What began as a couple of broke guys renting an air mattress on the floor of their apartment has turned into a global hospitality business worth over $31 billion USD. And in the past decade, it has grown from that one mattress to more than 5 million lodging options in 191 countries.
In our travels around the world, we’ve stayed in dozens of Airbnbs in dozens of countries. We love meeting locals and seeing how they really live. We’ve had some amazing experiences that have led to ongoing friendships, and we’ve had some miserable stays that have led to us fleeing in the middle of the night (here’s looking at you, Genoa, Italy).
Among the wonderful hosts, we’ve found some common factors that lead to a great Airbnb. And most of them are small, affordable additions that make a big difference for guests. Here are nine cheap and easy Airbnb upgrades all travelers will appreciate.
1. Make the wifi code easy to find. We’re often sent this information in the confirmation email from hosts, but if we don’t have Internet service on our phone, then we can’t get the code. See the catch-22?
If you’re an Airbnb host, post the code somewhere conspicuous. And perhaps in a couple of places, such as next to the router, on the refrigerator, and in your guest manual. Speaking of which …
2. Have a guest manual. It doesn’t have to be professionally designed. It can even be a single sheet of paper. But having a written guide for your house is the best way to ensure guests enjoy their stay and also the best way to make sure your rules are followed. It may be part of your online listing, but typically only one person in the group will read that information, and they often don’t remember to pass the details along to everyone else.
If you’re an Airbnb host, put all of your house rules, helpful information, local recommendations, and other details down on paper for easy reference by all guests.
3. Add more hooks. Your Airbnb can have all the bells and whistles, but if there’s nowhere to hang a towel, the experience is, well, dampened. Six beds and only one towel bar? That won’t work. And a chest of drawers is nice, but if you’re traveling, sometimes you need to hang your clothes to let them air out rather than folding them and putting them away.
If you’re an Airbnb host, get thee to an IKEA for a dozen inexpensive wall hooks and add them to the backs of all your bedroom and bathroom doors. If there isn’t a closet or clothes rack in the bedrooms, hang a few extra hooks on the walls there, too.
4. Provide a fan. I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb where I got too cold at night. Hosts are great about providing extra blankets and duvets, and if those weren’t enough, I could always add another layer of clothes and socks to be toasty and comfortable. But I have stayed at Airbnb locations all over the world where I sweated through the sheets with no relief, especially when traveling with our boys and staying in family-style spaces where pajamas were not optional.
If you’re an Airbnb host, make a cheap box fan or two available regardless of your climate; ideally, one per bedroom. They’re a must in tropical locales, but they’re also welcomed by guests staying in overheated homes in the snow, too.
5. Offer some kind of breakfast. The second “b” in Airbnb stands for breakfast, as in bed and breakfast, and it makes a big difference to travelers who check in late in the day and don’t know their way around town. Even if it’s just enough for the first morning of an extended stay, it’s very much appreciated by your guests. It doesn’t have to be a big variety or a big expense on your part — just something to tide them over until they can find a grocery store or a restaurant. It will only cost you a few dollars, and it will get you additional bookings from people who are torn between your place and the one next door that doesn’t offer anything. We’ve made that choice numerous times during our travels.
If you’re an Airbnb host, provide an inexpensive loaf of bread or rolls, plus a few tea bags and some instant coffee. It doesn’t have to be any fancier than that.
6. Leave the leftover pantry staples. If previous guests leave things like salt and pepper, olive oil, and dried spices when they check out, then leave those for the next guests. Those can be expensive grocery purchases for just a couple of uses, and they allow cooks to make the most of your kitchen. The same goes for aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and sandwich bags.
If you’re an Airbnb host, leave any nonperishable food items and kitchen materials from previous guests. It doesn’t cost you anything and makes you look generous at the same time.
7. Share a guest book. One of our favorite things to do is learn about all of the other travelers who have visited an Airbnb before us. Where were they from? Were they traveling alone, with friends, or as a family? Sometimes people leave photos or drawings or, in one case, paper currency from their home country that paints a picture of shared experiences in a single space. It creates a sense of community that’s really special.
If you’re an Airbnb host, put out a blank journal or notebook along with a pen or some pencils, and watch the magic happen.
8. Give GPS coordinates. Some Airbnbs are easy to find on a map. Others can only be located using instructions such as, “Look for the barbershop pole, then turn left at the goats.” When street addresses aren’t effective, GPS coordinates will help guests find their way.
If you’re an Airbnb host, share your latitude and longitude with guests in the confirmation email. Don’t know your GPS coordinates? Get them here for free.
9. Tell people how to park. Guests arriving by car need parking details before they enter your Airbnb. Is there a convenient lot nearby? Can they park on the street for free during certain hours? Is there a garage or parking lot with gated access that needs a code? These details make for an easier arrival and contribute to a smooth check-in process.
If you’re an Airbnb host, include parking information in your confirmation email. And for travelers who may arrive by train or bus, provide the name of the nearest stop.
Never stayed in an Airbnb before? Give it a shot and let us know what you think! This link will save you $40 off your first trip.