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I remember when I first became an Airbnb host, it was so exciting when I received my very first inquiry! It was a couple days after the professional photos were posted on the site by Airbnb and I think I peed my pants just a little. I had no idea on pricing, or really how the whole process worked.
My first inquiry sent a little message, as many people do, with their inquiry for specific dates. I remember feeling extremely choosy about who we let into our home, our sancuary. I remember asking follow-up questions to help us determine if they were "good enough" for our space.
I felt so protective of our space. I wanted to only accept people who I felt I would like to hang out with of be buddies with. I also need to add, we were renting out our whole space at this time, so there would actually be very little interaction with our guests after check-in and we left for our mini holiday. I never rejected someone, but I was being very silly.
In the early days, there was considerably more back and forth through email. For one thing, I wasn't completely sure what guests generally asked or expected. I have professional experience with dealing with students studying abroad, but that is a whole different can of wiggly worms. Many of these emails now feel unnessicary.
My goal was to make my guests feel cared for. I wanted them to feel as if they were the most important thing to me and they are special. I was polite and trying to wear the hat of a travel agent.
Once I got past the initial honeymoon phase, this faded. I still got extremely excited when I received an inquiry, but I realized it's best to have potential guests book as soon as possible, with less back and forth. No matter how spellbinding my wiring is, people want to figure out their their accommodation as soon as possible. The longer we carried on, the more likely for them to book and finalize with another listing.
Through experience I learned, when a potential booking him-hawed for some time, was not a good sign. Either they would eventually cancel or be really needy (this is not a hardcore rule, but a feeling)-- neither options I'm a huge fan of.
As I learned what guests wanted and needed to know, I started to answer their questions before they even asked: I became preemptive. Doing this decreased the back and forth time-- fewer emails are being sent back and forth, with the same information being shared. This makes me sound very organized and experienced. Albeit, I am organized and experinced, but guests don't know this.
I also created email templates, which saves me considerable time. I found I kept sending similar emails to my guests, so why not use the same email and not retype it each time? Of course, I would add personal touches to each email, but in general the message body is the same.
I compiled a list of various templates, and may not use all of them. Some people ask for information about transportation rental, while others do not. Each time someone asked a new question, either I modify one of my current emails or create a new one. If one person asks the question, I'm sure other guests are wondering the same, but not asking. Therefore I wish to take advantage of this insite, and be forthcoming with the information. All additional local information about my area is a huge value to my guests. It is extremely appreciated when I am able to advise which scooter rental company, or airport transport is the most reliable and has the best prices.
I use Google Docs to keep track of my templates. I love it because I can access the document from anywhere. You are able to easily share the document with other people and modify it. Although any computer program where you are able to store and modify text would work. Whatever you are comfortable with is best.
Unfortunately Airbnb does not have the capability to have templates. I find this a little surprising, but I expect it is their attempt at keeping communication personal and unique. But there are ways to work around this -- my email template Google Doc.
Another reason I love templates, and one that many people don't mention, sometimes it's a rather challenging to sound positive and professional through email. If you receive inquire notifications to your phone, and respond to them late at night or early morning, sometimes it's best to have the message already written out. Therefore, you just need to copy and paste and personalize it. I know I'm not very good at writing out social niceties before my first cup of coffee in the morning, so I use my templates.
My standards in regards to asking follow-up questions to determine if the potential guest would be a good fit, have seriously loosened. I am no longer looking for people to hang out with, but making sure they will treat my home with respect. If a potential guest sends an inquiry email that roughly says who would be staying and a little about themselves I am a happy camper and pre-approve them.
I ask additional questions, when I question how many people will be staying, their purpose in town, or if I smell something fishy. The main reason I need to decline and say "thanks, but no thanks" is when a large group inquires and there is absolutely no way we can accommodate their size. Even if the inquiry doesn't have other host reviews, I take them seriously; I feel everyone needs to start somewhere.
I am constantly updating my email templates. They have become an invaluable tool to me as a host, along side my house guidebook, I think they save me considerable time and stress. I feel as a host I am always looking for ways to streamline my system and this is one way I do it.
How do you handle emails? Do you have a system? If so, what have you found to work and not work?
Ashley Parent is an Airbnb host and instigates the magic at http://blissylife.com. She is having a hard time staying in her seat with the excitement of the release of her new eBook Portable Bed & Breakfast: Empower Your Freedom Lifestyle With Airbnb.
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