Hosting Tips & Tricks

October Host Round Up: VRBO Host Exits & Malibu Barbie on Airbnb

October Host Round Up: VRBO Host Exits & Malibu Barbie on Airbnb

Howdy to all you happy hosts and rental rock stars! I hope your October was full of booked nights and 5-star reviews. I know a lot of you struggle with local laws, but we as hosts need to involve ourselves in the process. If we don't show up, write letters, or simply ask to speak with our local officials one-on-one, then they will write the rules without our input.  A lot of local officials are not anti-Airbnb, they are just only hearing the bad stories. So I encourage you to try and speak with them in a quiet setting without the chaos of public hearings and just tell them your story. Let them know the good side. This will help give them more perspective to make reasonable rules. I don't think we as hosts should fear regulation, as long as it is reasonable and fair. Now let's get on with the October Host Wrap-Up!  


VRBO Host Exits

A lot of changes have been happening on the VRBO platform lately and many of them have been driving hosts away. I think it might first be interesting to see why these changes are occurring. As you may already know, VRBO was recently bought out by HomeAway. Which explains why the recent redesign makes VRBO look exactly like HomeAway. But what you likely do not know is that HomeAway's parent company is Expedia. So Expedia, HomeAway, and VRBO are all the same company now operating under different banners. My suspicion is that Expedia knows a lot about how to get guests to book hotel rooms, but knows a lot less about making STR hosts happy and successful. So when they make changes, it is from a hotel guests point of view and less from the hosts. I am not saying you can't make money on the platform, just keep an eye out for the juice that is worth the squeeze. You can read all the details about what is going on at VRBO in this article on Room Key. 


Google Vacations Featuring Airbnb

Google is the largest search engine and organizer of the internet on the planet. So when they launched a vacation rental page in early 2019, it was a very big deal to the short term rental world. The odd thing about their searches, is that they were not including any Airbnb listings in them. Expedia, along with Homeaway and VRBO,  were appearing but no Airbnb. But recently in a handful of European cities, Airbnb listings have begun popping up again. Now this is obviously just Google doing some experimenting, but it certainly opens up the possibility that this becomes worldwide. Especially when you combine it with Airbnb's recent addition of customizable URL links. Those customizable links will make life even easier for Google's spiders to sort the listings into the right place. What this means for your average host is hard to say. But anything that makes your listing easier to find is a good thing. For full details on Google's experiment, check out this article.

Listing Spotlight:
Malibu Barbie's Dream House

This month's listing spotlight is the Malibu Barbie Dream House. You can rent it for a limited time on Airbnb. You and three friends can rent the place for only sixty bucks a night! This rental was created by Mattel as a publicity stunt to promote Barbie. Now usually I look at the listing to see what we can learn from it. As just a publicity stunt, there is not a lot to learn. However, I wanted to look at it because if major brands are now seeing Airbnb as a way to promote themselves, then their research says a lot of people are on the platform. Enough people so that they can pump a nice bit of money into a stunt that requires people to instantly know what Airbnb is. To me, this is a sign of short term rentals going full mainstream. Which is a great sign for us hosts investing in the longevity of the idea.  You can check out this news story on CNN to see the level of attention this stunt is getting.

Got a listing you want us to feature? Send it our way at


Hosting Tip:
How to get an Airbnb Guest Review removed?

So you want to get an Airbnb Guest review removed? It is not easy, but it is possible if you understand their internal rules. Airbnb is very reluctant to ever remove a review unless it violates a specific part of its content policy. In their own words, the Airbnb policy on removing a review is as follows:   

You can respond to reviews, but you can't delete them. To promote trust and transparency in our community, we won't delete reviews unless they violate our content policy. 

What this means is when you are contacting Airbnb to get a review removed, you must cite a specific content policy violation. They will only remove the review if it violates one of the terms outlined in the policy. So if you can convince your case manager that the review violates a single term of the content policy, then you are golden and the review will be gone. So what are the terms of the content policy? Check out our recent blog post to understand exactly how to make your case to get a review removed.


Question of the Month

Rental hosts rarely receive the opportunity to see how other hosts operate. Which makes it hard to learn and improve. The solution? Every month I ask a question so we can all learn from each other. Let's take a look at last month's question:

What TV options do you offer your guests?

  • 18.8%  - No TV
  • 6.3%  - Local Antenna Channels
  • 31.3% - Cable or Satellite 
  • 25.0% - Streaming Service (Hulu, Netflix, etc.)
  • 18.8% - Combination of Streaming and Cable

So we are a little all over the map on this question. This makes some sense as even in people's homes they are debating what is the best way to get their TV entertainment. When I first started hosting I assumed cable or satellite TV was an almost mandatory requirement, especially to compete with hotels. But I think I am now of the belief that just providing access to streaming services is the best way to go. It feels more modern and most people that use STR's are very familiar with how they work.  Also, I would only go with no TV for very specific listings that are trying to offer an off the grid experience. Otherwise, I suspect you will get constant complaints from those not reading the listing. 

This month, I want to look at rental previews:

picture polls