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Be the perfect Airbnb host

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Hosts around South Africa are offering Airbnb travellers great experiences when traveling around the country. But what makes the perfect Airbnb host? NICOLA D’ELIA, GM for Middle East & Africa (MEA) offers some hosting tips.

Every day, from Amanzimtoti to Zeerust and every destination in between, hosts around South Africa are creating unforgettable experiences for thousands of Airbnb travellers.

Accuracy

Be sure everything in your listing—photos, details, house rules, pricing—accurately reflects what guests will experience. And don’t skimp on photos. Listings with better photos get more bookings. Airbnb actually offers free professional photography, and you can check here to see if your location is covered.

Communication

Get to know your guest’s travel plans so you can personalise their experience. Download the Airbnb app to respond to guests from wherever you are in the world. And aim to respond to all enquiries and reservation requests within 24 hours. We have found that hosts who respond in less than 12 hours get twice as many bookings per month.

Availability

Manage your calendar meticulously. Find the right match for your space by setting criteria and using Instant Book. Hosts who keep their availability calendars up to date receive five times more bookings than those who don’t.

Commitment

If you can’t keep a reservation, contact your would-be guest as soon as possible. Apologise profusely and bend over backwards to find back-up accommodations. Don’t forget to officially cancel online, too. Hosts can use Groups to help find another available host.

Cleanliness

Clean as if royalty were on their way for a slumber party. The cleaner your space, the more glowing your review. Our research shows that listings with 5-star cleanliness ratings receive 20% more bookings.

Amenities

Fresh bedding, towels, soap, and toilet paper are a must. Always have them available upon arrival. Plus feel free to add your own little luxuries, too, like maps, local wine, coffee beans, aromatherapy diffusers or even a vase of fresh-cut flowers.

Welcome

Show world-class hospitality with a prompt check-in time, transportation tips, and a tour of your space. Airbnb guests live for outside-the-box travel activities. Teach them how to eat, dance, and bungee-jump like a local.

Support

Check in on guests, be easily accessible, and go way out of your way to offer alternatives if things don’t go according to plan. Our world isn’t perfect. Pipes burst and ankles twist, but you have the power to help remedy these situations.

Reviews

Write a review (compliment or constructive feedback) for guests within 14 days of checkout. Approach this as if you were writing a thank-you note or a friendly letter encouraging one how to be a better guest. This will also help encourage your guests to write a review as guests are 70% more likely to review their host after their host reviews them.

And remember:

From pricing to easing the arrival of a guest, Airbnb offers a range of personalised tools that let you spend more time building lasting connections with guests instead of managing your listings. The newly revamped Host Dashboard on Airbnb is more personalised to your needs.

You can see everything that is important in one view: pending requests, upcoming guests, alerts, and reviews. This makes it easy to you keep track of your reservations and stay on top of your interactions with your guests.

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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget visited the Netflix studios last week. In the first of a series, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read on about Hastings’ views on international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Take these 5 steps to digital

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By MARK WALKER, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word because it sounds nice and looks good on the business CV. It is fundamental to long-term business success. IDC anticipates that 75% of enterprises will be on the path to digital transformation by 2027. 

However, digital transformation is not a process that ticks a box and moves to the next item on the agenda – it is defined by the organisation’s shift towards a digitally empowered infrastructure and employee. It is an evolution across system, infrastructure, process, individual and leadership and should follow clear pathways to ensure sustainable success.

The nature of the enterprise has changed completely with the influence of digital, cloud and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and success is reliant on strategic change.

There is a lot more ownership and transparency throughout the organisation and there is a responsibility that comes with that – employees want access to information, there has to be speed in knowledge, transactions and engagement. To ensure that the organisation evolves alongside digital and demand, it has to follow five very clear pathways to long-term, achievable success.

The first of these is to evaluate where the enterprise sits right now in terms of its digital journey. This will differ by organisation size and industry, as well as its reliance on technology. A smaller organisation that only needs a basic accounting function or the internet for email will have far different considerations to a small organisation that requires high-end technology to manage hedge funds or drive cloud solutions. The same comparisons apply to the enterprise-level organisation. The mining sector will have a completely different sub-set of technology requirements and infrastructure limitations to the retail or finance sectors.

Ultimately, every organisation, regardless of size or industry, is reliant on technology to grow or deliver customer service, but their digital transformation requirements are different. To ensure that investment into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, knowledge engines, automation and connectivity are accurately placed within the business and know exactly where the business is going.

The second step is to examine what the business wants to achieve. Again, the goals of the organisation over the long and short term will be entirely sector dependent, but it is essential that it examine what the competitive environment looks like and what influences customer expectations. This understanding will allow for the business to hone its digital requirements accordingly.

The third step is to match expectations to reality. You need to see how you can move your digital transformation strategy forward and what areas require prioritisation, what funding models will support your digital aspirations, and how this tie into what the market wants. Ultimately, every step of the process has to be prioritised to ensure it maps back to where you are and the strategic steps that will take you to where you want to go.

The fourth step is to look at the operational side of the process. This is as critical as any other aspect of the transformation strategy as it maps budget to skills to infrastructure in such a way as to ensure that any project delivers return on investment. Budget and funding are always top of mind when it comes to digital transformation – these are understandably key issues for the business. How will it benefit from the investment? How will it influence the customer experience? What impact will this have on the ongoing bottom line? These questions tie neatly into the fifth step in the process – the feedback loop.

This is often the forgotten step, but it is the most important. The feedback loop is critical to ensuring that the digital transformation process is achieving the right results, that the right metrics are in place, and that the needle is moving in the right direction. It is within this feedback loop that the organisation can consistently refine the process to ensure that it moves to each successive step with the right metrics in place.

There is also one final element that every organisation should have in place throughout its digital evolution. An element that many overlook – engagement. There must be a real desire to change, from the top of the organisation right down to the bottom, and an understanding of what it means to undertake this change and why it is essential. This is why this will be a key discussion at the 2019 IDC South Africa CIO Summit taking place in April this year. With this in place, the five steps to digital transformation will make sense and deliver the right results.

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