Fowler

Welcome to The STR Insiders Podcast. We share tips for achieving your STR goals, aha moments, funny stories, and all the latest gossip of this STR life. Listen in as we keep it real and maybe a little sassy. Celebrate successes and own all the mistakes we've made along the way. Whether you're new to real estate investing, new to short term rentals, or a seasoned pro, there's something here for you. Jacquie is an STR property manager who consults with individuals looking to grow their own property management firm. Tracie owns STR consulting and media firms that provide education to investors who want to learn all about STR investing. For more information, please visit www.thestrinsiders.com.


00:54

Tracie Fowler

Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The STR Insiders Podcast. Jacquie's phone's going off in the background.


01:01

Jacquie Mosher

I just silenced it.


01:06

Tracie Fowler

Today we're going to start talking about some of the listing mistakes we see with new Airbnb setups, both in terms of the property itself as well as online on Airbnb. And I have a feeling this one's going to run a little long. So, you might have to stick around for two whole episodes to catch all the tips we're going to drop for you.


01:29

Jacquie Mosher

Secret sauce todayguys, we are giving all the secret sauce out, like what to do, what not to do. This is where all the good stuffs at. So, number one, envisioning the guest experience. Envisioning what your guest is experiencing when they are in your space. Say you just get your first property, and you are really starting to put together the design around the space and starting to stock the space. And I think it's really important to think about what your guest is experiencing when they're staying in the space. And a great way to do this is once you have furnished the space, stay in the space for a few days. Cook in the space. Use the space like you would if you were on vacation and figure out what's missing.


02:21

Tracie Fowler

Yeah, I like to be my first guest. I was your first guest.


02:25

Jacquie Mosher

That's true.


02:27

Tracie Fowler

PS. Jacquie tried to kill me.


02:29

Jacquie Mosher

And thank God that I almost tried.


02:32

Tracie Fowler

Thank God you tried to kill me.


02:34

Jacquie Mosher

Thank God you were in the space and not a guest. Tracie was my first guest at my Alpaca Airbnb. We were still finishing up some stuff there. She came to stay, and she helped me paint it. We drank a lot of champagne and got the space in really great shape. And one of the first nights that she was staying there, was it the carbon monoxide alarm was going off in the middle of the night?


02:59

Tracie Fowler

I think it was the last night that I was there, I think. Yeah. And the carbon monoxide alarm woke me up. I think it was like 4:00 or 05:00 in the morning. It was early in the morning. Like the sun was just rising. And I'm like, “What the?”, but we had been smelling little whiffs of gas odor here and there. Yeah. Then apparently it was enough for the carbon monoxide detector, which, case in point, make sure that's one of the things you have in there before you even stay. Make sure your detectors that's right. Safety first.


03:34

Jacquie Mosher

Was that the nest alarm that we installed, or did you stay before I got that alarm installed?


03:39

Tracie Fowler

I'm not sure. Whatever alarm it was going off. I couldn't figure out what was happening. It was the crack of dawn, and I had your other property literally across the lawn that was empty and set up. So I was like, whatever. I'm just going to go sleep on the sofa in the other unit. And I knew you would be there in the morning to finish working on that one, and then I would talk to you about it and we'd figure it out.


04:04

Jacquie Mosher

I walked in and Tracie was sleeping on the couch, and I was like, what happened?


04:09

Tracie Fowler

I didn't have that much champagne, people.


04:14

Jacquie Mosher

She was like, the carbon monoxide alarm has been going off for a while. You should probably go check on that. First of all, I feel awful that happened to you, but I was very glad it was not a guest, and it was not my first review. This house was just inspected. Just inspected when I purchased it. But went in there know, Allan tore through everything and pretty much figured out that the heating mechanism, a hose had fallen off and was trying to kill Tracie. We had it fixed, and it was so great that we worked out those kinks before the first guest checked in.


