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Brick by brick – building a responsible, reliable business

Since getting into the sharing economy game what feels like many moons ago, it’s fair to say we’ve had some success – multiple amazing fundraising rounds, growth into new cities, etc. We owe a large part of this success to spending countless hours in ‘The Nest’ getting the basics right – while the sharing economy may be relatively new, hospitalityis old school, and we’ve years of experience in it. Accordingly, crunching the numbers suggests we’re doing something right: HostAStay homes are performing ‘better’ than Airbnb equivalents, with our average star rating at 4.9/5* for cleanliness. This is in no small part thanks to the fact we fully employ an in-house team of spectacular housekeepers and pay them a fair, living wage – outsourcing was not an option.

Foundations covered, we then turned our collective brain to combining this basic brilliance with creating memorable guest experiences. The sharing economy is a crowded space, and too often we’re seeing businesses forget that sharing means caring– for their own staff, as well as customers. We’re passionate about people, so we spend a lot of time recruiting the crème de la crème, as well as providing them with the tools and training needed to get the job done right, every time. By not outsourcing teams like housekeepers, drivers or guest greeters, we have full control over their output and create a much better guest experience. Ensuring your guests have a great time is our bread and butter, so who better to look after the people making that happen than us? When things go wrong, we’re the first people to know, and can rectify it swiftly and smoothly – this would be no easy feat if using an agency. We also know that by having these core functions employed as fully valued members of staff, they feel the HostAStay love as much as we do, and strive to do their best every time they step foot in your home.

Can you tell how much we love our teams on the ground? Every decision we make has one main objective: how can we make life easier for our staff? And though that goes some way to showing them how valued they are, we also provide them with lots of TLC to ensure they stick around with us on the Hostmaker journey. As well as a fair wage, we regularly put on things like massage sessions and homeopathic therapy days, and our efforts are paying off. While the hospitality industry’s average staff retention rate is 30%, ours is soaring at 80%. This team stability is invaluable in making sure your homes are well-looked after, without exception.

Despite our constant growth, we’re confident that we’re managing to uphold our values at every stage of operation – including making sure you, our beloved hosts, are happy too. We speak to you personally when you have questions or concerns (robots are not welcome here), and we make sure that guests are warmly greeted and looked after for the duration of their stay. We love being a responsible employerwe love looking after your home and guests, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.

 

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Between the sheets – why good linen matters

Mums are full of advice: work less, eat more, drink less, save more. While we probably all honed our selective hearing skills before we flew the nest, there’s one pearl of wisdom from our youths that cements the fact that mums really do know best – a good night’s sleep is invaluable.

So, what makes a good night’s sleep? A quiet environment helps, as does downtime beforehand and a nightcap (or two). But above all, we’re advocates of quality bed linen. We’re talking high thread count, freshly laundered, ironed with precision and expertly fitted – hotel standard. While it’s understandable to slack a little when making a bed for your own use, or for a visiting relative, high quality, 5* bed linen is a must when hosting paying Airbnb guests. And though said guests love your home’s quirks and unique style – it’s a selling point when weighing up the merits of choosing Airbnb over a hotel – time and time again we’re finding that guests expect hotel standard linens and towels, with a lack thereof being reflected in their reviews when they leave.
For this reason, we’ve made perfect sheets (and towels) our mission. As part of our Airbnb Guest Ready Package, your guests enjoy 200 thread count, 100% cotton, freshly laundered and pressed bed linen, as well as 600gsm fluffy towels and fancy toiletries, with beds and bathrooms prepared by housekeepers trained to hotel standards. That’s the trick of our trade – our secret sauce. So, now that you’re armed with that nugget of info, what’s the benefit of having an Airbnb management service provide your linen, we hear you ask?

