Elite Hospitality: Earning the Top Titles on Short-Term Rental Platforms

If you’re going to do it, why not try to be the best?

How and Why Major Hosting Platforms Distinguish Their Best Hosts

When consumers shop for items on Amazon, one of the first things most do is look at reviews and star-ratings. The marketplace is full of countless independent sellers, most of which offer items very similar to those of other sellers. So, in order to make sure you are choosing a reputable seller known for good quality, feedback from past customers can be extremely valuable in the purchasing decision. This peer-to-peer review system can instill peace of mind when the shopper adds the item into their digital shopping cart, and can prevent disappointment when the item shows up on their doorstep.

Short-term rental hosting sites like Airbnb and VRBO use similar feedback mechanisms to let others in the market know what to expect – both with buyers (renters) and with sellers (hosts). Post-stay reviews and star ratings can tell others on the platforms volumes about a person’s communication, cleanliness, and overall pleasantness in prior transactions. Taking it one step further, these platforms have quantified a number of key data points associated with hosts’ accounts, and award special “badges” to their listings to let potential guests know that they are the best of the best. Airbnb calls these hosts “Superhosts” and VRBO calls them “Premier Hosts”. I know there are more STR hosting platforms out there but, for this post, I’m going to focus on what I know.

The Metrics

Not surprisingly, Airbnb and VRBO use similar metrics to define their top hosts. There are slight differences, however, in the specific data used in their calculations for awarding the top-titles.

Airbnb

Airbnb uses 4 criteria to evaluate hosts for Superhost status, and they do so on the first day of each quarter of the year. To get the Superhost badge, each of the following criteria must have been met during the 12 months leading up to the review date:

  • Average overall rating of 4.8 or higher (Average guest review of home on a 1-5 star scale)
  • Response rate of 90% or higher (Responding to customer messages and booking inquiries)
  • 10+ completed stays or 100 nights over 3+ stays (Shows that you have remained active in the past year)
  • Cancellation rate less than 1% (Don’t cancel bookings already on the calendar)

VRBO

Similarly, VRBO does host reviews every quarter, looking at each host’s performance over the previous 12 months. However, unlike Airbnb, you may earn the Premier Host status as soon as you achieve the following 5 criteria, even if it’s before the review period ends:

  • Booking acceptance rate of 90% or higher (Declining a booking request lowers your acceptance rate. I have mixed feelings about this metric)
  • Cancellation rate of 5% or less
  • Average overall rating of 4.3 or higher
  • 3 or more reviews on the platform
  • 5 completed bookings or 60 booked nights

The Benefits

Sure, having the title of “Superhost” and/or “Premier Host” is cool and may help you sleep better at night, but what do you really get in return for your hard work?

Airbnb

  • Yearly $100 Airbnb coupon (For maintaining the status for a full year)
  • Promoted to guests (Through marketing emails and ads)
  • Potential guests can filter on Superhost listings (And why wouldn’t they want the best?)

VRBO

  • Potential guests can filter on Premier Host listings
  • Improved search result position
  • Priority support for issues (24/7 access)

PLUS, elite hosts have the ability to demand higher prices for their listings than hosts without the special badge on their account. How much higher is something you’ll need to research in your particular market but, the idea is simple – A higher quality product can ask for a higher price.

Wrap Up

There are plenty of reasons to shoot for obtaining the various platforms’ “top host” designations. The requirements discussed in this post aren’t abstract or nonsensical. They all come down to being a courteous and responsive host to your guests and providing an attractive product to the marketplace. These are principles to build your business on, with or without the “badges” that these platforms provide for instilling them. Receiving the email from Airbnb telling me that I had reached Superhost status was so fulfilling for me. It solidified for me that hospitality may truly be my fit. I had quickly become obsessed with my STR business and now I had obtained reinforcement that I was doing a good job with it. I still have plenty to learn and will continue doing so. As always, I will keep sharing those learnings here with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say on the subject.

Happy Hosting!

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