How to Be a Good Host: The Short-Term Rental Guide

Renting your rooms or your whole apartment out using a service such as Airbnb,, or HomeAway should not be undertaken lightly.

The first decision is whether to rent your property out for a long or short-term stay. A stay of less than one month would be considered a short-term rental. Anything over and above a month is regarded as a long-term stay. Your preparations will vary depending on the length of stay.

How to Prepare for a Short-Term Rental

A short-term stay could be anything from a few days to a few weeks. However, the preparations to undertake are similar.

To make it a successful venture and earn some extra money hassle-free, you have to consider several dos and don’ts.

Must-Haves for Great Hosts

These are the bare minimum requirements to ensure a successful rental experience. Without them, you’re headed for a disaster! They include:

Honest advertising

Make sure all the features of the apartment or room you’re renting are clearly shown to a potential renter. Creating a false impression of what to expect will leave the guest disappointed and you’ll be slated during the review. Ensure the photographs are of good quality to give the guest a favorable impression of the accommodation.

Active hosting

Renters may have questions before and during their stay. As a host, remain responsive and assist your guests with any queries they might have. This is an important part of creating the sense of a home-away-from-home experience for the visitor. Repeat business and good reviews are critical and often based on how responsive the host is.

Provide guests with information

Guests want as much information up-front as possible as this makes their selection process easier. Giving them the particulars in advance can also help avoid nasty surprises. Communicate all important information ahead of time, so they know exactly what to expect from your property and from you as a host. You can even use email templates or autoresponders to save time. You should always include information about check-in and check-out times, so guests can plan ahead to make travel arrangements. Also, be sure to leave them some brochures, maps or lists of things to do during their stay.

Ensure the accommodation is clean before check-in

The cleanliness of your property says a lot about you as a host. In anticipation of your guests’ arrival, you need to make sure every last detail is clean. If you use the property for some part of the year, ensure you remove any personal items for the duration of their stay to avoid loss or destruction. Accidents happen, and you don’t want to ruin your experience as a host because some of your prized possessions disappear or break.

Think like a hotel manager

Revisit your own experiences of staying in a hotel. What are some of the basics a hotel provides? You aren’t expected to bring your toilet paper, linen, or towels. Using this as a guideline, think like a hotel manager and make sure you provide essential amenities for your guests.

Plan for an emergency

Anything can happen to your guests during their stay. An emergency might happen on your property or on the one next door. Your guests need to know how to handle it. Have an emergency plan that shows your guests what to do should something occur. This should include an evacuation map. Provide a list of telephone numbers to call in the event of an emergency.

Nice-to-Haves Every Good Host Should Consider

In addition to the items on the list that make up the bare minimum, there are extras you might want to include. These nice-to-haves can help make your guests’ stay more enjoyable and may even affect the review they leave you.

An automated check-in system

The aim of successfully renting out the property is to make the stay as hassle-free for your guests as possible. Including an automated check-in process is a way of making things easier for all parties. For example, installing a simple key lock box or a smart lock can allow you to give access to guests who arrive late after airport delays or unexpected traffic.

Ask for additional feedback

Not every guest is going to write a review on your website. But without reviews, you will lack feedback for your business. Feedback is vital to make sure that you’ve done everything necessary to ensure a pleasant stay for the visitor. Any information your visitors provide can be used to improve your service for the next time. Just like hotels do, provide a feedback form which covers essential aspects of the guest experience and ask each guest to complete it before they leave.

Go above and beyond the basics

In addition to sheets, towels, and toilet paper, think of other items you could provide for the guests. If possible, the items should be unique to the area to create fond memories of the stay. For example, leave a bottle of local wine for your guests to enjoy.

Offer instructions

Instead of visitors having to ask questions of you constantly, give them access to as much information as possible. Leave instructions for the use of various appliances in your welcome book, as your oven may be a complete mystery to your visitor! Try to anticipate your guests’ needs and provide the necessary manuals in advance.

Pitfalls Every Host Should Avoid

Avoiding certain actions or behaviors which could result in unhappiness on both sides is a must. Intentional or not, they could result in a less-than-favorable review which could signal the end of your new income earning plan.

Promises you can’t keep

Pictures of the property on your website or listing sites should always correlate with the accommodation. False advertising is a big no-no – your guests must get what they paid for. If they don’t, you’ll be bombarded by complaints which can not only affect your online reputation but also the future of your business.

Arriving unexpectedly

Showing up at your property to collect something you left behind is very problematic. Doing it without arranging it beforehand with the guests is not allowed and can cause friction. Instead, make sure you’ve taken everything you’ll need before you vacate the premises and allow guests to check in.

Ignoring guests

A failure to be responsive to the needs of guests can leave them highly dissatisfied. Try to make sure everything possible has been prepared and provided to eliminate the guests’ need to contact you. If, for whatever reason, they do contact you, don’t ignore them.

What to take away

A lot of the preparations for letting out your property to visitors may seem time-consuming. As a host, remember to keep your eye on the prize. Short-term rentals are a fruitful way of earning extra money, and having a good online reputation for future guests will be worth all the efforts you make!

About the Author

Roomdock is a house-sharing and apartment rental website designed to support the specific needs of international students. As experts in their niche, they know a thing or two about hosting guests from overseas.

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  1. I like your suggestion to give visitors access to as much information as possible. My husband and I are looking for tips to help out with our vacation rental. I think the advice you shared would help decrease the number of questions we’re asked.

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