The Airbnb Ambassador & Super Host Coach, “a.k.a. A-Coach,” sat in her office when the phone rang. It was on the Airbnb business line, and she picked it up.
“A-Coach here. How may I help you.”
“Hi, coach. I am Joanna from your Facebook group. I have never worked in the hospitality industry. How can I learn the communications part of hosting?”
In the hospitality business, communications is a journey.
“Thanks for your question, Joanna. Communication skills are EVERYTHING. It all starts with the listing you write. Write the listing in the first person, as a person-to-person conversation with a potential guest. The discussion starts with why a guest should stay in your house.
You introduce yourself to your guests by your listing
“If I was to call Joanna on the phone and say to you, ‘I am thinking about booking a reservation for your place. Why do you think I should book with you?’
“Now, you are going to tell me about how quiet and safe the neighborhood is, easy parking right on the street in front of your house. We have a remote security lock on the front door. We have a free coffee bar in the kitchen, and you are encouraged to share the kitchen with us. You can have your coffee in the outdoor lounge in the sun. We have fabulous memory foam mattresses for the best sleep you have ever had. Our home is spotless. Our location is ideal. We are 20 minutes from everywhere (e.g., the beach, the ballpark, championship golf, downtown, Little Italy, and three universities). And, we have been Airbnb Superhosts every since we opened.”
“Joanna, if you were a guest, would you book if it was a good price?”
“Sure I would! And, I get the feeling that we are just starting our conversation.”
The hospitality-guest communications continue BEFORE the guest arrives
“Continuing with your hospitality journey, there are ongoing communications before guests show up at your door. Let Airbnb automatically send messages at intervals you choose. No work on your part except create the message,
A note thanking them for booking with you
“You are happy to book them. Then, tell guests you are excited they are coming, and you look forward to meeting them. Read their profile and mention something personal about where they are from and their journey to your town. Send them a list of events during their stay or your favorite local restaurants.
A message about how to get to your house, where to park
“Keep the news personal and upbeat. Let them know how to get to your place and where to park when they get there. Ask them to let you know their ETA (estimated time of arrival) so that you can have the doggies in their houses.
A message using Remote Lock secure entry code
“The door code message is always the one guests lose track of. Keep it short. Put the door code first, so it is easy to find when they look at their message while standing on your porch.
Your communications host journey reaches a peak with your smiling face.
“Roberta Nedry said it best. ‘A welcome goes beyond words. It creates a feeling of caring and gives a sense of pleasure. A sincere welcome reaches out and positively pulls guests into the hospitality environment they have chosen and makes guests feel like they have made a good choice.’
A good arrival strategy is to personally show the guest their room (only if the timing works for you). This gives you the opportunity to show the room features such as lights, ceiling fans, WIFI, towels, extra blankets, etc. Next, show them the guest bathroom, bathroom amenities, and where to hang damp towels.
Then, walk your guests to the kitchen and point out shared amenities and private out-of-bound rooms, shared shelves in the refrigerator, complimentary coffee/tea bar, washer and dryer, and hours of operation.
Be prepared with welcoming strategies for exceptions.
“Remember, just because the guest provided an ETA, things can and will happen. A good strategy is to plan when travel circumstances change beyond the guest’s control.
- Have welcoming strategies for different arrival times.
- Late arrivals.
- Early arrivals.
- Drop off luggage.
- Flight delays.
- Too late for local restaurants. (how about something from the fridge or extra snacks and coffee.}
- Flight cancellations
- Business trip cancellations
Creating a guidebook to share your local tips helps guests to experience more.
“Joanna, if I came to visit you, what do you recommend that I see in and around your town?”
“That’s a good question. There is so much to see and do. What do you like?”
“Perfect! See how easy that was? However, it can be challenging to have that conversation with every guest. However, you could CREATE A DIGITAL BOOK and put it on your listing under experiences. That way, you could provide the link to all your guests. Start with your favorite places, and then research with your local tourist office. Invite your guests to add to it with their own experiences.
“Airbnb encourages guest experiences. Hosts can engage local businesses. We have had guests do ocean kayaking, sailing on the bay, diving with migrating whales, paragliding, bike tours, concerts, whale watching cruises, museums, zoos, etc. Where ever you are, there are things to do.
“And don’t forget local restaurants. Remember those guests without cars. Where can they walk for a meal? How far to the grocery store? Where do you want them to eat in your place?
Hospitality expressions from a human resource expert
“Before I let you go, as we said at the beginning, it is all about communications and helping guests to feel welcome in your place. We don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Practice simple words such as:
“It’s my pleasure / I am happy to.”
“Thank You / We appreciate you coming.”
“Is there anything else you need or want?”
“We look forward to hosting you again.”
“Joanna, Does that answer your question about how to be a hospitality host?”
“Yes, it does. I understand that successful hospitality is a behavior that I must always be aware of, always keeping the needs of my guests in mind.”
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.”Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon