House Rule: No Parties

A guest just wrote this in his review.

Not good for parties if there are squares staying at the same place.

And further cementing the idea that he booked without reading anything, here’s the full text of his review:

Pool was nice but shared with five or six other places. Clean place though and peaceful area. Not good for parties if there are squares staying at the same place.

Yes, Casey, if you are reading this, here’s what it says about the pool:

The pool is shared by eight units in four duplex houses surrounding a large common back yard.

Marriage Proposal!

Someone just left this review:

After being on a cruise for a week, Matthew’s place was just what we needed to relax! It was marvelous and exceeded all of our expectations! The house was clean, warm and inviting; just enough space for my fiancé and I! It was also close to local stores and some of our favorite restaurants. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to end our trip; my fiancé even proposed on our last night at this place! This place now holds a special place in our heart and We will definitely be booking again!

In my experience, reviews are often more a function of whether the guest enjoyed their vacation than whether the apartment was actually good or bad. I guess you can’t go wrong when the guest gets a marriage proposal!


Naked, Passed Out on the Floor

What actually happened:

Cleaning lady found him naked and passed out on the floor and had to call the property manager to wake him up and throw him out.

The review I wrote:

Overslept the checkout time by an hour, but left quickly when woken. Otherwise a fine guest.

Handy Bits of Text

Put this in your house rules:

Quiet hours are from 9pm to 8am. There are working professionals in neighboring units who have to be at work at 8am. They will not hesitate to call the police if you are loud or throw a party.

When people ask for a discount:

I’m sorry, but I keep my prices low and have almost 100% occupancy, so I don’t offer any discounts.

When people ask about payment or deposits:

Airbnb handles the financial end, and they don’t give me any visibility into how it works. If you have questions about payments or deposits, you’ll need to call them.

This sounds foam!

Sometimes Google Translate is great. I mean, sometimes a word or a phrase is a little off, but generally it’s quite understandable. But sometimes you get this:


Det här låter skum! Vi kan inte gå in på Airbnb! Har du erfarenhet när det gäller återbetalningar? Det står att vi skulle ha pengar inom 5-7 dagar nu är dag 12 och vi har ingen åning hur detta fungerar?

This sounds foam! We can’t go into Airbnb! Do you have experience regarding repayments? It says that we would have money within 5-7 days now is day 12 and we have no crap how this works?

It’s Easy to Get Started Renting on Airbnb

I never cease to be amazed how impossibly difficult various “experts” make it seem to get started on Airbnb. I just happened across one on the internet who said, “Amenities need to be meticulously clean, of quality, be relevant and coordinated tastefully.” I think she was selling interior decoration services.

People rent out tents in their back yard and get five stars. Look at this listing for a sailboat. 123 reviews, five star-average, Superhost, as of this writing.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21989518?location=Key%20West%2C%20FL%2C%20United%20States&guests=1&adults=1&s=gGTOBPcO

No frills accommodations. Great for nature lovers/outdoor enthusiasts/adventure travelers! Budget “boatcamping’ w/NO AC JUST FANS. The 22-foot sailboat is simple, cute & all yours. It’s moored in a peaceful shallow channel, 4-5 miles (driving) from Old Town/Duval St. THE BOAT IS NOT IN A MARINA. Access to shore/Boat is a 5 minute kayak paddle with FREE Unlimited use! Designed for 2 people, it’s possible to fit 3. Camping means Solar shower, porto potty. No NIGHT check in;Arrive by sunset!The space

This is primitive CAMPING on a small, 22-foot boat & is NOT in a marina, but a shallow channel that you NEED to KAYAK to.For this reason you should have experience on kayaks and be able to propel yourself through the water without assistance – it can be windy. You should be a capable swimmer in case of emergency. The boat is not attached to land.

The point is: you can get started very easily. You don’t have to make big, up-front investments. Start with what you have, see if you like it, see if it works for you, and then begin to upgrade.

The trick is to be very upfront in the description. You need to set expectations in the first sentence. It could be, “Old, unrenovated apartment sparsely equipped with well-worn, second-hand furniture.” Set your price accordingly, and guests will be happy.

Early Check-in? Just After Midnight?

File this under “some people just don’t get it” …

Hello, my name is Mya, and I have a quick question. My flight is scheduled to arrive at 11:10 pm on the 8th can I still check in if anyone doesn’t book for the 8th it will still technically be the 9th once I arrive to your home after midnight?

What is a “Channel Manager”?

There are dozens of web-based services for managing Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, Booking.com, and all of the other short-term rental sites. (Actually most of them just manage Airbnb plus maybe one of the other major platforms.)

They all claim to be a “channel manager”. This term is hopelessly, meaninglessly vague. And yet the marketing materials all just say, “It’s a Channel Manager! Pay upfront for a year!”