Well, stripping and making beds is hard work. Then there’s the time spent washing sheets, drying them, ironing them. And if you’ve got consecutive bookings, this workload quickly doubles, triples…etc. You could have your housekeeper do it. But that time could be better spent cleaning surfaces or tidying, for example. There’s also the option of taking them to the launderette. But that can get expensive, and become quite the bicep workout while carrying them there and back. As Airbnb hosts ourselves, we quickly learnt that a lot of work goes into getting bedrooms and bathrooms just right, so our Guest Ready linen offering is designed to take the hassle out of hosting, while ensuring your listing benefits from glowing reviews – all without you having to lift a finger. You’re welcome

 

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Amazing amenities: how to take your Airbnb to the next level

Think about the last time you stayed in an Airbnb.

Now, think about the last time you stayed in a Airbnb and were left wowed by the experience. Why was this? Most likely, it was a combination of things: the quality and uniqueness of the interior design; how you were made to feel right at home by whoever checked you in; your host giving you local shopping and dining recommendations to help you feel like a true local.

But as Airbnb experts, we know that there is one thing that every incredible Airbnb experience has in common: amenities. While these little touches are sadly sometimes overlooked by hosts, they are always appreciated by guests when they’re packing for their trip, and during their stay. Plus, according to one of Airbnb’s co-founders, amenities can also help you pocket a little extra cash per night:

“We’ve found that if you offer a hair dryer, you can make on average $10 more a night”

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb Co-Founder

While providing simple amenities may seem like a no-brainer, you would be surprised as to how many hosts forget to have them ready for guests in their home, or include them on the Airbnb listing itself! If this is you, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Both of Hostmaker’s service options include all the basics that your guests will need.

Do you already have the basics down, and are looking to add a little extra guest appeal to your home? We like your style! Here are three extra tips for you achieving hosts out there:

Why not save your guests the last-minute panic buy at the airport and curate your own home library for them to use during their stay? Include everything from the books about the city, to the latest murder mystery bestseller.

Or if you want to give your guests a more relaxing experience, provide some scented candles, reed diffusers and extra-special bathroom products to really help your guests unwind

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5 tips to decorate your home for Airbnb

You’ve heard the phrase looks can be deceiving? Well, your future Airbnb guests don’t agree. When deciding which city pad to pick for their holiday, guests rely heavily on the listing pictures – and they’ve got a discerning eye. That’s why having your home look its best in listing shots (and having it live up to that image when guests arrive) should be one of your top priorities when sharing your home on Airbnb.

We’ve already told you some of our favourite ways to make guests feel at home. But if your abode needs a little more TLC to appeal to guests – perhaps the decor is dated or too cluttered– allow us to offer 5 easy, quick wins that’ll have your listing attracting scores of guests. And scoring 5* reviews, too

  1. Try a fresh coat of paint
    This is probably the easiest and most affordable way to improve a whole room – the colour of the walls has the power to affect your home’s entire energy. Neutral tones are a great blank canvas for your colourful, more personal touches, and there’s no chance of them putting any guests off. However, if you don’t want to play it safe, some of Farrow & Ball’s bright colours, like Citron No. 74 and St Giles Blue No. 280, are sure to add a whole new dimension to your space.
  2. Roll out a rug
    It’s important that your new home feels lived in as well as fresh – after all, that’s what adds the character that hotel-phobic Airbnb guests look for. A rug can be a great statement in any living space, complementing other furnishings while also adding a layer of comfort. And boldly patterned rugs are also an easy way to enhance a room’s style.
  3. Get arty
    Great art is another foolproof way to add colour and charm to an otherwise plain area – evolving its look and adding interest to attract guests. Pick out one or two key colours from your room, and look for art that has them within its palette. Art should work with a room, not against it, which means don’t choose Andy Warhol prints for your country-chic apartment. And remember to hang them with the centre at eye level.
  4. Shop around
    We’re masters of the home makeover (check out our Pinterest boardif you don’t believe us), and we’ve found that the most unexpected places can throw up the best interior pieces. Zara has great statement end tables, eBay is amazing for mid-century modern gems, and Etsy is great for unusual prints and pictures. When shopping for trinkets for your home, don’t rule out any location before you’ve taken a peek – you never know what you’ll find, and what that piece could go on to inspire.
  5. Let it breathe
    We’ve already mentioned the need for your home to look lived in, cosy and comfortable, despite its refreshed look. A good way to achieve an au-natural aesthetic is to allow your home to develop organically over time. Building up a space slowly, adding only the most perfect pieces when you see them, means the overall look will be much more appealing, while also feeling less forced. This will really show in your Airbnb listing photography, and will help tempt lots more guests to make a booking.

