Reflections from an airbnb roadtrip

A few weeks ago, my wife Cassie and I loaded our 4 kids in the car and hit the road for a Spring Break road trip. Our goal: stay in as many AirBnBs as we could on our 10-day adventure and experience them from the lens of a guest. The trip was highlighted with stops in Gatlinburg, TN, Blue Ridge, GA and the FL panhandle. Here’s what we learned along the way.

There is an amazing diversity of short-term rentals out there.

In the booking process the choices are almost overwhelming. There are a TON of really cool, really unique STR’s out there!

Photo courtesy of Ole Smoky BnB in Gatlinburg, Tennessee 

Extra amenities win every time.

The consensus favorite amongst our kids was an Airbnb in Gatlinburg, TN called Ole Smoky BnB because of features like a hot tub, theatre room, upper level game room with arcade, pool table, foosball, and a giant rooftop deck with life-size connect 4. 

A positive first impression sets the tone.

It’s hard to beat the energy and excitement when you first arrive, especially when traveling with little kids. Everyone is rushing around trying to explore every part of the new place. It’s fun and that energy carries throughout the stay. Walking into our STR in Ellijay, GA was a “wow” moment. It exceeded our expectations.

Host tone matters.

Just like those little “wow” moments upon arrival can carry through your stay, so can the moments where expectations aren’t met. We experienced this at a property where we felt the host had very aggressive and an almost accusatory tone with their pre-stay communications. It didn’t help when we arrived and we greeted by an entire wall of framed house rules. Instead of feeling like we were valued house guests we felt unwelcomed.

Photo courtesy of Retreat at Creekside Airbnb in Ellijay, Georgia

Like-new condition.

A short-term rental is a mini hotel and competition is high as guests have (many) other options to choose from for their stay. Keep your property in like-new condition by tackling maintenance and repair items right away. Your guests will appreciate it and reward you with higher reviews AND return bookings.

Keep check-out simple.

Consider the check out instructions when you stay at a hotel. Don’t add unreasonable or unnecessary check out tasks for your guests to do. Checking out is stressful enough without worrying about additional charges if you miss something on the long list.

Know your future guests and be personal.

Our family most enjoyed the properties where hosts knew how guests were going to use the space/area and anticipated guests needs. Being personal and offering thoughtful local recommendations and advice takes your from good to GREAT. It’s the little things that help set you apart from the rest of the market. 

Thanks for reading! 

David Liedl, Managing Director of Woods to Water Vacation Homes

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