04:54

Tracie Fowler

Well, when have you stayed somewhere? Because, I mean, you do a lot of setups, and that's part of your process to stay in the unit. Right? When have you ever stayed somewhere that there wasn't anything that needed to be resolved? Has that ever happened?


05:08

Jacquie Mosher

Not even once. We've had some pretty serious things come up, too. There was that one rental in Myrtle Beach where I'm staying in the unit, and every time I go to cook a meal, it's setting off this fire alarm that was just placed so close to the stovetop. I have no issues taking a fire alarm down and moving it, but my handyman was going to be there later that day, so I left it. And when he was there, I was like, hey, while you're here, do you mind moving this fire alarm? And he goes to unscrew this fire alarm and electrocutes himself.


05:48

Tracie Fowler

Oh, that's right. While you were interviewing someone, right?


05:52

Jacquie Mosher

Yeah. I was doing a video interview in the living room, and literally, Wi-Fi goes out, lights go out. The handyman falls across the floor like it's the most dramatic thing. He is electrocuted in the kitchen.


06:04

Tracie Fowler

Well, I'm glad you didn't move the smoke detector.


06:08

Jacquie Mosher

Exactly. But you know what I'm thinking is, oh, my God, the first guest would have been cooking dinner. They're setting this alarm off. They're going to take the fire alarm down, and then a guest would have electrocuted themselves. This poor handyman, too. I went in there and I was like, Are you okay? Can I get you anything? And he's like, can you just grab me a beer?


06:30

Tracie Fowler

I mean, it's myrtle. It's a dirty myrtle. It's par for the course.


06:35

Jacquie Mosher

I can do that for you, I'm sorry. But apparently the contractor, the professional contractor that this property owner hired had used painting tape to tape a bunch of the electrical that he had ran. So were able to discover that. And when the owner was in town a few weeks later, he went through and double checked all the electrical and removed a bunch of painting tape from both his units and used electrical tape instead. So these little things that you're so glad that you catch before a guest checks in. But that would have never been found if weren't staying in the space and experiencing the space and knowing what a guest would do when they're cooking their meal. They would have gone to remove that fire alarm, and it would have been a big ordeal. Staying in the space is so important. And then it's just the small stuff, right?


07:31

Jacquie Mosher

It's like, oh, there's not a bottle opener in the kitchen, or I'm missing a ladle. Or it's those little things you're going to find just using the space like you would your own, that you're going to go and pick up and make sure that guests have everything they need during their vacation. Or maybe you're in a beach rental and you're like, I really wish there were some beach chairs that I could take down to the beach.


07:58

Tracie Fowler

Oh, you're killing me right now. That's my current thing because I don't really want to offer beach chairs. So for anyone listening, I'm actually not a beach person. I mean, I like the ocean at night, but I don't get in the water. I burn like crazy. I literally have an allergic reaction to ocean water, but I love the sound of the beach and all that. So now I have a beach house, and I don't hang out at the beach when the sun is up, so I don't need all this nonsense. But, yeah, I literally was working on that today, was like, all right, so where's the line for me? I ordered coolers and a beach mat and all kinds of stuff earlier today. So, yeah, totally. But one of the things for me, so first of all, I like to stay in a property for at least a week, not just a night or two, because things like a wine opener or a ladle won't come up if you're there briefly.


08:52

Tracie Fowler

But if you're really staying somewhere, you'll start to discover all these little things that you've overlooked, like, oh, how didn't I think about this? Now, we have set up lists on the website that have really a lot of the information for some of this stuff, but every property is different, so there are going to be things that you needed, some you don't need at others. In case in point, when I stayed at my townhouse in Colorado the first time, I mean, I live in the mountains now, but they're not Colorado mountains. I'm somewhere around 2000 elevation. It's over 6000 up there, that's a big difference. And it's dry where it's humid here. I had to add humidifiers to the spaces and it's come up multiple times from guests, like having that kind of thing. Because when someone travels there for the first time, elevation sickness alone is really common. And you're in high desert, so dehydration is huge. And it was just like, I felt like I was cracking up, literally. Like my lips, my skin, the moisture is being sucked out of my body by the atmosphere here, and so I bought that for myself. But it's that you're your first guest or somebody else is. Hell reach out, I'll be your dummy guest. You can try to kill me with your gas leaks. But you're not even the first one I dealt with that year. You're the second one, you know, and the first one was worse. So, you know I'm a pro at this now.