If all that sounds like a lot of work, our Airbnb management service offer home redecoration as part of our package. However, if you fancy yourself as a DIY wiz, then give the above steps a go and watch the bookings pour in. Then tag us on social media so we can see your handy work!

 

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How to rank higher in Airbnb search results – it pays to talk

In the Airbnb world, searching for your own listing as a guest would is the equivalent to ‘Googling yourself’ – and we’ve all done it. In fact, far from a vacant exercise, it’s actually a great way to check up on competition in order to ensure a healthy flow of guests through your door. And as we’re creatures of convenience, the higher your listing ranks in the search results, the more likely you are to get a booking, no matter how lovely your parquet floors and original features! So, how do you pull your listing to the top of the search results? The answer is communication. Communication is key.

Climbing the ranks

Airbnb’s search ranking algorithm is based on a number of things, but host responsiveness is one of the biggest factors. There are two factors that Airbnb look for: response time, and response rate. Having a 100% response rate, and fast response times, will send you soaring to the top of the list, but did you know that neglecting an enquiry for 24 hours will cause your average response rate to drop? Even more scary is the fact that you could even have your account shut down if you ignore an enquiry for 2 days! It may sound like a lot of effort to keep on top of your inbox, but lucky for you we’ve done the hard work: demystifying the ranking mystery. All you need to do is ensure your phone’s always on you, with email alerts set to loud, and that you respond in a friendly, helpful manner as soon as you hear that satisfying ping!

Five-star service

Guests aren’t just chatty before booking, either. Once they’ve committed, they’ll be full of excited questions: when can they arrive? How will they check out? Will there be milk? And as a dutiful host, deserving of a great review after their stay, you’ll need to be on top of these messages too – responses in-stay have just as much impact on your response rate. This means you’ll need to be armed with the facts, and answering questions in a timely manner, should you wish to rank highly and achieve a 5* rating.
Unfortunately, it’s not always appropriate to whip out your phone and begin typing replies to curious guests. Most board rooms frown on that type of thing, and though we can’t quite understand why, not all long-haul flights have wifi yet. But wait, there’s hope! Any Airbnb management service worth its salt (hint hint) will offer an inbox management solution, and as well as guaranteeing to answer all communication in a timely manner (maintaining your well-earned 100% response rate and fast response speed), they’re experts in their field. This means their replies, both before guests book and during guest stays, will charm visitors’ socks off while answering any and all questions. And naturally, this goes a long way towards securing 5* reviews once they’ve checked out! You can read more about our inbox management service here.

 

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How much time are you spending managing your Airbnb listing?

Managing an Airbnb listing can feel like a full-time job – in fact, speaking from experience, it can feel like ten different jobs all at once!

Not only is there the time it takes to set up your listing, but a great Airbnb host will take the time to optimize the listing – either by updating the information to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from guests, or changing the cover photo to find out which has the best guest appeal.

And that’s not even taking into account the pricing, guest messaging prior, during and after the stay, preparing your home and greeting your guests – once all this is completed, you’ll be ready to take a well-earned break!

We think it would be better for you to sit back with your feet up, possibly on a beach, with a cocktail in hand and let some of these lovely people take care of all those stresses.

The HostAStay team is now over 50 people who help care for your home and ensure your guests have a fantastic trip – take a look at some of the faces who keep the cogs turning to make sure every Hostmaker Airbnb guest is kept happy:

Housekeeper – maybe you’ve met some of our housekeepers at your home, if you have, we’re sure you’ll agree that they work their socks off (or usually, they just work in their socks!) to get your home guest ready.

Housekeeping supervisor – quality control is the final step before your guests arrive! As we fully employ our team, we can ensure they are regularly supervised and trained – this means your cleanliness rating is in good hands.

Welcome wizard – every great Airbnb experience should start with an in-person check-in to introduce your guests properly to your home and city. Our concierges are also sharing their local tips with your guests so that they can enjoy their stay as locals do.

