Secrets from a seasoned Superhost

Superhost Nikki shares her tips, from setting up to standing out.
By Airbnb on Mar 3, 2020
3 min read
Updated Mar 3, 2020


  • Communication is the No. 1 rule of good hosting

  • Stand out with great photos, a detailed description, and clear expectations for guests

  • Start your price low to secure reservations and work out any kinks to encourage great reviews

  • Discover more in our complete guide to taking your hosting to the next level

Nikki was one of the first hosts on Airbnb to earn Superhost status when the program first launched in 2014. She’s maintained that status for more than 16 consecutive quarters.

How does Nikki do it? She learned hosting from the ground up, starting with a tiny cottage in her own backyard in San Francisco. That single listing performed so well that she was inspired to expand into renting out her full three-bedroom house during family vacations.

Here, Nikki shares the secrets of her Superhost success.

Starting as a host

“Six years ago, I stayed in my first Airbnb in Provence, France, and loved it. It was a tiny little studio in the old town of Aix. It served our needs really well, but the hosts hadn’t really put much effort into making it charming or anything. I realized that if I put a bit of money into it, I could make something super special with the little 200-square-foot guesthouse in my backyard. I assumed it would only get booked rarely, but I was surprised when it got booked right away for a full week.”

Getting booked quickly

“Every time I bring a new listing online, I start with an initial listing price that is only 50–70% of what the market rate is, until I have at least three reviews (or until I am getting so many booking requests that I can raise the price to market rates). I do this so I can work out the kinks without sacrificing good reviews, and because it’s important to get a bunch of reviews as soon as possible so the listing appears higher in search rankings.”

Preparing a welcoming space

“It all starts with a good space. It has to be clean. I like my spaces open and airy. Very uncluttered, but with design focal points that provide places for your eyes to rest. It also has to be comfortable, especially the beds. I invest in memory foam mattresses, and people love them. It’s really an exercise in empathy. You walk through the space and think about how people will use it, then fit your design concept around that.”

Standing out on Airbnb

“Having good photos makes all the difference. Professional photos are a must. I think about what the space is, whether it’s a family space or ideal for a certain type of traveler, and I put that in the title. Write a really good description that’s very detailed and inviting, so that you’re drawing someone into the listing. Describe the beds, the linens, name brands of specific types of soap or amenities you’re providing.”

Setting guest expectations

“In your listing, make sure you include descriptions of your property’s quirks. Explain them in a way that’s honest and clear, without being a turnoff. You want to provide enough transparency to help your guests select the property they want.”

Being a great communicator

“For me, communication is the No. 1 rule of good hosting. Your direct communication with a guest starts with the first inquiry. I always ask potential guests a few follow-up questions after every booking request, not to be rude or nosy, but just to make sure that the listing is a good fit for them. Really, you’re starting the process of getting a 5-star review at that point.”

For me, communication is the No. 1 rule of good hosting.
San Francisco

Surprising benefits of being a host

“The biggest surprise to me is how wonderful the guests have been. People have been so honest and kind and understanding. And on an economic front, I was surprised at the income. I didn’t go into this expecting to do so well, let alone turn it into a career. I’ve focused on the things I really like about hosting and pursued opportunities when I saw them, and it’s turned out really well.”

Mar 3, 2020
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