10:28

Jacquie Mosher

I'm glad you weren't even phased when.


10:30

Tracie Fowler

I just exited the building. I'm like. Okay. Bye bye. We don't mess with gas.


10:35

Jacquie Mosher

And you know what I think is, in addition to the point you just made, it's great to have those things like humidifiers in the space or whatever it may because you're anticipating your guest needs by staying in the space and realizing what is needed. But it's those moments where I also think to myself, maybe I should write up some altitude sickness pieces of advice to put into the house manual so that the guest has some information regarding altitude sickness so that they can be preventative. It's not just outfitting the space. When you're staying in the space, it's okay, what information needs to be provided to the guests so that they're having a great vacation?


11:16

Tracie Fowler

Yeah. I didn't know for a long time that they sold canned air in individual bottles. That would have been amazing. And I have had multiple friends and family come out and stay in that property. One was like having such a severe reaction. He was having nosebleeds. And to be able to hand someone some oxygen and a bottled big bottle of water when they arrive and go, trust me, do it now, would have made a big difference. But I think really what we're getting at is identifying the problems and the challenges that guests are going to experience and solving them proactively, both in terms of amenity and offering as well as in your communication. I've had guests stay and make comments like, they had things I didn't even know I needed. And that for me is like when you've really done your job well when a guest doesn't even know that they're going to need something or that they want something, and sometimes it's my awesome trash can or my sheep, but sometimes it's something more practical like the dehumidifier. And that all comes, at least for me, when you're staying in the space, it's very hard to imagine all of those scenarios outside of the property, not.


12:32

Jacquie Mosher

Only anticipating the needs of the guests, but identifying problems with the guests. Like if you go out to use the hot tub in your own Airbnb and you find that maybe it doesn't have as much privacy as you thought, and you're making eye contact with the neighbor, you're going to realize in that moment that maybe you should put up some greenery or something to hopefully make guests feel more comfortable when they're using your hot tub. And you're just going to have those experiences where you're like, these are the problems my guests are going to run into. These are the things my guest needs. You're going to be able to really get into the head and the shoes of the guests and hopefully address all those things before a guest ever checks into your space.


13:14

Tracie Fowler

Yeah. One of the things that you brought to my attention earlier today, and as I admitted, I have not done this for the Florida property yet, is the picture check instructions. Yeah. So, what's the deal with yeah, picture check instructions?


13:30

Jacquie Mosher

We have realized, because we do this professionally, that the only way to add picture by picture check instructions on the Airbnb platform is through the app. You can't do it through your computer on the Airbnb website. You have to use the phone app to add these picture by picture check instructions. And these are so you know there's a lot of Airbnb’s out there that are down an alley or they're a backyard cottage or they're a secondary unit. You're not walking just up to a front door all the time. When you're staying at a short term rental, it's important to have picture by picture check instructions covering where people are parking, how many people can park there, where the entrance is, how to use the keypad to avoid first of all, somebody getting frustrated that they can't get into the space or somebody rating you poorly on check in. But also to avoid just your phone going off the hook every single time a guest checks in. And when you're dealing with as many guests as I do, you want the 04:00 p.m. hour or the check in hour to be smooth and quiet. You don't want to be worrying about trying to call multiple guests back because too many people are calling you at once. So, putting together those clear check instructions with all the information anyone is going to need while they are checking into the space is essential, important. At the end of the day, the guest doesn't want to call you, and they probably don't even want to talk to you, so let them check in and find the bed and find the rest and all that.