Operations coordinator – each week we have over 500 services across London – these are the eyes in the sky to make sure that everything is running to plan, we call them the Calendar Queens – we like to think in a past life they were London cabbies because these girls definitely have The Knowledge.

Warehouse operative – the keeper of the keys works tirelessly packing your linen, towels, tea, coffee, hand wash and cleaning supplies ready for each service – our warehouse team work as the central cog which keep the rest of the operations running smoothly.

Van driver – the muscle who run around town to deliver fresh linen, towels and welcome packs to support the housekeeping team – our premium linen is a real WOW factor for guests and so we like to thank our driving team for making those moments possible.

Host manager – think of her as your proxy – she’s the one in charge of your home when you’re away, tying together the day-to-day logistics and maintenance to ensure your home is performing at its best – as your representative, she will also step-up to lead Airbnb resolution centre conversations if there’s ever the need for one.

Inbox ninja –  hosting is as much about your Airbnb conversations as your in-person interaction with guests – your guests’ arrival in London will be seamless with our fantastic inbox team, you can rest assure that they’ll receive VIP treatment before, during and after their stay.

Pricing specialist – this is where those extra hours really come in handy – as a host, you probably don’t have time to analyse the competing listings in your area, or think strategically about booking patterns of guests – that’s where our team excel in making sure you’re getting the best possible rates and occupancy for your listing.

Rescue runner – ask any Airbnb host and they’ll tell you that maintenance issues are a nightmare when guests are instay – with our man-on-a-moped running about town, we make sure when your home is misbehaving, it won’t impact your guests.

In a nutshell, here is the team behind your five star reviews. Now seat back, relax, and enjoy.

Host A Stay is here to look after your home and your guests.

 

 

 

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How to make your Airbnb business travel ready

By offering the chance to live like a local, Airbnb’s unique travel experience entices vacationers to step outside of their comfort zones (and hotels!)

However, with an unbelievable 10% of all Airbnb bookings now made by business travellers, a new type of guest is beginning to step into the spotlight. “But what’s in it for hosts?”, we hear you ask. The truth is… a lot!

Easy to Manage – with fixed travel plans and schedules that are rarely amended or cancelled at the last minute, managing a booking from a business traveller is incredibly easy for you as a host

The Best Kind of House Guest – business travellers also tend to be quiet, won’t be partying into the night, and will treat your home with respect. Giving them a place to stay will give you some peace of mind!

Big Spenders – it may not surprise you to know that this kind of guest spends an incredible amount of money on travel each year (more than $1.2 trillion, to be exact!) — a portion of which you could potentially pocket with your Airbnb listing…

So you’ve heard the benefits — now what?

While Airbnb do have their own requirements that hosts have to fulfil in order to be verified as Business Travel Ready, we here at Hostmaker have used our expertise to put together our own list of extra recommendations. Take our tips on board, and you’ll be welcoming business travellers to your home in no time.

  1. Wifi

We know, we know — who doesn’t have wifi these days? However, as business travellers will most likely be required to work throughout their stay, it is especially important that your wifi is not only fast, but reliable. Check the speed before your guests arrive, and maybe even consider upgrading your current wifi plan to help get those five-star ratings!

  1. Stock Must-Have Essentials

Think about anything you would expect to find in a hotel room on a business trip — an iron and ironing board for your crisp, white shirts (plus some hangers to hang them on!); a hair dryer to fluff up your feathers before your big meeting; a coffee maker to ensure that you’re bright-eyed and bushy tailed for that important pitch. If you want to go the extra mile, book Hostmaker’s pay-as-you-go housekeeping service. We’ll not only clean your home until it’s sparkling, but we also provide sugar, tea and coffee for all of our hosts!

