When my spouse, Tom, and I launched our hospitality business, we knew reviews would make or break us. In the two years since we opened La Maison, our property (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9131840) has received over 150 five star ratings. The day we met Airbnb’s rigorous Superhost standards, bottles were popped.

How did we go from unknown to one of the highest rated Airbnbs on the central Californian coast? By focusing on guest experience. Most evenings could find us talking shop over dinner. The topics centered around potential guest pain points and creative solutions to them. Guests with kids? Set up a game room and stash a pac ‘n play. Broken wine glasses in the hot tub? Replace them with plastic ones. Our innovations and investments have paid off and, by sharing them, we hope to help others become five star Airbnb hosts, too.

You can't be too clean. Seriously.

Let’s face it, guests don’t want to think about the previous vacationers. They want a beautiful vacation experience that’s all their own. This means arriving to a sparkling clean house with fresh linens. To achieve this, we hire professional cleaners to clean between each guest. But even professional cleaning doesn’t include behind the fridge and inside hanging light fixtures so we schedule at least two deep cleans a year, too.

One fun touch goes a long way.

The photo booth at any wedding reception is always a popular attraction. Tom and I had one at ours and it was the highlight of everyone’s night. We host hundreds of a guests a year for wedding, birthday and anniversary events, so we wanted to bring this fun into La Maison. In an unused corner of the living room we set up a stand, silly props and an artsy backdrop. Our DIY Photo Booth was an instant hit with our guests. If there’s one thing friends and families like to do when they’re together it’s take goofy photos of one another.

Invest in smart tech.

More than 60 percent of renters say that they are more likely to choose a rental boasting smart home technology. We’ve leveled up our 1905 Victorian with a Schlage electronic key coded lock, Nest thermostat, smart TV and wireless speaker system. We adjust the temperature before our guests arrive to make sure they walk into a comfortable space. From what our guests say, these small touches make a world of difference.

Don't assume anything is obvious.

What if your guests don’t know how to use all that smart tech? In the welcome email I send out to guests a few days before check in, I include the electronic key lock code and explain how it works. Alongside recommendations for great local eats and drinks, we include TV instructions and transportation tips. Also, labels on drawers and light switches make little chores, like finding the wine opener, disappear.

Anticipate people's needs.

Have you ever arrived at a new location only to realize you left your phone charger at home, 1,000 miles away? Or woke up in a new place with no idea where the nearest coffee spot is? We’ve got you. We provide a phone charging station, coffee & tea selection, iron & ironing board, hot tub, grill, extra towels and blankets. We take care of the little things so our guests can focus on what’s important, enjoying their vacation. We source cruelty free, paraben free and environmentally friendly shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion because quality matters.

Get personal.

Welcome your guests to their home away from home with a personalized sign & local treat. Being in the heart of wine country, we offer guests a complimentary bottle of California rosé. There’s also a welcome note in our Guest Book that makes important info, like the WiFi password, readily available. Last but not least, we give guests a concierge quality experience by sharing recommendations for local favorites and things to do about town.

If you have any pro tips we’ve missed here, please reach out and share them. We LOVE being ambassadors for our beautiful city and are always looking for ways to improve.

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