15:04

Tracie Fowler

Well, I mean, I don't ever want to talk to my host, honestly. Ironically, I send multiple messages from start to finish, but as long as I have my check information when I need it and if I message you, I get a response. Very rare that I say anything. It has to be awful, like, urgent for me to reach out because everyone's got their own flavor.


15:29

Jacquie Mosher

People like to keep themselves.


15:32

Tracie Fowler

Yeah, I try to really do try to be polite, but really don't want to engage. Mostly just because I don't want a host to look at my profile and then usually translates to, oh, I would love some feedback, or essentially free consulting is what happens. So, I try to be really under the radar, because if you look at my profile, I have dozens of as a guest Airbnb review and then hundreds as a so, like, as soon as somebody you know, it's the same for you. Right. If somebody sees that, then they start talking to you and you're like, okay.


16:10

Jacquie Mosher

I think people get a little nervous when they see me book their rental. Yeah, it's like thousands of reviews.


16:17

Tracie Fowler

Yeah, you have thousands. I have still, you know, a relative newbie compared to Jacquie over here. That's the other reason that I try not to reach out, because I don't want to make a host feel, like, overly anxious or concerned, because some of you may not like what I'm about to say, but it's the truth. If I can't give you five stars, I'm not going to leave you a review unless it is blatantly awful. It's either like a five or a one from me. And I feel like I'm pretty generous with fives because of what we do for a living. Then I don't want to be overly judgmental of someone else. I do not do the well, this is what I do at my place. I don't do that. But yeah. So, try to stay real low key, like under the radar almost. I don't want people so I don't engage with hosts a whole lot when I'm their guest. But back on topic.


17:10

Jacquie Mosher

That was a fun rabbit trail.


17:15

Tracie Fowler

This is the ADD child over here. We love our editor. She's great. She's going to make all this sound great. So, it's okay. We can have a real conversation, but staying in the space, the other thing that you guys do so well, and it was one of the reasons when we started working together, when you came in and did more signage and labeling than I did because I felt like I was being excessive already, doing the cabinets and the light switches and stuff. And then you guys had one for the front door, and you mentioned the Wi-Fi, which I've never even thought of doing this before, but I thought it was a great idea.


17:52

Jacquie Mosher

Signage. You don't want to be excessive with signage to an extent. I think that there's a lot of hosts that can be passive aggressive through signage. Nobody wants to feel like they can't feel comfortable in a space and that they're getting yelled at through signage or they're being reminded that it's not their space. So, anything that you put up signage related should be helpful to the guest, and it should be where they're experiencing that problem, maybe. So, like, if you have a particularly strange washing machine, for example, to use, maybe you'll put instructions up for that. Or, like, door locks. We always put instructions on how to use a keypad above the keypad because so many people struggle with that.


18:38

Tracie Fowler

Seriously, it's brilliant. It sounds so simple, but you're maybe the only property maybe I've stayed in one out of 100 that does that when you come to the front door, there are instructions on the door.


18:53

Jacquie Mosher

But hey should be warm, too. They should be warm. Warm wording, welcoming, you know, welcome to your space. Whatever it is, you know. Make sure your signage is warm in communication and know. And one of the things we have done that Tracie's referring to is we have some remote properties where we know when you're standing outside, most people are not going to have Wi-Fi. They're not going to be able to access their messages,


19:22

Tracie Fowler

No phone coverage up in some of your remote mountain locations. So, if you don't already have it, you're screwed.


19:29

Jacquie Mosher

Yeah. And what we do to make sure that guests aren't having any issues, we put a cute little sign in the front door, the Wi-Fi information and a QR code to scan to log onto the Wi-Fi quickly so that if somebody's checking in and they don't have access to their check information, they're able to walk up to the front door and see that Wi-Fi information and access their check information without feeling like they need to drive up the street or call us or whatever it may be. So, what I really like about this example is it's identifying the problem and giving the guests the answer when they're experiencing the problem. So when you're in a space, if there's something quirky or weird about your space and you can see the guest standing in that spot, experiencing that hiccup or that problem, that's a good place for a sign, a helpful warm sign to kind of talk them through whatever they're experiencing and meeting that need before they have to pick up the phone or start trying to dig for information. And that's where signage, I think, is appropriate.


