Better Hosting: Cleanliness is Godliness

The most common mistake short-term rental hosts on sites such as HomeAway and Airbnb make is failing to deliver an exceptionally clean home to their guests. Too often, hosts take their guests for granted and do a mediocre (or worse) job of keeping their rental accommodations bright, shiny and clean.

When guests check into a hotel, they expect their room to be sterile and neatly made, the bathroom to be freshly cleaned and the overall experience to be better than their average experience at home.

Guests who are paying to stay in your rental property will not tolerate “couchsurfing conditions.” They expect hotel-quality cleanliness.

This means investing in an exceptional housekeeper. Cleaning services such as Broomly and Handy are certainly options, but they present risks because (1) their can be inconsistencies between one cleaning professional and the next, and (2) these cleaning professionals are often paid only a small percentage better than minimum wage.

Great cleaning professionals are not a dime a dozen. Rather, they are hard to find and deserve to be compensated accordingly. Sure, you may be able to “get” someone to clean your rental property for $15 per hour (or less), but that lack of respect for the energy and artistic sense required to make a home shine will show up in the work. I pay a minimum of $25 per hour to my assistant — yes, I refer to her as my assistant, not my housekeeper — because her work is consistently fantastic, and this is reflected in our guests post-stay reviews. She is reliable and communicative, she takes pride in her work and offers feedback on things that can be improved in the property as she notices them, as well as reporting an issues she observes from a guest upon check-out. If a guest leaves something behind, she takes care of sending it back to their home address. If the fridge needs to be restocked, she tells me right away. If a light bulb is out, she runs to the store to replace it.

But I knew she was the perfect person to hire within moments of her arrival: she arrived with a toothbrush to clean the bathroom tile.

She is an assistant, not a housekeeper, as she considers herself a critical part of our business, not just a hired hand, and as our rates rise, so too do the tips I provide to her. I encourage her to stay overnight in the property on days when I don’t expect it to be booked, affording her a nice “staycation” and the opportunity to experience the home as a guest, which affords both her and me insights into how we can do an even better job hosting our guests.

Simply put, finding a top-notch cleaning professional or service is an absolute must, cultivating their loyalty is critical and that necessitates exceeding the expected compensation. Just as you-know-what flows downhill, generosity rises upward. Treat your assistants well and they will reward you both by making your management responsibilities easier and increasing the price guests are willing to pay for your rental.

To be a better host, the first rule is simple: cleanliness is godliness.