As an Airbnb host, you are the key point of reference for the guest(s). And that covers everything from the moment they land to the moment they return.
Guests probably already ask you for advice on how to reach your address and what option you would recommend to them.
So we asked Alex Trimis, founder/ceo of Welcome Pickups
- a free service which enables you to match your guests with a reliable pre-selected driver - what he thinks about the role of arrival & departure transport in the Airbnb guest experience.
1. Guests arrive in a new location
They don't know the place, they might not know the language either. Can you share any stories from guests that had a hard time on arrival or departure?
If you travel often you know that arriving in a foreign location you haven’t been before can be a quite stressful experience. And although that is quite straightforward, as a host you tend to forget that that same applies for your city and for people coming from abroad.
There are a number of obstacles during that crucial hour. Their phone might not be connected and have access to the internet or you the host, the people they talk to might not speak English, or the guests might not have the local currency. And these are just the basics.
If they get a taxi from the line, the driver might try to scam your guests without them knowing, he might have a hard time finding the house as it is not a known hotel address, or drop your guests in the middle of the street without any other notification.
We have heard stories from people who were dropped off in the middle of Istanbul
with no way to find the room, to people that got off to the wrong metro stop in Athens due to miscommunication and had to drag their luggage around for half an hour
, to people who had to wait for 3 hours outside the property
btill the host turned on his phone, to people who had to pay 180 euros in Rome for a ride that should cost 48 euros
Stories like that and the list of things that can go wrong are endless. And we are just talking about just the operational elements of that first hour.
Understanding where you are, have someone to answer your questions about the city, or simply having a friendly chat and a cold bottle of water after a long flight seem like luxuries for the everyday traveler.
2. Guests will ask how to get to the property
What should the host reply?
The host should be as detailed as possible and give options for all types of budget. He or she should also take into consideration the time of arrival and what means of transport are available at that time for his/her property.
Detailed information should cover a step by step guide on how to get to the apartment with every mean, helpful links with general tips and reason to select one mean over the other, prices, reviews from previous guests regarding means they used, as well as pros and cons for each mean. This list should be always updated as many times prices and timetables change.
The guest should always feel that the host is looking after his interest and “understands” his or her needs as a traveler. Providing a direction suggestion based on that needs is also recommended (while at the same time including all other options).
Part of our mission is first of all to help guests, so we try to provide a generic page for each city where the guests can see your options and compare (here is an example for Athens
3. Recommending transport options
What are the 3 key things that hosts need to keep in mind when recommending transport options to guests?
Time, budget, and convenience.
Time has two elements.
What time they are arriving (some options are not available 24/7), and how much time it will take the guests to get to the apartment if the select this option. Some travelers want to really maximize their time in a location as they might be visiting for a limited time. Getting to the property fast and with a reasonable budget is their first option.
Budget is the second thing you need to consider.
If you are talking about a couple in their 40s you should be suggesting a taxi option, whereas a young traveler in his 20s will probably try the public transportation. Budget is tied also with age and number of people. If you have 3 people or more it is always easier and almost the same price to get a taxi than waiting for a shuttle or metro.
Convenience is also important.
If your house is near a metro stop and the person is only carrying one luggage, then it might be better for him or her to get a metro.
Keep in mind that most people do not read long texts, so while you need to include those paragraphs with all the needed information, make sure you have a first paragraph with your recommendations.
4. Guest safety
What precautions can the host take to make sure the guests have a safe arrival and departure?
He or she should make sure that they don’t get into a tourist trap. Usual issues are well-known in most cities and the host needs to double check that the traveler is aware of them. Either that is of scammy taxi drivers, illegal drivers waiting outside the exit gate etc are usual issues and need to be communicated.
If the guest gets into a taxi the ideal thing would be to talk directly with the driver so he can tell him how to get to the room but also remind the driver about the expected price from the airport to the property.
If the guest is arriving with a metro or bus, the best thing for a stellar host is to pick up his or her guests from the metro/ bus stop. This always gets extra points when review time comes along.
Finally, making sure that they have clear communication rules (if they will communicate through Whatsapp, Airbnb app etc) before the person departs from his or her country is crucial.
5. After the guest leaves
What should hosts do after a guest departs, for making sure it all went well?
The best thing to do is send an email around the time the traveler will be reaching home and check with them that everything went smoothly. Ask them also if there is anything else you can do and make clear that if they ever need anything from [the host's city] that they will always have a friend there.