After a Year as an Airbnb Host, Bobby Berk Says This Detail Can Ruin a Guest’s Trip
His top tips for novice rental owners.
Published Apr 5, 2023 12:15 PM
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When someone compliments your house before they even get to the front gate, you know you’re doing something right. On a recent Friday afternoon, Bobby Berk was reminded of this when he got a text from friends who were going to be staying at his home in Palm Desert. It read something like: “The up-lit palm trees. We can see them from a mile away. It is SUCH a vibe.”
Since he’s been an Airbnb host for almost one whole year, it’s the best type of review the Queer Eye star and interior designer could have hoped for. “When you’re coming in, you’re like, I’m pulling into a resort,” says Berk. “It’s very important that from the moment people walk in, it feels like [they’re on] vacation.”
After months of welcoming guests to his seven-bedroom desert oasis, dubbed Casa Tierra, the TV host has learned that it’s these small touches that separate a standard rental from a resortlike one. But he isn’t keeping his tips and tricks just to himself. Berk recently imparted his wisdom to new Airbnb owner Michelle, who runs Cresthaus. Well, really, the designer surprised Michelle while she was on a call with superhost ambassador Katie, who advises prospective hosts through Airbnb Setup, a new service that connects potential new hosts to superhosts for guidance in creating their listing. More than that, Berk actually spent the night at Michelle’s retreat in Crestline, California, so he could give her proper feedback. We got the chance to talk to Berk about his biggest takeaways for Michelle (and all other novice hosts). Here, in his own words, are some of his dos and don’ts.
Do: Offer Guests Something to Drink
It’s those little touches, such as a welcome basket, that make people feel like they’re on vacation. I like to leave a bottle of wine or champagne, but also do sparkling cider for people who don’t drink [alcohol].
Don’t: Customize Your Home’s Smell
Michelle said to me, “I probably should make the house have a really nice scent, right?” I said, “No!” One time, I rented a beautiful Airbnb in Majorca, Spain, and it had one of those air fresheners up really high that squirts out fragrance. It was giving me an instant migraine. I had to stack barstools on each other so I could take it down. One guest might like a scent while another might instantly get nauseated by it. That can ruin a whole trip!
Do: Put a Playlist Together
Just like at a hotel when you pull in and hear vibe-y music, I will have this cool, relaxing Spanish guitar playlist going when you arrive. And depending on the time of year, I’ll also set it on the outdoor speakers.
Don’t: Skimp on Stylish Furniture
My thought process with furnishing my house was that if I really spend money to make it beautiful, it’s going to be booked all the time. Yes, a vase or sun lounger might get broken here and there, but our house is rented so much because of those touches.
Don’t: Display Anything Too Precious
With that said, Michelle’s husband had brought his record collections from his father to the house, and I told him, if something is superspecial to you and has sentimental value, take it home.
Do: Stick to White Linens
Michelle told me she bought colorful bedding, and I advised her to switch to white sheets and white pillowcases. Because when you walk into a hotel and you see those crisp white sheets, you automatically think “clean.” (And you can bleach them.) The same goes for towels.
Don’t: Send Guests on a Caffeine Run
If you live 15 minutes away from a coffee shop, keep coffee in your house. Because it’s not a vacation if you have to go and drive somewhere just to get coffee.
Do: Encourage People to Seek Alone Time
Not everybody on a group trip wants to hang out with each other all the time, so make sure you’re utilizing the little areas (in Michelle’s case, an upper deck, lower deck, and yard with a firepit) so they can get their space.
Don’t: Leave One Person in the Bed Hanging
In Michelle’s primary bedroom, there was previously only one nightstand and a sofa situated next to the other side of the bed. I told her, you want to have tables on both sides. That way, people can have their phones plugged in or have a glass of water.
Do: Set a Minimum-Night Stay
When it comes to determining minimum nights, you have to think about how much it costs to turn your house over for the next guest. Cleaning fees are costly! In the middle of summer, I will do a two-night minimum, but in the high season it’s usually three nights. Then if there’s a big event like Coachella, we’ll do five nights.
A previous version of this story said that Bobby Berk’s Airbnb was in Palm Springs. It has been corrected to Palm Desert.