Airbnb Designing – How to Standout in the Market

I was recently planning our summer road trip, and of course, that involved looking for places to stay. Deciding where to stay turned out to be the most challenging part of the whole thing – location, space, the appearance of the room, amenities and of course price. After flipping between hotel websites, travel sites and Airbnb, 2 things stood out to me –

  1. Watch the additional fees in Airbnb. The cleaning and service fees can make a lower price listing end up costing more than a higher priced listing. They can also through your budget right off if you’re not watching.
  2. There is a lot of competition out there between hotel rooms and Airbnb/Home Away listings and some Airbnb listings really didn’t look aesthetically enticing in comparison.

Short term rentals like Airbnb and Home Away have become increasingly popular and are great ways to supplement your income. Whether you have a spare room or are looking to rent out your home while you are away, these marketplaces have opened up new possibilities for homeowners.

A person that is looking at these online marketplace rentals over booking a hotel, it’s likely because they are looking for something a hotel doesn’t offer.

Why Do People Choose Short Term Rentals Like Airbnb?

Space – a shopper with a large family or traveling with a large group, will be looking for a place that has more space than a hotel. Multiple rooms, full house to yourselves. Possibly a yard to enjoy or play games with the kids. The cost per person will be less than renting hotel rooms.

The other side, the shopper could be a solo traveler looking for a single room to rest for a night while on their travels.

Kitchen – having access to a full kitchen is something that isn’t available in a hotel. If you are again traveling with family, large group or you are simply looking for better food options and cost savings, having a kitchen to prepare meals in is a big selling feature.

Amenities – Things like washer/dryer, reliable WIFI, parking, balconies and scenery that are available with an online marketplace rental may be more appealing to a shopper than what they would get in a hotel.

Location – City or country. The online marketplace has more options in both remote and central locations. Weather the shopper is looking for a vacation home where they can disconnect from the world or a place in the heart of the city – both are available. 

If you are using an online marketplace to rent your home, you probably don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on renovating it (or have the money to do it…yet). That said, you still want and need to entice shoppers to choose your place over the others. So how do you do that?

1. The Upkeep is On-POINT!

Pretty basic here but make sure your space is clean and everything is working how it should. Any unfinished project; finish them. Do a thorough clean around the base of cabinets and around the toilet; polish up those grout lines! If you have gardens, make sure they are weeded, and your grass is cut.

Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels

Think about using durable materials to help keep down the amount of maintenance. For example, us a vinyl plank flooring instead of laminate. This product is not only durable, scratch resistant and waterproof but it is also inexpensive to purchase and install.

Budget Friendly Tip: Re-painting the walls is an inexpensive way to make the place look fresh and clean. You can do this with color or just applying a fresh coat. Using a light color on the walls to open up the space, make it feel bigger and brighter. The color white is also, subconsciously, seen as a sterile color. Meaning subconsciously white walls gives the impression of a clean space. If you don’t want to change the color, a fresh coat of paint will still brighten up the room and give it a fresh feeling.

2. Make it Authentic

When someone is traveling, they are looking for authentic experience of the city or town they are staying. Choose a design theme that is true to your city and keep a consistent flow from room to room. Add photos of the city (old and new landmarks) or local artwork to share the history and culture with your guest.

Budget Friendly Tip: Choose a simple paint color for walls, something that is light and neutral. Then bring in your hometown touches with artwork and accessories. Take photos of local landmarks yourself and have them framed instead of buying them. Small touches on a blank canvas (aka your light, neutral wall color) can go a long way.

3. Make it Inviting and Exiting

Your guest is staying away from home – new city, new surroundings and staying in a stranger’s home. Find ways to make them feel at home, welcomed and safe. This could be with the décor (see above), this could be with a welcoming note left for them or this could be by providing a coffee bar with coffee and condiments.

Budget Friendly Tip: Offer your guest a place to sit and have coffee in the morning. They won’t be familiar with the area and may not want to venture out to find their morning coffee. Giving them a coffee bar with coffee and condiments is a nice touch. Add a set of chairs maybe on the porch or by a window to create a seating area for them to enjoy their coffee.

4. Furnishings

I can’t stress this enough – Throwing a mattress on the floor of a room isn’t going to make someone want to stay there. Remember, you are competing not only against other properties but also against hotel. At the very least you should have the following:

Bedroom: Bed (on a frame!) + dresser or closet + beside tables

Kitchen: Stools at an island/bar or a kitchen table

Living Room: Couch + coffee table + side chair

Don’t skimp on a mattress. Having a good sleep on a good bed goes a long way with guest.

Budget Friendly Tip: Check out local garage sales or junk days to find pieces that you can use. Think outside the box! There are lots of things out there that can be re-purposed, up-cycled, with a little DIY project and some elbow grease.

5. Invest Where it Counts

Bedroom, bathroom and Kitchen. These 3 rooms are where you’ll want to spend your money.

In the bedroom, make sure you have a proper bed. Do it up with the pillows and sheets against a statement headboard.

In the bathroom, first and foremost, make sure it is clean! No grim in the grout lines of the shower, mildew or lime buildup on the taps or on the shower doors or curtains. Make sure you have proper water flow, especially in the shower. Change out old shower heads. Them make sure they are fully stocked – towels and toilet paper equivalent to the number of guests you say your place can accommodate.

In the Kitchen, make sure all appliances (big and small) are working. If someone has chosen a place with a kitchen, there is a reason and likely a need. Similar to the washroom, make sure the kitchen is clean and is fully stocked for your guest – dishes, cutlery etc. Aesthetically, the kitchen should follow the same design as the rest of the home. Keep it bright and welcoming, add fresh flowers or fruit to welcome your guests.

Photo by Thomas from Pexels

Budget Friendly Tip: Use low maintenance materials when building these rooms to reduce the amount of time and money you need to spend down the road. These rooms will get the most use and need to be able to withstand it. As mentioned above, vinyl floor tiles are a great option. Think about using larger ceramic tiles in the shower. This means less grout lines (less grout line to clean) and ceramic is a low maintenance tile to keep clean. Check out reused stores like The Restore for deal on materials for a headboard or tile floors. Use your DIY skills to up the design. Check out () for more ideas.

Bonus: Show it Off!

You’ve but all this work into it, show it off! Take high quality photos, in proper light, so shoppers can truly see what you have to offer. Take photos during the day – open up the curtains and let the natural light come in. Dark photos can make the space seem like it’s in a cave. Not very welcoming.

For more design ideas on a budget check out these posts:

If you have an Airbnb listing, share your experiences and feedback from your guest that have made the most impact on your design below.

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