  1. Create a Defined Workspace

A laptop-friendly workspace is a no-brainer when wanting to attract travelling professionals. However if you really want to put a smile on your guests face think about whether or not the space has…

  • Adequate lighting — no one wants to sign the wrong dotted line because they couldn’t see it in the first place!
  • Essential stationery such as pens, paper and envelopes — we checked, and people dostill write letters
  • A comfy and adjustable chair — the only thing worse than having to do work when you’re not in the office, is having to do it with a backache
  • Lots of plug points and adapters — for all of those uber-connected, high tech, professionals
  • Good signal and is in a quiet spot in the home — so guests can effortlessly talk to their bosses, co-workers, mothers, children, great aunts twice removed…

Consideration of all of these details will go a long way with business travellers!

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It is well-known that people travelling for business will arrive and leave at all hours. While using a lock box is always an option, having a friendly face to welcome a guest after a long trip will help them feel relaxed and right at home. Not much of a night owl? No problem! Why not try Hostmaker’s 24 hour meet and greet checkin service?

 

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How to make your bed guest ready

As former hoteliers who look after 1,000 homes across four cities, we know one or two things about beds – we make hundreds of them every day! And as they also put one of the b’s in Airbnb, we take them very seriously.

All travellers know that coming home to a beautiful, comfy bed is the best possible way to end a busy day of shopping and sightseeing. As a result, beds can make or break your guests’ stay and even have a huge impact on your reviews.

With so much on the line for all of you hosts out there, we at Hostmaker have gathered our best tips and tricks, to give you a quick guide on how to make your bed guest ready. (You can thank us later!)

Avoid the Hotel Look

This piece of advice comes straight from our Lead Designer herself!

“I would actually go against the typical hotel-style bed; give the bed some personality and make it feel more like home” – Lauren Framp

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and again and again!) – the reason that guests are flocking to Airbnb for their travel accommodation needs? Not just to visit a city, but to live there. While we understand the temptation to go with what you know and imitate a 5-star hotel bed spread, you can give your guests this same 5-star experience with a bed that has character.

Three is the Magic Number

The easiest way to do this without compromising on style? According to one of our Junior Designers, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

“Extra cushions and throw pillows will really make the bed feel homely – 3 is the best number as they will add something to the bed without going overboard, and it’ll help keep it symmetrical!” – Becky Marshall

Her other tip? An artfully draped throw or two. Don’t be afraid to mix textures and shades – consider different patterns or fabrics, lights and darks, or adding a bright pop of colour.

Count Those Threads!

Not literally, obviously. But according to one of our Housekeeping Supervisors, while you may not want your bed to look like it belongs in a hotel, it should feel like it does.

“During my year-long training at a leading hotel group, I learned how to make beds properly. But when I make my bed at home, it never feels the same – even when I use the same techniques! Now I know that it’s the quality of the linen that makes the difference” – Océane Chamoret

We suggest always buying the highest quality linen you can can afford to help tuck your guests in tight each night. Prefer not to make this kind of investment? Hostmaker’s pay-as-you-go housekeeping includes top quality linen that is laundered, ironed, starched and delivered to your home each time you use our service!

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Safe and sound – security tips for first time hosts

So you’ve decided to host your home on Airbnb – congratulations! You’re about to join a whole community of people who understand that travelling is no longer about simply staying or visiting a place; it is about feeling as though you are living somewhere new (even just for a weekend!)

However, the popularity of home sharing grows, so do the horror stories. Suddenly you’re having second thoughts about putting your home online, and letting people you don’t even know sleep in your home.

As early adopters of Airbnb, and full-time managers of over 1,000 homes, we can absolutely assure you that these are rare occurrences, and for the most part are easily preventable. But we also understand that as a new host, you may have some trepidation. That is why we have put together this checklist, to help reassure you, and help you fully enjoy your adventures as an Airbnb host.

Bury Your Treasure

Whether it’s your family home, second home or your holiday home that you’re listing on Airbnb, we always encourage our hosts to remove any valuable or sentimental items from the areas of your house that your guests will be using. From fancy wedding crockery, to a homemade macaroni picture frames, and everything in between – if it’s valuable to you, it’s best to keep it safe. Even if guests are respectful, they might not give your great aunt Jane’s antique blue floral vase the same love and care that you do! That being said, we advise hosts to keep in mind that minor wear and tear is to be expected – much like you would if it were your own family coming to stay.

