6. How do I even list my AirBnB?

When we first began to do AirBnB, actually we did it on the fly. Winston Churchill said that “perfectionism is the enemy of progress.” Wise man. My advice is jump in and just do it. Accept that you will make mistakes. I want to share some I’ve made along the way to help you not replicate them.

If you (like me) got into Short Term Renting accidentally, or by sheer necessity, and you have your property ready but you don’t know how to list it, you may be unsure that you are able to do it.
I saw this quote, “When you’re nervous about stepping outside of your comfort zone, remind yourself: it feels scary because it’s unfamiliar, not because I’m incapable.” Well, I didn’t abide by this wisdom: I felt absolutely incapable. How in the world could we AirBnB several states away? We needed help. We needed partnerships.
We began to look for a property management service, and we found one.  Like I write above, we jumped right in, going with the first one we found. We selected a service called Evolve. This company positions itself by explaining they will handle the following items.
Listing
The service will:
  • Have a writer try to make your property sound enticing – you want yours to be choice
  • Figure out how many miles you are from downtown or some other desired place and add those details to the listing
  • Send a professional photographer to do the photoshoot
  • Put the listing up and make it go live across multiple channels
  • Manage the listing, so that when the property is booked, it becomes unavailable on all channels (preventing double-booking)
Pricing
The service will:
  • Implement “dynamic pricing” that looks at other properties and sets your nightly rate
  • Take into consideration some local events and other drivers during any “high season”
  • Raise and lower your rates throughout the month
Finding Property Cleaner/Local Contact
The service will:
  • Provide you the contact information of a preferred cleaner/partner in the area that they know and recommend (assuming you are not going to be doing the cleaning yourself).
Contracting with Evolve seemed awesome – and it definitely helped us kick off. Still, we soon were able to see the pros and cons of using them. Read on to see why we made the decision to leave Evolve.
Listing – the Cons
  • We didn’t know that Evolve owns the listing. “Evolve” is the host – not you. It will have their logo, not your face, on the listing. To us, this was frustrating because many travelers want the personal touch of staying in someone’s home.
  • Because Evolve is the host, people are less inclined to take good care of your property. It’s like they are staying at a hotel, and not someone’s home.
  • Because Evolve is the host, they keep any reviews you receive. When we left Evolve, we lost all our hard-won reviews.
  • We really, really disliked the photo shoot. When I saw the photos, I actually cried. I had been so excited to see them when they arrived in my in-box, and the photos were so dark and dreary, so blurry and strange. Evolve tried to fix them, but they were just so bad, I had to pay an independent photographer to re-shoot the photos. Of course, Evolve has photographers everywhere, so this was just my personal experience. I’m positive some folks get amazing photos.
This was from Evolve’s photoshoot.
After: I paid for the entire house to be re-shot.
Pricing – the Cons
  • Evolve’s “dynamic pricing” was really hard for us to deal with. We had so little control over the pricing. I wanted to elevate the nightly cost on days I knew it would be popular (like New Mexico State University’s commencement). I asked for price adjustments but it was complicated. If I wanted to elevate the price on certain nights, it would elevate the price across the board, even in low season. The pricing structure didn’t work for us.
  • Evolve takes 10% of each booking. This is high. Most hosts pay AirBnB 3%, and VRBO takes 5%.

Finding Property Cleaner/Local Contact – the Cons

  • For us, this didn’t work at all. And, this was a large reason why we selected Evolve! We were far away, we needed a cleaner who could turn the property around quickly, and at a reasonable rate. Evolve had only one recommendation for us: Merry Maids. Like, duh. I could have thought of Merry Maids myself. The quote was for $266 per turnaround. The average cleaning fee passed onto the guest in Las Cruces is $150. I did not think $266 was going to work. When I told this to Evolve, they suggested I post something on Facebook and find someone myself. Which I damn well did. Because you got to keep moving forward!

Last word: I learned a lot  from Evolve. Looking back, I don’t think I would have changed what we did, because at least we got going. We launched. We learned, learned, learned, and had some great takeaways. After about three months of working with Evolve, we decided to no longer use them. And as we went to do it a different way, I knew what some of the pitfalls to look for were. Sometimes, even if it isn’t a permanent solution, it gets you going, and that’s what Evolve’s value was, for us.

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