I did a web-based demo last night and I asked directly, “I don’t know what a Channel Manager is. What is it, exactly?” And I got this completely meaningless, completely unhelpful response:

Well, the Channel Manager handles all of the connections to the booking platforms.

I wanted to scream. What exactly flows across this connection? Because it really matters. Here’s an inside guide:

Rudimentary Channel Managers

The basic capability is calendar synchronization. Yep, that’s it. And that’s all that some products do in this category. When one platform gets a booking, they see it (hopefully quickly) and they block out those nights on all of the other platforms (also hopefully quickly). This prevents double-booking.

Another fairly basic capability is consolidating messages. This is also called “unified inbox”. When guests on any platform send you a message, the channel manager grabs the message and imports it. This allows you to read and respond to all of the messages in one place.

Of course, you can read and respond to all of your message right from your email box, and that’s just one place. Typically a “unified inbox” will also display the booking details and will display the messages in a nicely formatted manner.

More Advanced Channel Manager Features

Here are capabilities that most “Channel Managers” don’t implement, but some do:

  • Pushing prices to each platform
  • Pushing minimum and maximum stays to each platform
  • Pushing listing descriptions to each platform
  • Pushing photos to each platform

What is a PMS?

Well, as the salesguy helpfully explained:

It’s the meat and potatoes of the system. It’s where you manage everything about your property.

I haven’t figured this one out yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Setting Your Base Price

This the second part in my review of dynamic pricing software for Airbnb. I’m looking in detail at BeyondPricing, Wheelhouse, and PriceLabs. See the first installment here:

The Quick Summary

The starting point for using each of these packages is to set your “base price”. This is a nightly rate that is supposed to be the average of your nightly rates across an entire year. If you charge $150/night six months of the year and $50/night the other six, then your base rate is $100/night.

Wheelhouse will actually calculate and recommend a base rate for you. The initial calculation is based on location, the characteristics of the property (how many people it sleeps, etc), and past booking history (if any). As time goes by, it watches how the listing performs, and it will refine the base rate up or down.

I use Wheelhouse and for the last four months have periodically recorded all of the recommended base prices in a spreadsheet. For my five listings that have more than two years of history, the recommendations fluctuated just 1-2% from Oct 15 to Dec 11.

But for my new listings, where there was no history, Wheelhouse started high and then gradually lowered prices, some more than others. Again, Oct 15 to Dec 11:

  • Dixie #2: $81 🠆 $77
  • Dixie #5: $73 🠆 $57
  • Poolhouse #1: $149 🠆 $126
  • Poolhouse #3: $101 🠆 $99

And then at the end of December I got an email from Wheelhouse saying that they had rejiggered their algorithm.

We’ve been listening to your feedback and working on — among many things — some exciting updates to the foundation of Wheelhouse Pricing: the base price model.

<snip>

For more information about how and why we made improvements to the Wheelhouse base price model, check out our blog posthere.

All of my prices dropped. The listings with 2+ years of history all dropped 2-3%, but the new listings dropped drastically:

  • Dixie #2: $77 🠆 $58
  • Dixie #5: $57 🠆 $47
  • Poolhouse #1: $126 🠆 $87
  • Poolhouse #3: $99 🠆 $73

How Wheelhouse Sets the Base Price


In addition to offering a specific recommendation for the base price, Wheelhouse makes an effort to explain where it comes from. Big thumbs up to Wheelhouse on both points. And yet, I find their explanation very frustrating.

A minor frustration is the chat button that covers the most important number. By repeatedly resizing the window I was able to figure out that it is $137. But that’s minor.

The real frustration is that there are three variables that I can immediately and easily tweak to change the apparent value of my listing: “sleeps”, photos and fees. And yet, of photos and fees, I don’t know which one to attack. And what’s this about “etc”?

I typically have 20-25 photos on my listings. I had real elsewhere that having lots of photos was important, but seeing it here spurred me into action. I called my photographer and told him to give me a lot more photos.

Then I thought to ask Wheelhouse support how many photos were needed. “About 10” was the answer. Hmmmm…. How about some help on “fees”? For very little effort Wheelhouse could break these apartment and offer another very valuable piece of information to owners.

How much will I get if I replace the sofa with a sofa sleeper (ie, couch that turn opens up into a queen-size bed) and increase “sleeps” from three to four? It’d be nice to know, and I’m sure Wheelhouse has the data. Maybe the topic of a blog post?

Thin Walls? Put on a Show?

Sometimes I have no idea what potential guests are trying to say, but I still know that it is a very bad idea …

Good morning. I’d like to book your place feb11-12. It’ll be our last night together we fly out of FLL on Tuesday at 7am so it’s perfect. My question are the wall thin? No loud music that the issue its just because I’ve heard I can put on a show in the bedroom. He’d asked me to ask the host so we’re/he’s won’t be embarrassed and are asked to be quiet . Other than that I’m ready to book. I look forward for your response. Thanks