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Stick With What You Know

When it comes to communicating with guests, it’s best to keep this on the Airbnb platform, from the moment that they enquire about the booking, until the day before they check-in. While we do suggest that you provide a phone number for guests to contact you in case of emergencies or delays on their check-in day, speaking to guests through Airbnb up until this point not only makes it easier for both parties to keep track of any arrangements, but also means that you are protected under Airbnb’s terms of service, and their Host Guarantee, which provides up to £600,000 compensation for eligible damages.

Keep Guests in the Loop

At HostAStay, we swear by house manuals. Inside you can provide helpful tips about the local area, emergency services details – little things that can improve your guests’ stay and give them some peace of mind. More importantly however, it can be a friendly, helpful, and easy-to-use way to ask your guests to take care of anything valuable or fragile that you decide to leave in your home, as well as informing them of all the doors and windows that need locking before they leave the house.

Give a Key to a Friend, and Give Yourself Peace of Mind

Whilst there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty that help store spare keys out of site and right outside of your home, these are still not as safe as leaving your keys with someone that you trust. This also means that your guests will have access to keys in emergencies if you are out of town, and a friendly face to help them out in their time of need. If you don’t have any friends, or (more likely) you don’t want to bother them, HostAStay can look after your home and your keys!

If all of this sounds like too much to handle however, then don’t you worry! By signing up for HostAStay’s fully-managed service option, we will not only help you get your Airbnb listing live and chock-a-block with bookings, but we also store and track your keys in our secure warehouse, as well as taking the following additional security measures:

  • Vetting all guests making booking enquiries
  • Acting as a local point of contact for your guests before, during and after their stay, keeping as much of our communication as possible within the Airbnb app
  • Providing your guests with a house manual full of the little details that make your home unique, as well as informing them of any security measures that need to be taken

Interested? Find out more here!

 

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Top 5 Tips For Writing A Great Airbnb Listing Title

If you wish to succeed on Airbnb it is critical to choose your Airbnb listing title wisely. The title of your Airbnb listing should have this objective: catch people’s attention as soon as they scroll through the results.

If you want to learn how to name your listing to attract more guests, follow these 5 points:

1. Make it catchy

Adjectives are known to draw users’ attention. Include words such as cosy, lovely,spacious, bright when describing your property.
Wouldn’t you rather click on  “Newly refurbished modern two bedrooms flat” than “Two bedrooms flat”?

2. Use all the available space

Airbnb provides users with 35 characters. Don’t waste this opportunity to inform people about your property, use all 35 of them! For example use a thesaurus to find shorter words or longer words if you need them, pretty is a shorter version of beautiful but if you have the space extraordinary is better than great.

3. Avoid putting unnecessary information in your Airbnb listing title

When users search for listings, they have already selected the city they wish to visit in the base search criteria. Therefore, it is redundant and a waste of space to include your location in the listing title.

However, you should employ location relevant information in a smart way. Emphasise, when relevant, the vicinity of public transports, tourist attractions, city centre etc. Eg. “Near KLCC”

4. Highlight your property’s best feature

If the main asset of your flat is a spacious terrace with an incredible view of the city, this should be included in the listing title. People who are looking to relax and have a glass of wine before dinner while enjoying a beautiful sunset will be immediately drawn to your title.

What do you like to do in your flat? If you include your favourite activities that you can do in your property, people reading your listing will feel more drawn to it if they can relate to you!

5. Update your title to mention current events nearby

Having a relevant title for upcoming events is crucial for your Airbnb listing. Knowing when and why potential guests are interested in your area is a huge advantage. You should adapt your title to reflect what people are looking for and thus increase interest in your property.

For example: If it is August and you’re renting your property near Bukit Bintang, you title could contain something along the lines of: “be in the middle of the action at Halloween festival this year”. Anyone looking for a place to stay during the festival are certainly going to click on your listing!

Whether you are already an Airbnb host who needs some help, or if you are interested in exploring short-letting for the first time, give us a call on +603 788 68644 to speak with one of our experts to discuss our hassle-free Airbnb management services. Or get a free assessment of your property’s income potential on Airbnb.