Up until last year, I had only managed shared spaces on Airbnb. I was eager to get an entire unit up and running. I wanted to see how the different types of spaces responded on the Airbnb market. 

Eventually, I started managing a basement unit for a client. It had its own entrance and a little kitchenette area; I thought it fit the criteria for a private unit, so I listed it as such. I’ve stayed in private basement apartments before and it was fine. I didn’t think anything of it. 

However, not all basement spaces are created equal. 

This particular basement space that I was managing had one fatal flaw. It had a shared washer and dryer in it. As such, it didn’t really fit the bill for being a “private space,” because sometimes there would be other people down there doing their laundry. 

It seems so obvious now, but when I first listed it it never crossed my mind. 

It turns out, though, that people who rent private spaces have a whole different set of expectations than people who rent private rooms in shared spaces. 

With my “private unit” basement apartment, I had an endless stream of unhappy guests from the get-go. But most of the things that they were complaining about were silly and trivial. The walkway stones were too far apart. The space smelled like cleaning solution. The keypad on the door was too far away from the doornob. (Someone seriously said that.)

I couldn’t understand what was going on. I had hosted for years and had never had complaints like these. Why was I getting so many guests with such exacting expectations?

In desperation, I decided to switch the listing from a private unit to a shared space. 

It was like magic. 

Immediately, the complaints stopped.

I started getting guests who came back just because they loved the place so much. Guests who extended their stays and left rave reviews after they left. Even a few who left gifts and thank-you notes for me after their stay had ended!

I was relieved, of course, that they seemed to be happier now than before. But still, it was odd to me. Why would simply changing the listing type make so much of a difference? I literally hadn’t changed anything else. 

Eventually, I decided that people who look for entire private units to rent during their travels simply have higher expectations than those who don’t. Thus, when I switched my unit type, I stopped marketing to exceptionally demanding people, and my guests’ satisfaction rates skyrocketed. 

It was a hard-earned, but needed, learning opportunity for me. Whole units have the potential to make a lot more money than shared spaces. But they don’t automatically make more. With higher price tags come higher expectations. People will never be willing to pay more without also getting more. 

The moral of the story is simple.

Make sure your space is listed correctly, according to the things you have to offer. And if you’re ready to start listing whole spaces, be prepared to deal with much pickier guests! 🙂