20:36

Tracie Fowler

Yeah. And you guys do such a nice job. I mean, they're very clean and simple. But to your point, you're not barking at someone either. I know. If you go back to one of our first episodes where were with Sabrina talking about setups that wow, she dives into the whole labeling side of it. And there's an art to it. Even these minor things, like using clear labels so that you don't have this weird white square all over your cabinets, those little things make such a difference in the subtle nature of the signage. I've stayed in a place that had just, like, handwritten stuff all over the place, and I felt like there were so many signs, I couldn't find the right one to tell me the thing I actually needed. This happened to me a couple of years ago, so I've stayed on the other side of that where it's like, okay, I get the intention, but the execution is terrible.


21:30

Tracie Fowler

So there's definitely a delicate balance. But having the light switches labeled sounds silly to a lot of people. But I can tell you, as a frequent guest, it is one of the most annoying things to constantly be flipping every single switch to find the one that you need. It's easy to fix.


21:50

Jacquie Mosher

Especially if you have an excess amount of light switches, which I feel like we have a few rentals that just there are light switches, like, everywhere.


21:57

Tracie Fowler

Wait till you go to St. Augustine. We have, like, mystery switches. It's insane. A guy who owned an electrical company used to own that house, so he just put in extras everywhere. It's nuts.


22:08

Jacquie Mosher

We try to cap the ones that are not in use. Another thing that I've seen that I really think is cool is on Etsy. You can actually order light switch plates that are printed on, and you can choose different fonts or colors. And I feel like that's a super. Like, if you're setting it up for Airbnb, how fun is that to just order light switch plates where whatever that light switch controls is labeled?


22:39

Tracie Fowler

It's beautiful.


22:40

Jacquie Mosher

It's beautiful. It really is. People love that stuff. They love feeling like they have that power at their fingertips and that they know what's going on.


22:50

Tracie Fowler

Well, that's really helpful, but people also recognize the effort and the intention that it took to deliver those smaller things. And that's one of the things, I think, that comes up a lot in your properties and in mine, is that so much effort was put into this. I can tell the host cares about my stay. It's not just, throw some furniture in there and start making some money. So the Wi-Fi signage is definitely something that I've never heard of that before, but it makes perfect sense in those remote areas that you want someone to have some type of computer functionality if they're locked out.


23:34

Jacquie Mosher

And another thing, too, to think about, and this is from a personal experience I had staying at an Airbnb once, is people can't access the Wi-Fi information if you provide it through message. It needs to be posted in the rental somewhere. It needs to. And I have checked into an Airbnb where they provided it through message, but because I don't have Wi-Fi. In that moment, I can't get the password and then felt extremely frustrated that I did not have access to the Wi Fi because they didn't post it anywhere in the unit.


24:05

Tracie Fowler

Agreed.


24:06

Jacquie Mosher

Again, just these logistical type items. These are really great things to work the kinks out while you're staying in your unit and just walking through it like you would a guest and going through those steps yourself. We gave out all the secret sauce today.


24:23

Tracie Fowler

Yeah, you're covered in sauce.


24:25

Jacquie Mosher

You're all covered in sauce.


24:27

Tracie Fowler

We're feeling saucy.


24:32

Jacquie Mosher

You're welcome.


24:36

Tracie Fowler

Well, thank you for tuning in to our mini-series on the mistakes to avoid with your new listing on Airbnb. Catch you soon.


24:48

Jacquie Mosher

If you enjoyed this episode, we'd be so grateful if you rated and reviewed it. Also subscribe for more insider knowledge, we can help you get the edge in the STR world. You can find additional resources for your STR journey, as well as our social media handles at thestrinsiders.com.



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